כ״ו באייר ה׳תשע״ח (May 11, 2018)

Zevahim 28a-b: The Status of Skin

As we learned on yesterday’s daf when a sheep was sacrificed as a korban shelamim – a peace-offering that was divided between the altar, the kohanim and the owner – the alyah, the long, fatty tail of the animal – had to be burned on the altar together with the other parts of the sacrifice that were burned. The Mishna on yesterday’s daf discussed situations where the person who brought the sacrifice had the wrong intentions about where and when he would eat the meat of the korban or the skin of the alyah. The Gemara on today’s daf discusses at some length what the status of the skin of the alyah might be, and whether it should be considered part of the alyah, which cannot be eaten, or part of the meat of the animal, which can be eaten.

Generally speaking, halakha does not view an animal’s skin as being part of the meat of the animal. This is true regarding the question of whether to define it as food or whether it carries with it ritual defilement that is limited to the meat of an animal. As such, ordinarily an animal’s skin would not be sacrificed on the altar, nor would it be eaten by the owner (in the case of a korban shelamim where the owner eats the meat of the animal) or by the kohanim (in the case of an asham – a guilt offering – where the kohanim partake of the animal’s meat). The skin of the alyah is different because it is especially soft – and therefore edible – which affects its status with regard to ritual defilement, for example.

But should the skin of the alyah be given the status of meat? It is possible that its unique qualities would make it considered part of the tail. If so, it cannot be consumed by the owner who brings a korban shelamim and anticipates eating the meat of the sacrifice, rather it would have to be burned on the altar together with the alyah itself and the other parts of the korban that are burned on the mizbe’aḥ (altar).

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