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Expanding Partial Hekdesh to the Entire Animal

  • Rav Moshe Taragin

The gemara in Temura (10a) cites an intriguing position of R. Yossi. Typically, when a person designates an animal for hekdesh/korban, the entire animal acquires the hekdesh status. If a person is makdish only ONE LIMB of the animal, most Tana'im claim that at best, THAT limb becomes hekdesh; the rest of the animal remains unchanged. In contrast, R. Yossi claims that the ENTIRE animal acquires hekdesh status through a mechanism known as hitpashtut – literally, the hekdesh status "spreads" or "percolates" throughout the entire animal.


The simple understanding of hitpashtut suggests a TWO STAGED process. The PERSON DIRECTLY installs hekdesh status upon the designated limb, and SECONDARILY the hekdesh status permeates the entire animal. This follows the literal reading of the term hitpashtut. However, many halakhot and applications of this halakha suggest a very different mechanism at work. Even though the person formally limits his ACTUAL declaration to one limb, it is halakhically CONSIDERED AS IF he has designated hekdesh status to the entire animal. By relating to one part of the animal, he has, in effect, halakhically addressed the entire animal.


Perhaps the strongest proof that hitpashtut entails a full ACT OF DESIGNATION emerges from R. Yossi's extension to cases of temura. The aforementioned mishna discusses the process of temura by which hekdesh status is (illegally) transferred to a different animal. Theoretically, a limb can receive secondarily extended hekdesh status. Yet R. Yossi allows TRANSFERRING hekdesh (Temura) from a full animal to an animal limb through the application of hitpashtut. It is difficult to envision the two step model of hitpashtut here. Classic hekdesh scenarios allow for two-step hitpashtut: initially the LIMB receives kedusha, and subsequently the kedusha permeates the entire animal. However, ported temura hekdesh status (Temura) cannot “fasten itself” to a limb. Therefore, the second stage of hekdesh permeating cannot occur because no initial binding of hekdesh to a limb develops through the Temura porting process. By applying hitpashtut to temura, R. Yossi was probably asserting a more ambitious hitpashtut model – a hekdesh declaration directed at a body part is considered an act upon the entire animal. This model of hitpashtut may apply to Temura. Just as a partial hekdesh declaration applies to the entire integrated animal similarly a partial “porting” applies to the entire animal.


This would also explain the gemara's readiness to extend hitpashtut to the act of kiddushin. The gemara describes a case in which a man married “half a woman” by stipulating that he intends to marry "chetzyei'ch" (“half of you”). The gemara (Kiddushin 7a) asserts the option of hitpashtut to allow the kiddushin to spread throughout the entire woman, rejecting the option only because of a technicality.  Similar to temura and ported hekdesh, kiddushin status cannot bind itself to “half a woman;” a specific derasha (Kiddushin 7a) limits kiddushin status to COMPLETE people. If the initial partial status cannot evolve, the secondary permeation cannot follow! Evidently, the hitpashtut model that R. Yossi introduces includes (at the very least) the ability to extend a limited declaration and consider it a broader declaration. Even though the man only designated kiddushin on half the woman, it is considered as if he declared kiddushin upon the entire woman.


To restate the above: The concept of hitpashtut can theoretically be explained as a two-staged expansion of the halakhic status imposed on part of the animal. However, the application to kiddushin, as well as the extension to temura, indicates that at the very least a secondary model of hitpashtut exists. Perhaps hitpashtut re-engineers the original statement. Although the person only declared a leg of the animal to be hekdesh, the notion of hitpashtut renders his statement as a comprehensive one about the entire animal.  Regarding hekdesh denomination, an animal is considered indivisible; any declaration about part of the animal is considered a declaration about the ENTIRE animal. This model allows applying hitpashtut to many different spheres; just as a partial hekdesh declaration can be stretched to apply to the entire item, partial kiddushin declarations or partial temura declarations can similarly be stretched to apply to the entire target items (the woman in the case of kiddushin and the animal in the case of temura).


The Mikdash Dovid (Kuntrus Kodshim) asserts an interesting case to help determine whether hitpashtut extends the act of hekdesh declaration or merely allows for stage two expansion of kedusha upon the other part of the animal. He questions whether hitpashtut would apply to a chatat declaration or only to the olah declaration about which the paradigm was originally stated. Unlike an olah, which is designated as “generic” hekdesh, a chatat must be designated on behalf of a particular sin. Even if the chatat state spread to the entire animal, the undeclared part was never assigned to atone for a PARTICULAR sin. If hitpashtut merely enables the spread of generic chatat status to the entire animal, perhaps it does not enable a specific sin-assignment upon the non-declared part. Alternatively, if hitpashtut DOES stretch the declarative act to include the entire animal, it would operate upon a chatat; through hitpashtut, it is considered as if the ENTIRE animal was declared a chatat for the particular sin.


An additional question to help gauge the mechanism of hitpashtut was advanced by R. Menachem Zemba (Zera Avraham 11:28). Generally, any personal pleasure derived from hekdesh violates the prohibition of me'ila. A landmark Ramban in Bava Batra (79a) claims that me'ila is only violated by benefitting from verbally assigned hekdesh. Items which become hekdesh AUTOMATICALLY without human declaration or assignment do not carry the me'ila prohibition. For example, water that flowed into a hekdesh well is legally owned by hekdesh. However, since it was never verbally declared as hekdesh, but rather acquired that status automatically, it is not forbidden as a me'ila issur. This is an outstanding chiddush about the nature of me'ila and presents two different models of hekdesh.



Assuming the Ramban is correct, would illegally derived benefit from the non-declared part of the animal constitute me'ila? Formally, hitpashtut has rendered the entire animal hekdesh, but did the non-declared part become hekdesh automatically or through an extended act of declaration? If hitpashtut extends the declarative act to include the entire animal, the prohibition of me'ila would indeed apply to the entire animal. If, however, hitpashtut causes automatic flow of the hekdesh status to the non-declared part of the animal, perhaps the Rambam would not acknowledge me'ila prohibition on this part of the animal.