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Which Edut?

Eduyot (6:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 days ago

The sixth perek of Eduyot opens with the five cases that constituted the edut (testimony) of R' Yehuda ben Bava. The final one relates to the law that the korban tamid – the daily offering – may be offered during the fourth hour of the day.

The Rambam cites the Yerushalmi, that comments that this testimony related to an incident during the second Beit HaMikdash, when Yerushalaim was under siege. The residents would lower money outside the wall in order to purchase the animals for the daily korbanot. During one of the days, goats instead of lambs where returned, which could not be used for the korban tamid. In the end, they were able to find the required animals, yet it was already the fourth hour. It was that case that was the basis of the testimony.

The Lechem Mishnah (Temidin 1:2) notes that the testimony was important since the latest time to offer the korban tamid is the subject of debate; R' Yehuda rules four hours into the day, while the Chachamim argue it can be offered until midday. This testimony asserts that we rule according to R' Yehuda's opinion.

That said, the Lechem Mishnah cites the Raavad who argues that it must be that the edut was based on hearing the halachic ruling rather than seeing the incident. Seeing that it was offered during the fourth hours alone, would not mean that it could not have been offered in the fifth or sixth.

The difficulty is, that in the Rambam's comment on the Mishnah (cited above) he explains that R' Yehuda ben Bava testified about that very incident. In truth, the Charedim (Yerushalmi Berachot 4:1) explains that the Chachamim were also aware of the incident yet argued that had they found the korban in the fifth hour the ruling would have been the same. The Lechem Mishnah therefore adds that according to the Rambam, we must explain that R' Yehuda ben Bava was also present during the halachic deliberation of whether it could be offered at that time.

The Beit Shaul however questions why this incident was the basis of the edut. Firstly, there is no mention of the time the korban was offered in the Yerushalmi's account. Secondly, the Midrash (e.g. Bamidbar Raba 10:4) comments that it was during the time of Shlomo HaMelech where the question of whether the korban tamid could be offered during the fourth hour was resolved. R' Yonah (Rif Berachot 18n) also cites this Midrash and explains that R' Yehuda ben Bava had a tradition regarding this Midrash which he presented as his edut. Why then does the Rambam not also cite this earlier incident? The Beit Shaul leaves the question unresolved.

Perhaps we can explain the Rambam, using the comment of the Lechem Mishnah above while resolving the Midrash and Yerushalmi. One could suggest that the question was first addressed in the time of Shlomo HaMelech and resolved. Yet, from that point, the korban tamid was always offered at the earliest opportunity. It was not until the second incident that the question was raised again. It was at that time that, according to the Rambam, R' Yehuda ben Bava was present. There, during the deliberation, he heard of the tradition that the halacha was already established at the time of Shlomo HaMelech. According to the Rambam, R' Yehuda ben Bava would then have testified that he was present on the day of the second incident when they resolved that the halacha was that the korban could be offered in the fourth hour (only) – based on tradition of a similar dilemma in the time of Shlomo HaMelech.

Based on this, we can explain that the Midrash was focused on the behaviour of Shlomo HaMelech during the inauguration of the Beit HaMikdash. Consequently, having described that dilemma, it explains that it was the basis of the edut. The Yerushalmi however is focused on the legal debate regarding the latest time to offer the korban tamid. Consequently, it points to the edut – the substance of the testimony itself – which was about that day during the time of the second Beit HaMikdash. (This then explains why the Rambam, when explaining our Mishnah, in the context of Masechet Eduyot, chose the Yerushalmi.)

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