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BEDIḲAH, ("examination," "investigation," in ritual law):

Term employed in the Talmud and ritual codes denoting the rigid scrutiny by meansof which the fitness or unfitness of a person or object, according to the requirements of the rabbinical law, is ascertained. The term is employed chiefly in the following cases:

1. Bediḳat ha-Sakkin Condition of Knife.

("the examination of the knife"): The Mosaic law, as interpreted by the Rabbis, requires that animals whose flesh is to be used as food be slaughtered according to the method enjoined by tradition and known as Sheḥiṭah. The throat of the animal must be cut with a perfectly keen and smooth knife, of a prescribed size, which must be drawn to and fro across the throat, with a swift and uninterrupted motion, and in such a manner as to sever at least the larger portion ("rob") of both the esophagus and the trachea; except in the case of fowls, when only one of the tubes needs to be cut. Although the act of sheḥiṭah may be performed by any person, the appointment of a professional slaughterer, or "shoḥet," has at all times been customary, and this official must be a well-informed and religious man. The slaughterer, whoever it be, is in duty bound carefully to examine the knife before the slaughtering to see that it be perfectly keen and smooth (), without dent or roughness, and to repeat the process after the slaughtering. Should the knife be dented ("pagum," having a "pegimah") or become so during the slaughtering, the flesh of animals slaughtered therewith is rendered ritually unfit for food (Ḥul. 17b; Maimonides, "Yad," Sheḥiṭah, i. 23 and 24; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 18, 1-12).

2. Bediḳat ha-Simanim Inspection of Parts. ("the examination of the parts," the esophagus and trachea, that require to be severed in slaughtering):

After the animal has been slaughtered, the shoḥet's next duty is to immediately inspect the simanim to see whether they have been properly severed. Neglect of this procedure would render the flesh ritually unfit for food (see Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 25, 1).

3. Bediḳat ha-Reah ("the examination of the lung"):

After the shoḥet has satisfied himself that the act of slaughtering has been properly performed, it becomes his duty to examine the lung of the animal to see whether it is in a perfectly sound condition or is tainted with any of the blemishes specified by the rabbinical law as making the flesh prohibited for use as food. This is the most important examination in connection with the slaughtering of animals for food, and must be performed with the utmost care and scrupulous conscientiousness.

The shoḥet, who, in his capacity as inspector or examiner, is called "bodeḳ," scrutinizes the lung most carefully in order to see whether it contains any one of numerous fatal defects. A puncture in the lung ("neḳeb"), the absence of any part thereof ("ḥissaron"), a softening ("nitmasmes"), or drying ("yabesh") of the tissue, the presence of hard spots ("aṭum," "ṭinre"), or the hardening of the entire tissue ("ḳashah ke'eẓ"), blisters or tubercles ("bu'ot"), filaments filled with pus ("sirkot"), and an unnatural and unwholesome color ("mareh pesulah") are the chief defects in the lung which may render the flesh of an animal forbidden. The examination is conducted in various ways: by inserting the hand into the body before the lung is removed and feeling it ("mishmush"); also by putting the lung into lukewarm water, through which hard spots may become soft; and by inflating the lung ("nefiḥat ha-reah"). By the last-mentioned procedure the presence of a puncture can be at once detected. The result of this careful inspection is that flesh passed as "kosher" or fit is almost certain to be pure and wholesome as food (see Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 35-39; Maimonides, "Yad," Sheḥiṭah, viii., based on Mishnah Ḥul. iii. 1, and Gem. 46a et seq.).

4. Bediḳat Ḥameẓ

("the search for leaven") is the name of a ceremony performed on the evening of the thirteenth of Nisan, when the master of the house examines, with the aid of a candle, all the corners, chinks, and remote places of the house for the purpose of discovering and removing any stray morsels of leavened matter. The object of this search is to obtain the assurance that the house is entirely free from leaven during the continuance of the Passover festival, as commanded by the Mosaic law. Any leavened matter found, unless otherwise disposed of, is required to be burned about ten o'clock on the following morning. As at present performed the search is rather perfunctory, the main reliance being upon the housewife, who sees to it that the house is thoroughly cleansed of leaven and put into a proper condition for the festival. The chief purpose of the formal search is to give a religiolegal sanction to the actions of the housewife.

For "Bediḳat ha-ishshah" (the examination of women) see Niddah. For "Bediḳah le-gadlut" (the examination concerning maturity) see Majority, and also Vows and Nedarim. For examination of witnesses see Accusatory and Inquisitorial Procedure. For "Bediḳah le-mumim" (the examination concerning defects in relation to matrimony) see Marriage Among Hebrews. For "Bediḳah li-netinat geṭ" (examination concerning the capacity of giving a bill of divorce) see Divorce. For "Bediḳat ha-metim" (examination of the dead) see Death. For "Bediḳah le-yoḥasin" (examination concerning purity or legitimacy of descent) see Purity of Race.

Bibliography:
  • Ex. xii. 19, xiii. 7;
  • Deut. xvi. 4;
  • Mishnah Pes. i. 1;
  • Gem. 4b et seq.;
  • Maimonides, Yad ha-Ḥazaḳah, Hilkot, Ḥamez u-Maẓẓah, i.-iii.;
  • Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim;
  • Dembo, Das Schächten, Leipsic, 1894;
  • Wiener, Die Jüdischen Speisegesetze, Breslau, 1895 (the latter takes a rather antagonistic view).
K. B. D.
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