The Correct Intention

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

This week we began masechet Zevachim, as we started seder Kodshim. The masechet primarily deals with the laws of animal and bird korbanot. The different korbanot vary in a number of ways about which we learn through the course of the masechet. It opens however by teaching that korban must be offered with the correct intention. More specifically, the Mishnah discusses a case where a korban was slaughtered with the wrong intention (she’lo lishma). For example, the korban was an olah and it was slaughtered with the intention of it being a shelamim. The Mishnah teaches the with the exception of two korbanot, the korban is valid and may be offered, yet the owner has not discharged his obligation of bringing a korban. For korban pesachim on erev Pesach (after midday) and a korban chatat, the korban is invalid.

The Tosfot (Zevachim 2a, “Kol”) explain that the issue of shlo lishma applies to the other avodot. There are four avodot that enable a korban to be eaten or burnt – shechita (slaughter), kabalat ha’dam (receiving the blood), holacha (taking the blood to the mizbeach) and zerikat ha’dam (placing the blood on the mizbeach). The Mishnah simply mentioned the first of the four. We see that this law applies to the other avodot explicitly in the later Mishnah (1:4).

The Tosfot adds that the issue of incorrect intention is not just with respect to the type of korban (shinui korban) but also for whom the korban is being offered (shinui ba’alim). He cites the Gemara (10a) that in this case however, it is only if the kohen intended to do zerika for someone else while performing one of the avodot.

The Tosfot however notes, that when analysing the source of the law in our Mishnah,the Gemara (4a) asks for the source of shinui ba’alim. The Tosfot ask that while the Mishnah deals with shinui korban explicitly, the issue of shinui ba’alim does not appear. How was the law obvious to the Gemara that it was already asking for its source?

The Tosfot suggest that the Gemara had in mind another later Mishnah (4:6) that mentions the necessity of having the correct owner in mind. The Mishnah teaches that a korban must be offered with six things in mind: the korban (type), the owners, Hashem, it is to be burn on the Mizbaech, rei’ach and nicho’ach.

The Tosfot however anticipate the question that if that were the case, then why did the Gemara not question the source of the other four things listed in that later Mishnah? The Tosfot answers that the other four things invalidate korban with the wrong intent. The Gemara at this stage was only focusing on leshem korban and leshem ba’alim as the wrong intent does not (always) invalidate the korban it just does not discharge the owner of his obligation.


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