To Be Or Not To Be
“Appointed…Designated From The Previous Day”
Our daf contemplates whether certain functionaries are considered agents. The Gemara examines instances where the category of messenger may apply.
As part of the Yom Kippur service, a goat was led for a three-hour walk from the Beis HaMikdash to the edge of a steep cliff. There, it was thrown to its death by the person who accompanied it, thus achieving atonement for the sins of the Jewish nation.
The Torah instructs us to appoint a specific person on Erev Yom Kippur to perform this task, as the pasuk states, “It will be sent to the desert with a designated man” (Vayikra 16:21). Our Sages interpreted this pasuk to mean that the goat for Azazel must be sent even when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos (although this may entail the violation of certain malachos), and even if the appointed escort is impure.
Mishloach Manos on Purim
On Purim there is a mitzvah to send mishloach manos to the poor and our friends and associates. The Binyan Tzion (44; see Mishnah Berurah 695:18) questions whether mishloach manos may be given personally. The pasuk states, “mishloach manos” – a sending of gifts from a person to his friend. The word “sending” seems to imply that they should be sent through a messenger.
If we were to assume that a messenger must be used, need the messenger be an adult Jew? There is a general principle that a messenger appointed to perform a mitzvah must be an adult Jew, who is obligated in mitzvos. In Torah law, a messenger stands in place of the person who sent him. The mitzvah he performs is thereby directly associated with the person who sent him. A person who is not obligated in mitzvos cannot perform this role. Since children and gentiles are not obligated in mishloach manos, perhaps they cannot deliver them on our behalf.
Proxy Vs. Intermediary
The Dvar Avraham (I, 13:4; II, 8) argues against this conclusion. When a person is expected to perform a mitzvah on his own, and appoints an agent to perform it on his behalf, the agent takes his place. Therefore, only an agent who is obligated in mitzvos is eligible. However, when we say that a mitzvah is meant to be performed through an intermediary, we are essentially saying that the person need not perform the mitzvah per se; rather, he must see to it that the mitzvah is performed. It therefore makes no difference whether the messenger delivering the mishloach manos is a Jew or gentile, adult or child. The point is not to do the mitzvah, but to make sure that the mitzvah gets done.
The Shaliach for the Goat
The same reasoning can be applied to the shaliach sent to accompany the goat to Azazel. Since the Torah instructed us to send the goat specifically with a shaliach, even a child or gentile should be eligible. Why then need we send it with an adult Jew, even when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos and the laws of Shabbos must be violated to bring the goat? Would it not be better to instruct a gentile to accompany the Azazel?
The Dvar Avraham answers that, indeed, as far as the principles of appointing a shaliach are concerned, a gentile would be eligible. However, in this case, sending a shliach is a gezeiras ha’kasuv; the pasuk specifically states that the goat must be sent with a “designated man,” implying that he must be an adult man, and not a child. Furthermore, the Torah tells us that the shaliach must immerse in a mikveh after bringing the goat to Azazel. This implies that he must be a Jew who is subject to the laws of ritual impurity according to Torah law. Gentiles are not subject to these laws. Only for these reasons are children and gentiles unfit to bring the goat to Azazel on Yom Kippur.
About the Author: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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