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Out with the old, in with the new

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Rabbi Yisrael Yaakov Algazi (1680-1757) explains that chalifah refers to when two people switch animals in a sort of transactionary transfer of holiness, while temurah refers to one person switching out one of his animals for another one of his animals.

Rabbi Yehuda Leib Shapira-Frankfurter (1743-1826) — Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s great uncle — explains that chalifah refers to switching out something worse in favor of something better, while temurah refers to switching out something better for something worse. When the Torah forbids transferring holiness from one animal to another, it does so indiscriminately. Meaning, it does not matter whether the second animal is better than the first animal or worse than the first animal — it is always prohibited.

Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Wertheimer (1866-1935) follows this basic approach with one slight tweak: He asserts that chalifah is a neutral word that refers to both switching out something good in favor of something bad and vice versa, while temurah exclusively refers to replacing something good with something bad. He works through a number of Scriptural examples that illustrate this assumption.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) also follows his great-uncle’s understanding of temurah, but explains that chelef/chalifah technically refers to the act of transporting/transferring something from one place/situation to another — whether or not something else will replace it. For example, the prophet Isaiah foretells of the future vanishing of all idols by using the word yachalof to denote their disappearance (Isa. 2:18). With this in mind, Rabbi Hirsch explains that a slaughtering knife is traditionally called a chalaf because it “transforms” an animal from a state of living to a state of death. [Others maintain that chalaf in the sense of “knife” is derived from the Arabic word........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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