ח׳ בטבת ה׳תשע״ד (December 11, 2013)

Yoma 33a-b: Based on tradition

One of the first sections of the daily prayer book is korbanot, where there is a basic description of the Temple service, including the Biblical passages (beginning with a sacrifice that was not brought – Akedat Yitzhak, the binding of Isaac), Mishnayot, and statements from the Gemara. One of the selections that appears there is Abaye’s description of the daily Temple service, which begins with the ma’arakha – setting the wood on the mizbe’ah on which the korbanot are to be burned – and concluding with the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim – the afternoon tamid (continual daily) sacrifice that closes the day on the Temple.

Abaye arranged the sequence of the daily services in the Temple based on tradition [mishmei d’gemara] and in accordance with the opinion of Abba Shaul.

Generally speaking of the Gemara make every attempt to attribute a statement they make to its source. In this case, where it is quoted in the name of “tradition [the Gemara]” (and similarly when the Gemara uses the term naktinan – “we hold”), it means that this teaching was well known in the Beit Midrash, so it could not be attributed to a particular sage; rather, it was part of the general tradition.

With regard to Abba Shaul, it should be noted that “Abba” is a title that was given to sages before the title “Rabbi” came into common use. He was one of the tanna’im who, apparently, lived while the second Temple was still standing. Many of the teachings quoted in his name involve his recollections of the Temple and its service. It is likely that he was one of the students of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, which would place him during the period of the destruction of the Temple. Of the many mitzvot with which he was involved, burying the dead appears to be one that he was specifically devoted to. He is described as “long in his generation” which probably refers to both his physical appearance and the respect he commanded among his peers.

Many of the rulings that are quoted in Abba Shaul’s name appear to be his own opinion, yet they became the basis for practical halakhic rulings over generations.

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