Halachic Concepts from the Mishnah: Ubar Yerech Imo

Halachic Concepts from today’s Mishnah: Ubar Yerech Imo
When a pregnant woman converts and dunks in the Mikvah, must she also immerse her child after birth, or does her immersion count both for herself and for her child? The answer to this question lies in one explanation for an argument in today’s Mishnah.

The Mishnah (Temruah 6:5) addresses the unusual case of the offspring of a Tereifah – an animal with a mortal defect (which renders it unkosher and unfit for sacrifice). Is the healthy offspring fit for sacrifice, or unfit like it’s mother?

Rabbi Eliezer rules that the offspring cannot be offered on the altar, while the Sages disagree. What is the nature of their argument? One possible explanation is that their dispute revolves around a famous halachic concept called, “Ubar yerech imo” – i.e., a fetus is considered like the limb of its mother. Rabbi Eliezer considered the fetus as a limb of its mother, so just as the mother is unfit for sacrifice, the child is similarly unfit.

The Sages disagreed, ruling that a fetus is not yerech imo – just a limb of its mother. It has its own independent status, and would therefore be considered worthy for sacrifice.How would this argument apply to the pregnant mother’s conversion? If “ubar yerech imo” – then the mother’s immersion would suffice for both herself and her unborn child. On the other hand, should we rule “ubar lav yerech imo” – that the fetus is not like the limb of its mother, then the child would need its own immersion after birth.

What’s the halachah? Ask your local rabbi.

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