י״ד בטבת ה׳תשע״א (December 21, 2010)

Zevahim 41a-b – The sin-offerings of the HIgh Priest and the Sanhedrin

In Masechet Horayot we learned about the different sin-offerings brought by the leadership of the Jewish people – the , referred to as the kohen ha-mashi’ah, the great  representing the entire congregation, referred to as kol adat Yisra’el, and the king, referred to as the  (see VayikraChapter 4). The Gemara on today’s daf (=page) discusses differences between the pesukim (=verses) that teach about two sin-offerings that are brought on the inner altar, that of the High Priest and the great Sanhedrin.

 

In the study hall of Rabbi Yishma’el, the following parables were presented:

 

Regarding the sin-offering of the High Priest the Torah includes details about sacrificing the kidneys and the liver, which does not appear in the commandment about the offering of the Sanhedrin (compare Vayikra 4:8-9 vs4:19). This is compared to a king who becomes angry at one of his beloved subjects, but because of his love for him chooses to minimize the embarrassment.

 

Rashi explains that in this parable, the beloved servant is the Jewish people who are represented by the great Sanhedrin. The Torah shortens the description of the Sanhedrin’s sin-offering in order to minimize embarrassment. The Maharshaoffers an alternative explanation and suggests that the beloved subject is the High Priest, and that the Torah clearly delineates the details of his sin-offering since by means of the sacrifice his sin is forgiven.

 

Regarding the sin-offering of the High Priest the Torah teaches that the blood is sprinkled towards parokhet ha-kodesh – the curtain of the Holy place. In the sin-offering of the Sanhedrin, the Torah does not mention the holiness of the curtain, it simply says that the sprinkling of the blood is done towards the parokhet (compare Vayikra 4:6 vs4:17). This is compared to a king whose people have risen up against him in revolt. If the rebellion is limited to a minority of the people, his rule continues, but if the majority of the people have risen up against him, his rule has ended. Thus, in the case of the Sanhedrin bringing a sin-offering on behalf of the Jewish people when the majority of the people have sinned, it is as though the holiness of the Temple is gone and the word ha-kodesh is left out.