In the fifth Perek (Pesachim 59a,) the Mishna teaches that even once it has been set aside to be a קרבן פסח, if the lamb or goat was slaughtered with intent to use it for another קרבן, or other invalid purposes, it is פסול.
In our chapter, we have focussed a lot on the fact that the קרבן פסח pushes aside the prohibition of מלאכה on Shabbos, and is thus offered even on Shabbos, unlike the חגיגה which does not push this prohibition aside and is thus not offered on shabbos.
The Mishna on 71b puts these two rules together and teaches that if someone slaughtered a קרבן פסח for an invalid purpose on shabbos, seeing as the קרבן is invalid and the מצוה has not been fulfilled, he has also unknowingly desecrated שבת and needs to bring a קרבן חטאת (sin offering) to atone for this.
The Gemara on 72b notes that seeing as the קרבן is invalid, the slaughter was actually an act of מקלקל (a destructive action) and the general rule is that מקלקל בשבת פטור (one is not liable for a melacha whose result is only destructive- See post on Shabbos 105-106)
There is a view,however, namely that of Rabbi Shimon (Shabbos 106a ) that holds that כל המקלקלין פטורים חוץ ממבעיר וחובל – one is not liable for any destructive act other than lighting a fire and injury (the later falling under the מלאכה of שוחט.
According to this view, these two melachot are exemptions to the exemption of מקלקל and it thus makes sense that slaughtering an animal in a way that renders it unfit is still a punishable act on shabbos.
However, according to the view that מקלקל בחבורה (making a wound in a destructive way) is also פטור, why should one who slaughters an animal on shabbos in a way that disqualifies it be liable- his act was purely destructive!
The Gemara first asks this question in relation to someone who slaughtered the קרבן פסח with the intention for people other than those assigned to it to eat it.
It responds that seeing as such a קרבן is not taken down from the מזבח if it was already put up, there is still some benefit to the slaughter, and it is not considered מקלקל.
It then asks the same question regarding the case where the animal is found to be a בעל מום (blemished) after slaughter. In this case, even if the animal has been put on the מזבח already, it must be taken down.
The Gemara answers that the mishna is only referring to certain blemishes that Rabbi Akiva holds do not require it to be taken down once it has already been put up.
The Gemara proceeds to query the case where it was slaughtered and then found to be a טריפה (terminally wounded animal) in a place which could not have been seen before slaughter, and answers that there is still some benefit in that the animal can no longer become טמא like a נבילה (an animal that died without halachik slaughter.)
We see from this sugya that even according to the opinion that the exemption of מקלקל applies to the מלאכה of שוחט\חובל , the slightest benefit achieved from the animal itself because of the slaughter prevents the action from being defined as מקלקל , even if the action is clearly more destructive than constructive.
Whether this limitation applies only to these two exceptional מלאכות or to all cases of מקלקל requires further analysis.
Tosfos notes that in addition to מקלקל, there is another reason for exemption that should apply in these cases, namely the exemption of מתעסק, which usually applies when one intends to perform an action on a permitted item and lands up performing it on a forbidden one.
One who slaughters a קרבן פסח for another purpose presumably does so because he thought that it was set aside for another purpose (though see the discussion regarding the precise case on daf 72a where this might not be so straightforward an assumption.)
Similarly, one who thinks that he is slaughtering an animal without a blemish or that is not a טריפה and later finds out that it was indeed blemished or טריפה, has also performed an action on a forbidden item thinking it was a permitted item.
He notes that although there is admittedly a view (Kerisot 19b), in connection with the case of the two babies discussed on daf 72, that just like מקלקל is not an exemption when it comes to חובל, neither is מתעסק, a view which of course needs its own explanation, it is clear from the same sugya that according to the view that the exemption of מקלקל does apply to חובל, it applies to מתעסק too.
As such, it is difficult why the Gemara does not question the liability of such a person based on the exemption of מתעסק, even if it is not considered מקלקל.
We should note that this question fits the way תוספות understands מתעסק (see post on Shabbos 72.)
However, Rashi holds that the exemption of מתעסק only applies where the action was applied to a DIFFERENT item than the one which he intended to apply it to, for example if his hand slips, and in a case where he intended it to be applied to the same item but merely thought that it was a permitted item, he would be liable as שוגג seeing as נעשתה מחשבתו (his intended action was carried out on its intended recipient.)
According to this view, the question does not even begin!
Another difficulty is the assumption that even a small benefit stops an action from being considered מקלקל even according to the opinion (Rabbi Yehuda) that exempts מקלקל בחבורה .
Virtually every destructive action could be viewed as beneficial in some far-fetched way, rendering the often-used exemption rather mute.
Yet Rabbi Yochanan (Shabbos 106a) denied that Rabbi Shimon held that מקלקל is liable when it comes to חובל ומבעיר and said that if he did indeed hold that way, it is only when there is some small benefit.
It follows that according to Rabbi Yehuda who holds that מקלקל is exempt even when it comes to these 2 מלאכות , he must mean that this is EVEN if there is some small benefit!
The Tosfos therefore suggest that when our sugya refers to the view that exemptsמקלקל בחבורה , it is not referring to Rabbi Yehuda, but rather to Rabbi Shimon according to Rabbi Yochanan’s interpretation by which Rabbi Shimon only holds one liable for מקלקל בחבורה if there is some small benefit.
It is possible that Rabbi Yochanan would still agree that Rabbi Shimon holds that מתעסק בחבורה is liable just like מקלקל בחבורה is under his more limited circumstances, and that our sugya is not bothered by the מתעסק issue.
This also allows us to conclude that Rabbi Yehuda exempts מקלקל בחבורה even where there is some small benefit and that this certainly applies to מלאכות other than it and הבערה!
There is much more to discuss on this issue, some of which we have done in earlier posts, and some of which I hope to revisit in later posts.
These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.