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ḤULLIN (Heb. חֻלִּין; "profane"), a tractate of the order Kodashim in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Babylonian Talmud. (There is no Jerusalem Talmud to the whole order of Kodashim.) In manuscripts of the Mishnah (Mss. Kaufmann, Cambridge, etc.) and the Tosefta, as well as by the *geonim and the early authorities, the tractate is called Sheḥitat Ḥullin ("the slaughter of 'profane' animals," i.e., for human consumption as distinct from sacrificial purposes) after its first chapters, which deal with the laws of the slaughter of such animals and birds. As its name implies this tractate – in contrast to the other tractates of this order – is almost wholly devoted to the halakhot relevant to the eating of meat and to the gifts due to the priests from animals of ḥullin. Unlike the other tractates, Ḥullin thus deals with matters of practical halakhah applying to all Jews at all times, even after the destruction of the Temple. Probably for this reason it was customary in the time of the geonim to join it with the order Mo'ed (Meiri, Beit ha-Beḥirah to Ḥullin, introd.).

The tractate comprises 12 chapters whose main contents are as follows: Chapters 1 and 2 deal with the laws of *sheḥitah and explain, among other things, the five acts of ritual slaughter which render it invalid: shehiyyah ("pausing" during the act), derasah (pressing the knife with force), ḥaladah ("concealing" the knife in the skin or the fleece), hagramah (a slanting stroke), and ikkur ("tearing" instead of cutting; see Ḥul. 9a and Tos. ad loc.). Chapter 3 enumerates the 18 physical defects which render an animal *terefah, those which render a bird terefah, and those which do not render them unfit for food. The laws of the embryo – whether alive or dead – found inside the slaughtered animal are covered in chapter 4. From chapter 5 until the end of the tractate almost every chapter commences with the uniform wording: "such and such a law is in force within the land [of Israel] and outside it, during the time of the Temple and after it." Chapter 5 deals with the prohibition on slaughtering the dam and its young on the same day (Lev. 22:28), and chapter 6 with the precept of covering the blood of non-domestic beasts (ḥayyah) and birds, and with what the covering may or may not be effected (Lev. 17:13). Chapter 7 discusses the law of "the sinew which was dislodged" (the sciatic nerve; Gen. 32:33). The standard opening formula is missing from chapter 8, which deals with laws of the prohibition of eating meat with milk, but it is given in the Tosefta (8:1). The laws of ritually unclean food and the uncleanness of carrion are treated in chapter 9. Mishnah 6 mentions a legendary creature, a mouse that is part flesh and part earth, and the sages discuss which parts of it are unclean. The existence of such a creature, reported from Egypt, was also taken for granted by many early gentile writers (see Maim. Commentary to the Mishnah, and S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1950) 183f.). Chapter 10 deals with the portions of the slaughtered animal which are the priests' perquisites – the shoulder, the two cheeks and the maw (Deut. 18:3). The 11th chapter treats of the precept of the first of the fleece of the sheep which was also given to the priest (Deut. 18:4). The last chapter deals with the law of letting the dam go from the nest, namely not to take both dam and young from a nest but to release the dam (Deut. 22:6–7). The Mishnah concludes with an aggadic dictum: "If then of so light a precept [letting go the dam] the Torah says 'that it may be well with thee,' and that 'thou mayest prolong the days' [Deut. 22:7], how much more so [shall like reward be given] for [the fulfillment of] the weightier precepts of the Torah."

Many halakhot in the Mishnah allude to idolatrous modes of sacrifice and to the injunction against imitating them; e.g., 2:9: "None may slaughter [so that the blood falls] into the sea or into rivers etc." in order not to imitate idolaters. The Babylonian Talmud (41b) explains that the prohibition is because he thus appears to be slaughtering to the prince of the sea (Poseidon). Mishnayot 5:3 and 6:2 afford an insight into the method of Judah ha-Nasi in editing the Mishnah and arriving at the halakhah. Both cite disputes of tannaim on the problem whether sheḥitah that should not have been performed (e.g., the slaughtering of an unconsecrated animal within the Temple court) is to be regarded as an act of sheḥitah. The first Mishnah states, in the name of the sages, that it is regarded as sheḥitah, whereas the second states, in their name, that it is not so regarded. On this Johanan comments (to 85a): "Rabbi [Judah ha-Nasi] approved the words of Meir with regard to the mother and its young [5:3] and taught them as the view of the sages in general, and approved the words of Simeon on the covering of the blood [6:2] and taught those as the view of the sages in general" (but see Ḥ. Albeck, Mavo la-Mishnah, 275f.). A decision of Judah ha-Nasi in a tannaitic dispute occurs in the Tosefta (Ḥul. 2:5): "If a hen was stolen and he found it slaughtered … Hananiah the son of Yose the Galilean invalidates it, but Judah permits it [cf. Ḥul. 12a where the opinions are reversed]. Said Rabbi [Judah ha-Nasi]: "I approve the words of Hananiah son of Yose the Galilean if it was found inside the house and those of Judah if it was found in the ash heap." A similar decision is found also in Tosefta Ḥullin 8:6 and in accordance with this Judah ha-Nasi stated Mishnah 8:3 as an undisputed ruling.

The Tosefta, which contains ten chapters, complements the Mishnah. It contains, among other things, several traditions of historical importance. For instance (3:10): "Concerning this ḥalakhah the inhabitants of Asia [= Ezion-Geber on the shore of the Red Sea] went up to Jabneh, on the third occasion it was permitted to them." It also cites several halakhot that reveal an exceptional stringency with regard to association with heretics. In connection with this, it states (2:22) that Eliezer b. Damah, the nephew of Ishmael, was bitten by a snake and Jacob of Kefar Sama came to heal him in the name of "Jesse son of Pantira" (see *Jesus, in the Talmud) and Ishmael did not permit it, as a result of which he died (cf. Av. Zar. 27b).

From the Babylonian Talmud there is evidence that in order to clarify the halakhah the sages investigated the anatomy of animals and also performed various experiments on them (see e.g., 59a and 57b). Interwoven in the Babylonian Talmud are aggadic sayings including: When gifts were sent to R. Eleazar from the house of the *nasi he would not accept them, and when invited to a meal there he did not go. He said to them; "Do you not wish me to live? For Scripture [Prov. 15:27] says: 'He that hateth gifts shall live'" (44b). Reporting that the flax crop of Ḥiyya was attacked by pests, the Talmud inquires, "Does it not say that when Ḥiyya and his sons, who were very pious, came up to Ereẓ Israel, shooting stars, earthquakes, storms, and thunder ceased in Ereẓ Israel because of their merit, neither did the wine turn to vinegar, nor was the flax of the local inhabitants smitten?" To which the reply is given that the merit of the righteous is effective toward others but not toward themselves (86a). Among the maxims found there are: "it is forbiddden to mislead people, even non-Jews" (94a); "those who perform good deeds will come to no harm either on their way to do so or on their return" (142a); "no person bruises his finger on earth unless it be decreed in heaven" (7b). This tractate of the Talmud was translated into English by Eli Cashdan in the Soncino edition (1948).


Ḥ. Albeck (ed.) Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, Seder Kodashim (1959), 107–14.

[Yitzhak Dov Gilat]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.