ח׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ד (November 11, 2013)

Yoma 3a-b: Whose Property Is It?

We learned in yesterday’s daf that of the Talmud derived the need for a seven-day preparation for the Yom Kippur service from the Torah’s description of the Tabernacle in the desert. In that case the Aharon and his sons were confined for a week during the ceremonies inaugurating the Mishkan so that they would practice the service that needed to be done afterwards. Specifically, the Gemara refers to Vayikra 8:33-34, where the Torah teaches that the week of preparation was a model for a situation where kapparah – atonement – was offered, which is understood to mean Yom Kippur.

The Gemara on our daf discusses how we know that the passages in Vayikra that talk about kapparah refer to preparation for Yom Kippur; perhaps they are teaching that other holidays – like Rosh HaShana, for example – need such preparation. The Gemara points to the uniqueness of Yom Kippur as a holiday on which the Kohen Gadol brings his own sacrifice, similar to the personal sacrifice brought by Aharon HaKohen at the consecration of the Mishkan. This is significantly different than other holidays – including Rosh HaShana – where the sacrifices brought were communal ones.

The conclusion of the Gemara is clear that, with regard to Yom Kippur, some sacrifices were the personal property of the High Priest. It points out, though, that there are some things that were used in the Temple whose ownership is less clear.

As it was taught in a baraita that when the Torah states: Take you [kah lekha], it means from your own property, and when it states: Make you [a’se lekha], it means from your own property; however, when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. This is the statement of Rabbi Yoshiya. Rabbi Yonatan says that both when the Torah states: Take you, and when the Torah states: And they will bring to you, it means from community property. And for what purpose, then, does the verse state: Take you, which seems to mean from your own property? It should be understood, as it were, that God said to Moses: I desire that it come from your property more than I desire it from theirs. Therefore, the taking was attributed to Moses even though it was actually from community property.

The phrase kah lekha (take for you) is from the command to make the incense (see Shemot 30:34) and the phrase a’se lekha (make for you) appears in the command to make silver trumpets (image of replica trumpets to the right; see Bamidbar 10:2). This rather enigmatic statement is explained by the Maharsha as follows: Since the entire world belongs to God, there is nothing that can be “given” to him, and it is impossible to discuss a physical thing that He “wants” from this world. Therefore, His command to offer something to Him means that He is honoring Moshe by accepting something from him, and He would prefer to honor Moshe than the Jewish people.

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