Saturday, 29 March 2014

Sukka 55 a, b

We listen to the voices of our rabbis as they determine which psalms are sung on which days of Sukkot; when the trumpets are sounded.  They use their voices to debate what is said and what is sung and what is played.  It would seem that the experience of rejoicing on Sukkot is facilitated through sound.

The rabbis discuss differences in what should be read on intermediate days verses what should be read on Shabbat.  They wonder how to ensure that we are chanting the appropriate prayers when we might not know which day is which.

Amud (b) begins a new Mishna.  It describes what animals are waiting to be sacrificed over the holiday of Sukkot.  Additionally it teaches us exactly which animals should be sacrificed on which particular days.  It focuses on the watch, the people who rotate shifts caring for and preparing the animals for sacrifice.  The rabbis would like to believe that the rabbis rotate their shifts so that priests can witness different sacrifices.  In particular, the rabbis speak about the sacrifice of bulls.

This conversation makes me wonder about the ease with which these offerings took place.  Seventy bulls are said to have been sacrificed in the Temple when it was standing.  Seventy bulls!  And those are just one animal!  How could this have been accomplished?  Even for the korban Pesach, how would that number of families bring their offerings to the Temple? Surely there would have been chaos, disorder, and mistakes in halachic practice.  Perhaps the notion of sacrifice has always been an idea.  Perhpas our history is not one of ubiquitous sacrifice.

Another Mishna is introduced, this time mentioning the 24 priests who rotate through the Temple services over the course of Sukkot.  It notes that the watchpeople might have been those who distributed food, including the shewbread, over the course of the holiday.  In the Gemara the rabbis want to understand how the watch could be treated equally.  They wonder whether all of the holidays are treated in the same manner, as well.    

It is clear to me that I am missing a step in this argument.  Hopefully tomorrow's daf will help to clarify today's text for me.

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