Tuesday, August 09, 2011

If you shecht with a light saber, is the animal kosher?

If you shecht an animal with a light saber is it kosher? asked by Elder Of Ziyon actually has a legitimate answer.

Chaim Casper answers on Mail Jewish

A serious answer would be no. While on one hand the light saber
would have no p'gamim (nicks), on the other hand how would you
check the knife? B'dikah of the knife by running your hand down the blade is an integral part of the process.

Secondly, does the light saber burn/heat (i.e. cook) the flesh as it cuts
through the simanim (the majority of the esophogus and the trachea)? If it does, the meat would be traife as it is being cooked before it is

B'virkat Torah
Chaim Casper

The main point is that the "blade" has no "mamashus" [physical existence]. In
"real" terms, it would be like using a laser beam, rather than a blade, to
create the slice. The original question in the daf yomi of Fourth of July -
Chulin 8a (appropriate isn't it) was that if someone heats a blade to a white
heat and uses it, is it valid? The question is whether the blade cuts the flesh
before or after the heat causes the flesh to separate in front of it. Since Rav
Zeira rules that the blade is what starts the cut and the incision spreads as it
is cut, the burn of the the heat is not considered as if it was burning the
trachea and esophagus before the slaughter.

In the case of a laser (or light saber) the flesh is vaporized rather
than cut. Thus, it would be treated as if it was "burned" rather than
slaughtered, which would make it a neveilah.

Another point is that the wound is cauterized as it is made. For
example, when Luke Skywalker lost his hand to the strike of Darth
Vader's light saber, the wound was cauterized as it was made and did
not bleed. In the dapim for the beginning of Chapter two of Chullin
(27 - 29), we see that the blood must flow freely. In fact, Rebbi
Yehuda says in the mishna that even if he slaughters a bird correctly,
it is not kosher until he cuts the major blood vessels. We also see a
similar law involving chaya [non-domesticated animals] or kodshei
beheima [domesticated animals brought on the altar] in the discussion
in the gemoro.

This means that if the cut was cauterized as it was made so that the
blood could not flow, it might not be a valid shechita [slaughter].

The halacha of the flesh immediately at the place of the cut is
different. However, that would be a subject for a different post.
I would continue the logic of the heated blade from 8A as well. Since
the gemora does not mention the idea of "cooked before being
kashered", it seems that it does not consider that a problem.

The Daf Yomi for 27 Tammuz 5771 (29 July), Chulin 33A, actually deals with the
case of what happens if the wound is cauterized as the animal is
slaughtered. It says that in a non-sacred case, the animal is still kosher
even if the blood does not come out of the blood vessels. This means that
the case of the heated knife mentioned earlier (which is similar to the case
of the light saber or laser), which cauterizes the wound as it is cut, would
still be kosher.

An animal slaughtered for a sacrifice (kodshim) is different as the blood
must be received in a bowl for sprinkling on the altar. In the case of a
chaya (non-domestic animal) or bird, while the blood must be covered,
apparently it does not require the blood to spill out. A bird must have the
blood vessels severed, but as in the case of the superheated knife, it seems
that they can be cauterized shut as long as the cut is made by the blade.

Thus, it appears that the only reason the chullin (non-sacred) animal would
be non-kosher is that the "blade" cuts by burning or vaporizing what it "touches" rather than by cutting.

As I said above, the gemora states that it is because the blade actually cuts
rather than burns that a white hot knife is kosher.

Another point is that if you consider the "blade" as moving bits of plasma, it can be considered as if it is an infinitely "long" virtual "blade" that is always moving in one direction. As a result, the shochet would not have to move it at all by manipulating it like a knife. Similarly, shooting a laser beam would be similar to shechting by shooting an arrow with an infinitely long sharp blade, even though it appears stationary to the human eye. Each photon is a moving part of the "blade". Of course since the photon does not have mamashus, it is like a fire that burns rather than a blade that cuts and makes the animal a tereifah.