May 30, 2024
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May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h, and Meira Chaya Nechama Beracha, a”h, bas David Mordechai Fishel sheyichyeh.

This week we learned Chullin 61. These are some highlights.

If scientists would produce carp with no scales, would these fish be non-kosher?

Our Gemara discusses the signs of a kosher bird and the signs of a non-kosher bird. The Gemara teaches that kosher birds are not dorsim, they have an extra finger, a crop, and an inner gizzard skin that peels off easily. The non-kosher fowl are birds like the nesher, eagle or vulture. The nesher does not have an extra finger, nor a crop, nor a gizzard skin that easily peels off, and it is dores v’ocheil. What is the meaning of dores v’ocheil? The Rishonim suggest multiple possibilities as to the definition of dores. Rashi, on the Mishnah (59a s.v. Hadores), teaches that it is a bird that holds food in its nails and lifts the food up from the ground to eat. Elsewhere (Chullin 62a s.v.Vehani mili delo daris), Rashi teaches that it is a bird that will firmly set its feet on the food while eating from the food so that the food will not move and he does not bring all the food to his mouth at once. Ramban (Chullin 59a s.v. Masnisin Vesimanei Ha’of Lo Ne’emru) defines dores as a bird that kills with its claws. Rabbeinu Tam (Tosfot 61a s.v. Hadores) defines dores as a bird that will eat other birds when they are still alive and it does not wait for its prey to die fully. Rashba and Rosh agree with Rabbeinu Tam. Rabbeinu Gershom (Chullin 59a) seems to define dores as a bird that catches other creatures in the air and eats them immediately. Pri Megadim (Yoreh Dei’ah 82 Mishbetzot Zahav 1) rules that we are to be strict for all of these opinions. If a bird holds the food it eats down with its feet, brings the food up to its mouth with its hand, kills other birds with its nails, eats wounded prey before they die, or swallows flying creatures right out of the air, it is non-kosher. The Yerei’im (Siman 131) writes that if we find a bird that had an extra finger, a crop, and a gizzard skin that easily peels off but it is a dores, the bird is certainly a nesher and it is not kosher. Chatam Sofer understands this to mean that the determining factor in bird kashrut are the signs of non-dores, an extra finger, a crop, and a peeling inner stomach skin. Imagine you had a pigeon whose nature changes and it is suddenly a dores: it would become non-kosher. If its nature would revert back to being a non-dores, it would become kosher again. According to the Chatam Sofer, when our Mishnah taught that the non-kosher birds are dores, it was teaching that the reason they are non-kosher is the fact that they are dores. Therefore, even a pigeon that is dores would be non-kosher. In light of the Chatam Sofer, who taught that all that matters are the kosher signs, what would be the law with fish that are scientifically engineered to not have scales? Would such fish become non-kosher?

Shu”t Shevet Halevi (Chelek Zayin Siman 121) discusses carp fish that scientists engineer to not have scales as well as fish that naturally did not have scales and scientists engineer them to have scales. Shevet Halevi is not convinced that the Chatam Sofer is correct. It is possible that the kosher signs themselves are not enough to render a creature kosher. Perhaps the Yerei’im did not mean to say that a bird that had been kosher and then became a dores would be now non-kosher. Maybe Yerei’im meant that if a bird comes to us, and we are not familiar with it, and it is a dores plus it possess three signs of a kosher bird, we assume that it was originally a non-kosher nesher that was dores and that with time the kosher signs developed in it, but the status of a bird does not change and it is still non-kosher. Maybe birds cannot change from being kosher to non-kosher, nor can they change from non-kosher to kosher. Furthermore, even if we would accept the claim of the Chatam Sofer, perhaps he only meant to prohibit a bird whose nature changes and is now a dores. Perhaps when scientists find a way to produce carp fish without scales, it is not considered a change of nature and the fish remains kosher.

Ultimately, Shevet Halevi rules that we should protest against scientists who seek to create carp with no scales. If we would allow people to eat such fish, they might eat fish that always had no scales. Furthermore, such genetic engineering seems to go against the will of Hashem. Hashem made each creature in a particular form. He asked each creature if it wanted to be created. It is not right for man to change the natural order so drastically. This behavior seems similar to the sin of cross-breeding, kilayim. Hashem wants each creature to be true to its type, lemino. Therefore, while Chatam Sofer may not be right, even so one may not eat from the carp that were genetically engineered to have no scales.

In regard to non-kosher fish for whom scientists genetically engineer scales, Shevet Halevi prohibits them as well, for maybe the Torah would not consider such scales as kaskeses to permit the fish. (Mesivta)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman


Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

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