Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. When an animal labours under difficult parturition, and the fœtus put forth its fore-leg, and withdrew it again within the womb, this fœtus may be eaten [by killing the dam]; but if it once protruded its head, though it withdrew it again, it is to be considered as born. Any part of an animal fœtus which had been cut off may be lawfully eaten, but if aught of the spleen or kidneys of an animal had been cut off, it is prohibited to eat these pieces. The rule is, "Whatever belongs to the body of the animal itself, it is prohibited to eat, when cut off while the animal was yet alive, but what does not belong to its own body, it is lawful to eat."
§ 2. When an animal labours under difficult parturition with its firstborn young, the fœtus may be cut from the womb piecemeal, 1 and the pieces cast to the dogs; 2 but if the greater part of the body had protruded, it must be buried, and the dam is not further subject to the law of firstborn. 3
§ 3. When the fœtus of an animal lies dead within its womb, and the shepherd [or herd] put his hand inside and touched it, he is clean, whether the animal was of a clean or of an unclean species; but R. José, the Galilean, holds that he is clean when the animal was of a clean, and defiled when the animal was of an impure species.
[paragraph continues] A human fœtus which died within the womb, and was touched by the midwife placing her hand inside, the midwife is unclean for seven days, but the woman [the mother of the fœtus] is clean, till after the fœtus comes from her.
§ 4. When an animal labours under difficult parturition, and the fœtus protruded its fore-leg, and it was cut off, and: then the darn was slaughtered, the flesh of the young animal is clean. If the dam had been slaughtered first, and then the protruding limb of the fœtus was cut of, the flesh of the fœtus is to be considered [unclean], like that which had touched the body of an animal that had died of itself [Nebelah]. Such is the dictum of R. Meir; but the sages hold, "That it must be considered as if a properly slaughtered animal, but which, owing to some internal blemish, had become Terefá, [had touched it]. For even as we find that a properly slaughtered animal which became Terefá., becomes clean [i.e. is not considered as Nebelah] by the said slaughtering, thus also ought the slaughtering of the dam to render the protruding limb of the fœtus clean." But R. Meir replied to them, "Not so, for when the slaughtering causes an animal to be considered as clean, it is in so far only as is applicable to the body of the animal itself: but can it render clean the limb of the fœtus, which does not form part of the body of the dam? Whence is it deduced, that the slaughtering renders an animal found to be Terefá clean? [It ought rather to be supposed, that since] it is prohibited to eat of an unclean animal, which is also the case with "one found to be Terefá: that, therefore, even as an unclean animal does not become clean by שחיטה [or proper slaughtering according to law], thus also the act of שחיטה ought not to render an animal clean, which was ascertained to be Terefá: yet this is not the case, because, what is affirmed in respect to the unclean animal, which at no time was a fit object for שחיטה, cannot be predicated of the clean animal [which though Terefá], had a period when it was fit for שחיטה. Consequently you cannot hence deduce the proof you have brought. Why does an animal, which is Terefá from the womb, become clean by שחיטה? It is because you cannot apply that which is affirmed in respect to unclean animals, to which שחיטה is inapplicable, to clean animals, to which שחיטה does apply. Thus also, an animal horn alive at the end of eight months, does not become clean by the act of שחיטה, because that act is not lawfully applicable to similar animals, under similar circumstances." 4
§ 5. When a person slaughters an animal, and found within it a live or dead fœtus eight months old, or a dead fœtus of nine months, he may tear it up, 5 and let the blood run off. If a live fœtus of nine months is found, it must be slaughtered, and the penalty of the law would be incurred, if its dam was slaughtered on the same day with it. 6 Such is the dictum of R. Meir; but the sages say, "The act of שחיטה to the dam, renders also the fœtus lawful." According to R. Simeon Sazuree "[The slaughtering of the dam is so efficient, that] even if such an animal should have grown to the age of eight years, and ploughs in the fields, it does not require שחיטה for itself." If an animal had been torn up [i.e. been killed without proper שחיטה], and a live fœtus nine months old found therein, it will be necessary to slaughter the fœtus by itself, because the dam had not been [properly] slaughtered.
§ 6. An animal whose legs were cut off below the knee is Cashér, but not when they were cut off above the knee, also when the junction of the sinews 7 is interrupted. 8 When the bone of the lower part of the leg is broken: if the fractured part is covered by the flesh in the larger proportion [of its thickness and circumference], the animal becomes lawful for use by being properly slaughtered, but not when the fractured part was not so covered.
§ 7. When an animal was killed, and a placenta [i.e. the secundines or afterbirth] found therein, this latter may be eaten, 9 if a person should not loath to eat it; but it does not contract pollution as a thing edible, or as a Nebelah. [If the dam had died of itself] but when it is considered edible by any person, it becomes liable to contract pollution as an edible, but not the pollution of Nebelah. When a placenta had partly protruded from the womb, it becomes unlawful to be eaten. It is the sign [or proof] of a child in woman, and of a young in an animal. 10 A placenta that had been cast prematurely by an animal which is with young for the first time, may be
cast to the dogs, 11 and in the case of consecrated sacrifices it must be buried; 12 but it is not lawful to bury it in a cross road, or hang it up in a tree, 13 because these are heathen practices.
335:1 To save the life of the dam.
335:2 Because it is considered unborn. For a firstborn, being consecrated, may not be cast to the dogs when it dies, but it must be buried.
335:3 That is, any young one she may have hereafter is not to be considered as a firstborn "that openeth the womb." (See Exod. xiii. 1.)
336:4 That is, שחיטה does not apply to an animal fœtus of eight months.
337:5 That is, it does not require שחיטה.
337:6 See Lev. xxii. 28.
337:7 Hebrew צומת הגידין, meaning the place where the three sinews or muscles, the large one and the two smaller ones at each side thereof, are joined, which is a little above the ancle. There are sixteen such sinews in the leg of fowl.
337:8 By being cut asunder.
337:9 That is, it is not considered as eating a part of a yet living animal, אבר מן החי, which is prohibited.
337:10 The rule on which all the regulations of this Mishna turn is, that there is never a placenta without a fœtus.
338:11 See Note 2, p. 333 of this Treatise.
338:12 For the reason stated Note 10, page 335; and any young animal born from one which was consecrated for sacrifice, becomes also consecrated.
338:13 These were the superstitious practices of the heathens, who fancied that by those means they could prevent abortions among their cattle.