Daf Yomi

For the week ending 20 September 2003 / 23 Elul 5763

Zevachim 104-110

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Flesh and Blood

When the Torah commanded Jews to offer their sacrifices only in the designated sanctuary, the passage dealing with this seems to offer conflicting signals regarding one aspect of the rules of sacrifice:

"You will make your sacrifices, the flesh and the blood on the altar of Hashem, your G-d, and the blood of your slaughtered sacrifices shall be spilled upon the altar of Hashem, your L-rd.." (Devarim 12:27).

The first part of the passage connecting the flesh of the sacrifice and its blood indicates an interdependence, and leads to the conclusion that if the flesh of the sacrifice disappeared or became destroyed, the blood would no longer be eligible for sprinkling upon the altar as a sacrificial service. The second half, which mentions only the blood, seems to signal the opposite that the blood may be sprinkled without regard to the existence of the flesh.

Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua have different explanations of this passage. The former contends that the blood can indeed be sprinkled upon the altar even where the flesh is no longer around as indicated by the second half of the passage. The connection made between flesh and blood in the first half, he explains, is not to indicate an interdependence but rather to make an equation just as blood is sprinkled upon the altar from a distance so must the flesh of an olah sacrifice be thrown, and not placed, on the altar surface. For this purpose there was a slight gap between the ramp leading up to the altar and the altar surface itself so that the kohen carrying the flesh would have to throw it.

Tosefot (Mesechta Pesachim 77a) raises an interesting question regarding this point. Even if there was no air space between the ramp and the altar could the kohen still not be able to carry out the necessary throwing after reaching the top? Certainly, comes the answer, but the air space served as a reminder that such throwing was required.

Zevachim 104a

The Mysterious Messenger

The Torah prohibited offering sacrifices outside of the Mishkan or Beit Hamikdash and warned that one guilty of doing so would be liable for extirpation (Vayikra 17:9). The question arises, however, as to whether this punishment is due only if he offers such a sacrifice upon an altar or even if he simply places his sacrifice on a single rock or stone.

In opposition to the view of Rabbi Yossi it is the opinion of Rabbi Shimon that even offering a sacrifice on a single rock constitutes a sacrificial act for which one is considered guilty if he performs it outside the place which G-d designated. As support for his position he cites the example of Manoach, the father of Shimshon. After being informed by a mysterious stranger that his long barren wife would give birth to a son he took a kid goat and placed it on a rock as a sacrifice to G-d (Shoftim 13:19).

Rabbi Yossi, on the other hand, rejects this proof because Manoach was acting in accordance with a Heavenly command which empowered him to offer the sacrifice in an irregular manner. The very fact that he was able to offer such a sacrifice outside of the Mishkan Sanctuary in Shiloh is evidence that he was permitted to act outside of the regular rules because of a Heavenly command.

But where do we find such a command which can be issued only by G-d or one of His messengers? The answer lies in the words of that mysterious stranger who Manoach assumed go be a human prophet whom he wished to honor with a feast on a kid goat he was prepared to slaughter. "I shall not eat your food," said the stranger, who was actually a Heavenly angel, "but if you wish to offer it as an olah sacrifice to G-d you may do so." (ibid. 13:16)

It was only after that stranger wondrously brought fire forth from that rock to consume the sacrifice and then departed to Heaven in the resulting flames did Manoach realize that the stranger he assumed to be a prophet was indeed an angel.

Zevachim 108b

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