ה׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ד (January 6, 2014)

Yoma 59a-b: Deriving Benefit From the Blood of a Sacrifice

The Mishna on the previous daf taught that the remnants of the blood from the sacrifices were poured down a drain on the altar, from where they emptied into the Kidron and were sold as fertilizer. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches a difference of opinion between with regard to the status of this blood – specifically, whether the rules of me’ila would apply to it. Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Shimon believe that me’ila applies, while the Hakhamim argue that it does not.

Me’ila is, in essence, stealing or deriving benefit from something owned by the Temple. Once something is consecrated to the Temple, it is forbidden for someone to derive benefit from it. The laws of me’ila are briefly mentioned in the Torah (see Vayikra 5:14-16), but the many detailed precepts associated with it are discussed at length in Massekhet Me’ila in the Talmud. The rules and regulations surrounding me’ila are more stringent than those in the rest of the Torah in that someone who derives such benefit will be held liable for it even if it was done accidentally, or even against his will. Similarly, someone who sends an agent to use something that belongs to the Temple will be considered to have been mo’el, even though in the rest of the Torah we rule that ein shali’ah le-devar aveira– a person cannot be considered to have sent someone else to perform a sinful act, but rather, everyone is responsible for their own actions.

In Massekhet Me’ila we learn that there are different rules and regulations regarding various sacrifices and objects donated to the Temple and that the holiness attached to a given object will, on occasion, be removed.

The discussion in our case revolves around the status of the blood from a sacrifice and whether the laws of me’ila apply to it. The Gemara asserts that the aforementioned disagreement between the tanna’im is only on a Rabbinic level, but on a Biblical level all are in agreement that there is no me’ila in our case. Several sources are given for the fact that the Torah does not forbid use of the blood, but the conclusion of the Gemara is that once the mitzva is completed, the rule of me’ila can no longer apply.

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