כ״ז בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (May 5, 2016)

Kiddushin 55a-b: Misuse of Consecrated Property

In the Gemara’s continuing discussion of the Mishna (52b) about a person who attempts to marry a woman by giving her something that belonged to the Temple, a Mishna from Massekhet Me’ila (19b) is quoted. According to that Mishna, once someone has been mo’el be-hakdesh (has made inappropriate use of an object that belonged to the Temple), subsequent use of that object by someone else does not carry with it any negative ramifications. The exception to this rule is an animal (that is to be brought as a sacrifice) and klei sharet (utensils used in the Temple service). Thus, if a person rode an animal that was set aside for sacrifice and then a second and third person did the same, all of them would be liable for having been mo’el be-hekdesh. Similarly, if someone drinks from a klei sharet and then a second and a third person do the same, they are all liable. The simple explanation for this is that the sacrifice and the utensil have intrinsic holiness that does not disappear simply because it was used. This stands in contrast to kodashei bedek ha-bayit – objects that were consecrated to be used by the treasurer of the Temple in the Temple – which in any case can be redeemed, and used for mundane purposes. With regard to those objects, if they were used outside of the Temple, the object is removed from its former status of hekdesh and is rendered hol – ordinary.

The Rambam offers a different approach. According to the Rambam the difference between an animal and klei sharet on the one hand and other objects owned by the Temple on the other hand is not based on the question of whether or not there is intrinsic holiness attached to it, rather it is a question of whether the object will be damaged or diminished by its use. An animal (according to the Rambam’s approach this is true whether or not it will be used as a sacrifice) and a klei sharet can be used over and over without loss of value, so they retain their holiness, and therefore several people can do me’ila. Other objects, which suffer wear and tear after a single use, will immediately become hol and only the first person would be liable for me’ila.

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