Hullin, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

Our chapter deals with the mitzvah of giving the priest the first of the wool shorn from sheep (“the first of the fleece”). Deuteronomy 18:4 states, “You shall also give him [the priest] the first fruits of your new grain and wine and oil, and the first shearing of your sheep.” This verse follows the verse that instructed Israelites to give priests the shoulder, the cheeks and the stomach. This is the reason why this chapter is found here in Hullin.

 

Mishnah One

1)      The law of the first of the fleece is in force both within the Land and outside it, both during the existence of the Temple and after it, in respect of unconsecrated animals but not consecrated animals.

2)      The law of the shoulder and the cheeks and the stomach is of stricter application than the law of the first of the fleece; for the law of the shoulder and the cheeks and the stomach applies both to herds and flocks, whether they are many or few, whereas the law of the first of the fleece applies only to sheep, and only when there are many.

 

Explanation

Section one: The law of the first of the fleece is applicable in all times and places, but it applies only to unconsecrated animals.  Just as consecrated animals are exempt from the shoulder, cheeks and stomach, so too they are exempt from the law of the first of the fleece.

Section two: The mishnah notes that in one way the giving of the shoulder, cheeks and stomach is more broadly applied than the giving of the first of the fleece. The priest receives the shoulder, cheeks and stomach from any domesticated animal, be it cow, sheep or goat. However, the priest receives the fleece only from sheep and not from goats (cows are not fleeced, so that is not relevant). Furthermore, the priest receives the fleece only when there are many sheep, and not when there are few. This shall be explained in tomorrow’s mishnah.

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