Chullin 128 - 134
Who Deserves the Gifts?
The importance of providing financial support for those involved in the study of Torah serves as the background for a ruling in our gemara and an interesting chapter in Jewish history.
Those portions of every animal slaughtered for non-sacrificial purposes which the Torah awarded to kohanim, ruled Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni in the name of Rabbi Yonatan, should not be given to a kohen who is ignorant of Torah. The source for this is what took place during the great religious revival in the days of the righteous King Chizkiyahu. Along with a renewal of the Festival pilgrimages to Yerushalayim which had been curtailed in the reign of his wicked predecessors and a massive eradication of the idolatrous traces of those days, an intensive effort was made to encourage the Torah study of the kohanim and leviim. Towards this end the king "told the people dwelling in Yerushalayim to give the portions due to the kohanim and leviim in order to strengthen them in G-ds Torah" (Divrei Hayamim II 31:4). This was interpreted by our Sages as an indication that not only was this a reference to tithes but also to the gift of meat which should be reserved for the support of those who study Torah.
Tosefot points out, however, that the intention of the above-mentioned ruling was not to completely disqualify an ignoramus kohen from receiving these portions of meat but rather to dictate a preference for the Torah scholars. Should such a scholar be unavailable as a recipient in the region where the animal has been slaughtered or if he is unwilling to accept these gifts, it is then proper to give them to any kohen.
- Chullin 130b
The Meat of Royalty
Which is the aristocratic way of eating meat?
From the statement of Rabbi Chisda in our gemara, it appears that broiled meat is the answer. Those portions of the animal not slaughtered as a sacrifice which must be given to a kohen must be eaten, he rules, only broiled and with mustard. The reason for this is a term used by the Torah in describing the gifts of meat from the people which G-d has awarded to the kohanim. "I have given them to you as an expression of your greatness", G-d told Aharon Hakohen (Bamidbar 18:8), which means that he and all kohanim after him should eat these gifts in the manner of kings, broiled and with mustard.
This insistence on consuming the meat from non-sacrificial animals in a particular fashion seems to stand in conflict with what the gemara elsewhere (Mesechta Zevachim 90b) rules regarding the manner in which kohanim are to consume the meat of sacrifices which Heaven has awarded them. The very same above-mentioned passage regarding greatness is cited as a source for giving the kohanim the privilege of choosing to eat the meat from sacrificial animals in either lightly cooked, completely boiled or broiled fashion because enjoying the freedom of such a choice is the prerogative of kings.
Tosefot resolves the conflict by pointing out that a kohen may certainly prepare his meat in the manner which he most enjoys for this is surely an expression of aristocracy. But if he enjoys broiled meat as much as cooked meat, he should definitely opt for the broiled variety since this is the general choice of kings and serves as a more potent expression of the exalted status of the kohanim.
- Chullin 132b