The gemara in Sanhedrin 5a teaches us about 3 different levels of semicha:

“Yoreh Yoreh”- primarily in Yoreh Deah, but can also include Shabbos, Niddah etc- which allows the person to issue rulings in ritual law.

“Yadin Yadin”- inyanei Choshen Mishpat- but can also include Even Haezer- which gives the person the authority to rule in cases of monetary law.

“Yatir Bechorot Yatir”- As explained by R' Ari Enkin from TorahMusings:

“Yatir Bechorot Yatir” semicha, which conferred upon the recipient the authority to determine matters relating to animal sacrifices. This included approving or disqualifying animals for ritual and sacrificial purposes based on the animal’s physical health or any blemishes that it might have. In many cases, a blemished animal was unfit to be offered in the Beit Hamikdash or to be used for other ritual matters. In addition to the halachic proficiency that the recipient was required to have regarding Temple and sacrificial proceedings, the recipient also underwent extensive veterinary training, as well.

While these guidelines illustrate that “Yatir Bechorot Yatir” semicha is DEFINITELY not easy to obtain, I'm sure a very select few in the world know Hilchos Kodshim cold, and could also probably shimush to learn more about animals.

Why doesn't “Yatir Bechorot Yatir” semicha exist nowadays?

  • Who says it doesn't? – Double AA Mar 28 at 11:36
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    @DoubleAA have you ever heard of it being given nowadays? – alicht Mar 28 at 12:24
  • As you said there are people who know the stuff and there are questions that require their knowledge. So seemingly they have some permission. Whether they have a piece of paper that says they do I don't know or care much. The Gemara is discussing permission to rule, not diplomata. – Double AA Mar 28 at 12:26

I could learn every halacha in the book ... but I would still needs hands-on experience of someone showing me a hundred examples of real-live sheep -- "this one is yes, this one is no" ... much like is done with training on Nida kesamim. Otherwise all those words attempting to describe it aren't quite going to get it across.

(Talk to anyone in the kosher meat industry, and you'll hear similar issues giving a simple book-only definition on today's "glatt.")

With the chain of tradition apparently broken -- I don't think anyone out there was shown hundreds of animals and taught which were allowed or not -- it's really unclear how to restart that.

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    Is your claim that when these questions arise nowadays (and they do arise occasionally) no one rules on them? – Double AA Mar 28 at 12:05
  • @DoubleAA I thought we try to avoid them by selling a percentage off to the non-Jew, no? Or is that circular reasoning? – Shalom Mar 28 at 23:20
  • And how many rabbis are asked about finding a pretzel in your coat pocket after pesach? You can do your best, but sometimes the questions arise. – Double AA Mar 28 at 23:24

Because you need to not only be familiar with all the possible mumim (as in Shalom's answer), but also to have permission from the nasi in Eretz Yisroel to rule on them, and we don't have a nasi nowadays (Taz and Shach, Yoreh Deah 309, quoting Rosh).

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