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Does advanced age disqualify a Shochet from being able to preform the ritual slaughter? If so what is the cut off age?

Related question: What's the youngest that a shochet could be? (lower age limit)

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Strictly speaking, there is no upper age limit, though some have the custom to impose an across-the-board limit of age 70 (perhaps to kindly retire certain aged shochtim who won't admit to their waning stamina, and who cannot be forced out due to political considerations). On the Nirbater Rav's list of policies for the Meal Mart company under his hashgacha, it states that one may not perform shechitah or bedikah (checking for tereifos) after reaching age 70, in accordance with the ruling of the Satmar Rebbe (R' Yoel) zt"l.

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As Ze'ev mentioned in his answer, Simlah Chadashah says (1:36) that an older person should not shecht, due to the practical limitations that accompany old age, such as shaky hands and weaker eyesight.

The Mordechai at the beginning of Chullin quotes Eldad HaDani in his הלכות ארץ ישראל (Hebrewbooks link I did not find exactly where in that book this הלכה is mentioned. If anyone finds the exact link, drop me a comment or just edit it in; thanks.) that the absolute limit is 80, and if one were to shecht over the age of 80 the meat is "פיגול" (my conjecture is that he used "פיגול" like we use "טריף" today); though the Mordechai says that it is "חומרא ולא נהגינן כוותיה," a stringency that we do not hold ourselves to.

I'm told that the OU's upper limit is 70. (Though I'm sure they'd let you eat the meat even if it was shechted by someone older, so long as he was reliably capable.)
[Tried to find this policy written online, but failed....if you find it let me know!]

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It should be mentioned that a certification doing industrial meat is requiring much bigger stamina from a Shochet than, for example, an individual shechting his own chicken for Kapparos in his retirement years. Thus they can be expected to have a lower age limit. – Yishai Sep 9 '14 at 21:59
@Yishai Makes sense. – Shokhet Sep 9 '14 at 22:09

First Mishnah in Hullin: "HaKol Shohtin Hutz MeHeresh Shoteh VeKatan Shema Yikalkelu eth Shehitathan."

If a person's advanced age makes him a Shoteh, for example, then presumably he would be disqualified.


Of course, this is pretty high up the TSB"P ladder, and some later prohibitions may have been added. I don't know of any as pertain to age, however. Incidentally, RaMB"aM adds a prohibition against a drunk person, putting him in the same category. http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/5304.htm

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Re drunkenness, see judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8566. – msh210 Jun 29 '11 at 19:59
TSB"P ? and somone just told me the Mordechai gives an age limit can somone confirm or deny that – Chalutzhanal Jun 29 '11 at 20:45
והשחיטה אסורה] מיד אשה מיד סריס מיד זקן לאחר שעברו עליו פ' שנה ומנער עד שימלא י"ח שנה ע"כ. : וחומרא בעלמא הוא כל אלה הדברים ולא נהיגינן כותיה. – Dave Jun 29 '11 at 21:15
@Ze'ev Felsen: do "we" know better than his contemporary, R' Tzemach Gaon, who wrote (to the community of Kairwan) that much of what Eldad is saying makes sense and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand? – Alex Jul 5 '11 at 17:26
@Ze'ev, first of all, Wikipedia itself is hardly a reliable source. Second, it cites some scholars who claim that his tales (or even all of the literature about him, including R. Tzemach Gaon's letter) are forgeries - but I'm not seeing anyone who's proved that "much of what he said is verifiably false." Third: consider R. Yudel Rosenberg, the author of the well-known tales of the Maharal's Golem. These are pretty demonstrably false too, yet that doesn't change the reliability of his other sefarim, in particular his ידות נדרים which is a classic yeshivah text. – Alex Jul 18 '11 at 14:27

The Simla Chadasha in Siman 1, Seif 36 says that a "zaken muflag" should not do shechita because his hands are heavy (same thing it says about drinkers) and his eyes are bad. This is assessed individually, but there is at least some concept of an age limit.

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sounds more like a concept of a health limit than an age limit – Double AA Feb 5 '13 at 7:30
I'm doing research on this issue from a Karaite perspective. In a few weeks, I'll watch someone slaughter (not sacrifice) a lamb for the karaite Passover seder. Interestingly, "The oldest dated Hebrew manuscript at the Library is a thirteen-page Hilhot Shehita (Laws of Ritual Slaughtering)" written in 1397. jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/Word.html I don't think that work contains an upper age limit but it does say the shochet "should be sharp-sighted, and not blind in any way." A neo-karaite would likely roll his eyes at all the requirements set forth in the document. – A Blue Thread Feb 5 '13 at 22:07

There is no cut off age. So long that the persons hand is stable he can slaughter.

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I don't doubt you're right, but a source would be nice. – msh210 Jun 29 '11 at 19:47

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