כ״ו בשבט ה׳תשע״א (January 31, 2011)

Zevahim 82a-b – A Talmudic parable

As we learned on yesterday’s daf (=page), when the blood of a sacrifice that must be placed on the outer altar in the Temple courtyard (e.g. an ordinary korban hatat – a sin-offering – or a korban asham – a guilt-offering) became mixed with blood from sacrifices that are placed in the inner sanctuary, on the golden altar or on the curtain of the Holy of Holies (i.e. hata’ot penimiyot, the inner sin-offerings of the or the community, see Vayikra 4:3-21), the blood was not to be used. Nevertheless, if a kohen took the mixture and placed the blood first in the inner sanctuary and then on the outer altar, the service would be valid ex-post facto. If, however, it was done in the reverse order, Rabbi Akiva rules that the blood of the sacrifice that was placed on the outer altar will be invalid, since it would have become disqualified upon being brought into the sanctuary. The  limit the disqualification only to the case of a , since that is the sacrifice that is specifically mentioned in the pasuk (=verse) in (6:23) as becoming disqualified if its blood was brought into the sanctuary.

 

The Gemara on today’s daf attempts to clarify the reasoning behind Rabbi Akiva’s ruling, given the fact that the passage in Sefer Vayikra does, in fact, mention a sin-offering specifically. By way of explanation, Rav Yehudah quotes Shmu’el as offering a parable: If a student is sitting before his teacher and he dilutes his wine for him using hot water (in Talmudic times, wine was ordinarily purchased in concentrated form and was diluted with three parts water to one part wine), when the teacher asks him to prepare another cup of wine for him, if the student asks “with what?” (i.e. with hot water or with cold water), the teacher will respond that if until now he was using hot water, the new request must be adding an additional element, and he means with either hot or cold water.

 

According to Tosafot, the teacher’s argument in this parable is that if he simply wanted the same thing, he would not have needed to make a special request, since that is what the student would have prepared in any case. Rashi‘s reading of the Gemara has the teacher asking specifically for hot water, but explaining that since hot water was already the standard being used, had he wanted hot water, he would not have needed to specify. Since he emphasized that his request was for hot water he was actually indicating that it could have been either hot water or cold water.

 

The parallel to our case is that the context in Vayikra was a korban hatat. Somewhat counter-intuitively, when the Torahemphasizes in this pasuk (6:23) that the law applies to a korban hatat, it is effectively indicating that the law applies not only to a sin-offering, but to all sacrifices.