Shechitah and Kabala on the Mizbeach

Zevachim (6:1) | Yisrael Bankier | a month ago

The korbanot (offerings) were slaughtered on the floor of the azara (temple courtyard). While the kodshei kadashim could only be slaughtered north of the mizbeach, the other korbanot could also be slaughtered on the south side. The Mishnah (6:1) records the debate regarding korbanot that are slaughtered on top of the mizbeach. R' Yosi maintains that anywhere on the mizbeach is considered as if it was slaughtered in the north side, where as R' Yosi bar Yehuda maintains that only half is considered like the north, while the other half is considered like the south.

We find that according to both opinions, if the korban is slaughtered on the mizbeach, the korban is valid. The Bartenura explains that the debate regarding the zoning of its surface is based on the following pasuk: "…and you shall slaughter alava (lit. upon it), your olah offerings and peace-offerings." The pasuk refers to korbanot that are both kodshei kadashim and kodshei kalim. R' Yosi understanding that the pasuk implies that the entire mizbeach is fit for offering both types of korbanot, much like the northern side of the azara. R' Yosi bar Yehuda however understands that it is indeed fit for both, but half for kodshei kadashim, and half for kodeshei kalim, given that both types are mentioned in the pasuk.

The Griz (cited in the Likutim, Rambam, Frankel edition, Pesulei Mukdashim 3:1) explains that there are two way to understand the law of the Mishnah. One way is that despite the top of the mizbeach not being situated in the north, the Torah rendered any shechita performed on the mizbeach as being valid. Alternatively, the Torah gave the region on top the mizbeach the status of also being the north.

The practical difference between these two understandings is whether the kabala, collecting the blood, on top of the mizbeach is also valid. Recall that for kodshei kadashim both the shechitah and kabala must be performed in the north. According to the first understanding, even though the Torah rendered any slaughter on top of the mizbeach as being valid, there is no additional pasuk that does the same for kabala. Alternatively, if the Torah gave the region on top of the mizbeach the status as also being considered the north, then kabala there would also be valid.

The Chazon Ish (Zevachim 17:1) understands that even kabala performed on the mizbeach is valid. He cites the Mishnah (84a) that teaches that if the olah was slaughtered on the mizbeach, then the korban's hide must be stripped and dismembered on the mizbeach also. The Gemara provides two explanations of the Mishnah. One is that once placed on the mizbeach it cannot be removed, even though the korban is still valid. The second is, that since the korban is still valid, it can be removed; only korbanot that became invalid in the azara must remain there. That Mishnah must then be referring to a korban that was invalid due a different cause and therefore cannot be removed.

The Chazon Ish continues that if kabala cannot be performed on the mizbeach, this would mean that the case in that Mishnah is where the shechita was performed on the mizbeach, the animal was removed, kabala performed in the north and then the animal was returned to the mizbeach. If that were true, then the location of the shechita is not relevant, because the Mishnah is simply addressing a case where a korban was brought on the mizbeach after shechita and kabala, and assesses whether the stripping and dismembering be performed there. The only other alternative is if the animal was slaughtered on the mizbeach and the kabala was performed stretching out over the northern side of the mizbeach. This is highly unlikely given that the kohen would need to stretch out a distance of two amot (approximately one metre)! Consequently, for that Mishnah to makes sense, kabala must also be valid on the mizbeach.

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