כ״ח בטבת ה׳תשע״א (January 4, 2011)

Zevahim 55a-b – Opening the Temple doors to sacrifice

Must the doors of the Temple be open when sacrifices are brought?

 

The Gemara on today’s daf (=page) juxtaposes two passages written regarding the korban shelamim – the peace offering. In one it says that the sacrifice must be brought petah ohel mo’ed – in the opening of the Tent of Meeting (Vayikra 3:2) – while in the other it says that the sacrifice must be brought lifnei ohel mo’ed – before the Tent of Meeting (Vayikra 3:8). In answer the Gemara points to the teaching of Rav Yehudah in the name of Shmu’el who rules that akorban shelamim that is slaughtered before the doors of the Temple have been opened is invalid, based on the passage that requires that the sacrifice is petah ohel mo’ed, which he understands to mean that the Tent of the Meeting must be open. Rashi explains that the word petah must mean “open” because a closed entrance would be called a delet (=door) or sha’ar (=gate).

 

Many of the rishonim ask why this teaching is necessary, since the korban tamid – the daily sacrifice – could not be brought before the doors to the Temple had been opened, and no sacrifice was brought before the morning korban tamidor after the korban tamid of the afternoon. The answer that is given is that sacrifices brought before the korban tamid may be valid, at least ex-post facto and that this rule may only be rabbinic. The Rosh says simply, that these are the same issues, and that the source for the fact that the korban tamid could not be brought before the doors of the Temple had been opened is this very passage – petah ohel mo’ed.

 

The question of whether this rule based on petah ohel mo’ed is limited to shelamim or if it may be applicable to other sacrifices, as well, is raised by the Har Zvi, who argues that this is a disagreement between Rashi and Rabbenu Barukh quoted in Tosafot. Rabbenu Barukh rules that it applies to all sacrifices; Rashi limits it to a korban shelamim. Rabbenu Elyakim explains Rashi’s position by saying that a korban shelamim is a gift to God, and it is inappropriate to bring a gift to someone when the doors to his home are locked up.