For the week ending 31 August 2013 / 25 Elul 5773

Pesachim 72 - 78

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • When slaughtering the Pesach sacrifice on Shabbat requires atonement of sin offering
  • The mohel who circumcised the wrong child on Shabbat
  • What constitutes a mitzvah to exempt an unintentional sin from need of atonement
  • The mysterious mitzvah of Rabbi Tarfon
  • Three sins in one slaughtering
  • What is done with a disqualified sacrifice?
  • How the Pesach sacrifice was broiled
  • The problem of blood in broiling meat all year round
  • The different definitions of fire
  • When there is contact between heated permitted and forbidden things
  • Communal sacrifices offered despite ritual impurity
  • The power of the kohen gadol’s tzitz (headband)
  • When the blood of the Pesach sacrifice can be applied to the altar despite the ritual impurity affecting a part of the animal
  • Is the eating of the sacrifice’s flesh an indispensable factor?

Uncommon Features with a Common Denominator

Communal sacrifices, both the daily ones and those of the special days, were offered even on Shabbat or when the kohanim were ritually impure. In regard to the daily sacrifice, the Torah command (Bamidbar 28:3) states that it be offered “in its set season,” and the same phrase is used ibid. 9:3) with regard to the Pesach sacrifice. This is interpreted by our Sages as an indication that these sacrifices must be offered in all situations, Shabbat and ritual impurity notwithstanding.

In regard to other communal sacrifices offered on holidays, there is another passage (ibid. 29:39) spelling out the need to offer them “in your set seasons” in all circumstances. The question arises, however, as to why separate passages are required for each of these categories rather than have any one of them serve as the prototype for all communal sacrifices. The answer given by the gemara is that each of these categories has a special characteristic which would have set it apart from all the others as qualifying for the special status of rising above the obstacles of Shabbat and ritual impurity.

The daily sacrifice would have been considered as unique both because of its frequency and because it is completely consumed on the altar, features that are absent in the Pesach sacrifice. Had only the Pesach sacrifice been mentioned we might have attributed its uniqueness to the fact that one who fails to offer such a sacrifice is punished by extirpation, something that does not apply to any other sacrifice.

But once the Torah has spelled out the need to offer both of these sacrifices under all circumstances, why is it necessary to once again communicate this rule regarding all other communal sacrifices?

The gemaras answer is that we would not have been able to learn from the daily and Pesach sacrifices because they have a common denominator setting them apart from other communal sacrifices.

The version of the answer that appears in our text is that the common denominator is that each has a unique feature missing in the other sacrifices. The version that Tosefot had, however, is that the common denominator is that Jews already offered both of these sacrifices before the Torah was given. This is in accordance with the opinion (Mesechta Chagigah 6a) of Beit Hillel that the burnt offerings mentioned (Shmot 24:5) before the giving of the Torah were the daily sacrifices. Since the first Pesach sacrifice was also offered before the Torah was given while they were still in Egypt, there is a common denominator of uniqueness that would have made it impossible to extend to other communal sacrifices, and made it necessary to assign a passage for them as well.

What the Sages Say

“When the Torah commands us ‘to love the other like yourself’ (Vayikra 19:18) it includes even carrying out the execution of one deserving the death penalty sinner in a dignified manner.”

  • Rabbi Nachman
    Pesachim 75a

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