The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 25 December 2010 / 17 Tevet 5771

Zevachim 44 - 50

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Where Is The Place

  • Zevachim 47a
The Rule: Kodshei Kodashim, the higher level of sacrifices, such as the olah (burnt offering), chatass and asham (sin offerings), must be slaughtered in the northern part of the altar area and their blood must be received in a sacred vessel in the northern part.
The Question: Why is no mention made in regard to slaughtering that it too requires a sacred vessel - a knife sanctified for use in the service - just as one is required in receiving the blood?
The Rejected Approach: One approach, proposed by an early commentator quoted in Tosefos, is that slaughtering does not require a sacred vessel at all. Tosefos, however, rejects this approach on the basis of Talmudic sources indicating that a sacred vessel is indeed required for the slaughter of a sacrificial animal.
The Preferred Approach: There is really no need for the mishna to mention the obvious need for a sacred vessel either in regard to slaughtering or to receiving the blood. It does, however, mention the vessel in regard to receiving blood in order to stress the need for the vessel itself to be in the north and that it is not sufficient for just the edge of the vessel being under the throat of the animal in the north while most of the vessel is in the south. This scenario is unimaginable in regard to slaughtering because once the animal must be in the north the entire knife used for slaughtering can only be in the north. Since both the need for a sacred vessel and its location are so obvious the mishna deletes any mention of it.

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The only explicit source in the Torah for the need to slaughter a sacrifice of the Kodshei Kodashim level in the northern part of the altar area is in Vayikra 1:1 where we are told that a sheep or goat offered as an olah must be slaughtered in the north.

As regards the chatass there is no explicit mention of the north. We do, however, extend this rule of requiring the slaughter in the north based on an equation which is made in Vayikra 4:29 between the site of the slaughter of the olah and the chatass.

Since the explicit source is the olah it would seem logical to list it right at the beginning of the mishnayos describing the need for slaughter of sacrifices in the north. Why then, asks the Talmud, is the olah mentioned only in the third mishna (Zevachim 53b) after the listing of all the categories of chatass in the first two mishnayos?

The reason given is one that appears in more than half a dozen other places in the Talmud as a criterion for precedence. Since the requirement for north in regard to chatas is not explicit in the Written Law and is only derived by a method of deduction in the Oral Law it is particularly beloved to the compiler of the mishna and given precedence in order to demonstrate the importance of the role delegated to the Talmudic Sages by the Giver of the Torah to interpret His Torah.

  • Zevachim 48a

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