S.A.L.T. - Parashat Tzav
The Torah in Parashat Tzav presents a number of halakhot relevant to the consumption of sacrificial meat, distinguishing in this regard between the various kinds of sacrifices. The basic rule that applies is that sacrifices classified as kodashei kodashim, which are consumed only by the kohanim, may be eaten only throughout the night following the day of their offering. For example, a kodashei kodashim offering which was sacrificed on Sunday may be eaten (on the level of Torah law) until daybreak Monday morning. The lower category of sacrifices, kodashei kalim – those sacrifices whose meat is shared by the kohanim and the person bringing the offering – may be eaten also the following day. Such a sacrifice which was offered on Sunday may be eaten until sundown Monday afternoon. The exception to this rule is the korban toda – the thanksgiving offering. Although this sacrifice is generally treated as kodashei kalim, its meat may be eaten only through the night following the offering, and not the next day. (See 7:15-16. We do not discuss here the korban pesach, which is classified as kodashei kalim but is exceptional in several respects.)
The Mishna in the beginning of Masekhet Berakhot (2a) teaches that the Sages enacted a safeguard regarding the consumption of kodashei kodashim (and the toda), requiring that it be eaten only until chatzot (midnight as defined by Halakha). Although Torah law permits eating the meat until daybreak, Chazal enacted a provision prohibiting eating the meat of these sacrifices beyond chatzot, fearful that otherwise the people might continue eating the meat past daybreak, in violation of the Torah’s command.
Tosafot, in Masekhet Zevachim (57b), raise the question of why no such safeguard was enacted with regard to the other sacrifices – those that the Torah allows eating until sundown the following day. Chazal permitted eating these sacrifices throughout the entire following day, as the Torah allows, without instituting an earlier deadline as a safeguard. Why did they find it necessary to enact a safeguard regarding those sacrifices with a shorter deadline – requiring that they be eaten only until chatzot, and not through the night – but not regarding those sacrifices which the Torah permits eating the entire next day?
Tosafot answer that the advent of sundown is more obvious than the advent of daybreak. The darkening of the afternoon sky is sensed more readily than the brightening of the nighttime sky, and therefore Chazal felt there was greater risk of people missing the daybreak deadline than there was of people missing the sundown deadline. For this reason, they enacted a safeguard regarding those sacrifices whose Biblically-assigned deadline is daybreak, and not for those sacrifices whose Biblically-assigned deadline is sundown.
On a symbolic level, Tosafot’s explanation might perhaps reflect a deeper psychological observation regarding a type of innate pessimism that plagues many people. Many of us sense the onset of “darkness” more readily than we do the onset of “light.” When we enjoy “daylight” – general stability and happiness – we are very attuned to signs of “darkness,” and sensitive to minor problems and hardships. But at “nighttime,” during life’s difficult and painful periods, we do not easily see the “light.” We tend to remain negative until the sun shines brightly, until the problem is completely solved, rather than appreciating the glimpses of light that appear on the horizon. This is in contrast to periods of joy and good fortune, when we tend to instantly discern and worry about any “darkening” that begins to unfold.
Symbolically, then, Chazal’s enactment represents the special effort that we need to make to take note of the “brightening skies” in times of darkness. Knowing that we so often focus on the “darkness” of our lives and fail to appreciate the rays of “light,” Chazal moved up the deadline for eating sacrifices from daybreak to chatzot, urging us to anticipate “morning” even in the middle of the “night.” When we find ourselves mired in the darkness of hardship, we should direct our eyes towards the eastern sky and search for the rays of light that will assuredly appear at one point or another. Even in the middle of the “night,” as we struggle with adversity and challenge, we can and should try to notice and appreciate the “light” of hope for a better future, and trust that the current period of “darkness” will eventually give way to the “light” of happiness and good fortune.
The Torah in Parashat Tzav (6:18) establishes that the chatat (sin-offering) must be slaughtered in the same place in the Beit Ha-mikdash as the ola (burnt-offering). As the Gemara (Zevachim 48a) explains, this means that the chatat is to be slaughtered on the north side of the altar, the area where the Torah earlier (1:11) requires slaughtering the ola. This verse concludes by describing the chatat as “kodesh kodashim,” and Torat Kohanim interprets this emphasis as indicating that the rule established in this verse applies also to other sacrifices classified as “kodashei kodashim.” Namely, the asham – which is offered for certain transgressions – as well as shalmei tzibur (the special sacrifices brought on Shavuot) must be slaughtered on the northern side of the altar like the ola.
The Gemara in Masekhet Sota (32b) comments that the Torah established this rule – that sin-offerings would be slaughtered at the same location as burnt-offerings – in order to spare a sinner from embarrassment. Somebody seeing an individual with a sacrifice on the northern side of the altar will not know whether the person is offering a voluntary ola sacrifice or an atonement sacrifice, since both kinds of sacrifices are slaughtered in the precise same location. As a result, sinners offering atonement sacrifices will not experience any shame. The Gemara comments that on the basis of this precedent, Chazal instituted that individual prayer should be recited silently, so that people confessing their sins will not suffer embarrassment. Just as the Torah arranged that a person offering an atonement sacrifice will not be identified as such, and thus will not be embarrassed, similarly, the Sages instituted that prayer should be recited in a manner that does not cause one humiliation. Tosafot explain that this is done in order to avoid discouraging people from repenting and seeking atonement for their wrongdoing.
Rav Elimelekh of Lizhensk, in Noam Elimelekh, offers an additional insight into the comparison drawn by the Torah between the voluntary ola sacrifice and the mandatory sin-offerings. Although the ola is brought voluntarily, and is not technically required, the Gemara (Yoma 36a) teaches that it was brought to atone for minor infractions, such as affirmative commands (mitzvot asei) which one neglected to fulfill. According to another view (Vayikra Rabba 7:3), the ola serves as a means of atonement for hirhurei aveira – sinful thoughts. The Torah does not obligate one to being an ola to atone for these wrongs, but rather offers the individual the opportunity to do so. Rav Elimelekh suggests that by requiring that the ola and chatat be slaughtered in the same location, the Torah indicates that we should feel distraught over our minor missteps just as we feel after more grievous sins. The message subtly being conveyed is that although one is not strictly required to bring an ola to atone for these minor transgressions, one should nevertheless regret these mistakes just as he regrets and seeks atonement for more serious violations.
The Noam Elimelekh’s teaching should not to be taken to mean that all religious failings are to be treated equally. Certainly, prioritizing is a critical part of growth and self-improvement, and we must ensure to address our more serious failings before proceeding to the next level and seeking to correct the less grievous flaws in our conduct. However, the Noam Elimelekh warns us against comfortably excusing ourselves for our minor infractions, assuming that we can just forget about them since we have more serious issues to resolve first. Prioritizing more urgent concerns over less urgent concerns is not the same as ignoring the latter altogether in favor of the former. Even as we prioritize our different areas of religious growth, both individually and collectively, we must address and try to correct all our faults and flaws, and not allow the areas of more serious concern to completely overshadow the matters of lesser severity.
Amidst the Torah’s discussion in Parashat Tzav of the shelamim sacrifice – a sacrifice whose meat is shared by the kohanim and the person who brings the offering – it instructs that its meat may be eaten through the end of the day after the sacrifice is offered (7:16). For example, if an individual brings a shelamim to the Beit Ha-mikdash on Sunday, and it is slaughtered then, the meat may be eaten until sundown on Monday. This is in contrast to sacrifices eaten only by kohanim, whose meat may be eaten only through the night following the sacrifice’s offering. (The exception to this rule is the toda, which generally has the properties of a shelamim but may be eaten only through the following night.)
The Ramban, commenting on this law, posits that in truth, even the meat of a shelamim should preferably be consumed on the day it is offered and the following night. Although the Torah allows eating the meat of the shelamim even the next day, the primary mitzva is to eat the meat on the first day. It is only if one failed to fulfill the mitzva on its optimum standard, on the first day, that the Torah allows partaking of the meat the next day.
A number of writers raised the question of whether this kind of two-tiered model exists also with regard to the other category of sacrifices – those which may not be eaten past daybreak the morning after the sacrifice. According to the Ramban, is the primary obligation for the kohanim to eat these sacrifices on the day they were offered, before sundown, notwithstanding the permission granted to eat the meat through the night? Or, does Halakha draw no distinction between day and night with regard to the consumption of these sacrifices, and allows kohanim even optimally to eat the meat at night? According to this second perspective, it is only with regard to the shelamim that the Torah assigns two different time-periods – one within which the meat should preferably be eaten, and a later period during which the meat may be eaten if it was not completed when it should have been. When it comes to the other sacrifices, we might claim, the Ramban would agree that there is no difference between the day the sacrifice was offered and the following night, and the kohanim are not required to endeavor to finish eating the meat before sundown.
Among the sources cited in regard to this question is a seemingly innocuous remark by Rashi in his commentary to the opening Mishna to Masekhet Berakhot. The Mishna there establishes that when it comes to sacrifices which may be eaten until the next morning, “their mitzva is until daybreak” – meaning, the deadline for eating the meat is the moment when light first appears on the eastern horizon. Rashi, commenting on the word “mitzvatan” (“their mitzva”), explains, “Zeman akhilatan” – “the time when they are eaten.” It has been suggested that Rashi’s intent in this brief remark is to clarify that the word “mitzvtan” used by the Mishna should not be taken literally, as indicating that the time for the optimal fulfillment of the mitzva extends until daybreak. Rashi explained “mitzvatan” to mean “the time when there are eaten” to emphasize that the Mishna refers to the time period in which the meat may be eaten, and not when it should be eaten. As the Mishna uses the term “mitzva” in this context, Rashi feared that this might be understood to mean that even on the optimum standard, the sacrificial meat may be eaten throughout the night. He therefore clarified that the Mishna speaks of when the meat is allowed for consumption, but optimally, it should be eaten before sundown on the day the sacrifice was offered.
(Based on Rav Simcha Bunim Lieberman, Bi-shvilei Ha-shvita, 26:4)
Parashat Tzav begins with the mitzvot known as terumat ha-deshen and hotza’at ha-deshen – the removal of ashes from the altar each morning, and their being brought outside the Beit Ha-mikdash. The Torah (6:4) writes that the kohen performing hotza’at ha-deshen – taking the heap of ashes that had collected near the altar and bringing it outside the Mikdash – would first change his clothing. He would remove his special priestly garments that he wore when performing the service in the Beit Ha-mikdash, and then wear different clothing. The Gemara (Shabbat 114a) explains, “The clothing in which one prepared a dish for his master – he should not pour the cup for his master in them.” The clothing worn for activities involving dirt and filth – such as an apron for cooking – should not be worn in settings that demand a respectable, distinguished appearance, such as when serving an important guest. Thus, the kohen bringing the ashes out of the Mikdash to the dung heap should not wear the same clothes for this activity as he does when ministering before God in the Beit Ha-mikdash.
The Gemara there comments that this requirement is the source of the concept of “shinui begadim” – changing one’s attire. Rashi explains this to mean that changing garments is a show of respect to God, but he does not identify the particular application of this concept that the Gemara seeks to establish on the basis of the law of hotza’at ha-deshen. Maharsha suggests that the Gemara refers here to the requirement to change one’s garments on Shabbat. Whereas earlier (113a) the Gemara famously infers this obligation from a verse in Sefer Yeshayahu (58:13) which requires showing respect to Shabbat (“ve-khibadeto”), here the Gemara draws upon the precedent of hotza’at ha-deshen. Just as the clothing worn by a kohen when removing the ashes may not be worn when he serves in the Mikdash, similarly, we must change our clothing in honor of the sanctity of Shabbat. (Ben Ish Chai, in his work Ben Yehoyada, suggests that both inferences are needed, as they reflect two different aspects of the requirement to change one’s garments on Shabbat.)
This analogy drawn by the Gemara (as understood by Maharsha), between the kohen’s changing his clothing and our changing clothes for Shabbat, may shed light on how we are to perceive Shabbat, the workweek, and their relationship to one another. According to this comparison, the workweek should be viewed as the preparation for Shabbat, just as the kohen removes the ashes from the Mikdash so that the Mikdash will remain clean and well-maintained such that the service could be properly performed. We normally view Shabbat as a disruption of our week, a brief break from our ordinary activity. The Gemara’s remark, however, perhaps suggests that we look at our week from the precise opposite perspective: all week long, we do the work we need to obtain our needs and those of our families so that we can properly serve God on Shabbat. Throughout the week, we are outside the Beit Ha-mikdash, so-to-speak, engaged in our professional pursuits, in order to facilitate our service inside the Beit Ha-mikdash, as it were, on Shabbat, when we refrain from mundane activity and devote ourselves to God. Shabbat is not a disruption, but rather the end goal of our efforts throughout the workweek, which are merely the preparation for our service of God inside the “Mikdash,” the twenty-four-hour “sanctuary” of time, Shabbat.
But additionally, the Gemara’s analogy teaches us that even our activity “outside the Mikdash,” during the workweek, is part of our service of God. Although it at times makes us “dirty,” and does not outwardly seem sacred and spiritually significant, we must perceive even this activity as “avoda.” We must not think that only our work “inside the Beit Ha-mikdash,” our areas of spiritual engagement, have value and importance. Everything we do that is necessary for our fulfilling our obligations to the Almighty is significant and precious, and must be approached as an integral component of the Torah lives we are supposed to live.
The Torah in Parashat Tzav (7:23) introduces the prohibition against eating the cheilev – certain fats – of kosher animals: “Kol cheilev shor ve-khesev va-eiz lo tokheilu” (“You shall not eat any of the ‘cheilev’ of an ox, sheep or goat”). The Gemara in Masekhet Yoma (74a) infers from the word “kol” (“all,” or “any”) in this verse that the Torah includes in its prohibition even “chatzi shiur” – quantities less than the amount for which one is liable to punishment by Beit Din. A basic principle in Halakha establishes than unless indicated otherwise, the act of “eating” is halakhically defined by the consumption of the quantity of a ke-zayit (the volume of an olive). Therefore, when the Torah forbids eating certain foods, the a priori presumption is that it forbids only the consumption of this amount. However, the Gemara cites a berayta inferring from the word “kol” in this verse in Parashat Tzav that consuming any quantity of cheilev is forbidden, notwithstanding the fact that punishment is administered only for the consumption of a ke-zayit. The Gemara views this provision as a precedent which informs all prohibitions, such that any food forbidden for consumption is forbidden in any quantity.
Reish Lakish, as the Gemara cites, was of the opinion that the inference made from this verse in Parashat Tzav constitutes an “asmakhta” – an allusion to a law that was actually enacted later, by Chazal. In Reish Lakish’s view, the rule of chatzi shiur applies only on the level of rabbinic enactment, as according to Torah law, consuming less than a ke-zayit of forbidden food is allowed. However, Halakha follows the view of Rabbi Yochanan, who maintained that the principle of chatzi shiur applies on the level of Torah law. Although the Torah established certain quantities for certain violations, it also established that its violations are transgressed regardless of quantity, the difference being that Beit Din administers punishment only for violations involving the stipulated quantity for the given prohibition.
In explaining the law of chatzi shiur, the Gemara comments that the Torah forbids even a half-quantity because “chazi le-itzterufei” – it is capable of combining with another half-quantity to constitute a punishable, halakhic act of eating.
The Gemara does not, however, clarify why this factor is significant, and capable of extending Torah prohibitions to smaller quantities. If a halakhic act of eating is defined as the consumption of a ke-zayit, why does the consideration of “chazi le-itzterufei” yield a prohibition against partaking of even smaller quantities?
As Rav Asher Weiss discusses in his essay on the topic, two different perspectives may be taken – and have been taken – to explain the concept of “chazi le-itzterufei.” The first is that the Torah established a safeguard of sorts to its own prohibitions. Fundamentally, when the Torah forbade eating certain foods, it forbade only the consumption of a ke-zayit. However, since the consumption of half this amount could result in a violation if one again eats half this amount (within a certain time period), the Torah prohibited the consumption of any amount. One who eats an amount smaller than a ke-zayit is not liable to punishment by Beit Din because he did not violate the essential prohibition, but the Torah nevertheless forbids consuming smaller amounts in order to protect against violations of the actual prohibition.
Alternatively, it could be explained that the consideration of “chazi le-itzterufei” forces us to acknowledge the halakhic significance of even half-quantities of forbidden food. According to this perspective, consuming a chatzi shiur is forbidden not as a practical measure to prevent against the consumption of a full quantity, but rather because even a half-quantity of forbidden food has the technical halakhic status of forbidden food. The fact that a person who eats a chatzi shiur and a moment later eats another chatzi shiur has violated the Torah’s command demonstrates that each chatzi shiur has halakhic significance as forbidden foodstuff. Therefore, although the primary prohibition is not violated until the consumption of a full quantity, a half-quantity is nevertheless prohibited for consumption.
The practical difference between these two perspectives would perhaps arise in situations where there is no possibility of “chazi le-itzterufei” – meaning, where one eats a half-quantity without any possibility at all of later eating a second half-quantity to violate the prohibition. According to the second perspective presented above, eating the first chatzi shiur is certainly forbidden even in such a case. This perspective views a chatzi shiur as intrinsically significant, and thus it is prohibited even in situations when as a practical matter it cannot lead to a violation. According to the first perspective, however, it could be argued that the chatzi shiur prohibition would not apply in such a case. Since this prohibition was established as a sort of safeguard, it applies only when the danger exists that a second half-quantity will be consumed to complete the forbidden act of eating.
Tomorrow, we will iy”H examine several such situations, where a half-quantity is unable to combine with another half-quantity to complete a halakhic violation.
Yesterday, we noted the famous rule of “chatzi shiur” which the Gemara (Yoma 74a) infers from a verse in Parashat Tzav (7:23), and which extends Torah prohibitions to all quantities. One who eats forbidden food is liable to court-administered punishment only if he consumes a certain minimum quantity (generally, a ke-zayit), but the law of chatzi shiur establishes that it is nevertheless forbidden to eat even smaller amounts. Halakha follows the view that this constitutes a Torah prohibition (Rambam, Hilkhot Ma’akhalot Asurot 1:13; Shulchan Arukh, Y.D. 80:6). As we discussed, the Gemara explains this rule as predicated on the factor of “chazi le-itzterufei” – the possibility that after eating a half-quantity of forbidden food, the individual may then eat another portion and thus be liable to punishment.
A number of Acharonim understood the Gemara’s comment to mean that the rule of chatzi shiur does not apply in situations where there is no such possibility. Meaning, if one is incapable of completing the entire minimum quantity, then there is no Torah prohibition forbidding smaller quantities.
One example of this perspective is a discussion by Rav Yechezkel Landau (author of Noda Bi-yehuda) in his Tzelach commentary to Masekhet Pesachim (47a), regarding the prohibition against eating chametz on Pesach. The Rambam, in Hilkhot Chametz U-matza (1:7), cites a Biblical source for the rule prohibiting the consumption of even a slight quantity of chametz on Pesach. Many later writers raised the question of why a special inference is necessary in light of the general principle of chatzi shiur. The Tzelach suggests that the inference was needed to instruct that eating less than a ke-zayit of chametz is forbidden on Pesach even when the factor of “chazi le-itzterufei” is inapplicable, and thus the rule of chatzi shiur does not apply. The case envisioned by the Tzelach is one where one eats less than a ke-zayit of chametz at the final moment of Pesach. As chametz becomes permissible the next moment, there is no possibility of completing the entire quantity of a ke-zayit in this situation. As such, the law of chatzi shiur does not apply. The Rambam therefore points to a specific Biblical source establishing that chametz is forbidden for consumption in any amount, to instruct that this is true even in the final moments of Pesach, when the principle of chatzi shiur does not apply.
Another example is Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s discussion in one of his responsa (154) regarding a person who took a vow not to eat a certain item, and part of that item later was destroyed, leaving behind only a small portion. Rabbi Akiva Eiger ruled that eating the remaining portion would not be forbidden on the level of Torah law, since there is no possibility of the individual eating more of the prohibited product to complete the entire quantity that he forbade upon himself.
This perspective can be seen as well in the Sha’agat Aryeh (81; see also his Gevurat Ari commentary to Masekhet Yoma), who addresses the case of somebody who carries an object on Shabbat through a public domain. The prohibition against carrying in a public domain on Shabbat is defined as carrying a distance of four amot, and nowhere do we find any mention of a Torah prohibition against carrying shorter distances on the grounds of chatzi shiur. The reason, the Sha’agat Aryeh suggests, is because the factor of “chazi le-itzterufei” does not apply to this prohibition. One of the conditions that must be met for one to transgress the prohibition of carrying on Shabbat is intent at the time the item is picked to carry it the prohibited distance. It thus turns out that once a person takes hold of an item in a public domain with the intent to carry it only two amot, for example, he no longer has any possibility of violating the prohibition against carrying. His two-amot of carrying cannot combine with another two-amot of carrying, and therefore, the rule of chatzi shiur is not applicable. Hence, there is no Torah prohibition against carrying something a distance of less than four amot on Shabbat.
(Taken from Rav Asher Weiss’ essay on the topic)
Parashat Tzav begins with the command to clean the altar of its ashes each morning, and the Torah introduces this command by stating that the sacrifices would burn on the altar throughout the night, thus producing ashes which needed to be cleared (6:2). Rashi comments that this verse teaches that hekter chalavim ve-eimurin – the placing of the sacrificial animal parts which are to be burnt on the altar – may be done throughout the night. Although generally the rituals in the Beit Ha-mikdash may not be performed at night, hekter chalavim ve-eimurin marks an exception, and it may be done even during the nighttime hours.
This halakha is discussed, interestingly enough, in the very first Mishna in the Talmud – the opening Mishna of Masekhet Berakhot. The Mishna there cites Rabban Gamliel as telling his sons that although the Torah obligation to recite the nighttime shema may be fulfilled throughout the night, the Sages enacted a provision requiring that it be recited before chatzot (halakhic midnight). This was done as a safeguard to ensure that people would not go to sleep at night before performing this vitally important mitzva. Rabban Gamliel then added that regarding other nighttime mitzvot, too, Chazal enacted a safeguard requiring performing them by chatzot. Specifically, he mentions hekter chalavim ve-eimurin, and the consumption of sacrificial meat. Certain sacrifices may be eaten throughout the night after the offering is brought (as opposed to other sacrifices, which may also be eaten the next day), but the Sages enacted a provision requiring eating sacrificial meat before chatzot.
Rashi, in his commentary to the Mishna, offers a very surprising – and strained – reading of Rabban Gamliel’s remark, distinguishing between hekter chalavim ve-eimurin and the consumption of the sacrificial meat. Although Rabban Gamliel mentioned both, Rashi claims that he referred only to the consumption of sacrifices, not to the placing of sacrifices on the altar. When it comes to the latter, the Sages did not enact any safeguard, and the kohanim were permitted to place the required portions of the sacrifices on the altar throughout the night, even though they required consuming the meat before chatzot. This is in contrast to the simple reading of the Mishna, and indeed, other Rishonim disagreed with Rashi’s view. The Rambam, in his commentary to this Mishna, as well as in Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-korbanot (4:2) and Hilkhot Temidin U-musafin (1:6), writes that hekter chalavim ve-eimurin was allowed only until chatzot. This is also the view taken by Tosafot (Pesachim 120b). The different views on this subject are noted by Meiri, in his commentary to Masekhet Berakhot.
In explaining Rashi’s surprising position, the Tzelach notes Rashi’s formulation in describing this halakha: “They forbade them [the sacrifices] for consumption even before their [final] time so that one will not end up eating them after daybreak and thus be liable to kareit…” Rashi here emphasizes that eating sacrificial meat past the deadline established by the Torah constitutes an especially grave violation, punishable by kareit (eternal spiritual excision). He then proceeds to explain that a similar enactment was made regarding the nighttime shema recitation because people would otherwise be prone to delaying the recitation and thus forfeit the mitzva. The Tzelach infers from Rashi’s comments that the Sages were not inclined to legislate this safeguard for all nocturnal obligations, but only for those which are more likely to be neglected (shema), or when an especially grave prohibition is at stake (eating sacrifices). Placing sacrifices on the altar past the allotted time is forbidden, but this violation is not punishable by kareit, and this is not an offense that kohanim are prone to commit.
The Tzelach draws further support from Rashi’s comments in Masekhet Yevamot (119a) in reference to the Gemara’s comment that in situations of safeik (“doubt”), where there is a risk of a Torah violation, no distinctions are made between different levels of violations. Whenever we are dealing with a potential transgression of a Torah prohibition, we must act stringently to avoid possible violations, irrespective of their level of gravity. (The Gemara’s formulation is, “Ma li issur kareit, ma li issur lav.”) Rashi, commenting on the Gemara’s discussion, finds it necessary to clarify that the Gemara’s comment applies only to situations of “safeik,” and not to “harchaka” – enacting additional restrictions to safeguard the Torah’s laws. When determining when to enact safeguards, Rashi writes, Chazal certainly took the gravity of every prohibition into account. Indeed, we find many more provisions safeguarding against capital offenses (such as Shabbat, for example) than we do safeguarding other Torah prohibitions. Understandably, then, Rashi in Masekhet Berakhot distinguished between the placement of sacrifices on the altar and the consumption of its meat. Since consuming sacrificial meat past chatzot constitutes an especially grave violation, Chazal moved the deadline from daybreak to chatzot to protect against violations, but they enacted no such provision regarding the placement of the sacrifice on the altar.
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