אבר מן החי

One of the difficulties in understanding the saga of Yosef and his brothers, was the לשון הרע that Yosef spoke about them. The Midrash says that Yosef accused his brother of eating אבר מן החי, tearing the limb from a live animal.

Obviously, such an accusation is absurd. The Rabbis try to explain this by saying that it was more of a philosophical difference of opinion than a practical one. There are two answers that are given.

The first answer is that there is a difference in the law of אבר מן החי for Jews and for Noachides. The Jew is allowed to begin cutting up the animal for consumption even when it is still shaking after slaughtering. The Noachide must wait until the animal stops moving completely. The brothers felt they were already עם ישראל while Yosef felt they were still strangers and the Noachide laws applied to them.

The second answer involved the law of בן פקועה that applies only to Jews. If a pregnant animal is slaughtered and the fetus comes out alive, it is considered to be slaughtered with its mother. According to Torah law, this animal would not need שחיטה and אבר מן החי would not apply to it for Jews. (The Rabbis did require שחיטה.) The same argument applied here between Yosef and his brothers. Were they עם ישראל already or not?