Shaar HaKorban

Midot (1:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 20 days ago

The Mishnah (1:4) discusses the seven gates around the azara (Temple courtyard). One of those listed on the South side was the Shaar HaBechorot -- the Gate of the Firstborns. The Bartunera explains that it was given this name since it was through this gate that the bechorot, first born kosher animals, were brought to be offered as korbanot.

The Tosfot Yom Tov elaborates further, that since bechorot were from kadashim kalim, they could be offered anywhere in the azarah. Nevertheless, this gate was on the South side, since kodshei kadashim, by contrast, could only be offered in the North. The Tosfot Yom Tov however continues that this explanation is insufficient since other korbanot that were kadashim kalim could also be offered in the South side. Why then was this gate given the name Shaar HaBechorot?

The Tosfot Yom Tov suggests that perhaps since the bechorot were given as a gift to the kohanim, a gate was set aside for it.

The Shoshanim LeDavid also focuses on its uniqueness, that the bechorot were gifts to the kohanim, but stresses a legal need why the gate was necessary. He explains that because it was a gift from which the owner would not receive a share, one might think that the bechorot were considered kodshei kadashim; many of which were shared between the kohanim and the mizbeach. Therefore, to serve as a reminder that bechorot were kadashim kalim, they were brought through a dedicated gate in the South. A similar reminder was not necessary for the other kadashim kalim since the owners received parts of those korbanot.

This Mishnah, as printed in the Gemara, however calls this gate "shaar hakorban". The later Mishnah (2:7) does however refer to a gate in the South wall of the azara as shaar habechorot. The Rosh explains that that gate is indeed shaar hakorban mentioned in our Mishnah. It seems that, according to the Rosh, this gate had two names, shaar habechorot and shaar hakorban. Note that that Mishnah also list an additional shaar hakorban. Yet that gate is on the Northern side through which the kodshei kadashim were brought.

According to the Rosh, why was this gate (also) given the name shaar hakoran? The Rosh suggests two explanations. The first is that it was through this gate that they would bring the korban tamid -- the daily offering. There are several difficulties with this explanation. Firstly, the korban Tamid was a korban olah, one of the kodeshei kadashim that had to be slaughtered on the north side of the azara. Why then would they bring the korban Tamid through a gate on the south side of the azara? Furthermore, the korbanot Tamid were stored in the lishchat telaim in the Beit Hamoked which was already located on the North side of the azara, a few steps away for the entrance to the azarah on that side. According to the Rosh, it appears that they would take the lamb, through the Beit HaMoked, out and around the outside of the azarah, through the shaar habechorot and across the azarah to the North side, nearly completing a full circle. Why would they take the korban on such a circuit?

It appears that the above questions are answered with the second explanation of the Rosh. The Rosh adds that when Avraham took Yitzchak on to Har Hamoriah with the intention of offering him as instructed by Hashem, he went through that location. Naming the gate as shaar hakorban now has new meaning. Perhaps the name is not for any particular korban that was being offering in the Beit HaMikdash, but rather the korban -- Yitzchak. It is no wonder then that the korban tamid was brought into the azara on this path, despite the apparent inconvenience, as through its journey it brings the memory and merit of akeidat Yitzchak to the fore on a daily basis.

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