כ״ו בשבט ה׳תשע״ו (February 5, 2016)

Gittin 54a-b: Sacrifice and Improper Intention

On yesterday’s daf we learned about cases of hezek she-eno nikkar – damage that was done that cannot be seen. The Mishna on our daf continues with this discussion, and teaches about a case where the kohen who was working in the Temple informs an individual that he had made the sacrifice pigul. In such a case the Mishna rules that if it was done on purpose, the kohen will be held liable to pay damages.

The case of pigul is hinted to in the Torah (see Vayikra 7:18), where we learn that if a person eats from a korban three days after it was sacrificed, the korban will be pigul, it will no longer be considered to have been brought on his behalf. From this learn that even if the sacrifice was brought with the intention of eating it – or performing one of the other activities associated with the sacrifice – in the wrong time or place, it will be considered void, even if that act was not carried out. The laws of pigul are discussed at length in Massekhet Zevahim.

There is an argument among the rishonim as to whether pigul applies only if the kohen actually stated aloud that the sacrifice was to be eaten at the wrong time, or if even thinking that it would be eaten then is enough to make the sacrifice pigul. Some of the rishonim suggest that a kohen who merely thinks that the korban will be eaten at the wrong time would ruin his own sacrifice, but to make someone else’s korban pigul the kohen would have to actually state his intentions aloud.

As noted, our Mishna rules that if the kohen has inappropriate thoughts about the sacrifice he will be obligated to pay for it if he did so purposely, implying that if he did it accidentally, he would be free from liability (some manuscripts of the Mishna state this clearly). The Talmud Yerushalmi asks how pigul, which is based on thought and statement – could take place accidentally. The Yerushalmi suggests a case where the kohen believes that he is allowed to make the sacrifice pigul.

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