Are Eggs of a Treifa Chicken Kosher?

Provided courtesy of Real Clear Daf

We discussed this question on Thursday’s daf (58a). Ameimar there teaches that it depends on when the eggs formed: Eggs that formed before the chicken became treifa are not kosher whereas eggs that formed afterwards are kosher. Rashi explains that the pre-treifa eggs are prohibited because they are Halachikally considered an extension of the chicken. Regarding the post-treifa eggs Ameimar explains that since the eggs are a product of something prohibited (the treifa hen) and something permitted (the kosher rooster which fertilized the eggs), the eggs are kosher.

There is a basic question that needs to be answered in order to understand Ameimar’s teaching: Why aren’t the eggs that formed after the chicken became a treifa also prohibited by dint of the fact that they are a Halachik extension of the treifa chicken?

The Chazon Ish takes up this issue in his commentary to Yoreh Deah (Siman 14 [II]) and illuminates the way for us. First the Chazon Ish has us consider the following hypothetical: What if a miracle occurred and an animal deemed treifa survived--would the animal now be kosher? The Chazon Ish brings sources that prove that in such a case the animal would remain non-kosher. Apparently, the Chazon Ish observes, once an animal contracts a treifa condition, the Torah brands it as prohibited for all time. In other words, the Chazon Ish explains, there are two different aspects when it comes to a treifa animal: 1) the mortal defect itself, and 2) the resultant permanent prohibited status.

From the perspective of this new understanding, the Chazon Ish continues, let’s examine the eggs of a treifa chicken. On the one hand we could argue that since the eggs will emerge from the chicken, they should not be caught up in the treifa injury that has befallen the chicken. So although the Torah pronounced a permanent prohibition upon the chicken itself due to the fatal defect it suffered, this should not apply to the eggs. On the other hand we could argue that the Halacha ought to follow the here and now and since presently the eggs are Halachikally one with the chicken, they too should be swept up in the Torah’s declaration of permanent prohibition as a result of the chicken becoming treifa.

The Chazon Ish explains that the distinction found in our Gemara reflects how Chazal balanced these two arguments. If the eggs were already present during the moment that the chicken was permanently branded as non-kosher as a result of the treifa event then indeed the eggs are swept up in this branding notwithstanding the fact that they will later emerge. However if the eggs only formed after the chicken had already become treifa then the argument to focus on the future outcome prevails and the eggs are spared from the chicken’s verdict of non-kosher (though indeed, Chazon Ish explains, the eggs are prohibited as extensions of the chicken until they actually emerge).

Though we may not have solved the “chicken before the egg” dilemma here, you now know for sure that with regards to treifa, the treifa chicken must come before the eggs in order for them to be kosher.