Out of Bounds

Zevachim (13:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 9 years ago

The thirteenth perek opens with study of two prohibitions: slaughtering a korban outside the Azara and offering a korban outside the Azara. The perek covers how and when they are violated considering different sacrifices and circumstance in which they are offered (albeit incorrectly). While the prohibitions are learnt from separate pesukim and the Mishnah (13:3) does highlight some legal differences, we should try to understand if there are conceptual differences between the two.

The Gemara (115b) later discusses which actions are covered by the prohibition of offering outside the Beit HaMikdash. It excludes things like preparing the menorah wicks, waving an offering, etc. It explains that only an avoda that is considered a “gmar avoda” – that which completes the korban – violates the prohibition.

The Mikdash David (I, 27:8) understands that based on the above Gemara the root of the prohibition of offering is the performance of an avoda (specifically one that is a gmar avodah) outside the Azara. He is unsure whether the prohibition of shechita shares the same basis. On the one hand it might. Yet, it might be that the Torah was particular about shechita itself.

He understands that this is the basis of an argument between the Rambam and Raavad. We will learn next week (13:7) that even though bird offerings require melika and not shechita, outside the Azara it is only shechita that violates the prohibition of slaughtering a korban outside. The Rambam explains that since outside it is shechita that is valid, it is equivalent to melika inside. The Raavad however dismisses this account, instead explaining that the Torah only prohibited for a bird that which is prohibited for an animal.

The Mikdash David explains that the Rambam required the shechita outside to be similar to the melika inside since the issue with shechita is based on performing avoda outside. Consequently the avoda must mirror that which was meant to be performed inside. Since the domain of melika is only inside and shechita is outside, they align. He adds that melika outside would not even be termed an avoda.

According to the Raavad however, the prohibition of shechita is not connected to avoda per se. Consequently connecting it with melika inside is unnecessary. It is shechita that was prohibited, be it bird or beast.

We also appear to find these two understandings in the Rash MiShantz who questions the prohibition of shechita since it is not gmar avoda. He provides two answers. The first is that, in a sense, shechita is gmar avoda since after which there is no longer a prohibition of ever min ha’chai – taking a limb from a live animal. The second answer is that indeed shechita is not really an avoda – even a non-kohen can perform it. Nevertheless, one violates the prohibition of slaughtering outside.

If it is not avoda but rather shechita that is prohibited, why? Perhaps the answer can be found in the Ramban (Vayikra 17:2). When Bnei Yisrael were in the desert they were not allowed to eat basar ta’avah – general meat. The only context in which they could eat meat, was from a korban shelamim. The Ramban understands that during that time, the prohibition of slaughtering outside applied even to chullin (unsanctified animal), i.e. to any animals. This made it easy for everyone to bring korbanot. After they entered Israel and general meat was once again permitted, the prohibition remained on kodshim. To explain, the issue with shechita was not its avoda being done in the wrong place. Instead it was because it took away the opportunity for this korban to be offered. While in the desert, all animals were only meant to be offered as korbanot. The prohibition therefore covered all of them. Later however, once meat was permitted, animals were no longer set aside for korbanot by definition. The prohibition therefore only applied to those that explicitly were.1

1 This explanation is found in the Metivta, Otzar Iyunim 57:1.


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