Thursday, 26 April 2018

Zevachim 13: Focus During the Four Rites of Slaughter

We begin with a new Mishna which speaks to the paschal offering and the sin offering.  It teaches that the following offerings are unfit: 

  • when they are slaughtered not for their own sake 
  • where their blood was collected in a vessel, brought to the altar
  • where they sprinkled this blood on the altar not for their sake
  • where they performed the sacrificial rites for their sake or not
If one slaughters the paschal offering for the sake of a peace offering as well as a peace offering.  A slaughtered offering is disqualified due to forbidden intent in four ways:
  • performing the sacrificial rites of slaughter
  • collecting the blood
  • carrying the blood
  • sprinkling the blood
Rabbi Shimon argues that the offering is fit if the forbidden intent was during the rite of carrying the blood, or without sprinkling the blood.  How is it possible to sacrifice an offering without collecting the blood or without bringing the blood to the altar?  The answer is that if the animal is slaughtered beside the altar, the blood can be sprinkled without being carried.  

Rabbi Eliezer argues that one who brings the blood in a situation where it has to be carried, prohibited intent while carrying it disqualifies the offering.  If one carries the blood when it is not required to carry it, prohibited intent while carrying the blood will not disqualify it.

The Gemara chronicles the rabbis' conversations about how similar considerations might be applied to other parts of the sacrificial rites.  An example is used regarding one who walks to a synagogue far from home, one is rewarded.  At the very least, we are rewarded once we reach that destination.  

This notion of 'intent' suggests that we are meant to be in control of our thoughts, not just our actions, when going through the process of bringing an offering.  It is a tall order to insist that people think about one thing only when they are apologizing, but perhaps that is what is suggested.  If sacrifice is a form of atonement, and it was replaced by prayer, should we believe that we are intended to focus our minds upon our prayer, particularly when we are asking for atonement?  Would G-d not hear our prayer - disqualify our offering - if we are not thinking about a prescribed ritual of asking for atonement?