Haktara

  • Rav Moshe Taragin

TALMUDIC METHODOLOGY

By Rav Moshe Taragin

 

Shiur #13: Haktara

 

The scheduling of the morning tamid and the ma’aracha of the mizbeiach

 

In Parashat Tzav, the Torah describes the maintenance of coals and ashes on the outer altar of the Mikdash. Each morning, a Kohen would remove the previous day’s accumulated ashes, and others would begin constructing the wooden pyre or ma’aracha to enable sacrificing the next day's ashes. The pesukim in Tzav also demands a constant fire upon the altar and concludes by describing the daily "menu" of korbanot: The Olah is sacrificed and the fats of the Shelamim offered. This list of korbanot is cited by Rava (primarily in Pesachim 58b Yoma 33a in a gemara that recurs throughout shas) as demonstrating that the morning tamid should be the first korban offered and the evening tamid should be the last korban offered upon the outer altar.

 

Tosafot (see above gemarot) consistently question the need for this limud, as the gemara in Zevachim (89a) already establishes a sequencing scheme for korbanot. Based on a pasuk that prioritizes the sacrifice of a tamid before that of a mussaf, the gemara infers that any tadir (frequently occurring) mitzva will UNIVERSALLY precede a less tadir mitzva. A korban tamid is by definition the most frequent korban; it should therefore precede other korbanot based on the tadir principle, without need for Rava's additional pasuk.

 

One answer recurs in the aforementioned Tosafot throughout Shas. Although the Korban Tamid ITSELF precedes other korbanot because of its frequency, the haktara (burning of animal parts) does not. Rava's additional pasuk instructs that even the burning of animal parts should precede the burning of animal parts (eivarim) of other korbanot.

 

This solution offered by Tosafot creates an interesting distinction between the basic korban and the haktara of the animal parts. The fact that the essential korban tamid is sequenced prior to the other korbanot based on the tadir principle, while the haktara, is not prioritized based on tadir suggests that haktara IS NOT an essential part of the korban, but rather a separate ceremony. Interestingly, Tosafot in Zevachim (2a, s.v. kol) assert a dramatic difference between haktara and the other elements of a korban. Although typically all the stages of a korban must be performed "le-sheim ba’alim" (on behalf of the owner of the korban), the haktara does not have to be performed with this intent. This discrepancy between haktara and the other types of avodot is consistent with Tosafot's view that haktara's SCHEDULING cannot be equated with the overall schedule of a korban. A separate pasuk is required by Rava to sequence the haktara of the tamid prior to the haktara of other korbanot.

 

The distinction between the sacrifice and the haktara also underscores the nature of scheduling haktara of tamid first! The pasuk may not simply be indicating which, among competing sacrifices, comes first, but rather establishing the ingredients of the actual ma’aracha pyre. The ma’aracha consists of wood piles AND THE KORBAN TAMID, all other korbanot are sacrificed upon this pyre. Unlike the standard tadir halakha, which evaluates “which” sacrifice (and ultimately which mitzva) should be performed “when,” the unique pasuk scheduling haktara designates the morning korban as PART of the actual ma’aracha UPON WHICH all other korbanot are sacrificed.

 

The concept that the framework upon which korbanot are burnt consists of BOTH WOOD AND THE TAMID SHEL SHACHAR, is reflected by several interesting halakhot. An interesting difference would emerge if the korban tamid were unavailable. Presumably, if its scheduling is based PURELY upon the tadir principle, its absence would not hinder the offering of other korbanot. The tadir principle demands that if two korbanot PRESENT themselves, the more frequent one must be offered first; if only one korban is available, it may presumably be immediately processed independent of tadir concerns. This position is articulated by R. Elchonon Wasserman in his comments to Pesachim (58). In fact, this position is stated clearly by the Ra’avad in his comments to Tamid (28b).

 

The Rambam's language describing this schedule seems more rigid. He writes (Temidin U-Musafin 1:3) that it is forbidden to sacrifice ANY korban prior to the tamid shel shachar. It would appear that the Rambam would disagree with the Ra'avad and forbid processing a different korban even if the tamid shel shachar is unavailable. Perhaps he would view the tamid as an essential element of the Ma’aracha, without which a viable BASE for further korban sacrifice has not been established. The entire schedule must grind to a halt.

 

Another interesting question surrounds a situation in which a korban was already sacrificed (shechita) prior to the tamid. Should THAT korban be processed first, since its ceremonies began already, or should that korban be halted, allowing the tamid shel shachar to be inserted? Regarding the standard sequencing of tadir the gemara in Zevachim (89b) is quite clear that if a less frequent korban were started prior to a more frequent one, the started korban should be completed first.

 

This question is raised by the Mishnah Le-Melekh in his comments to the aforementioned Rambam. If the scheduling of the tamid is based purely on the tadir component, it should follow the guidelines of tadir; thus, if another korban were illegally sacrificed prior to the tamid it would be completed first. If the haktara of the tamid is necessary to build the ma’aracha basis for the daily korbanot, the other option would result; the korban would be halted even if the shechita had already commenced. This logic is asserted by the Chazon Ish in his comments to Menachot (33:10).

 

Yet an additional scenario involves a case in which two korbanot are sacrificed simultaneously. Several Acharonim (Kovetz Shiurim to Pesachim and the Mikdash Dovid) argue that the tadir requirement can be met by performing two mitzvot, - in our case sacrificing two korbanot - SIMULTANEOUSLY, as the tadir mitzva is not DELAYED by the JOINT performance. If the tamid shel shachar sequencing were based solely upon tadir requirements we may allow TWO korbanot (the tamid as well as other korbanot) to be offered jointly. However, the additional requirement to build the ma’aracha with the morning tamid would demand that the tamid be burnt. before any other korban is burnt upon the ma’aracha,

 

Finally, if the scheduling if the tamid first is indeed driven by tadir concerns as well as the proper construction of a ma’aracha, we would insist that the tamid is not just slaughtered first, but also burned on the mizbeiach first. From a practical standpoint, this question could be very pivotal. After all, the shechita of the tamid is performed before daybreak and the sprinkling of blood happens very quickly. The primary delay of korbanot occurs while performing the haktara of the tamid. If the tamid is prioritized because of tadir concerns, its prior shechita may be sufficient. However, if the tamid is necessary to contribute to the daily ma’aracha, it must be completely burnt before any other sacrifices are placed upon the ma’aracha.