A Transfusion, An Element Of Life
‘Blood From A Sanctified Animal Is Forbidden’
The mishnah on our daf says that one may not derive any pleasure from the milk of an animal sacrifice or the eggs of a sanctified bird. However, they are not subject the laws of me’ilah. The reason for this unique situation is that these items are not fit to be put on the mizbe’ach.
The Animal Before Us
Tosafos (sv. “bameh devarim ha’amurim…”) explain that when a person wishes to consecrate an animal to be offered as a korban, he has no intention of consecrating its milk (or eggs) since he knows they may not be offered on the mizbe’ach. And yet, when one consecrates a donkey, its milk is subject to me’ilah. This is so because the person has donated the donkey for the upkeep of the Temple (not for the mizbe’ach). The Temple would sell the animal – its value obviously includes its milk – and use the proceeds for its needs.
In light of these laws, why does Rav in the Gemara rule that the laws of me’ilah apply to blood that is extracted from a sacrifice by means of blood-letting? The extracted blood is not fit for the mizbe’ach! In answer, the Gemara explains that an animal cannot survive without its blood. Thus, the blood is considered part of the animal. The same, however, cannot be said about an animal’s milk.
Outliving Its Usefulness
Earlier (2b), the Gemara discusses a case of an animal designated as a korban dying before it could be brought on the mizbe’ach. Its carcass is not considered hekdesh any longer – and thus not subject to the laws of me’ilah – since the Temple no longer has a use for the animal.
Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv (cited by his son in the Yad Binyamin) asks a phenomenal question. Based on this Gemara, why do the laws of me’ilah apply to blood extracted from a korban through blood-letting? The blood should be considered to be a “korban” that died before it could be brought on the mizbe’ach, whose status is no longer hekdesh.
What We Now Know
The Even Ha’azel (Hilchos Me’ilah 2:11, sk2) answers by pointing out that it is medically possible to re-infuse blood into an animal’s body after it was extracted. If so, it cannot be considered “dead” since it could still theoretically be used by the Temple.
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