Daf Yomi

For the week ending 26 July 2003 / 26 Tammuz 5763

Zevachim 43-49

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

The Special Dispensation

Once the blood of a fowl brought as a chatat sin offering has been sprinkled on the altar its flesh may be eaten by the kohanim. The source for this ruling in the mishna is the passage in which the Torah lists the sacrificial items awarded to the kohanim. One of these is "all their chatat sacrifices" (Bamidbar 18:9). The gemara (44b) explains that if the only intention of the passage was to award to the kohanim the flesh of an animal offered as a chatat there would be no need for the inclusive term "all". It is therefore derived that it is a signal to us that even the flesh of a fowl offered as a chatat is eaten by the kohanim.

But why should we have ever assumed that the kohanim would not be as entitled to the flesh of the fowl as they are to the flesh of the animal?

The answer lies in the method that the Torah (Vayikra 5:8) gives for the slaughtering of the fowl offered as a sacrifice. While an animal is slaughtered through shechita the severing by a knife of the trachea and esophagus the fowl is slain through melika the severing of one of the above vital organs by the thumbnail of the kohen inserted from the back of the neck. Since this is not a form of slaughtering which would make a non-sacrificial fowl kosher for eating we might have assumed that it is forbidden as well for kohanim. The term "all" in the above-mentioned passage teaches us that the kohanim may indeed eat the flesh of the chatat fowl slain in this fashion even though technically it should be viewed as neveila the flesh of an animal or fowl that died through means other than shechita.

An extension of this idea is found in another gemara (Menachot 45a), which explains an enigmatic passage in the prophecy of Yechezkel (44:31) about a ban on kohanim eating neveila. Why are kohanim singled out, asks the gemara, when the prohibition on eating neveila applies to all Jews? While Rabbi Yochanan considered this an insoluble mystery that would be solved only with the arrival of the Prophet Eliyahu, the Sage Ravina offered a solution. Since kohanim are permitted to eat the flesh of the chatat fowl that is technically neveila, we might have assumed that they had a general dispensation in regard to all forms of neveila. The prophet therefore reminded them that this dispensation was restricted to the chatat sacrifice, and that as far as any other neveila was concerned they had the same prohibition as all other Jews.

Zevachim 43a

When Silence is Golden

"An olah offering, a fire-offering, a satisfying aroma to G-d." (Vayikra 1:9)

This passage in the opening chapter on sacrifices contains all the objectives which each sacrifice is intended to accomplish both in regard to the nature of the sacrifice, the manner in which its parts are burned and its purpose in serving the Creator. Although it would seem to be ideal for those performing the sacrificial service to actually declare that they are doing so with these objectives in mind, the mishna informs us that there was a rabbinical decree to avoid doing so. The reason for this decree is found earlier in our mesechta (2b). Should such a declaration be required, there is a danger that the wrong declaration will be made by stating that it is being done for another sacrifice or another donor, declarations which can compromise the effectiveness of the sacrifice. It was therefore ordained that the sacrificial services be performed without any declaration in order to avoid such a possibility.

A similar problem seems to exist in regard to an agent delivering a get (divorce document) to Eretz Yisrael from abroad. The mishna (Mesechta Gittin 2a) states that he is required to testify before the court that the get was written and signed in his presence. The Sage Rabbahs position is that he must also subsequently certify that the get was written specifically for the woman to whom he has brought it. Why then was he not required at the outset to declare that it was written and signed specifically for this woman in his presence? The answer given is that if too long a declaration is required there is a danger that he may omit a part of it and thus nullify the effectiveness of his mission.

Tosefot (Zevachim 2b) asks why Rabbah did not offer the same explanation given in our gemara that if he will be required to declare that it was written specifically for this woman there is a danger that he may declare that it was written for someone else. The difference, he concludes, is that it is unthinkable that an agent delivering a get to a specific woman will declare that it was really intended for someone else. In regard to a sacrifice, however, there is the danger that he may make a mistake in regard to the nature of the sacrifice and make the wrong declaration.

Zevachim 46b

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