Pesahim 57a-b - Which is better - sheep or goat?
Although the story of the Hasmonean victory against the Greeks during the Second Temple is well-known, the dynasty that they built degenerated over time. In a number of places in the Talmud we are told about disagreements between the Sages and the High Priests, who often did not follow the traditions and rulings of the Sanhedrin. The fourthperek (chapter) concludes with a number of stories about Kings and High Priests of the Hasmonean dynasty, and the lack of respect that they had for Jewish tradition generally and the Temple service specifically.
The Gemara quotes a baraita that lists four cries that were heard in the courtyard of the Temple. One of them was about Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai who was so fastidious about his own honor that he would wrap his hands in silk while performing the Temple service, thus indicating that he did not perceive the avodah (work) of the mikdash as being worthy of dirtying his hands.
The Gemara then describes what became of Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai.
They said: The king and the queen were sitting and talking. The king said that goat meat is better food, and the queen said lamb meat isbetter food. They said: Who can prove which one of us is correct? The High Priest can, as he offers sacrifices all day and tastes their meat. The High Priest had the right to take a portion from any sacrifice offered in the Temple, and therefore was well acquainted with the tastes of different meat. Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai came, and when they asked him this question, he signaled contemptuously with his hand and said:If goat is better, let it be sacrificed as the daily offering. The daily offering is a lamb, proving that its meat is preferable to that of a goat. The king said: Since he not only disagrees with me but has no reverence for the monarchy, as evident from his contempt, sever his right hand.
Following this story, the amora'im comment that aside from his lack of political sensitivity, he also was incorrect in his decision about the quality of the different types of meat. Rav Ashi points out a Mishnah that clearly says that they are of equal importance; Ravina infers this from Biblical passages.
Although the story appears to simply show the lack of respect the participants had for the Temple service, in his commentary to the Talmud, Rabbi Yehudah Bachrach suggests that a serious question was involved. A person who brings a sin-offering has a choice of either bringing a sheep or a goat. If a sheep is brought, no one will know that it is a sin-offering, as it could also be a voluntary sacrifice; a goat clearly indicates that the sacrifice is being brought because of a sin. Thus the question that Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai did not take seriously was whether as part of the repentance process it would be better to publicize that a sin had taken place or to hide it.
Pesahim 58a-b - The order of the sacrifices
The fifth chapter of Massekhet Pesahim, Tamid Nishhat, opens the second half of the tractate, which is actually referred to as Pesah Sheni – "the second Pesah" by the commentaries. In this section of themassekhet we move away from the discussion of the rules of hametz andmatza and focus of an aspect of the holiday that was central during the time that the Temple was standing in Jerusalem – the Passover sacrifice itself.
This perek's (chapter) main concern is the slaughter and sacrifice of thekorban (sacrifice). The first question that is dealt with is a question of time. When exactly should the sacrifice be slaughtered? The Biblical passages refer to the time of sacrifice in a very general way. How should sacrificing the korban Pesah fit in with the other Temple service and sacrifices of the day? Will there be any changes when erev Pesah, the day on which the korban is prepared, falls out on Friday or on Shabbat?
The first Mishnah teaches that ordinarily the afternoon daily sacrifice, thekorban tamid shel bein ha-arbayim, is brought nine-and-a-half hours after sunrise. On erev Pesah it is moved up an hour and is brought eight-and-a-half hours after sunrise. When erev Pesah coincides with erev Shabbat then it is brought seven-and-a-half hours after sunrise. Thekorban Pesah will only be brought after the afternoon sacrifice has been completed.
The Passover sacrifice is an exception to the general rule that the Temple service open with the tamid shel shahar in the morning, after whichkorbanot are brought throughout the day. Generally speaking, the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim in the afternoon closes the day in the Temple.
As the Gemara mentioned previously that the daily morning offering precedes all other sacrifices, it cites a baraita that explains this law. The Sages taught: From where is it derived that no sacrifice shall precede the daily morning offering? The verse states: "And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the priest shall kindle wood upon it every morning, and he shall prepare the burnt-offering [olah] upon it and shall cause the fats of the peace-offerings to go up in smoke upon it" (Vayikra 6:5). The Gemara asks:What is the biblical derivation? In other words, how is it derived that the burnt-offering in this verse is referring to the daily morning offering?Rava said: "The burnt-offering," with the definite article, is referring tothe first burnt-offering, i.e., the daily morning offering, which is first both chronologically and in terms of importance.
Some explain that the tamid shel shahar is called "the first olah" because that was the first sacrifice brought by the Jewish people in the desert. Another explanation offered is that consecrating a new altar in themikdash is always done with the tamid shel shahar, making it "the firstolah."
Pesahim 59a-b - Invalidating a sacrifice
Although there are many individual activities that need to take place in order for a sacrifice to be successfully brought in the Temple, there are four specific acts during which inappropriate thoughts can make thekorban invalid. They are:
1. Shehitat ha-korban - at the time the animal is slaughtered
2. Kabalat ha-dam - when the blood is collected
3. Holakha la-mizbe'ach - when it is carried to the altar
4. Zerikat ha-dam - sprinkling the blood on the altar
What are considered "inappropriate thoughts"? There are three types of thoughts, or, indeed, spoken words (according to most opinions) that can make the sacrifice invalid.
The most severe of these is when, in the midst of one of the activities mentioned above, the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban at the wrong time. This type of thought will make the sacrifice pigul (“a vile thing” - see Vayikra 19:7); the person who brought the sacrifice will need to replace it with another, and anyone eating from the meat of the korban will be punished with karet(excision).
Another possible problem would occur if the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban in the wrong place. Under those circumstances, although a replacement korban would need to be brought, it is not considered pigul, and there is no penalty of karetfor someone who ate the meat of that sacrifice. These two cases apply to all korbanot.
There is a third case where a thought will invalidate a sacrifice, which applies only to a korban hatat (a sin-offering) or a korban Pesah (the Passover sacrifice). If the kohen does not think that it is for this particular type of sacrifice, and mistakenly believes that it is for a different one, thekorban hatat or korban Pesah will be invalid. In the case of the korban Pesah, even thinking that it will be used for a mundane purpose will ruin it.
Pesahim 60a-b - Changing the Passover sacrifice to a Shelamim
The korban Pesah is unique among the sacrifices in a number of ways, some of which are discussed on our daf (page). For example, ourGemara discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed at the appropriate time - the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan - but rather on some other day during the year. In any other situation, the sacrifice would simply be invalid. There is, however, a special rule with regard to the korban Pesah: it can be changed from a korban Pesah and sacrificed as a Shelamim. There are a series of discussions in the Gemara that revolve around the question of how the Pesah can be changed to aShelamim - if the very fact that the Pesah is not being carried out properly switches it to a Shelamim, of if it is necessary to consciously substitute one intention for the other.
The possibility of changing the korban to a Shelamim may be connected with the fact that, unlike most other sacrifices, the Shelamim is almost never brought because one is commanded to do so; rather it is a korbanthat is given freely as a todah - thanksgiving offering - or a nedavah - a voluntary offering (see Vayikra 7:11-12, 16).
a. that this korban spreads peace in the world;
b. that they bring peace to the altar, to the priests, and to the owners (i.e. that all three parties to the sacrifice benefit from the eating of the sacrifice).
Another rule unique to the korban Pesah is the need to participate in it as a formal member of a group; one must "sign up" before the holiday in order to join (see Shmot 12:4). When the korban itself is eaten - that is to say, during the Pesah seder as it was practiced during Temple times - a person was not allowed to leave his or her group and join another, unless he/she joined another group before the sacrifice was slaughtered.
Pesahim 61a-b - Everything according to those who have registered
The Mishnah on our daf (page) discusses a case where the person who is slaughtering the Passover sacrifice has intention that the korban be for people who will not be eating from it. Such people include individuals who cannot eat the meat of the sacrifice because they are old or ill, people who had not joined this particular group, or people who were not permitted to eat from the korban, e.g. someone who does not have a brit milah. In such cases, if the intention was just for such people, thekorban is no good. If, however, the person thought about people who would eat from the korban, as well as people like the aforementioned, then the sacrifice is valid.
The Gemara asks: From where are these matters, which are not explicitly written in the Torah, derived? The Gemara answers: As the Sages taught with regard to the verse: "And if the household be too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is close to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man's eating you shall make your count for the lamb" (Shmot 12:4). "According to the number of" teaches that the Paschal lamb is slaughtered only for those who have registered for it. Everything is done according to the number of people who have registered before the slaughtering
I might have thought that if he slaughtered it for those who did not register for it, he would be considered as one who has violated a commandment, but nonetheless the offering would be valid after the fact. Therefore, the Torah teaches this law with the double formulation of "according to the number (bemikhsat)" and "you shall make your count (takhosu)"; the verse repeated it to make this requirementindispensable, so that the offering is disqualified if it is slaughtered for those who did not register for it.
This discussion points to one of the ways in which the Talmudic hermeneutics differ when dealing with issues regarding sacrifices. Generally speaking, when the Torah commands us to perform an act in a specific way, it is understood that if it is not done properly, the act is an invalid one. Regarding sacrifices, however, it is commonplace to find that a single passage may command that a specific action be done, yet if one skips that detail, the sacrifice will remain valid after the fact. Only if there is an extra pasuk - as in our case - or a specific key word, does the Gemara conclude that it is essential for the sacrifice.
Pesahim 62a-b - The Book of Genealogies
Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Yohanan. He said to him: Would the Master teach me the Book of Genealogies? The Book of Genealogies was a collection of tannaitic teachings that formed a midrash on the book of Chronicles. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Where are you from? He said to him: From Lod. Rabbi Yohanan further asked: And where is your present place of residence? He said to him: In Neharde'a. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: I have a tradition that we teach these subjectsneither to Lodites nor to Neharde'ans, and certainly not to you whocomes from Lod and your residence is in Neharde'a, such that you have both shortcomings. Rabbi Simlai pressured Rabbi Yohanan untilhe agreed to teach him.
Rabbi Simlai said to him: Teach me the Book of Genealogies in three months. Rabbi Yohanan took a clod of dirt, threw it at him, and said to him: Berurya, wife of Rabbi Meir and daughter of Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, was so sharp and had such a good memory that shelearned three hundred halakhot in one day from three hundred Sages, and nonetheless she did not fulfill her responsibility to properly learn the Book of Genealogies in three years because it is especially long and difficult. And you say that I should teach it to you in three months? After your inappropriate request, I am not inclined to teach you at all.
Faced with this final refusal, Rabbi Simlai asks the question on our Mishnayot, which Rabbi Yohanan agrees to explain to him.
Rabbi Simlai was one of the first generation amora'im in Israel, a student of Rabbi Yehudah Nesi'ah and Rabbi Yannai. The Talmud, and, in particular, the Jerusalem Talmud, quotes him on matters of halakha, but he is better known for his many aggadic homilies.
The Book of Genealogies (Sefer Yohasin) discussed here is a collection of baraitot, a type of midrash on Divrei ha-Yamim. The Geonim explain that among the material included there were the genealogies of all the families mentioned in the book, something that can easily explain its length. The midrashim had information about which families were considered to have pristine backgrounds, and who had problematic histories. Rav Yehudah Leib ha-Levi Edel writes in his Iyye ha-Yam that we find very few midrashim on Divrei ha-Yamim in the Talmud. Apparently all of the baraitot were in this collection, which included deep explanations of the personal names that appear in the book.
Our Gemara concludes that after a time Sefer Yohasin was lost. According to the Maharsha, there developed powerful families with "skeletons in their closets" whose secrets were found in the Sefer Yohasin, leading the Sages to refrain from teaching the work publicly, and it eventually fell from use. With its passing many of the secrets and traditions that it held were forgotten.
Pesahim 63a-b - Outside the wall
Our Gemara quotes a Mishnah that appears in Massekhet Menahot (7:3), which discusses the thanksgiving sacrifice – the korban todah. Thatkorban is made up of an animal sacrifice brought together with 40 hallotmatzot – non-hametz loaves. The Mishnah teaches that if the sacrifice is slaughtered inside the azarah - the Temple courtyard, as is proper - but the hallot were outside the wall at that time, then the hallot do not become holy; since at the time of the shehitah they were in a place where they could not be eaten, they therefore cannot become part of thekorban.
A question was raised with regard to this mishna: What is the meaning of the phrase outside the wall? Rabbi Yohanan said: It means outside the wall of Beit Pagei, the outermost wall around Jerusalem, but if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has been sanctified, as we do not require that the bread, described as "with" the offering, be next to it in order to be sanctified. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish disagreed and said: Even if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has not been sanctified. Apparently,he holds that we require that the bread described as "with" the offering be next to it in order to be sanctified. Since Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish have already disputed this issue, they presumably did not repeat this same dispute in other contexts.
Where is Beit Pagei?
There are many opinions, but it appears that Beit Pagei represented the "third wall" that surrounded the "new city" of Jerusalem. Some say thatBeit Pagei is from the Latin root meaning "to eat." According to this opinion, it was so named because within that wall was still considered Jerusalem with regard to the mitzvah of eating korbanot that had to be consumed within the city walls. There also was a small village just outside of Jerusalem that was called Beit Pagei - perhaps because of thefigs (pagim) that grew there. According to some opinions that is the Beit Pagei referred to by Rabbi Yohanan.