כ׳ בתמוז ה׳תשע״ח (July 3, 2018)

Zevahim 81a-b: Mixed-Up Blood

As we learned above, in the fifth perek of Massekhet Zevaḥim (see daf 47), one of the most important parts of the sacrificial service in the Temple was sprinkling the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Different sacrifices had their blood placed in different parts of the Temple; the closeness of the sprinkling of the blood to the Holy of Holies in the Temple indicated the level of holiness of the sacrifice. The Mishna on today’s daf discusses how to deal with a situation when blood of different sacrifices became mixed together. What is to be done when sacrifices whose blood must be placed on the outer altar in the Temple courtyard (e.g. an ordinary korban ḥatat – a sin offering – or a korban asham – a guilt offering) was mixed with blood from sacrifices that are placed in the inner sanctuary, on the golden altar or on the curtain of the Holy of Holies (i.e. ḥata’ot penimiyot, the inner sin offerings of the or the community, see Vayikra 4:3-21)?

What is clear is that blood of sacrifices that belongs on the altar in the outer courtyard becomes disqualified if it is brought into the inner sanctuary. This is derived from a passage in Sefer Vayikra (6:23) that teaches that the blood of a sin offering that enters the sanctuary must be burned. This leads the Mishna to rule that if the two types of sacrificial blood became mixed together, the mixture should not be used and should be poured into the drain in the courtyard. If, however, a kohen took the mixture and placed the blood first in the inner sanctuary and then on the outer altar, the service would be valid ex-post facto. If, however, it was done in the reverse order, then the blood that was placed on the outer altar will be problematic, since it would have become disqualified upon being brought into the sanctuary.

There is a difference of opinion regarding this last situation. Rabbi Akiva understands that the abovementioned passage would render invalid the blood all types of sacrifices that should not have entered the sanctuary. The  limit the disqualification only to the case of a korban ḥatat, since that is the sacrifice that is specifically mentioned in the pasuk in Vayikra. Rabbi Eliezer agrees with the Ḥakhamim, but adds a korban asham as well, since the Torah equates the sin and guilt offerings (see 7:7).