By Rabbi Avraham
Fischer. A publication of the Orthodox Union in cooperation with the Seymour
J. Abrams Orthodox Union Jerusalem World Center
Shabbat Parshat Tzav
15 Adar II 5765 - March 25, 2005
Every sacrifice has its time limit. For
example, the shelamim, the peace-offering, which is shared among the Kohanim,
the owner and those whom he invites, is eaten for two days and the night that is
between them. However, after this limit is reached, whatever remains must be
And that which remains (V’HANOTAR) of the meat of the offering, on the third day
shall it be burned in fire (Vayikra 7:17).
Thus, any of the meat that has not been
consumed by the end of the second day is called notar (remainder). In like
manner, any sacrifice that is left over after its time limit is considered notar.
In fact, the Torah prohibits the intentional leaving-over of any sacrifice past
its time; it is tantamount to deliberately causing a physical defect in the
animal (Ibid. 22:30; Rambam, “Laws of Invalidated Sanctified Things,” 18:9).
Notar must be burned, but not until the third day, that is, during daylight
hours (Sefer HaChinuch, ascribed to either R. Aharon HaLevi or R. Pinchas HaLevi
of Barcelona, mid-13th Century, Commandment § 143, § 287).
And if some of the meat of his shelamim offering will indeed be eaten (HEI’ACHOL
YEI’ACHEIL) on the third day, it will not be accepted (LO YEIRATZEH); the one
who offers it (HA’MAKRIV OTO), it shall not be considered for him (LO
YEICHASHEIV LO); it shall be rejected (PIGGUL YIHYEH). And the soul that eats of
it shall bear his iniquity (verse 18).
This means that for eating piggul (rejected sacrificial food) intentionally, one
is punished with karet, spiritual excision, meaning death from Heaven (Kereitot
2a; Rambam, op. cit. 18:6). Piggul too must be burned (Sefer HaChinuch, loc.
At first glance, piggul seems to be sacrificial food eaten past its time-limit.
According to this, it would be valid within its time-limit, but afterwards it
becomes piggul. The problem with such an interpretation, however, is found in
the declaration, the one who offers it (HA’MAKRIV OTO), it shall not be
considered for him (LO YEICHASHEIV LO).
This suggests that piggul is invalid from the
time it is offered. Is it possible that it was valid throughout the designated
time, and subsequently eating it after the time limit invalidates it
What is piggul?
Rashi (quoting Torat Kohanim 8:1 and Zevachim 29a) says that the classification
of piggul is conferred upon the sacrifice by the intention to eat it beyond its
expiration time. This invalid intention renders the sacrifice defective
immediately, and it must not be used, even within the allotted time. This law is
implied in the words LO YEICHASHEIV LO, because CH-SH-V means “to think.” In
addition, piggul occurs only if the sacrifice is valid in every other respect
(see Sefer HaChinuch, Commandment § 144).
The repeated verb HEI’ACHOL YEI’ACHEIL (will indeed be eaten) refers to two
kinds of “consumption”: that which is eaten by man, and that which is placed on
the altar to smolder and burn. Consequently, any sacrifice can become piggul by
the intention to eat it or place it on the altar after its deadline. And this
can occur at any stage that is considered to be part of the process of
“offering” (hakravah, based on the words in the verse HA’MAKRIV OTO). For a
sacrificial animal, for example, that process has four stages: slaughtering,
collecting the blood, carrying it to the altar and sprinkling it on the horns of
In the case of piggul, the explanation of the Torah sheb’al peh (Oral teaching)
is rather different from the literal reading of the text. Rashbam says bluntly,
“The Sages have uprooted this from its simple meaning,”
and then he proceeds to record the Sages’ definition of piggul. Such is the
immense power of the Torah sheb’al peh!
Thus, the intention, the state of mind – the kavvana – of the Kohen who attends
to a sacrifice is so crucial to the offering that it can undo it. (It is
interesting to note that, while Rashi and Rambam take this at face value – that
the thought alone can invalidate – Tosafot suggest that piggul status is
conferred only if the thought is expressed aloud in words. See Pesachim 63a, s.v.
“Rabbi Meir” and Bava Metzia 43b s.v. “Ha’choshev.”)
Actually, there are three levels of disqualifying thoughts with regard to
1. Change of name ― such as offering as a
peace-offering (shelamim) an animal consecrated as a sin-offering;
2. Change of place ― intending to eat the sacrifice outside its designated
3. Change of time.
Kavvana to change the name (in most cases)
does not invalidate the sacrifice qua sacrifice, although the owner has not
discharged his obligation thereby, and he must redo it. Change of place further
disqualifies the sacrifice, although there is no penalty of karet. Change of
time is piggul, as we have said, and carries with it the penalty of karet (Rambam,
op. cit. 13:1,2; 15:1; 16:1).
Perhaps these three kavvanot correlate to three kinds of kedushah, or sanctity:
• holiness of designation, such as Kohanim and utensils for the Sanctuary
• holiness of place, such as the Land of Israel and the Temple Mount
• holiness of time, such as Shabbat and the festivals
(A similar division is found in Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook, 1865-1935,
Orot HaKodesh II, pp. 303-304.) Sacrifices must be sanctified in all three
dimensions. Perhaps also time is the most severely treated of the three kavvanot
because time-sanctity is the most elemental, as it is the first type of holiness
introduced into the world (Bereishit 2:3).
Kavvana is central to sacrifices, as Sefer HaChinuch (loc. cit.) explains:
“The purpose of an offering is to make people’s thoughts worthy and to form a
conception in their soul, out of the activity of their hand, of the evil of sin
and the goodness of upright, honest ways. Therefore, since its main reason
concerns the thoughts, it is right that it should become disqualified by a
thought about it that swerves from the upright, honest path in regard to any of
This Shabbat, Jerusalem, a "walled city," celebrates Shushan Purim,
despite the fact that at the time of the miracle of Purim,
its walls had long been destroyed and were
not to be rebuilt until the days of Ezra. A city is defined in
Halacha as "walled" if its wall
stood at the time of Yehoshua bin Nun, regardless of its status at
the time of Mordechai and Esther. The reason for
this, according to the Talmud Yerushalmi, is to
give honor to the Land of Israel which lay desolate in those days.
In light of this year’s “ Purim M’shulash,” those of us
living in Jerusalem read about that same
Yehoshua in our Maftir (Shmot 17:8-16), " Vayavo
Amalek ." Moshe instructs Yehoshua to choose men
and fight Amalek, while Moshe ascends the
mountain with Aharon and Chur. The Midrash
teaches that Yehoshua was chosen to battle
against Amalek because he was destined to lead the
children of Israel into the Promised
Land. The Netziv may help us understand the connection between Amalek
and entering the Land. He explains that
the battle against Amalek was meant to be waged
in a natural fashion, with Moshe's prayers and God's
intervention behind the scenes, as
opposed to the war against Egypt with its overt miracles.
During their forty-year sojourn in the wilderness, the
children of Israel lived a totally spiritual
existence, with the Manna falling from heaven
and a pillar of cloud going before them. Upon
entering the Land, the Israelites had to live a natural life, farming
the land and battling their enemies. God
is always present in the Land of Israel, but His
presence is felt behind the scenes. Yehoshua's training
in the war of Amalek, therefore, prepared
him to lead the Israelites into the Land. Our
Sages wished to honor the desolate Land by
attaching significance to Yehoshua bin Nun. We, with God's
help, have the opportunity to emulate
Yehoshua and rebuild the Land.
Rabbi Yitzchak Korn
*D’var Torah from Aloh Na'aleh:
an initiative of former North
American Rabbis and laymen who successfully made Aliyah, aimed at
highlighting the centrality of Israel and promoting Aliyah. They send
emissaries – Rabbis, academicians, and others – on speaking-tours
throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Roness ,
Exec. Dir., Aloh Naaleh,
At the OU Center, 22 Keren HaYesod
Tel.(02) 566-7787 ex. 254