Friday, March 11, 2011

Parshas Vayikra - when does an avodah pessulah make a korban irreversably passul?

The main avodah for all korbanos is the avodas hadam – the avodah of the blood - which culminates in the zerikah – the sprinkling of the blood on the mizbeach (or the paroches). For example, if the meat of the korban was lost after the zerikas hadam so that the limbs were not burnt on the mizbeach or the owner and the cohanim were unable to eat the meat, the korban is still kosher as long as the zerikah was done properly.

The avodas ha’dam – the service of the blood – consists of four steps:
  • Shechitah – shechting the korban 
  • Kabalah – accepting the blood of the korban in a mizrak (the kli shores which is used to accept the blood) 
  • Holachah – carrying the blood to the mizbeach
  • Zerikah – sprinkling the blood on the mizbeach

Generally speaking, if one of the steps in the avodas hadam was passul then the korban is passul. For example if a yisroel accepted the blood instead of a cohen, the korban is passul and this cannot be rectified. However there is an exception to this rule;

The gemara says in Zevachim 14b (sof ha’amud):
איתמר אמר עולא א"ר יוחנן הולכה שלא ברגל לא שמה הולכה אפשר לתקונה או לא אפשר לתקונה ... איתיביה רב נחמן לעולא נשפך מן הכלי על הרצפה ואספו כשר ...תיובתא

 “We have learnt, Ula said in the name of Rb Yochanan, if a cohen carries the blood to the mizbeach while he is not walking (for example cohanim passed the blood from hand to hand till it reached the mizbeach) it is not holachah.

Is it possible to correct or not?

…Rav Nachman asked a question to Ula, the beraisah says, ‘If the blood was spilt from the mizrak onto the floor of the azarah and he gathered it back into the mizrak it is kosher.’

[The gemara’s proof is that when the blood is spilt it spills in all directions, therefore some of it will definitely spill in the direction of the mizbeach and this is holachah shelo beregel which is passul. Nevertheless you see that you can still gather it up and do holachah again so this is a proof that even if you did a holachah pessulah you can still do another holachah kesherah to make the korban kosher.]

…it is a conclusive proof.”

We see from the gemara that if a holachah pessulah was performed and then a holachah kesherah, the second holachah is sufficient to make the korban kosher and we are not concerned about the first passul holachah. Shechitach, kabbalas hadam and zerikah cannot be repeated because the korban has already been shechted, the blood has already been accepted in the mizrak etc., however holachah can be repeated and if the first holachah was passul a second kosher holachah can still be done.

The gemara continues with a different case (daf 15a):
הוליכו זר והחזירו כהן וחזר והוליכו פליגי בה בני רבי חייא ור' ינאי חד אמר כשר וחד אמר פסול מר סבר אפשר לתקונה ומר סבר לא אפשר לתקונה הוליכו כהן והחזירו וחזר והוליכו זר אמר רב שימי בר אשי לדברי המכשיר פסול לדברי הפוסל מכשיר

“If a zar did holachah and a cohen returned it [to the place that the korban was shechted] and then the cohen did holachah again – this case is the subject of a machlokess between Rebbi Chiya and Rebbi Yanai. One says it is kosher and one says it is passul. One reasons that it is possible to correct and one reasons that it is not possible to correct.

If the cohen did holachah and he returned it [to the place that the korban was shechted] and then a zar did holachah, Rav Simi bar Ashi said, according to the one who said that it is kosher in the first case this case is passul. According to the one who said that it is passul in the first case this case is kosher.”
  • If the first holachah is the main holachah then it all depends on who does the first holachah
  • If the second holachah is the main holachah then it all depends on who does the second holachah
The Steipler (Zevachim 15) asks:

Why does the gemara say that if a zar did the main holachah then a cohen cannot rectify this by doing holachah again? We know from the case of the blood being spilt or holachah shelo beregel that if the first holacha was passul you can still do holachah again?

The Steipler explains as follows:

Two types of pessul

There are two types of pessul possible in any avodah
  • There is a ‘positive pessul’ where there is something positively wrong with the avodah that has been performed. For example pigul – where the cohen who did the avodah intended that the korban should be eaten outside of the allowed time. In this case it will not help to do the avodah again because you can cannot undo the fact that the passul avodah was performed.
  • There is a ‘nothing happened’ pessul. It is not that the avodah is positively passul, it is just that the avodah is invalid because it was not performed properly. If the avodah can be performed again, the korban will become kosher.

If blood was spilt on the floor of the azarah or holachah shelo beregel was performed – there is no positive pessul in the avodah. This is not similar to pigul where the avodah was corrupted, rather the avodah is missing the correct method of transporting the dam to the mizbeach. Because the physical act of carrying the dam to the mizbeach is missing, it is not an avodah with a positive pessul, it is simply a missing avodah. Therefore, if the avodah is done again the korban is kosher.

However if a zar does the avodah, then the avodah was performed, but there is a positive pessul in it because it was done by a zar. In this case it is not possible to make the korban kosher by doing the avodah again because a positive pessul that has been mixed in to the avodah of the korban.

That is why in the cases of holachah be’regel and nishpach ha’dam the holachah can be performed again, but in the case of holichoh zar it is not possible to correct the pessul that has been done to the korban.

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