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Thought for the Day: Ben Paku'ah Vs Chanukia in Second Window -- The Setup

Come on!  How often is it possible to put those two topics in one sentence?  Ok, ok... technically it is always possible; I mean how often is it possible to write a cogent article that has those two topics in the title?

In case you don't know what a ben paku'ah is, then this is worth reading just to learn about that.  When a child is first conceived, it is wholly dependent on the environment provided my the mother's body for its survival, and is considered in halacha as just another limb/organ of the host mother.  At some point the child becomes an independent organism.  I am not sure when that happens practically (I'll let you know when my children become fully independent... ), but halachically that occurs when the head and most of the body has left the mother.  This is all the same for animals and humans (though animals become independent sooner).

Obviously, when a cow is slaughtered, all of its organs and limbs become eligible to be eaten without any more slaughtering.  So obvious, in fact, you are wondering why I am mentioning it?  We just said the calf is considered a limb of the mother cow.  Suppose you slaughter a near term pregnant cow, and then extract the calf.  That calf is known as a "ben paku'ah" (literally: the result of splitting open... quite the visual, no?) and requires no further processing to be eligible for your cholent.  Even if you keep the calf alive and raise it to pull your plow for years; it's been slaughtered and you can convert it from dray animal to Shabbos lunch whenever you want.  That's d'oraisa, of course.  Chazal were nervous that if someone saw you throwing that cow straight into a crock pot, that someone else who didn't know it was a ben paku'ah would suspect you of eating eiver min ha'chai (this is pre-PETA, remember).

For that reason, Chazal require a ben paku'ah to be shechted just as if it were a regular cow (instead of walking meat).  Not only that, but to make sure that everyone is above suspicion, Chazal also required the bracha of "al ha'sh'chita".

Well, now... that's similar to the reason that Chazal required that Chanukia be lit in each window that faces a different street.  Even though the ikar chiyuv is one light per household, Chazal were nervous that people walking along a street that your house faced would suspect you of not lighting at all if they didn't see a chanukiah in your window.  Even though this is also a case of Chazal requiring you to do something to keep you above suspicion, they did not establish a bracha for that second (or third or fourth...) chanukiyah.  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach notes four fascinating differences between these two situations to explain why a bracha for one case but not the other.

I figured you might enjoy thinking about that on your own before I spoil the surprise and just tell you.  Good Shabbos!


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