י״א באלול ה׳תשע״ג (August 17, 2013)

Pesaḥim 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 the massekhet we move away from the discussion of the rules of hametz and matza 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 main concern is the slaughter and sacrifice of the korban (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 Mishna teaches that ordinarily the afternoon daily sacrifice, the korban 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. The korban 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 which korbanot 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. 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 to the 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 the mikdash is always done with the tamid shel shahar, making it “the first olah.

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