Baba Kamma 77b
and Resh Lakish observed that R. Simeon used to say that the red heifer could be redeemed even after [it was slaughtered and] placed upon the wood for burning1 thus proving that whatever has the possibility of being redeemed2 is considered as if it had already been redeemed.
We can understand why R. Johanan did not give the same answer [to the difficulty3 propounded] as Resh Lakish,4 as he was anxious to explain the ruling [of our Mishnah] even in the case of unblemished sacrifices. But why did Resh Lakish not give the same answer as R. Johanan?5 — He could say: [Scripture says.] 'And he slaughtered it or sold it'6 implying that it was only an animal [subject to this law] in the case of a sale that could be [subject to it] in the case of slaughter, whereas an animal which would not be [subject to this law] in the case of sale could similarly not be [subject to it] in the case of slaughter either. Now, in the case of these unblemished sacrifices, since if the thief had sold the sacrifices it would not have been a sale [to all intents and purposes],7 they could not be [subject to this law even] when they were slaughtered.
R. Johanan and Resh Lakish indeed followed their own lines of reasoning [elsewhere]. For it was stated: If a thief sells a stolen ox which is trefa,8 according to R. Simeon,9 R. Johanan said that he would be liable, whereas Resh Lakish said that he would be exempt. R. Johanan. who said that he would be liable, held that though this ox could not be subject to the law of slaughter it could yet be subject to the law of sale, whereas Resh Lakish who said that he would be exempt maintained that since this ox could not be subject to the law of slaughter, it could similarly not be subject to the law of sale either.
R. Johanan objected to [the view of] Resh Lakish [from the following]: If he stole a hybrid animal and slaughtered it, or a trefa animal and sold it, he would have to make double payment. Now, does not this ruling follow the view of R. Simeon,10 thus proving that though this ox would not be subject to the law of slaughter it could nevertheless be subject to the law of sale? — He replied: No; this is the view of the Rabbis.11 But if this is the view of the Rabbis, why should a trefa ox be subject only to the law of sale and not to the law of slaughter? — You say then that it is the view of R. Simeon.9 Why then should a hybrid animal be subject only to the law of slaughter and not to that of sale? We must say therefore that though slaughter is mentioned12 the same law was meant to apply also to sale; so also according to the Rabbis, though sale is stated in the text,13 the same law was meant to apply to slaughter.14 R. Johanan, however, might say that this does not follow. It is true that if you say that the ruling follows R. Simeon, there is no difficulty: since it was necessary to state liability regarding trefa in the one case [of sale] only, it states liability regarding a hybrid animal also in the one case [of slaughter] only. But if you say that this ruling follows the Rabbis, why not join them together, and state thus: 'If the thief misappropriated a hybrid animal and a trefa [sheep or ox] and slaughtered them or sold them, he would have to make four-fold or five-fold payment'! This indeed is a difficulty.
[But why should there be liability for four-fold or five-fold payment in the case of] a hybrid animal since Scripture says 'sheep'.15 and Raba [elsewhere] said that this16 is a locus classicus for the rule that wherever it says 'sheep', the purpose is to exclude a hybrid animal? — This case here is different, as Scripture says 'or',17 implying the inclusion of a hybrid animal. [Does this mean to say that] the term 'or' everywhere implies an amplification? Was it not taught:18 'When a bullock or a sheep:19 this excepts a hybrid; or a goat:19 this excepts an animal looking like a hybrid'? — Said Raba: The term 'or' in the one case is expounded in accordance with the subject matter of the verse, and the term 'or' in the other case is similarly expounded in accordance with the subject matter of that verse. Here in connection with theft where it is written 'an ox or a sheep', since it is impossible to produce a hybrid from the union of these two,20 the term 'or' should be expounded to include21 a hybrid [of a different kind], whereas in connection with sacrifices where it is written 'a sheep or a goat',19 where it is possible for you to produce a hybrid from their union,22 the term 'or' should rightly be taken to exclude23 [the hybrid].
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