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Shechita

On 17 Av 5765 (22 Aug 2005), I took a trip with my Rav HaMasmich and some 25 other musmachim to a slaughterhouse. We met there with shochtim who gave us live lessons and demonstrations in shechita and chulin. Most of us found the experience exhilarating — what wonders Hashem has made in His world and how remarkable His Torah! That said, not everyone is able to experience shechita as a spiritual encounter; the graphic nature of the slaughterhouse can be overwhelming. One of the shochtim told me that he fell unconcious when he first saw a shechita.

Warning! These pictures are graphic!


Knives
Knives
The shochet's knives must be large enough to perform the shechita in one pass.
Sharpening the Knife
Sharpening the Knife
The shochet sharpens his knife.
The Shochet
The Shochet
The shochet checks the knife before and after each shechita.
Checking the Knife
Checking the Knife
R' Aharon checks the knife with his fingernail to confirm that there are no nicks. A nick would render the shechita invalid and the animal a neveila. Nicks are discussed in Y.D. 18.
Holding Pen
Holding Pen
This machine will hold the cow during the shechita.
Cow
Cow
The cow is locked into place.
Cow
Cow
It is given a drink of water.
Cow
Cow
The holding pen begins to roll the cow upside-down.
Cow
Cow
The holding pen rolls the cow upside-down. The Mechaber brings in Y.D. 6:4 that the knife must be above the animal's neck during the shechita. See also Shach s"k 8.
Cleaning
Cleaning
The cow's neck is hosed down to remove dirt and debris. A stone stuck in the cow's fur can nick the knife.
Shechita
Shechita
While an assistant extends the cow's neck by pushing the cow's chin with a specially shaped poll, the shochet performs the shechita, taking the cow's life with one cut through the trachea, esophagus, and carotid arteries. Y.D. 20:4 explains that the shochet pulls the trachea forward before the shechita so that it is cut first. In 22:2, the Mechaber explains that the carotid arteries don't have to be cut as part of the shechita for the shechita to be valid, though if they are not cut, the animal cannot be roasted whole and the arteries themselves must be removed and discarded. As animals are rarely (and today never) roasted whole, this isn't considered a major issue.
After the Shechita
After the Shechita
After the blood drains, the cow will be lifted by its back leg.
Lifting the Carcass
Lifting the Carcass
The cow is lifted and the blood is rinsed away.
The Carcass
The Carcass
The carcass is hung to drain the blood.
The Carcass
The Carcass
The blood is drained and rinsed away.
The Carcass
The Carcass
Occassionally the dead carcass twitches. This one twitched suddenly several minutes after the shechita.
The Head
The Head
The cow's head is removed.
Checking the Lungs
Checking the Lungs
The carcass is laid down and the shochet slices it open. He will reach in up to his shoulder to feel the lungs inside to make sure the animal is kosher.
Sheep
Sheep
Sheep
Sheep
The sheep are walked into the slaughterhouse.
Preparations
Preparations
The shochetim are very serious in their work. They must be yorei shamayim as they will be held accountable for any pain or suffering the animal feels.
Beit HaShechita
Beit HaShechita
The shochet grips the trachea with his left hand and pulls it forward for the shechita. The neck bones in the back must be avoided as they can nick the knife rendering the shechita nonkosher.
Beit HaShechita
Beit HaShechita
The Epiglottis
The Epiglottis
The shochet shows the vavles that close the trachea when the animal swallows. The shechita must be done below this point.
Shechita
Shechita
The shochet pulls the trachea forward for shechita.
Beit HaShechita
Beit HaShechita
The shochet demonstrates the shechita technique on an intact carcass.
Beit HaShechita
Beit HaShechita
After the shechita, the blood from the beit hashechita.
Sheep
Sheep
The sheep are lined up over the drain after the shechita.
Sheep
Sheep
Maphshit
Maphshit
After the shechita, the carcass is skinned.
Maphshit
Maphshit
Skin
Skin
Here is the cow skin. It may go to a sofer to be turned into tefillin.
Carcasses
Carcasses
After skinning, the sheep carcasses are hung up.
Heads
Heads
The heads are removed.
The Rosh
The Rosh
Head and Entrails
Head and Entrails
The head and entrails are placed on the table to be checked by the shochet.
The Stomachs
The Stomachs
The shochet feels each stomach to ensure that it does not contain nails, sharp items, or punctures. To the left is the esophagus which leads into the first stomach.
The Lungs
The Lungs
The lungs are inflated with air to make sure there are no punctures. These lungs were chalak (glatt), meaning smooth with no scars.
The Heart
The Heart
The shochet spreads the lungs to reveal the heart beneath.
The Liver
The Liver
The shochet lifts the cheilev that covers the liver.
Cheilev and Kilayim
Cheilev and Kilayim
The cheilev has been pulled aside to reveal the kidneys.
Entrails
Entrails
Stomachs, entrails, and cheilev.
Legs
Legs
Entrails
Entrails
On the right, the digestive tracks of two cows hang by the tongue. In the center hang two heads as seen from below the chin. All will hang while they are checked by the shochet for treifos.
Entrails
Entrails
Entrails as seen from the other side. Even at this point the muscles occasionally twitch. I saw several such movements as I was standing there.
Entrails
Entrails
The shochet checks the hanging entrails.
Feet
Feet
Cleaned Carcass
Cleaned Carcass
Here's the cleaned carcass, commonly called "a side of beef."
Cleaned Carcass
Cleaned Carcass

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Photo album generated by album from Dave's MarginalHacks on Mon Aug 29 10:42:30 2005