כ״ג באדר ה׳תשע״ב (March 17, 2012)

Temurah 31a-b – Differences between two types of consecration

When consecrating an object to the Temple, there are two possible levels of holiness. An animal can be consecrated for sacrifice on the altar (kedushat mizbe’ah) and develop intrinsic holiness, or an object can be consecrated for use by the Temple treasury (kedushat bedek ha-bayit). The seventh perek (=chapter) of Massekhet Temurah, which begins on today’s daf (=page) focuses on the differences between these two different levels of sanctity. Regarding the laws of temurah, the Torah is clear that only when an animal has intrinsic holiness will an attempt by the owner to switch that sanctity to another animal result in both animals becoming sanctified (see Vayikra 27:9).
Aside from the laws of temurah, other differences between these two types of sanctity are mentioned in the Mishnah. Among them are:
  • the fact that the owner of an animal brought as a sacrifice may continue to derive certain benefits from the animal (e.g., if the animal is brought as a shelamim – a peace-offering – the owner will be given part of its meat to eat), which is not true of an animal that has kedushat bedek ha-bayit, or
  • the fact that kedushat bedek ha-bayit applies to everything, while kedushat mizbe’ah applies only to animals that can be sacrificed.
The Gemara asks about this last law, clarifying what is included in “everything” that can become holy as a donation to the Temple. Ravina explains that “everything” includes even shefuye ve-niva – shavings and sproutings. That when someone dedicates a tree to the Temple treasury for purposes of upkeep, even these are considered to be holy.

There is some question as to the definition of nivaRashi explains that these are autumn leaves that can be composted and used as fertilizer. The Rambam offers an alternative explanation, that these are the hard knobs that grow in a tree that are an imperfection in the tree’s wood.

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