ז׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ח (April 22, 2018)

Zevahim 9a-b: A Sin-Offering on Nahshon’s Behalf

The Gemara on today’s daf offers four different versions of a teaching that Rav quotes in the name of Mavog:

  1. If a sin-offering is brought for the purpose of being a ḥattat Naḥshon – i.e. to be like one of the sin-offerings brought by the princes on the occasion of the consecration of the Tabernacle in the desert (see Sefer Bamidbar chapter 7) – it remains a valid sacrifice that serves its original purpose.  Rashi explains that since the sacrifice was not brought in order to affect atonement for anyone (the original sin-offerings at the consecration of the Tabernacle were more of a gift than an ordinary sin-offering), we view them as a standard ḥattat that remains valid.
  2. If a sin-offering is brought and the owner says that its purpose is to serve as atonement for Naḥshon, it remains a valid sacrifice. Since a sacrifice cannot act to bring atonement for a dead person, it is not considered to have been brought for a foreign purpose or a different owner, and it remains valid.
  3. If a sin-offering is brought and the owner intends it on behalf of someone who is obligated in a sin-offering like Naḥshon (e.g. a Nazirite, who, like Naḥshon brings a sin-offering as a gift, rather than because he needs atonement), it is valid. Since Naḥshon’s sin-offering served the purpose of a gift, it matches the sacrifice that this person needed to bring.
  4. If a sin-offering is brought for the purpose of being a ḥattat Naḥshon, it is an invalid sacrifice. Since Naḥshon’s sacrifice was more of an olah – a burnt-offering brought as a gift – than it was a sin-offering, such a sacrifice appears to be brought with improper intent.

The confusion regarding this teaching notwithstanding, given the fact that Rav quotes Mavog as an authoritative source indicates that he was a scholar. It is likely that he was from the Syrian city of Mabbog, now known as Mambidj.

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