Hullin, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four



This mishnah is a continuation of the end of yesterday’s mishnah, where we learned that there were four periods of the year when people ate more meat. This mishnah teaches us another ramification of the fact that there were four major times to eat meat during the year.


Mishnah Four

1)      At these four periods a butcher can be compelled to slaughter against his will. Even if the ox was worth a thousand dinars and the purchaser has only [paid] a dinar, they can force the butcher to slaughter it.

2)      Therefore if the animal died, the loss is upon the purchaser.   

3)      At other times of the year it is not so, therefore if the animal died, the loss is upon the seller.



Section one: At these four times of the year (see yesterday’s mishnah for the list) a butcher can be compelled to slaughter an animal and sell the meat. This is so even if the ox to be slaughtered is worth a tremendous amount and there is only one person who wants to buy a small amount of meat. In other words, it is so important that there be meat available to celebrate these occasions, that the halakhah forces the butcher to slaughter and sell, even if he risks a loss.

Section two: At these four times, the butcher had no choice but to sell and once he agreed to sell the meat, he could not change his mind. Therefore, if the animal should die before the buyer receives his meat, the buyer loses his one denar.

Section three: At other times of the year, the law is exactly the opposite. First of all, the butcher is not compelled to sell. Second, he can retract the sale so long as the purchaser has not received the meat (this is the typical law with regard to sales). If he sees that there are not enough people interested in buying the meat, he can simply decide not to slaughter. The animal is fully his until it is given over. Therefore, if someone has already paid for the meat, but the animal dies before it is slaughtered, the butcher must return the money.