י״א בשבט ה׳תשע״ד (January 12, 2014)

Yoma 65a-b: The Connection of Two Goats

In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (62a) we are introduced to Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion from which the Gemara on our daf concludes that the two se’irim – the goat chosen by lottery to be sacrificed and the one whose lot is to be sent to its death in the desert – are interconnected. As such, if the blood of the sacrifice is spilled before it has been sprinkled on the altar, obligating the sacrificial goat to be replaced, the scapegoat needs to be replaced, as well. Similarly, if the scapegoat dies before the blood of the sacrifice has been sprinkled, we will need to replace both se’irim.

The question of a sacrifice that can no longer be brought because of an outside issue, leads the Gemara to introduce another case where Rabbi Yehuda offers an opinion, which seems to contradict his position in our Mishna.

The Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim (2:1) teaches that there was no obligation for every individual to bring half-shekel coins to the bet ha-Mikdash, rather they could be collected in every community, exchanged for larger coins and sent with a messenger to Jerusalem.

What if the money was lost or stolen en route to the Temple? The Mishna teaches that responsibility for lost or stolen money depends on when the money disappeared.

In order for the communal sacrifices that were brought in the Temple to be considered to have come from the entire nation, even before the half-shekel donations arrived in the Mikdash, money was set aside on Rosh Hodesh Nisan for the purchase of sacrifices. This money – called Terumat ha-lishka – was, in essence, a loan that was to be repaid when the half-shekalim arrived. Our Mishna teaches that if Terumat ha-lishka had already been set aside, the money in the hands of the messenger was considered to have already reached the treasurer of the Temple. In such a case, the messenger swears to the Temple treasurer that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion. If, however, Terumat ha-lishka had not yet been set aside, then the money still belonged to the townspeople when it was stolen. In such a case, the messenger must swear to them that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion, and each of them will have to send another half-shekel to the Mikdash.

If the shekels that were lost are found or the thieves returned them, both these and those are shekels, i.e., they remain sanctified, but they do not count toward the amount due the following year. The next year the members of that city must donate new shekels; they have not fulfilled the second year’s obligation by having given twice the previous year. Rabbi Yehuda says: They do count toward the following year.

The Gemara asks: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda? Rava said: Rabbi Yehuda holds that the obligations of this year are also brought the following year, and therefore it is possible to fulfill one’s obligation for the next year by using the shekels of this year.

Abaye points out that were this true, Rabbi Yehuda should recommend holding the se’ir that could not be sacrificed this year for use next year.

The Gemara concludes by quoting a passage (Bamidbar 28:14) that teaches that a sacrifice must be new every year. The shekalim, which are used also for other purposes aside from sacrifices, can be switched to another year according to Rabbi Yehuda.

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