Keritot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

According to Leviticus 12:6, after a woman gives birth and then undergoes a period of purification, she must bring two offerings. The first is a lamb, offered as an olah, and the second is a bird for a hatat. The remainder of our chapter deals with various scenarios in which a woman would bring a hatat and either eat it or not.

 

Mishnah Three

1)      Some women [after childbirth] bring an offering which is eaten; some bring one which is not eaten, and some bring no offering at all.

2)      These bring an offering which is eaten:

3)      If a woman miscarries a fetus which has the shape of beast, or a wild animal or a bird, the words of Rabbi Meir; but the sages say: only if it has a human shape.

4)      Or if a woman miscarries a sandal-like fetus or a placenta or a fully formed fetus, or one that comes out in pieces.

5)      Similarly, if a female slave miscarries, she brings an offering which is eaten.

 

Explanation

Section one: This is an introduction to the following four mishnayot.

Section two: In the cases which follow, despite the fact that the woman has not given birth to a live child, she must still bring a sacrifice and the sacrifice can be eaten. The significance of the sacrifice being edible is that it implies that she is fully obligated to bring the sacrifice. As we shall see in mishnah four, in cases of doubt concerning whether she is obligated or not, she brings the sacrifice but it is not eaten.

Section three: According to Rabbi Meir, if the miscarried fetus has the shape of a living being, even an animal, she must bring the sacrifice and the sacrifice is eaten. The other sages hold that the fetus must have a human shape for her to eat the sacrifice. This is the same dispute that we saw in Bekhorot 8:1.

Section four: A sandal like fetus is considered to be human enough for it to count as a human miscarriage, which makes the woman liable for a sacrifice that can be eaten. If a woman miscarries a placenta, the assumption is that she also miscarried a fetus and somehow it was missed. A fully formed fetus or one that is cut up in pieces also count as births.

Section five: A female slave is liable to observe the same commandments that a Jewish woman is liable to observe. Therefore, if she gives birth, the same rules that apply to the Jewish woman apply to her.

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