Introduction to Temurah

Temurah (1:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 13 years ago

The new masechet, masechet Temurah, deals with the laws relating to one attempting to exchange an animal for an animal set aside as a korban. Other than violating a negative prohibition, the outcome is that both animals are sanctified. The first, the korban, retains its sanctity and the second becomes a temurah. As learnt in the first Mishnah this is the case whether the second animal is better or worse than the first. Analysing a particular debate will provide a better understanding of this law.

The Mishnah taught (1:2):

Temurah can be caused by stating: one [animal] in place of two [korbanot]; two [animals] in place of one [korban]; one in place of one-hundred; one-hundred in place of one. R’ Shimon says: Temurah can only [be caused when trying to exchange] one in place of one, as it states, “and it shall be that it and the exchanged [animal shall be sanctified]”. Just as “it” (hu) implies one, so too the exchanged is [understood as being] one.

The above Mishnah describes the debate regarding whether the law of Temurah applies also in a one-to-many and many-to-one relationship or only in a one-to-one way.

A further debate ensues in the Gemara regarding the later opinion, the opinion of R’ Shimon. Reish Lakish argues that even though R’ Shimon maintains that temurah is only effective in a one-to-one way this is only in one instance. He would however agree that many animals can become a temurah from one korban. He explains that this is possible when someone attempts to exchange a korban with other single animals in multiple instances. Reish Lakish reasons that after the first temurah is performed the sanctity of the original korban has not been affected (“kedusha rishona de’hekdesh le’heichan halcha”). Consequently the next time one attempts to exchange an animal for that korban it is like starting for the beginning. Despite this rationale R’ Yochanan argues that R’ Shimon would maintain that as soon as temurah has been performed once from a korban it could not be performed again. What is the rationale of R’ Yochanan? Why does he disagree with Reish Lakish’s understanding?

The Minchat Asher explains that this debate is indicative of the broader question of what is the novelty (chiddush) of this law of temurah. One way to understand it is that were it not for the law of temurah, the declaration of the person attempting to exchange the animals would be meaningless. The korban would remain a korban and the second animal remains a normal animal. The chiddush is that this second animal is also sanctified. Another way to understand this is that were it not for the laws of temurah, the declaration would have been effective and the second animal would have taken the place of the korban. The chiddush is that the original animal is remains sanctified.

The Minchat Asher uses these two understandings to explain the debate between Reish Lakish and R’ Yochanan. Reish Lakish reasoned that the korban could be used again to create another temurah because the sanctity had not been affected – the korban was unchanged. This reasoning seems to be aligned with the first understanding that the chiddush of temurah is that the second animal is sanctified and it is clear the declaration made had no affect on the korban. R’ Yochanan however rejects this rationale. According to the Minchat Asher this is because he follows the second understanding that really the sanctity is transferred and the chiddush of temurah is that the original animal is also sanctified. Since the korban has been affected it can no longer cause another Temurah.


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