כ״ט באלול ה׳תשע״ט (September 29, 2019)

Me’ila 12a-b: Birds of a Certain Age

As we have learned (see above, daf 10), korbanot that cannot be brought on the altar may lose their status as kodashei HaShem – sacrifices that are holy to God – for which the laws of me’ila will not apply.

On yesterday’s daf, the Mishna taught that an example of this are the two types of fowl that are brought as sacrifices – torim and benei yona – turtledoves and pigeons (see Sefer Vayikra 1:14). According to the Mishna:

Turtledoves that have not reached the right age and pigeons which have exceeded the right age may not be enjoyed; they are, however, not subject to the law of misuse.

The Mishna on today’s daf presents the opinion of Rabbi Shimon, who teaches that there is a difference between torim and benei yona.

Rabbi Shimon taught:
Turtledoves which have not yet reached the right age are subject to the law of misuse. While it is forbidden to benefit from pigeons that have exceeded the right age, if one did derive benefit from them he is not liable for their misuse.

Rabbi Shimon believes that since an underage tor can be offered when its gets older, the laws of me’ila apply to it.

The tor that is referred to is identified as Streptopelia turtur, while the yona is identified as Columba livia domestica. These birds are consistently referred to differently, the former are called torim, while the latter are called benei yona. This is understood by to mean that a tor is only qualified to be brought as a sacrifice when it is an adult bird, while the yona can only be brought when it is young, before it reaches adulthood. According to the Mishna in Ḥullin (1:5), these two periods are mutually exclusive, and what would be an appropriate sacrifice in a pigeon would be inappropriate in a dove, and vice versa. The cut-off point between the two is just four or five days after hatching, when the bird’s body becomes covered with plumage – gold in the case of torim and yellow in the case of benei yona.