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Even Eruv Tavshillin
‘One Might Have Thought That We Remove The Tendons…’
(Zevachim 86a)

 

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The Torah (Vayikra 1:5-9) states that after the zerikah of an olah, the animal is skinned and cut into pieces, which are then placed and burned on the altar.

The Mishnah (85b) notes an apparent contradiction in this matter. The Torah (Devarim 12:27) states: “You shall perform your elevation offerings, the flesh and the blood” – a clear indication that only the edible parts – the meat – of an olah should be burned on the altar. On the other hand, an earlier pasuk (Vayikra 1:9) states: “and the kohen shall cause it all to go up in smoke” – a clear indication that everything should be burned on the altar, even inedible parts (i.e., the bones, tendons, horns, and hooves).

To reconcile these two seemingly contradictory pesukim, the Mishnah states that as long as the inedible parts are attached, they are burned together with the rest of the offering. However, if they were detached, only the edible meat is burned.

Ab Initio Detachment?

The Sefas Emes (Novella ad. loc.) wonders whether there is a mitzvah to leave the horns and hooves on the animal so that they are burned as well. He concludes that while we might imply from Rashi (86a s.v. “yachol yachlotz”) that one is permitted ab initio to remove the horns and hooves of an olah prior to it being placed on the altar, it’s clear from the Rambam (Hilchos Ma’aseh Hakarbanos 6:2) that one should not remove them.

 
Yitzchaks’s Ram

The Midrash (Pirkei D’Rabbi Elazar, 31, and hinted at in Rashi to Shemos 19:13) reconts how each part of Yitzchak’s ram offering (that Avraham Avinu offered at the site of the Akeidah) was utilized. Its meat and fats were burned on the altar, its ashes formed the basis of the inner altar in the Temple, its 10 sinews corresponded to the 10 harps King David played, its skin provided Eliyahu Hanavi with a belt, its left horn was preserved and used as the shofar at Mount Sinai, and its right horn will serve Moshiach when he issues the final clarion call.

 
Allegorical Or Literal

The Ramban (to Shemos 19:13) finds this Midrash difficult. Since the ram was a korban olah – which is completely burned – how could all these parts be used for other purposes?

He suggests that the ram was actually burned by Avraham Avinu in its entirety, and Hashem miraculously reconstructed its parts from the ashes. Thus, the shofar at Sinai and the shofar of Moshiach are not the ram’s original horns but rather reconstructed horns formed from its ashes. He also offers an alternative view that the Midrash is allegorical and not to be interpreted literally.

Followed Procedure

The Ohr Hachayim (to Vayikra 1:9) notes that our sages (Yoma 28b) relate that the avos adhered to the Torah in its entirety even before it was given at Sinai. They even kept eruv tavshillin, a rabbinical decree. How then do we understand Avraham not offering the korban properly?

He answers that the portions of the animal broke off on their own or were detached prior to the blood applications. Therefore, Avraham was not obligated to burn them on the altar.

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.