The tenth perek of Masechet Zevachim introduces the concept of priorities of offering korbanot. The basic principle learnt in this perek is that a korban’s priority is ranked on two elements – firstly, the frequency and secondly by kedusha. Therefore, we learn in the first Mishnah of the perek – a tamid precedes a musaf offering due to the fact that the tamid is offered more frequently.
The Sfat Emet (Pesachim 58b) comments regarding a case where the community has no sheep to offer up for the Korban Tamid. In this case, a doubt exists whether the priority of the Tamid means that the korban must always be offered first, even to the detriment to all other offerings which cannot be offered until the Tamid has been given, or can other sacrifices be offered in this case as there is no alternative option.
The Sfat Emet brings a proof from the Gemara in Arachin (11a) which describes the period preceding the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash where Olot Nedava where offered in the Mikdash. The Gemara questions how this could occur, considering the Korban Tamid was nullified from Shiva Asar B’Tamuz due to the lack of sheep in the besieged capital. The Gemara answers that they found some cattle (which would not be kosher for a korban tamid but is acceptable as a regular korban olah) and offered it. The proof from this Gemara seems to be that one does not require a korban tamid to be offered in order to allow other korbanot to be offered.
However, this seems to contradict the Or HaChaim (Vayikra 6:2) who states that when Yerushalayim was under siege and Bnei Yisrael could not find any sheep locally, they were not able to offer any other korbanot unless they paid an exorbitant amount of money in order to acquire a sheep with which to offer as a Tamid. This seems to imply that it is forbidden to offer any other korban where a korban Tamid has not been offered.
The Sfat Emet seems to answer this contradiction by stating that the original case of precedence from the Mishnah was based on a limmud from a pasuk (Bamidbar 28:23). This pasuk, which is used to prove that an Olah must precede all other offerings, is only stated in a case where an appropriate animal (i.e. a sheep) for an Olah is in the vicinity. If this animal is not in proximity, one can offer another korban prior to an Olah being offered and it is accepted b’dieved.
The Kovetz Shiurim suggests another answer to resolve the contradiction. The difference of opinions is regarding classification of korbanot. No issur exists in offering a korban that is less frequent prior to that of one with more frequency, rather there exists a mitzvah of giving priority to a korban that is offered more frequently. If one is unable to perform this mitzvah due to circumstances beyond their control, as was the case in Yerushalayim, then one is exempt from this mitzvah (onness rachmana patrei).
The Mishnat Rebbi Aharon states that this mitzvah that requires a Tamid to be offered first is not only due to the fact that offerings that are more frequent receive priority. He notes that there is a special din in place for the Tamid which gives it precedence even without the priority of frequency. This is evident in the fact that a Kohen who is not from the Mishmar of a particular week, is unable to offer up a korban nedavah (which usually is his right) prior to the offering of the korban tamid of that particular morning. The din of frequency and priority applies only to those kohanim who are serving in the mishmar of that week. That is, in a case where a Kohen who is on duty has both a Korban Tamid and Korban Nedava to offer he must give priority to the one that is more frequent. However, a Kohen who is not serving that week, and therefore has no personal obligation or option to offer the Tamid may still not offer his Korban until the Korban Tamid is offered. For this particular Kohen, this is not due to the din of tadir, but rather a unique law that applies to the Tamid that it must be the first offering of the day. However, it is important to note that this law only applies when an animal that is fit for a Tamid is in the vicinity. If no animal fit for a Tamid can be found, then one is able to offer up a different korban.
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