ב׳ באייר ה׳תשע״ח (April 17, 2018)

Zevahim 4a-b: The Intent of a Peace Offering

In the previous dapim of Massekhet Zevaḥim we have seen the importance of the idea of lishmah – that the sacrifice must be brought with the appropriate intent, so that at the time when it is sacrificed the owner has in mind what the sacrifice is and why it is being brought. The Gemara on today’s daf searches for a source for that law.

The passage that is brought as a source is from Sefer Vayikra (3:1) where the Torah commands ve-im zevaḥ shelamim korbano – that if the sacrifice being brought was a korban shelamim – indicating that the sacrifice must be slaughtered with the specific intention that it was a shelamim. The Gemara continues with a discussion of how we can learn that each of the other avodot – activities of the sacrificial service aside from Sheḥita (slaughtering the animal) – also must be done with the proper intent, and finds specific sources for

  • Kabalat ha-dam – collecting the blood at the time of slaughter
  • Holakah – carrying the sacrifice to the altar
  • Zerikat ha-dam – sprinkling the blood on the altar.

This entire discussion relates specifically to the shelamim sacrifice. Ultimately the Gemara will derive the need for all of the sacrifices to be brought lishmah from the passage in (7:37) where the Torah concludes the laws of the sacrifices and enumerates the olah (burnt-offering), minḥa (meal-offering), ḥatat (sin-offering), asham (guilt-offering), milu’im (consecration-offering) and the shelamim, all in one verse. This is understood to connect them and impose the general requirements of one on all of them.

The shelamim sacrifice is most often translated as a peace offering. Most often the korban shelamim was brought as a voluntary gift (with the exception of the shelamim that was brought as a korban ḥagiga on one of the festivals and a few other cases). A part of each such offering was burned on the altar, a part was given to the priests and the rest was eaten by the person who brought the sacrifice together with his family anywhere in the city of Jerusalem. As it was divided between its owner, the kohanim and the altar, it is viewed as a sacrifice of peace, since it meets the needs of all involved.