Unexpected Twin Korbanot

Temurah (5:2) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

The fifth perek discusses various cases regarding a pregnant animal where one consecrated the foetus as a korban, with the type of korban depending on the gender. The first case was used to demonstrate how one could avoid a first born animal from having the sanctity a bechor. The Mishnah explains that if one stipulated that if the offspring is male, then he wants it to be an olah from that moment, the declaration works. The reason is that since a bechor attains its kedusha only once it is born, the kedusha of an olah preceded it.

The second Mishnah discusses a case where after a similar declaration, the mother gave birth to two males. The Mishnah rules that one of the two animals is offered as a korban olah (as stipulated). The other can be sold to someone who is obligated to offer a korban olah and the proceeds of the sale is consider chulin -- regular money with no kedusha.

How do we understand the ruling of the Mishnah? If the stipulation affects both animals, then both should be offered by the owner as korbanot olah. If it effects only one, then why must the second be sold to someone obligated to bring a korban olah?

The Rashash explains that it is true that only the first animal has the kedusha of an olah. The issue addressed in this Mishnah is that we do not know which of the two animals was born first. The Mishnah therefore teaches that the owner sells the animal that was born second, to someone else -- whichever of the two that animal is. The animals are then offered at the same time with the kohen having in mind that each is offered for whoever the animal truly belongs to. Put simply, our case is then like a case of one that has a mixture of a korban olah and regular animal. The Rashash's answer explains why the proceed of the sale is considered regular money, because what was sold, was not a korban.

The Tifferet Yisrael however explains that one of the two animals has kedusha but not necessarily the first. To determine which of the two, we would need to rely on the principle of bereira -- retroactive selection. In other words, once born, we would need to select now, which of the two animals were originally designated at the time of the declaration. The Tifferet Yisrael explains, that for biblical prohibitions, we cannot rely on the principle of bereira. Consequently, both animals must be considered korbanot olah. Nevertheless, with respect to the monetary aspect, since the individual only wanted to volunteer one animal as a korban, he can keep the money earnt from the sale of the second.

Rashi (24b) explains, "the kedushat olah applies to both animals, since he stipulated, 'if it is a male, it shall be an olah'; however, since he only vowed to bring one animal, one animal is offered for his neder and the second is sold to someone that requires an olah and the money is chulin." Rashi's explanation sound similar to the Tifferet Yisrael above, where both animals have definite kedusha of an olah.

The Chazon Ish however argues that it is difficult to understand that this is Rashi's intention. The Gemara (24b) teaches that if we had a similar case, but where the mother was a korban, then one animal would be an olah while the other would have the same kedusha as the mother. If Rashi is to be understood as we explained above, then both animals must be considered korbanot olah.

Consequently, the Chazon Ish explains the Rashi in a similar manner to the Rashash above. In other words, one of the animals has kedusha of a korban olah and the second is chulin. However, we are unsure which of the two animals is which1. In other words, when Rashi states "it applies to both" it means the safek applies to both animals and both must be treated with kedusha. Consequently, we have a mixture of an olah and chulin and the only solution is to sell one of the olot and offer both together (as explained above).


1 Unlike the Rashash who explains that it is the first of the two born and the doubt is because we do not know which of the two were born first, it appears that according to the Chazon Ish, the doubt would still exist even if we know which one was born first.

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