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Thought for the Day: Is "Not Forbidden" Equivalent to "Permitted"?

Of course a Jew may not eat meat from a treifa.  That is, from an animal that has certain simanim that basically means the animal would have died if it hadn't been killed.  That is different than n'veila, which is meat from an animal that was killed by some other means than sh'chita.  For example, a deer killed by a rifle bullet or the bumper of a 4x4 filled with drunk would-be hunters.  (I suspect a lot of those "hunters" actually just got lucky and caught a deer in their headlights.)  Then there is meat from a b'heima t'mei'a -- pork, for example.  Who cares why it's forbidden?  Forbidden is forbidden, right?  Well, l'ma'aseh, maybe; though it often comes up in case of situations where the details of what actually happened are not clear.  But philosophically, there is a lot to learn from the details.

For example, the Torah only prescribes a punishment (lashes, in this case) if one ate a "shiur" (in this case a k'zayis) of the issur.  What about eating less than the torah prescribed shiur?  That is the subject of a machlokes Reish Lakish and R' Yochanon; Reish Lakish says chatzi shiur mutar m'd'oraisa (but, of course, assur m'd'rabanan), while R' Yochanan says chatzi shiur assur m'd'oraisa. We pasken like R' Yochanan, but I saw a fascinating question regarding this machlokes this morning.  Since we are all going crazy about shiurim now ("Abba!  Are you sure that I need to eat that much matzah?!?  Any how fast?!?"), I figured that siting was propitious timing.

According to Reish Lakish, would a person be allowed (on a d'oraiso level) to shecht an animal on yom tov that he knows is a treifa with the intent to eat only pakos pakos min ha'shiur; say less than an ounce every 11 minutes or so (just to be safe)?  It's such a cool question because one is allowed, of course, to shecht an animal on yom tov l'tzorech ochel nefesh -- the the sake of eating -- because freshly shechted meat is much yummier than the stuff that's been sitting on the shelves for a few days/weeks/...

This question was discussed by R' Kahaneman (Ponevezh Rosh Yeshiva) in his youth when he was sitting at the yom tov table with the Aruch haShulchan (its author, actually, R' Yechiel Michel Epstein).  The Aruch haShulchan said he would be amazed if the Torah would allow such a thing.  The heter of tzorech ochel nefesh, he reasoned, is based on enhancing one's yom tov experience; how could such a thing be possible?  Besides, who says the Torah even allows one to shecht any animal with the intent of eating less than a shiur?  Maybe the Torah only allowed sh'chita l'tzorech ochel nefesh for something that has a din "achila"; ie, a k'zayis or more.  R' Kahaneman wasn't so sure one needed to be some amazed if it would be that the Torah allowed that.  After all, the Torah does not forbid it and it could increase one's simchas yom tov; so maybe.

For my part, I was amazed (still) at the huge gap between the conversation at my yom tov table and the yom tov table of g'dolim from the not too distant past.  You'd think I would be past being amazed.  Isn't it amazing that I'm not?


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