Yesterday, we noted the surprising comments of the Rambam, in Hilkhot Temidin U-musafin (1:3), explaining the unique provision mandating that the korban pesach be offered following the afternoon tamid sacrifice. On all other days of the year, the afternoon tamid is the final sacrifice offered in the Beit Ha-mikdash. On the 14th of Nissan, however, the nation’s pesach sacrifices are offered only after the offering of the afternoon tamid. The Rambam presents a practical reason for this exception, explaining that there would not be enough time to offer all the nation’s pesach sacrifices if they were offered before the tamid. As the Mishna teaches in Masekhet Pesachim (58a), the tamid was normally sacrificed eight-and-a-half hours into the day. As the earliest time for the offering of the korban pesach was midday, only two hours would be available for the sacrificing of all the nation’s pesach offerings if they were to precede the tamid. For this reason, the tamid was offered first.
Later writers raised several questions regarding the Rambam’s comments. One question (noted already by the Tzelach, Pesachim 59a) is why the tamid could not simply be delayed to a later time in the afternoon. The aforementioned Mishna states that on the 14th of Nissan, the tamid was offered earlier in order to allow time for the offering of all the pesach sacrifices. Seemingly, the tamid – which is permitted to be sacrificed until sundown – could have just as easily been delayed to allow the pesach offerings to be sacrificed first. Why did the Rambam assume that the tamid could be scheduled for an earlier time to accommodate the korban pesach, but not for a later time?
One answer perhaps emerges from the controversial comments of the Minchat Chinukh (5:3) in his analysis of this halakha. The Minchat Chinukh understands the halakha to mean not that the afternoon tamid must precede the korban pesach, but rather that the time for the pesach offering begins after enough time has passed to offer the tamid sacrifice. In other words, according to the Minchat Chinukh, there is no requirement that the tamid offering precede the pesach offering; rather, the time for the offering of the pesach offering begins after the time needed for the offering of the tamid. The practical ramification of this analysis is that if, for whatever reason, the tamid cannot be offered, the korban pesach should still be sacrificed no earlier than the point at which the tamid could have been offered. The obligation is not to offer the pesach after the tamid, but rather not to offer the pesach before the point at which the offering of the tamid could be completed.
On the basis of the Minchat Chinukh’s analysis, Rav Shlomo Wahrman (She’eirit Yosef, vol. 5, chapter 25) suggests a creative reading of the Rambam’s comments. Perhaps, the Rambam was addressing the question of why it was not arranged that the korban pesach would be offered at its earliest time – immediately after the time needed for the offering of the tamid – and then the tamid would be offered. Since the tamid may be offered anytime before sundown, seemingly, it would be preferable not to disrupt the basic structure of the Temple sacrifices, whereby the afternoon tamid is the final sacrifice offered. And since, as the Minchat Chinukh established, the pesach does not actually have to be offered after the tamid, but merely after the time that was needed for the tamid to be sacrificed, it was possible to offer the korban pesach at the proper time without making an exception to the fundamental rule that no sacrifice is offered after the tamid. It was this question, perhaps, that the Rambam sought to answer by explaining that this was simply impractical. Since the offering of the pesach sacrifice could not begin until after the time in which the tamid would be sacrificed, the tamid needed to be offered first in order to allow time for all the nation’s pesach sacrifices to be offered before sundown.