Zroa, lechayayim and keva

A Torah commandment that some call forgotten, awareness of this obligation from those who slaughter cattle – the “shochet” – to give the foreleg, cheeks and abomasum to the kohen has been growing due to the tireless efforts of Igud HaKohanim. The gift, written in פרשת שופטים typically read during the summer months, obligates the shochet to give the foreleg, cheeks (tongue included) and abomasum of every kosher four legged animal  (cow, sheep, buffalo etc.) to a kohen – even when slaughtering for commercial purposes. The Mishna of Chullin, Perek Hazroa  ch. 10 writes;

Chickens are not obligated under the mitzvah of zroa, lechayayim and keva

Chickens are not obligated under the mitzvah of zroa, lechayayim and keva

The (mitzvah of) zroa, lechayayim and keiva is applicable in the land (of Israel) and outside the land (of Israel), while the temple stands and in its absence

This halacha is echoed by the Rambam (הל’ ביכורים ומתנות כהונה פ”ט ה”א), is the view of the Rishonim, and brought by the Shulchan Aruch.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 61:21) writes as follows;

מתנות נהוגות בכל מקום, בין בארץ בין בחוצה לארץ, בין בפני הבית בין שלא בפני הבית, ויש מי שאומר שאינן נהוגות בחוצה לארץ, וכן נהגו.

The giving of the foreleg, cheeks and abomasum is obligatory in all places – both in the land of Israel and outside of it, both when the bet-hamikdash is present and when it is not. Yet there is he who says that they are not applicable outside the land of Israel and so they have accustomed themselves.

Many a seasoned scholar is aware of the כלל פסיקה that the halacha is as his first opinion (כללי הטור והבית יוסף יד מלאכי ס”ק, מצויין ג”כ לכללי הקרבן נתנאל כלל ה וחוט המשולש שבספר התשב”ץ ענין ל”א), thus paskening this mitzvah is in fact applicable in chu”l, some are mistaken by the Mechaber’s concluding words וכן נהגו and understand the mechaber as “giving eidus” to the inaction of the masses as the de facto halacha – more on this topic.

In fact, the halacha is as the first opinion quoted and remains in-line with the mechabers method of paskening as רוב שלשת עמודי העולם as stated in the introduction to Shulchan Aruch.

This mitzvah is a consistent one – almost every kosher slaughtered four-legged animal is included, There is also a tremendous segula involved in being  careful that one eat only the meat from a shechita where the gifts have been given – Rabbi Freida attributed his long life for being careful about this.

The vast majority of rishonim (see list below) conclude with the mishna and state that the mitzvah is applicable outside of eretz yisroel.

So, with a kohen spending a few minutes going through our few articles (see below) discussing what they said, it becomes clear that this mitzvah could and should be revived to it’s former glory.


The Mahar”m of Rothenberg’s letter
Rashi’s opinon

zroa of glatt kosher slaughtered animal in kosher butcher shop

Right foreleg of a glatt-kosher-slaughtered animal – Many kosher consumers choose their marrow bones from the left foreleg instead of the right

This mitzvah, is listed in the mishna, the Rambam and shulchan aruch, as applicable in all times and places. The shulchan aruch (Yoreh Deah, 61;31) writes that these parts intended for the kohen are forbidden to be eaten by a yisroel.

Today’s kosher consumer should be familiar with a few questions about this mitzvah;

  • Does does “Glatt Kosher” meat mean the gifts where given?
  • May glatt-kosher beef be consumed if the shochet neglected to give these gifts to a kohen?
  • May kosher tongue be bought and served?
  • May marrow bones of the right foreleg be used for shabbos cholent?

Igud HaKohanim is currently active in an ongoing educational campaign to restore this mitzvah to it proper practical place and invites you to view the following articles;



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