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Avraham served his guests three tongues in mustard.1 However, Avraham kept all the mitzvot,2 one of which is to give the foreleg, jaw (including the tongue3), and maw of each slaughtered animal to the kohen. So how could Avraham feed the tongues to his guests, instead of giving them to a kohen (perhaps Shem4)?

  1. Bava Metzia 86b
  2. Yoma 28b
  3. Chullin 134b
  4. Nedarim 32b
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Because kohanim didn't exist? And, just because gemara says something about Avraham doesn't make it true. You're not required to believe that every statement by Chazal is a histofactual. –  rosenjcb Jul 31 at 16:41
@rosenjcb Those statements from Chazal that are not "histofactual" - what are they and how should we think of them? –  Avrohom Yitzchok Jul 31 at 17:57
@AvrohomYitzchok Aggada and you should think of them seriously. This is standard Judaism. –  Double AA Jul 31 at 18:04
Followup question: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/44086 –  msh210 Jul 31 at 18:55

2 Answers 2

Clearly, Avraham had the guests acquire the tongues before slaughtering the animal. As he assumed they were non-Jews, their ownership of the relevant body parts exempts those body parts from the requirement (Shulchan Arukh YD 61:26). Perhaps Avraham gave them water to wash their feet as part of a Kinyan Chalipin (according to Levi (Bava Metzia 47a)).

Alternatively, Avraham may have known that Shem was too far away to get the meat before it spoiled and exchanged the meat for money to save the Shem's property value from being lost (Shulchan Arukh YD 61:10).

Finally, perhaps Avraham held like the opinions (Chullin 136a) that giving the tongue doesn't apply in the Diaspora because of a connection in the verse to Terumot and Maaserot. Since Avraham was living before Yerusha and Yeshiva of the land, the Mitzva didn't apply yet to his locale.

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I probably shouldn't be having this much fun during the nine days... –  Double AA Jul 31 at 16:56
Learning is supposed to bring you joy; that's why you aren't supposed to learn on 9 Av, isn't it? But in all seriousness, should this be closed as a riddle, or is this a really lomdishe question? –  Seth J Jul 31 at 17:38
@SethJ Are those the only two options? –  Double AA Jul 31 at 17:39

The gemarah Megilla dafr 28a brings the case of Rav Preidah who said that as a middus chassidus he had never eaten from an animal from which the matanos had not been taken. The Art Scroll edition of the gemora on daf 28a (1) footnote 4 brings the Ritva who says that

The Gemora concludes that there is no analogy between the meat of an animal whos gifts have not been separated and tevel. ... Also in contrast to terumah, the priestly gifts from an animal are non-sacred, and so may be eaten even by a non-Kohen. Nevertheless, Rav Preida went beyond the demands of halacha, refusing to eat meat from an animal whose priestly gifts had not been separated (Ritva)

Since Avraham kept the Torah as a midus chassidus and on that basis is halachically allowed to eat tongue as well as serve it to his guests.

On thinking it over further, I have come to the conclusion (through logic) that Avraham would have also been considered a kohen at that time (when the "guests" arrived). He had taken on the spreading the worship of Hashem and was busy doing the avodah (of that time). In fact, that is why we have the line of kehunah being thought of as Shem (who outlived Avraham), Aiver, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Levi (as seen by the treatment of the tribe of Levi in Mitzraim). It was only after Matan Torah that we have the assigned kehunah and the specific matanos.

Since we can treat Avraham as a kohen, he was allowed to assign the matnos kehuna to himself, and, since they were not kodesh, serve them to his guests.

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It's still Gezel... –  Double AA Aug 8 at 3:29

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