SALT - Tuesday, Fast of 17 Tammuz 5777 - July 11, 2017

  • Rav David Silverberg

            As we’ve mentioned in our last two editions of S.A.L.T., the Tanna’im (Yoma 34a-b) debate the question as to the relative statuses of the two daily nesakhim (libations) – the one brought with the morning tamid sacrifice, and the one accompanying the afternoon tamid.  The majority view maintains that the primary libation required by the Torah is the afternoon nesekh, and we infer the morning obligation based on the connection between the two daily temidin, the implication that they are to be treated equally.  According to Rabbi Yehuda Ha-nasi, however, the primary obligation spoken of by the Torah is the morning nesekh, whereas the afternoon nesekh is required by virtue of the halakhic parity between the two daily tamid offerings.

            This debate seems to revolve around the interpretation of the verse in Parashat Pinchas (28:7) which introduces this libation requirement.  After commanding the offering of the two daily sacrifices, the Torah then adds, “And its libation – a quarter of a hin…”  According to Rabbi Yehuda Ha-nasi, apparently, the word “its” refers to the morning tamid, while the other Tanna’im understood that it speaks of the afternoon tamid.  They thus debate the question of whether the primary obligation applies to the morning offering or the afternoon offering.

            Many writers noted that several verses later, the Torah seems to explicitly state that the morning libation constitutes the primary requirement.  In the final verse of this section (28:8), the Torah writes, “You shall perform the second sheep in the afternoon – you shall make it like the morning grain offering and its libation…”  The Torah explicitly writes that the afternoon tamid is modeled after the morning tamid, and thus requires an accompanying grain offering and libation just like the morning tamid sacrifice.  It thus seems very difficult to understand why the majority view disputes Rabbi Yehuda’s position, and maintains that to the contrary, the morning tamid is modeled after the afternoon tamid.

            Among the Acharonim who addressed this question is Netziv, who, in his Eimek Ha-Netziv commentary to the Sifrei, offers a novel (and perhaps somewhat strained) reading of the Gemara.  He asserts that when the Torah first mentions the requirement of nesakhim associated with the tamid sacrifice, it is clear that it refers to both the morning tamid and the afternoon tamid.  However, one might have thought that these libations should be performed together in the afternoon, following the offering of the afternoon tamid.  Although each tamid requires a nesekh, it does not necessarily or intuitively follow, Netziv suggests, that each nesekh is performed after each tamid.  Conceivably, the Torah might have required pouring two libations at the end of the day, corresponding to the two tamid sacrifices.  The second verse cited above dispels this possibility, by stating that the afternoon sacrifice is offered “like the meal offering of the morning and its libation,” which implies that the first libation had been poured with the morning tamid, and is not poured together with the second libation in the afternoon.

            This, Netziv suggests, is how the majority opinion understood the verses.  According to this opinion, the morning nesekh is modeled after the afternoon nesekh in the sense that it follows the morning tamid just as the afternoon nesekh follows the afternoon tamid.  It was clear from the outset that the afternoon nesekh is offered following the afternoon tamid, and the only question was whether the nesekh corresponding to the morning tamid is offered in the morning or in the afternoon.  According to the majority opinion, Chazal derived that just as the afternoon tamid is followed by a nesekh, the morning tamid is also followed by a nesekh.