י״ב באייר ה׳תשע״ח (April 27, 2018)

Zevahim 15a-b: Performing the Sacrificial Service

The second perek of Massekhet Zevaḥim begins on today’s daf.

Where the first perek focused on a basic problem with sacrifices – the issue of a sacrifice that is brought with the wrong intent – the second perek deals with two other potential problems:

  1. when the person who is sacrificing the korban has the proper intent, but he is not fit to perform the sacrificial service, either because he is not a kohen or else he is a kohen who does not perform the service according to the accepted rules and regulations;
  2. when the problem is one of intent, but it is not connected with the intrinsic purpose of the sacrifice or with the identity of the owner. Rather the problem stems from intent to benefit from the sacrifice in the wrong time or in the wrong place. Although these are not mentioned specifically in the Torah, they are derived by from two sections of Sefer7:16-18 and 19:5-8.

The first Mishna teaches that if kabalat ha-dam – collection of the blood of the sacrifice – was done by someone other than the appointed priest (e.g. it was performed by someone who was not a kohen, or even by a kohen who was unfit for performing the sacrificial service for any one of a variety of reasons), the sacrifice would be invalid. Although the Mishna specifically mentions that this law applies to a case where the kabalat ha-dam was done improperly, it appears that the law of this Mishna would apply to any of the four basic avodot – sacrificial services:

  • Sheḥita – slaughtering the animal (this need not be done by a kohen)
  • Kabalat ha-dam – collecting the blood at the time of slaughter
  • Holakha – carrying the blood to the altar
  • Zerikat ha-dam – sprinkling the blood on the altar.

Kabalat ha-dam is mentioned by the Mishna only because it is the first of the avodot that must be performed by a kohen.