Zevahim 84a-b - Different types of sacrificial blemishes

February 02, 2011

In the Mishnah on yesterday's daf (=page) we learned about invalid sacrifices that somehow made their way to the altar - keivan she-alu, shuv lo yerdu - once they were elevated onto the altar, they cannot be brought down, and they will be sacrificed. The Mishnah on today's daf clarifies that ruling, limiting it in a variety of ways. According to the Mishnah, problems with the sacrifice like being left overnight, becoming ritually defiled or having been taken out of the Temple precincts, will all invalidate the korban, but if such an invalid korban were placed on the altar, it will be sacrificed. Among the problematic sacrifices that will be rejected even if they were placed on the altar are animals that have mumim - physical blemishes - those that were used in idol worship ceremonies and those that were purchased with the profits of a prostitute or the sale of a dog (see Sefer Devarim 23:19).


Rabbi Shimon explains the difference between these two categories (and neither list in the Mishnah is exhaustive) by distinguishing as follows - kol she-pesulo ba-kodesh, ha-kodesh mekablo, lo hayah pesulo ba-kodesh, ein ha-kodesh mekablo - if its disqualification arose in the sanctuary, the sanctuary will accept it; if its disqualification did not take place in the sanctuary, the sanctuary will not accept it.


Rashi explains this statement simply. If the sacrifice entered the Temple precincts in pristine condition, the sacrifice can be brought. If the problem existed even before the sacrifice entered the grounds of the Temple, then it is disqualified entirely. In his Panim Me'irot, Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt explains that Rashi means that those disqualifying characteristics that only apply to an animal that is already sanctified can be ignored if the animal has already been placed on the altar. Those disqualifications that arise in any animal cannot be overlooked, however.


This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud. To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.

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