י׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ב (February 3, 2012)

Arakhin 21a-b – Guaranteeing that sacrifices are brought

The Mishnah on today’s daf (=page) discusses how the courts guarantee payment of vows made to the Temple by taking a mashkon – a guarantee or pledge – from the person until he pays the money that he vowed or sacrifices the korban that he committed himself to bring.
The Mishnah teaches:
A pledge is to be taken from those who owe money due from arakhin (=valuations pledged to the Temple), but not from those who owe sin-offerings or guilt-offerings.A pledge must be taken from those who owe burnt-offerings or peace-offerings.
The simple explanation of why the Mishnah distinguishes between sin-offerings and guilt-offerings that need no guarantees as opposed to other sacrifices and vows that do, is that people hurry to bring those sacrifices that serve as atonement, while they are more complacent with regard to other obligations.
According to the Gemara in Masekhet Rosh HaShanah (daf 6), the Torah (Devarim 23:22) teaches that a person who accepts upon himself to bring a sacrifice cannot postpone fulfilling his promise. This mitzvah, referred to by asbal te’aher – “do not be late [in bringing your sacrifice]” – emphasizes the need for one to fulfill all promises that he makes as a positive commandment.
How long does a person have to carry out his/her obligations before being held liable for bal te’aher? Regarding sacrifices, the generally accepted position of the Sages is that a person should bring the korban on the first holiday when he visits the Temple, but that he has a full cycle of holidays – PesachShavu’ot and Sukkot – before he is viewed as having transgressed the commandment of bal te’aher.

According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, the source for the requirement that the courts step forward to ensure that the sacrifices are brought on time is the continuation of the passages in Sefer . The Torah continues by saying: “That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt observe and do” (23:24), which is understood as a commandment to the courts to make sure that vows are fulfilled.