ט׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ד (January 10, 2014)

Yoma 63a-b: Do the Rules of Korbanot Apply to the Scapegoat?

Once the se’ir ha-mishtale’ah – the scapegoat – is chosen by means of the lottery, its status as a sacrifice is unclear. On the one hand, it is still an integral part of the Yom Kippur Temple service. On the other hand, it is not a korban la-Shem – a sacrifice to God – as it is to be sent to Azazel. Do the regular rules and regulations that apply to other korbanot apply here, or not?

The Gemara on our daf examines pesukim and comes to conclusions that seem to distinguish between different laws.

With regard to a mum – a blemish that would disqualify an animal from being brought as a sacrifice – the Gemara quotes a baraita that derives from pesukim that the rules of blemishes apply to the scapegoat, even though it will not be brought as a sacrifice. Yet, relating back to a baraita that was taught on a previous page, our Gemara points to the ruling that if the se’ir ha-mishtale’ah was slaughtered outside of the Temple precincts, the person who killed it would not be held liable for performing shehitat kodashim ba-hutz – slaughtering a consecrated animal outside the mikdash – since this animal is not destined to be brought as a sacrifice in the Temple.

This ruling is applied by the Gemara to other types of consecrated animals, as well. If they have been donated to the Temple but are not to be sacrificed, they, too, will not be held to the laws of korbanot. Specifically, kodashei bedek ha-bayit – property of the Temple that is used for its upkeep and beautification – fall into this category. These things, which are donated to the Temple for purposes other than sacrifice, are subject to the laws of me’ila (see daf  59), but not the laws of sacrifices. There is a specific law forbidding the donation of an animal that could be brought as a korban to the Temple as kodashei bedek ha-bayit. An animal that is free of blemishes that could be sacrificed can only be consecrated to the Temple for that purpose.

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