Talmud Tips

For the week ending 9 June 2018 / 26 Sivan 5778

Zevachim 44 - 50

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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When Learning is Doing

Abayei said, “Study the Torah, even the laws that are not relevant today, and you will be rewarded for this Torah study.”

A well-known decree of our Sages is to recite the fifth perek of our masechet, which begins with the words “Eizehu mekoman“Where is the location?”. This perek teaches the various categories of sacrificial offerings and the various details regarding offering them in the Beit Hamikdash.

The Rabbinical decree to say this perek is fulfilled as part of the daily morning services in our prayers. It is said after the passages in the Torah that teach about the order of the daily sacrifices. This enactment of “Eizehu mekomon” is codified as halacha in the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, siman nun (chapter 50). A few reasons for this practice are taught there and elaborated on in the Mishna Berurah.

One reason is based on the gemara in Menachot 110a, which explains the following verse in Malachi 1:11. “And every place incense is burnt and offered to My Name, and a pure Mincha offering…” The gemara points out that this verse seems difficult to understand according to its straightforward reading, because sacrifices may be offered only in the Beit Hamikdash and cannot be offered in “every place.” Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yonatan that the verse teaches about the “added value” of the study of sacrificial offerings, beyond the great “standard” value of other Torah study. He teaches that we should interpret the verse in this way: “These are Torah scholars who involve themselves in every place in the Torah study of sacrifices. G-d considers their study to be equivalent to the actual offering of the sacrifices.” In this manner we are able to continue the service of the offerings in the Beit Hamikdash even nowadays, wherever we are. (Tur)

Another reason is that this perek of mishna contains no machloket (dispute). Although we may find an opinion elsewhere that differs from one that is taught here, there is no dispute taught within this perek. (Beit Yosef)

Another reason is that the number of words in this perek is the same gematria as Moshe. This alludes to the fact that the entire Torah She’beal Peh (The Oral Law) was given to Moshe Rabbeinu at Mount Sinai. (Taz)

The Mishna Berurah points out that saying this perek of mishna does not count as fulfillment of the mitzvah of learning Torah unless one understands what is being said. In fact, this is true regarding all study of the Oral Law. Only with regards to prayer, even if a person does not understand the words of the prayer, it is accepted by G-d since He knows the person’s true intent in the prayer. Torah study of the Oral Law, however, is not considered Talmud Torah without understanding. (Mishna Berurah 50:2 in the name of the Magen Avraham)

Rabbi Yitzchak said: What is the meaning of this is the Torah of the Chatat, and this is the law of the Asham? (Vayikra 6:18, 7:1) This teaches that whoever learns the Torah teachings of the Chatat is considered as if he has offered a Chatat, and whoever learns the Torah teachings of the Asham is considered as if he offered an Asham. (Menachot 110a)

  • Zevachim 45a, 47a

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