Generally speaking, we anticipate that sheḥita – ritual slaughter – is a single cut of the simanim – the trachea and the esophagus. Nevertheless, we find that Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that if sheḥita is performed “in two or three places,” it is acceptable. Although Shmuel objected that this is not a clear slaughtering, which he deems necessary, nevertheless it appears that the Gemara’s conclusion follows Rav Yehuda’s teaching in the name of Rav, given that it closes by the relating the story of Rav Yitzḥak bar Shmuel bar Marta who ate the choice part of an ox that was slaughtered “in two or three places,” thereby indicating his position on the matter.
There are three main approaches to explaining the case of slaughtering “in two or three places” –
According to Rashi, the case is where the cutting was begun in one spot and then continued in another spot and then, perhaps, in a third spot. A number of different explanations are offered for this Rashi; the Ba’al haTerumot suggests that according to this approach all of the partial cuttings can be combined into a single, sufficient sheḥita.
Two possible explanations are brought in the name of the She’iltot (number 124). According to one, cuts are made in the esophagus or the trachea around a single spot that combine into the majority of that siman; according to the other it would be sufficient even if it were around a number of spots.
Rabbeinu Ḥananel and the Rambam take a different approach, explaining that the case is where the majority of the trachea is cut in one spot, while the majority of the esophagus is cut in a different spot.
Obviously, according to all of these opinions, it is essential that the sheḥita be done in one continuous back-and-forth cutting motion, for if there was hesitation during the slaughter, the animal would not be kosher.