Masechet Kinim, the final Masechet in Seder Kodshim, deals with issues that arise when different bird sacrifices are mixed together and their resolution. A ken, a pair of birds, can consist of two olah offering which are normally brought as a voluntary offering. Alternatively one might be obligated to bring a ken. In such a cases one bird would be a chatat while the other would be an olah. They are either designated as such at the time of purchase or the pair is brought as a ken stumah and the birds are designated by the kohen.
The manner in which the chatat and olah are offered is different. A mixture involving and definite chatat and olah must be left to die. Even in a mixture of one in one thousand, the law is the same. Firstly each type of sacrifice has its distinct area where the blood must be placed as stated in the previous Mishnah. If one places the blood in the wrong area the korban is invalid (pasul)*and one is not allowed to deliberately cause a korban to become invalid (Ra’avad). Secondly, the principle that the minority can be considered annulled (batel) amongst the majority does not apply to living creatures (Bartenura, Zevachim 73a). Finally, one could not wait for a blemish to appear on all the birds and then redeem them (a possible solution when dealing with animal sacrifices) since redemption is not allowed for bird sacrifices (Menachot* 12:1).
The second Mishnah deals with the cases where definite olah offerings mix with the ken stumot and definite chatat offering mix with ken stumot. It teaches how many birds can be offered until we are left with mixture of definite chatat and olah offerings.
One may notice that while initially the Mishnah discussed a mixture of an olah and chovah, half way through it referred to mixtures of a nedava and chovah. The explanation above did not make note of this change. The Bartenura explains that the reason why the term nedava is used is because voluntary bird offerings consist only of olah sacrifices and should be understood as referring to pairs of olah offerings. While the Rosh understands similarly, he maintains that the term nedava as referring not to pairs but rather individual olah sacrifices.
But why does the Mishnah change the language? Furthermore the Mishnah does appear slightly long-winded.
Regarding these cases, once the permissible sacrifices have been offered and the remainder left to die, new birds have to replace those that remained. The Me’einei Yehoshua explains that one might think that the ruling in this Mishnah applies only when all the birds brought are obligatory; only then replacements must be brought. If however a voluntary offering was involved in the mixture, where one was not obligated to replace it if it was lost (a nedava), one might think that if the obligatory offerings outnumbered the voluntary ones, we could assume that the offered olah came from the majority. Consequently one might assume that the olah left in the mixture was the voluntary one and a replacement olah is therefore not required. The change in language is therefore necessary to negate such assumptions.
Receive our publication with an in depth article and revision questions.
Listen to the Mishnah Shiurim by Yisrael Bankier