Who Can Be a Shochet

From Halachipedia


Can anyone perform shechita?

Excerpted from A Guide to Shechita 2009[1] by Shechita UK.

Only a Jew specially trained for shechita - a shochet - can perform shechita. He is required to study for a number of years and is examined, in theory and practice, in the laws of shechita, animal anatomy and pathology. He serves an apprenticeship with an experienced shochet before becoming fully qualified. The position of shochet, as a Godfearing person of integrity, is a respected one in the Jewish community.

Qualifications of a Shochet

Before attempting the act of Shechitah, one must become fluent in the relevant laws (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 1-28) and then practice in front of an expert until he desensitizes himself. If he faints, he may ruin the shechitah and not even realize. Once he can successfully shecht three times in a row in front of an expert, he may then shecht on his own.[2]

The Shechitah of an Untested Stranger

  1. The basic axiom is that most people involved in shechitah are competent ("רוב מצויין אצל שחיטה מומחין הן"); however, one could argue that we only rely on that as a last resort. Therefore, if one is approached by a stranger who wants to slaughter an animal for him, according to the letter of the law, one may permit him to slaughter first and assess his knowledge of Shechitah afterwards, as we are not concerned that he will shecht and take off before we can investigate. If the shochet is still here or can be recalled for us to investigate his knowledge, then he must be. Even so, he doesn't need to be asked if he faints. Regardless, one should check the simanim.[3]
  2. Even if he does flee and cannot be recalled, we can still be lenient and assume the shechitah was kosher. Nevertheless, this leniency only applies after the animal has been slaughtered. If, however, we know we won't be able to investigate, such as if he says he can't stay or there is no one of those present who is knowledgeable enough to assess the shochet, we should not allow him to shecht, except for pressing circumstances.[4]

The Need for Proper Certification

  1. Unfortunately, abuse of this leniency by people who will just eat anything by relying on it lead to people shechting without proper training, because they assumed nobody would check them. To avoid this, the practice developed to ban anybody from shechting or inspecting terefot privately without rabbinic assessment and approval, regardless of however much book knowledge he has.[5]
  2. This permission comes from a great rabbinic authority who can administer a challenging examination, not an expert shochet. In places where this permission is written in a certificate, inability to produce that certificate when requested to is a red flag.[6]
  3. Rabbis should not cut corners or overlook laws of qualifications when assessing candidates, as it leads to lowering the standards and thresholds of proper shechitah and then eventually people eating improperly slaughtered meat. It is too easy for the hasty and unlearned to overlook a serious issue in the knife even if they say they "checked" it. It therefore behooves the consumer to ensure that he only eats meat that either he himself knows the shochet is up to par, or he knows the local rabbinate oversees things properly, or he at least checked the knife prior to this animals shechitah and he investigated the shochet's stature with community members.[7]
  4. Certification and a little experience for Ofot should not give one the impression that all birds are created equal. The necks of smaller birds such as dove are much harder to manipulate, so one should not attempt them until he has mastery of regular birds first. Even then, one should not shecht them without having a larger bird or a couple small ones around to make sure that his beracha will not be levatala.[8]
  5. The certifying rabbi charging a fee and providing his own chickens to the candidate is not a red flag for conflict of interest, since the financial benefit is relatively small relative to the spiritual damage he's bringing upon others and himself by eating this food. Nevertheless, the price should be kept reasonable.[9]

How to Assess a Shochet Candidate

The qualities to look for in a candidate to become a shochet are:[10]

  1. Proper conduct
  2. Fear of Heaven
  3. Some independent Torah learning skills
  4. Knowledge of the five halachot Shechitah (Yoreh Deah 23-24), the halachot of how to check a knife, and the rest of the common halachot, as well as some that are uncommon. If he knows those, he most likely knows the rest, as well.
  5. Skill in checking a knife with strong haptic perception and presence of mind. If the touch receptors on his fingers are not strong enough or if he cannot focus, that would be problematic.
  6. Then he should shecht three birds successfully in front of the rabbi to demonstrate he knows what he's doing and does not faint. The custom is to do three chickens, two hens and one rooster, because roosters are harder to control.
  7. After that, he can have permission to shecht.

Keeping His Learning Fresh & Relevant

  1. If he claims to be unsure of a certain law, there's reason to overlook that, but given the many resources available to the learner, best is to disqualify him until he is fluent without issue. It goes without saying that he says the opposite of the Halacha, that this is true.[11]
  2. Using old Shechita guides that aren't up to date with contemporary applications and current industry standards as guided by recent authorities is reason not to grant a Kabbalah until he gets a more up to date education.[12]

If He Fails The Assessment

If some time after receiving his Kabbalah it becomes clear that he does only knows the halacha, then depending on how unknowledgeable he turns out to be, we retroactively prohibit his slaughter going back from a few days to his whole life.

  1. If he forgot some of the basics of Hilchot Shechitah but not more than that, all of his kill is retroactively prohibited, as determined by the authorities up until when we think he certainly began forgetting.[13]
  2. If he doesn't know anything at all, then all of his kill is prohibited retroactive back to when he got a kabbalah.[14]
  3. If he doesn't even have a kabbalah, then all of his kill is prohibited.[15]
  4. If he knows everything but answered incorrectly about one rule, then we only prohibit his kill from a days back and on.[16]
  5. If he failed to check his knife properly but knows the laws, then it depends on how significant the loss is. For a significant loss, there are leniencies one can rely on; for a minor loss, we follow the same protocols for mistakes in laws of shechitah.

Supervised and Unsupervised Novices

  1. There's a debate if one may lechatechilah allow someone unknowledgable to shecht in front of an expert. Many assume his shechitah is only permitted bediavad.[17]
  2. Despite practicing under the supervision of an expert many times, an unlearned person may not shecht privately, because if he doesn't know the laws of shechitah in the moment that he is shechting, he is likely to make a mistake and not realize. Attempting to reconstruct the situation afterwards does not alleviate the issue.[18]
  3. He may not shecht privately and throw away the kill either, since people may think that anyone can shecht privately or eat his shechita, which will lead to major issues. Instead, if he needs food for his animals, he should either get a proper shochet or kill in a way that demonstrates that they are a nevelah. The former is also not advisable, because the shochet may not be careful and end up producing a nevelah which people will think it actually kosher.[19]
  4. When practicing for a kabbalah, the shochet has credibility regarding whether or not he fainted, paused, or made mistakes. If he fainted, then one may not eat his kill. If he's not present, then we can assume he performed a kosher shechitah.[20]
  5. One who faints easily should not shecht at all; only if he is here and claims he didn't faint may we eat his kill.[21]
  6. Nowadays, shechting without a kabbalah is a red flag regarding the kashrut of the meat.[22]
  7. If one lost his animals and then found them shechted, depending on the circumstances, he may assume that they were shechted properly.[23]

Proper Conduct of a Shochet

  1. A shochet or bodek should never become intoxicated.[24]
  2. To avoid forgetting, he must review the laws of shechitah constantly, preferably once every thirty days. This is usually written in his kabbalah certification.[25]
  3. A shochet who does not conduct himself in a manner befitting someone of such serious responsibility is essentially feeding Nevelot and Terefot to the Jewish people, will receive a fairly excruciating punishment in the next world, and will not be afforded the opportunity to repent.[26]
  4. The local rabbinic authorities should regularly check that the already certified shochetim are continuing to conduct themselves properly and review the laws and are using kosher knives. If they find that not to be the case, the certification should be removed.[27]

Those Invalid to Shecht

Technically, the knowledge of the laws and skill in the act of Shechitah are requisite qualification to shecht under expert supervision/become certified. Nevertheless, for one reason or another, many parties are disqualified from shechting altogether or under ideal circumstances.

Physical Disqualifications

Old Age

  1. An elderly person may not shecht if his hands are too heavy for him.[28]


  1. A man who is blind in both eyes may not shecht lechatechilah even if he's an expert, because he may do a poor job.[29]
  2. Bediavad, we can be lenient if the we checked and the simanim were severed properly; at the risk of major financial loss, the blind man may do the checking himself and determines that he severed the majority. This leniency is only available if he is fully cognitive and God-fearing.[30]
  3. In pressing circumstances, he can shecht lechatechilah with supervision.[31]

Deaf and/or Mute

  1. A Cheresh (deaf-mute) or Shoteh may not shecht; Bediavad, if they shechted properly and with expert supervision, the meat would be permitted.[32]
  2. Due to his inability to hear his own beracha, a deaf person should not shecht. Bediavad, it's kosher even privately, assuming he is cognitively competent and preferably with our knowledge that he is an expert shochet.[33]
  3. Due to his inability to recite the beracha, a mute person may shecht only if someone else recites a Beracha on the shechitah of a different animal and has him in mind, assuming he is cognitively competent and preferably with our knowledge that he is an expert shochet.[34]

For the Dogs

  1. A deaf-mute, shoteh, or child should not shecht on his own even with the skill, knowledge, expert supervision, and with intention of throwing to the dogs. Certainly without supervision, the meat would be prohibited; with supervision, one can be lenient for a skilled and learned child.[35]


  1. One who completely loses all control of his faculties due to inebriation (Shichruto Shel Lot) has the status of a Shoteh.[36]
  2. A drunk may not shecht lechatechilah, as his hands are too heavy for him, which could lead to a derasa proble,. In pressing circumstances and under supervision, there's room to be lenient. Even bediavad if he shechted privately it would be ok, as long as it was clear to us that he hadn't reached Shichruto Shel Lot.[37]
  3. If this is a regular occurrence, he should be fired until he improves and accepts upon himself bans and self inflictions should he become intoxicated again.[38]


  1. A Beracha my not be recited by one whose genitals are uncovered, nor may it be recited for him by someone else, either. The same is true if there is no separation between his heart and his genitals. Bediavad, the shechita would be kosher, as the Beracha does not inhibit the Mitzvah's performance.[39]
  2. It is also improper to recite a Beracha shirtless.[40]

Religious Disqualifications


  1. Although women are technically permitted to shecht, the custom is that they do not at all despite their skill, as they are more likely to recoil from the bloody and gory experience and risk making a mistake. Therefore, one may not authorize a woman to be a shochet, but if she shechts under close supervision or on her own and confidently claims she did everything correctly, it would be kosher. If she did it on her own and is not present to vouch for herself, we must assume it is not kosher, as she deviated from common practice (and we therefore will not rely on the Rov). If the local custom is to allow them to shecht, then this does not apply, but she still should not be appointed to be the communal shochet, due to the greater chance of making a mistake at high volumes of kill.[41]


  1. Ideally, children should not shecht at all unless there is a shortage of qualified shochtim. Even so, a child may not shecht without the skill and knowledge of shechitah and expert supervision. If he has the skill and supervision but lacks the knowledge, bediavad the meat is kosher. If he has the skill and knowledge but not the supervision, then the mean is not kosher, as he has is still immature and no credibility. With respect to girls specifically, we follow the same rules as defined by women's permission to shecht.[42]
  2. We are lenient to allow a child who is of some cognitive maturity to take birds to the shochet and bring them back, even though he has no halachic credibility.[43]

Mumar (Unobservant Jew)

A Mumar, of which there are two categories, is a Jew who does not observe one or many Mitzvot. A Mumar LeTe'avon is one who violates Mitzvot for his own personal benefit/pleasure or to save money; a Mumar LeHachis" is one who violates halacha spitefully.

  1. Technically speaking, under very limited circumstances, a Mumar LeTe'avon could shecht under very strict supervision, but many argue that even this dispensation is not applicable nowadays. Certainly, laxity in obsrervance of the laws of kashrut automatically ruins his credibility with respect to providing kosher food.[44]
  2. A Mumar LeHachis may not shecht under even the tightest supervision; his shechitah is automatically deemed nevelah.[45] The same is true for a Mumar who violates the entire Torah LeTe'avon[46] or even just Avodah Zarah or Shabbat.[47]
  3. If he is lax in the observance of a mitzvah unrelated to Shechita, then being a Mumar for that mitzvah does not damage his ability to observe Shechitah laws, but tighter supervision would be necessary to permit meat he shechted if he violated the mitzvah lete'avon.[48]
  4. Apikorsim, as defined in Sanhedrin's Perek Chelek, such as one who denigrates a Talmid Chacham, are not suspect of being lax in shechitah just because they have an inappropriate attitude in a different context. As such, their knives do not need to be checked, since they still keep the mitzvah of Shechitah in high regard. Some would say this could extend to permitting the shechitah of people who are lax in a particular mitzvah whose observance has lopsided to the point of total disregard.[49]
  5. One who is uncircumcised and chooses to remain that way of his own volition is a mumar lete'avon as above, but if he cannot be circumcised due to a family history of siblings dying from Milah, he is a valid Shochet.[50]
  6. Deniers of the Oral Torah (such as the Talmudic Tzidukim and Baytusim) are invalid unless a Jew checks his knife and watches over him, as he is a lost Jewish soul, not a Mumar.[51]
  7. A Jewish informer should not shecht, as he may be a mumar; bediavad, his shechitah may be eaten once in a while.[52]


  1. A shochet who is caught passing off nevelah as properly shechted on purpose even one time loses his credibility forever going forwards and, according to some, even retroactively backwards, as well. He has to do full teshuvah to regain his credibility.[53]
  2. If it was completely unintentional, he still needs to accept upon himself great safeguards to prevent it from recurring, as determined by the rabbinic authorities. This matter is so severe that even if his knife is found to be pagum outside of shechitah hours, some say he should be dismissed temporarily and reprimanded.[54]
  3. If his intentions are unclear, a clear profit motive could decide which way to judge him. If he stands to gain financially, then we assume he was doing it intentionally; if not, then we don't. If he repeats his offense, then we assume he is doing so intentionally.[55]
  4. He can not be disqualified by the testimony of a single witness, unless the rabbinic authority considers the testimony in line with other contextual details, such as rumors circulating about the shochet's cheating and the witness's overall credibility.[56]


  1. A well known and upstanding Eved Kenaani who had milah and tevilah for Avdut may serve as a Shochet, but a random one may not.[57]


  1. The meat of an animal slaughtered by a Non-Jew is Nevelah Min HaTorah and categorically prohibited from consumption under all circumstances.[58]
  2. Nevertheless, unless the Non-Jew is a pagan clergyman (a "Min"), one may benefit from the meat or even the hide of his slaughter, or if there would be a major financial loss. If he killed it via different means than shechitah, one can benefit. If they never do regular shechita for food, then that would be an indication of idolatrous intent, though.[59]
  3. A Cuthean (Kuti) has the same status as a non-Jew.[60]


  1. A monkey's shechitah would be a Nevelah, as the pasuk says וזבחת - a human must do the zevicha (shechitah), and not an animal.[61]

Exclusive Communal Shechitah

  1. A community may opt to exclusively use a certain shochet and declare all other shechitah to be prohibited or banned. Depending on the exact formulation of the decree, it's possible that with some legal rereading the act of another shochet slaughtering could be prohibited but the meat would still be permissible, despite the fact that the shochet violated the decree, especially if there would be a great financial loss or he was unaware of the decree.[62]
  2. If an already errant shochet shechts in a place where there is no decree or the decree is lifted, some would say the meat is permissible.[63]

Valid and Invalid Shechting Together

Back to back

  1. If a valid and invalid shochet are shechting together, whoever crosses the threshold of proper shechitah or nevelah first locks in the status of the meat. For example, if the invalid one shechted the majority of the trachea and the valid on finished it without pausing, the shechitah is invalid because the invalid shochet made the animal a nevelah before the valid shochet shechted it. If the invalid shochet cut only a minority of the trachea and the valid shochet completed it, however, the shechitah is permissible. This is assuming the valid one was holding on to the trachea while the other was shechting and we know the invalid one did not cut the esophagus.[64]
  2. The entire act of shechitah in its most minimal form must be performed solely by a valid shochet. Once that is done, the invalid one's continuing does not ruin the shechitah. For example, if a valid shochet cut the majority of the required simanim and then the invalid shochet finished, the meat is permitted. In difficult circumstances, some would permit the meat even if the invalid one started and completed the shechitah but the valid one cut enough to reach a majority in the middle.[65]


  1. As it is almost impossible to determine what exactly happened, if both of them shechted it at the same time, either each with his own knife or both holding on to one knife, the meat is forbidden. The same is true, some say, if they started together and then one let go and the other finished it.[66]
  2. Only if one was incapable of shechting and the other is would we consider permitting the meat depending on the circumstances, but certainly all of these cases should be avoided lechatechilah.[67] If one held the knife and the other held his hand and pulled/pushed it to perform the shechitah, it is invalid, unless the valid shochet was in total control and their is potential for great financial loss.[68]


  1. A Guide to Shechita 2009
  2. Simla Chadasha 1:2
  3. Simla Chadasha 1:3
  4. Simla Chadasha 1:4
  5. Simla Chadasha 1:5
  6. Simla Chadasha 1:6
  7. Simla Chadasha 1:8
  8. Simla Chadasha 1:11
  9. Simla Chadasha 1:12
  10. Simla Chadasha 1:6
  11. Simla Chadasha 1:9
  12. Simla Chadasha 1:10
  13. Simla Chadasha 1:15
  14. Simla Chadasha 1:15
  15. Simla Chadasha 1:16
  16. Simla Chadasha 1:17
  17. Simla Chadasha 1:20
  18. Simla Chadasha 1:19
  19. Simla Chadasha 1:21
  20. Simla Chadasha 1:22
  21. Simla Chadasha 1:23
  22. Simla Chadasha 1:24
  23. See Simla Chadasha 1:25-27
  24. Simla Chadasha 1:7
  25. Simla Chadasha 1:7
  26. Simla Chadasha 1:7
  27. Simla Chadasha 1:7
  28. Simla Chadasha 1:36
  29. Simla Chadasha 1:35
  30. Simla Chadasha 1:37
  31. Simla Chadasha 1:35
  32. Simla Chadasha 1:28. See 1:28-29 regarding how to define these terms.
  33. Simla Chadasha 1:32-33
  34. Simla Chadasha 1:32-34
  35. Simla Chadasha 1:31
  36. Simla Chadasha 1:36
  37. Simla Chadasha 1:36
  38. Simla Chadasha 1:36
  39. Simla Chadasha 1:38
  40. Simla Chadasha 1:38
  41. Simla Chadasha 1:13. See Ohr LeTzion vol. 5 YD 1:3 that since one cannot eat from the shechitah of an uncertified shochet and a woman may not get a kabbalah, the shechita of a woman is prohibited.
  42. Simla Chadasha 1:30
  43. Simla Chadasha 1:35
  44. See Simla Chadasha 2:2-12
  45. Simla Chadasha 2:13
  46. Simla Chadasha 2:14-15
  47. Simla Chadasha 2:16
  48. Simla Chadasha 2:13
  49. Simla Chadasha 2:17
  50. Simla Chadasha 2:23
  51. Simla Chadasha 2:25
  52. Simla Chadasha 2:26
  53. Simla Chadasha 2:18
  54. Simla Chadasha 2:19
  55. Simla Chadasha 2:20
  56. Simla Chadasha 2:21. Once that witness testifies, there is some discussion as to whether or not he is prohibited from eating the meat of that shochet.
  57. Simla Chadasha 1:14
  58. Simla Chadasha 2:1
  59. Simla Chadasha 2:21
  60. Simla Chadasha 2:24
  61. Simla Chadasha 2:29
  62. Simla Chadasha 2:22. See also Nehar Mitzrayim.
  63. Simla Chadasha 2:22
  64. Simla Chadasha 2:27
  65. Simla Chadasha 2:27
  66. Simla Chadasha 2:28
  67. Simla Chadasha 2:28
  68. Simla Chadasha 2:28
Category Topics
Bishul Akum - Checking for Bugs - Gelatin - Kosher Food without Kosher Supervision - Kosher Food Packaging for Deliveries - Kosher Food Left with a Non-Jew - Koshering a Kitchen - Kashering for Pesach - Kosher in the Workplace - Medications - Pat Palter - Selling Non-Kosher Foods - Serving Guests - Sharp Foods - Shechitah (Kosher Slaughter) - Tevilat Keilim - Tzaar Baalei Chayim - Yashan
Meat and Milk
Dairy Bread - Eating Dairy and Meat at the Same Table - Kosher Cheese - Kosher Milk (Chalav Yisrael) - Milk and Meat in the Kitchen - Non-Dairy Milk - Waiting between Meat and Milk
Principles of Kashrut
Items That Cannot Be Nullified - Transferring Taste - Nullification - Zeh Vzeh Gorem - Trusting Others for Kashrut
Shechitah_(Kosher_Slaughter) - Who_Can_Be_a_Shochet - The_Shechitah_Knife - Modern_Day_Industrial_Shechitah - Glatt Kosher Meat - Kashering Meat