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Who Shechted The Korban Pesach?

In this week’s parshah Hashem instructs Moshe to tell the Bnei Yisrael that each household should take for themselves, on the 10th of Nissan, a lamb or a kid within its first year for the korban pesach. They should examine it for four days, until the 14th of the month, to ensure that it does not have any blemishes. On the 14th of the month, the entire k’hal adas Yisrael should shecht their korban pesach in the afternoon.

Rashi explains that the reason that Hashem commanded the Bnei Yisrael to perform this mitzvah, and the mitzvah of bris milah on that night (even though the Torah, in its entirety, was not given until after they left Mitzrayim and stood by Har Sinai), is because the time came for Hashem to fulfill the oath that he swore to Avraham Avinu. However, the Bnei Yisrael would have to merit to be redeemed, and they did not have any mitzvos to perform. Therefore, He commanded them in these two mitzvos to give them the opportunity to be worthy of redemption.

There is a machlokes whether the Bnei Yisrael, before mattan Torah, were considered Bnei Yisrael or Bnei Noach. However, even those who believe that they were considered Bnei Yisrael agree that they lacked some aspect of being Jews. This was only completed at the time of mattan Torah, at which point the Gemara in Krisus 9a says that Bnei Yisrael underwent a geirus (conversion) process. Hence, according to all opinions, the Bnei Yisrael lacked some aspect of being Jews – either completely or partially.

The Tosefta in Chullin, quoted by Tosafos in Chullin 3b, derives from a pasuk that a non-Jew is unfit to shecht. Based on this, the meforshim ask the following question: How were the Bnei Yisrael fit to shecht their korban pesachim, since they were not yet fully considered Bnei Yisrael?

Tosafos Yeshanim, in Yevamos 46b, asks a similar question. Since an arel ben neichar (uncircumcised non-Jew) may not eat from a korban pesach, how were the Bnei Yisrael allowed to eat from their korban pesachim? He answers that on that night the male of Bnei Yisrael performed bris milah and the women immersed in a mikveh, rendering them enough of Bnei Yisrael to be fit to eat the korban pesach. According to this, we can also explain how the Bnei Yisrael were fit to shecht their korbanos; since they had already performed a partial geirus, they were allowed to shecht their korbanos as well.

The abovementioned Tosafos in Chullin explains that the reason that a non-Jew is unfit to shecht is because he is not included in the parshah of eating kosher, and only one who is commanded to eat kosher may shecht. Based on this explanation Tosafos says that even a Jew who has rebelled and eats non-kosher, in spite of Hashem’s command to the contrary, will be unfit to shecht since he no longer associates himself with the parshah of eating kosher.

Based on Tosafos’s explanation we can suggest another explanation as to how the Bnei Yisrael were fit to shecht the korban pesach. Since only one who is not associated with the parshah of eating from the shechita is unfit to shecht, the Bnei Yisrael who were fit to eat the korban pesach – which did not require them to be completely a part of Yisrael – were also fit to shecht it.

According to the Kesef Mishneh’s understanding of the Rambam’s view (Hilchos Shechita 4:11), a non-Jew who does not worship idols is fit to shecht min haTorah – and the meat is only forbidden mi’derabbanan. This is because the Rambam derives from a different pasuk that a non-Jew is unfit to shecht, and that pasuk is referring to idol worshipers. Needless to say that according to this opinion, the question does not begin. However, the Shach (Yoreh De’ah 2:2) understands that the Rambam’s view is that even a non idol-worshiping gentile is unfit to shecht min haTorah – and that according to him the question is applicable.

Some Achronim say that a gentile is fit to shecht his own korban. They prove this from the episode when Bilam and Balak shechted korbanos. Similarly the Gemara, in Nazir 62a, says that a gentile can make a neder to bring a neder or nedavah korban. And the Gemara in Zevachim 116b says that a member of Bnei Yisrael is forbidden to aid them in shechting their nedarim and nedavos outside the Beis HaMikdash. Therefore they must be fit to shecht their own korbanos. Similarly, in Mitzrayim, the Bnei Yisrael – at whatever level of Yisrael they were considered – would be fit to shecht their own korbanos.

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