ג׳ באב ה׳תשע״ח (July 15, 2018)

Zevahim 93a-b: Cleaning Up Sacrificial Blood

As we learned on yesterday’s daf if sacrificial blood is absorbed by another object, the laws pertaining to the sacrifice are transferred to the object unless the blood is removed. Therefore, clothing that was stained by blood had to be washed in the Temple courtyard, metal vessels that absorbed blood could be heated until the blood is removed, but earthenware vessels, which retain anything that they absorb, must be destroyed.

The Mishnayot on today’s daf offer a number of limitations to that rule –

First, this law does not apply to all sacrificial blood; it is limited to blood that was collected by a kohen in a keli sharet – in the appropriate Temple service vessel – and is valid for sprinkling on the altar. Therefore, if the blood was sprayed directly from the neck of the animal, or if the clothing came directly in contact with blood after the blood had already been applied to the altar, there would be no need to wash it out.

Second, this law only applies to kelim – to usable objects (the examples in the biblical source include a garment, earthenware vessels and metal vessels – see Sefer Vayikra 6:20-21). This excludes objects in their raw state that have not reached a final, usable form. So, for example, unprocessed animal skin would not be included in this category, even though leather, which did undergo processing, would need to be cleaned.

The Torah teaches that cleaning these objects must be done be-makom kadosh – in a holy place. Rashi explains that this refers to the Temple courtyard. In his commentary on the Torah, the Ḥizkuni explains that this blood cannot be taken out of the courtyard, just like any other sacrificial blood which would become disqualified if removed from the Temple precincts. It could, however, be washed in any of the leshakot – the offices – that were adjacent to the courtyard that had the same status as the courtyard itself.