Notes on Yoreh Deah Chapter 28: The laws of covering the blood of the slaughtered animal

Chapter 28: The laws of covering the blood



The Torah commands one to cover the blood of certain animals and birds once they have been shechted. The רא”ש writes that this מצוה is the completion of the מצוה of shechitah. The ט”ז explains this to mean that although it is a separate command then that of shechitah, as states the רמ”א, nevertheless, it has a connection to the mitzvah of shechitah. This is identical to the connection between the head and arm Tefillin despite them being two separate commands. The following are the detailed laws behind this command.


Covering its blood:[1] It is a Mitzvah for the Shochet to cover the blood of slaughtered fowl with earth or straw.[2] It is permitted to be honored by the Shochet to do so in his place.[3] Before covering the blood one says the blessing of “Al kisoi dam beafar[4]”.[5] Earth or straw is to be set up near the slaughtering area and the Shochet then drips some blood onto it.[6] After the Simanim of the chicken are checked and the chicken is verified as Kosher, one says the blessing and then covers the blood.[7]




  1. Which animals/fowl are obligated to have their blood covered:
  2. Species of animals:

Fowel: All kosher birds that are properly shechted and do not have treifus.

Animals: All kosher חיות need their blood covered if they properly shechted and do not have treifus.

Definition of Chayah and Beheimah: The term חיות refers to wild animals such as the hart, dear, gazelle and yachmor. However  בהמות do not require to have their blood covered even if they are of a kosher species and are properly shechted and do not have treifus. The term בהמה refers to domestic animals such as sheep, cows, and goat.

Hybrid: If the animal is a breed of both a domestic and wild animal then its blood is covered without a blessing.

Regarding the status of a buffalo:

מחבר: The custom is to consider it a domestic animal and not cover its blood.

רמ”א: There is doubt as to which categorization it falls under, thus he should cover the blood without a blessing, or have it be included in the blessing over another animals or birds blood being covered, which requires covering. This applies whenever there is doubt in regards to the categorization of a certain animal.

  1. Non-Kosher animals

Any חיות/fowel that is not of a kosher species, or is but was not properly shechted, or was but is a treifa does not need their blood covered. If the חיה/bird is a ספק טרפה  then it needs to be covered without a bracha. Regarding a case that the חיה/fowel is only invalidated because of a stringency but is kosher based on the letter of the law, (such as a case that the spinal cord was broken or there was שהייה/דרסה/חלדה/עיקור by the מיעוט בתרא of the siman) then blood is to be covered with a bracha.

Checking the kashrus of the חיה/fowel before covering its blood: Based on the above that the חיה/fowel must be properly shechted in order to have their blood obligated to be covered, one therefore must check the knife after the shechitah (as explained in chapter 18) before he covers the blood. So too the סימנים must be checked (as explained in chapter 25). Regarding a חיה, in addition to above, one needs to also check the lungs from any treifus. (שו”ע) So too any חיה/fowl that has a suspicion of a treifus and thus needs to be checked, needs to have this done before the covering of the blood. ((שמ”ח

  1. If one is shechting for a non-eating purpose:

Such as one who is shechting the חיות/fowel for a non-Jew, or for dogs, nevertheless they are obligated to have their blood covered if they fall into the above mentioned category of חיות/fowel that require their blood covered. (שמ”ח)

  1. If one did not cover the blood may the animal/fowel still be eaten:

If no blood came out of the חיה/fowel that was shechted, it is ok.

If blood did come out and one was negligent in covering it then:

רמ”א:The shechitah remains valid.(רמ”א וכל האחרונים)

ב”ח: Rules that the meat is forbidden to be eaten by the shochat.

:ש”ך/שמ”ח Rules that if the community leaders see that people are being negligent in covering the blood, then they may fine the shochat and forbid his meat.


  1. What to do when shecting many animals/birds:

If to begin with one knows that he will be shechting many animals/fowel: then one covers all the bloods together at the end of all the shechitahs and thus makes only one bracha to cover them all. (מחבר/ט)

If one forgot this halacha and covered the blood before he finished the shechitah then he need not make a bracha before covering the blood of the latter shechitas, being he already included them in his original bracha. ( סימן יט’ לבוש מובא בפמ”ג מ”ז טז’) However one may not make a הפסק {has the same definition as the definition of a הפסק regarding the blessing of the shechitah as explained in chapter 19} between the previous bracha and the latter covering, and if does so then he needs to rebless, as explained in chapter 19. ((ש”ך/טו

If one did not have in mind to shecht anymore animals/birds then that which he already shechted, or did but forgot: then if he already covered the blood then he needs to make another blessing on the latter covering of a new set of animals/birds. ((ט”ז סימן יט/טז’

If before he covered the blood he was brought more animals/birds, then if they were brought to him before he finished the shechitah of the animals/birds that he originally planned on shechting, and they are the same species, then one covering is done for all the bloods at the end of all the shechitah. {However if they are a different species then he covers the blood at the end of the shechitah of the original animals that he had in mind, and then does shechitah of the new set of animals and covers its blood (without a bracha if there was no הפסק) (עיין סימן יט ש”ך/ט’ ט”ז/יא’)}

If one already finished the shechitah of the original animals/birds that he had in mind, and was then brought a new set of the same species, before covering the blood then:

מחבר: One covers the blood of previous shechitahs and then shechts the new set of animals/birds and covers their blood without a bracha.(סימן יט’/ו)

רמ”א: One may continue with the shechitah of the new set of animals/birds and then cover all the bloods at the end with one bracha.(סימן יט’/ו)


  1. Who is obligated to cover the blood:

The shochat is the one who is obligated to cover the blood. Thus, under penalty of a fine, one may not cover it before giving a chance to the shochat to do so. However if one notices that the shochat isn’t planning on covering the blood, then he is obligated to cover it.

Honoring another person to cover the blood:

שמ”ח: The shochat is allowed to occasionally honor another person to cover it. However he may not appoint someone else in his stead for purposes of leisure. 

מט”א: וי”א the opposite, that its only allowed for him to appoint someone else in his stead, however to honor someone is not allowed.[Q. But isn’t honoring someone also considered appointing him?]


  1. The blessing made on covering the blood:

The wording of the blessing is:בא”י אמ”ה אקב”ו על כיסוי דם בעפר (דם is pronounced Dum, while בעפר is be-afar) The reason why the term בעפר is used is because one performs a double mitzvah, as one needs to cover both below and above the blood. (ט”ז) The blessing must be made before the covering is done. If one already covered it, then one has lost his chance in saying the blessing. (שמ”ח)                                                                                                                                                               

Does one make a שהחיינו if it’s his first time doing the מצוה?                                                                                                                                                            רמ”א/שמ”ח  :  Yes                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ש”ך: צ”ע as by ציצית/תפילין we don’t say שהחיינו when placing them on for the first time.                                                                                                                             פר”ח: No                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ב”ה: Since there is a dispute one does not make the blessing of שהחיינו.                                                                                                                     


  1. The definition of “earth” that may be used to cover the blood:

Any matter that a seed can grow in or that is referred to as עפר may be used to cover the blood. Thus fertilizer, thin sand, lime, crushed stones, thin strips of flax, ground wood, and ash may be used when they are dry. However dessert sand which is thick, flour, snow, mud, or any of above items that are wet, may not be used. (שו”ע) If one covered the blood with an invalid material then he should remove it and recover the blood without a bracha.(שמ”ח)    


  1. How much of the blood needs to be covered?

One does not need to cover all the blood. מחבר)) Thus even if he covers only a drop of it it’s enough. (שמ”ח) However one should wait until the blood of דם הטיפין begins to drip so he can cover the דם הנפש/קילוח. (רמ”א/שמ”ח) However the custom is not to be stringent in covering the דם הטיפין rather even one drop of blood is enough.מט”א)) 


  1. Placing loose earth below and above the blood: The blood needs to be covered from both below and above. Therefore before the shechitah one needs to place loose earth on the ground area that one is shechting over, and shecht in a way that the blood falls on to it. If one didn’t do so, then he needs to drag the blood from the area that its in and place it onto loose earth. However if this is not possible then one may still cover it with a bracha.                                                                                                                                                                          


  1. If no earth is available:

Then one may not shecht until he finds some.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


  1. Hazmanah on the bottom earth:

Regarding if the bottom earth needs הזמנה (to designate the earth for the mitzvah by either placing it on the ground with intention to use it for the mitzvah, or if its already on the ground, by verbalizing that its designated to be used for covering the blood ש”ך)) ):                                                                                                                                            :מחבר One needs to be מזמין it. וי”א that one doesn’t need to. מחבר/ה))  This dispute is only regarding doing a מצוה מן המובחר , although מעיקר הדין its ok according to all even without הזמנה. (ש”ך/יב)                                                                                                                                                                                                               שמ”ח : One needs to be מזמין it, and if one didn’t and already spilled the blood on it, then if he didn’t yet cover the blood then he needs to drag the blood off the earth and place it on earth thats מזומן. However if one already covered the blood then its ok.                                                                                                                    


  1. Regarding if the top earth that covers the blood needs הזמנה:

 לכתכילה it needs to be placed by the person (with הזמנה) according to all, however בדיעבד its ok.(ש”ך/יב) Thus if earth blew onto the blood before one got a chance to cover it, its ok.                                                                                                                                                                   


  1. If wind blows off the earth covering the blood:

Then if it was originally blown onto the blood, (i.e.not placed by a person), then one needs to recover it. However if the earth was placed by person onto the blood, then it doesn’t need to be recovered if it gets blown off.                                                                                                                                           


  1. How to place the earth on blood:

Is not to be done with one’s feet as this contains a desecration of the mitzvah. (מחבר) לכתחילה it should be done with the shaft of ones knife as this is supported by a verse in scripture.(שמ”ח) However the custom is not to be careful to cover it specifically with the shaft. (מט”א)

  1. If the earth absorbed the blood before one got a chance to cover it:

Then if רישומו ניכר (seems to mean that the earth looks stained), one is obligated to cover it.


  1. If the blood got mixed with water:

Then if it still has a bloody color, it needs to be covered with a blessing. (שו”ע) However if the blood dripped drop by drop into the water then even if it retains a bloody color, one covers it without a bracha. (שמ”ח)


  1. If the blood fell into blood of an animal that doesn’t require its blood to be covered:

Then one estimates if the non-obligated animal blood were to be water would there still remain a bloody color. If so, then it has same guidlines as the above mentioned law. (שו”ע) This same דין applys if the blood fell onto blood of an animal that already had the mitzvah of covering done to it. (שמ”ח)

If blood of an animal that doesn’t require its blood to be covered fell onto the blood: Then one is exempt from covering it. (שו”ע) However this is only if one sees that all the original blood has been covered by the non-obligated blood. If not, then one needs to cover it without a blessing. (שמ”ח)

If blood of animal/bird that had a disqualified shechitah (i.e.נתנבלה) falls onto the blood:                                                                                                                                                       רמ”א: One covers the blood with a bracha unless one sees that all the original blood was covered.                                                                                                             ט”ז: If the disqualification occurred before the disqualified animal’s/bird’s blood fell onto the blood, then one may only cover it with a bracha if there would be a bloody color if the mixture was water.


[1] See Yorah Deah chapter 28

[2] 28/1

[3] See Simla Chadash 28 and Mateh Asher ibid

[4] And not Ba-afar. It is said with a Segol and not a Kamatz.

[5] Michaber 28/2

[6] Michaber 28/5

[7] Michaber 28/19

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