When The Service Is Done
‘Once Permitted To Kohanim, Me’ilah Does Not Apply’
R. Yehoshua, on our daf (and the mishnah on 2a) states that any hekdesh object which became permissible to kohanim at one point is no longer subject to the laws of me’ilah. For example, the laws of me’ilah do not apply to the meat of a karban chattas after zerikah has been performed, since the meat is permitted to kohanim after zerikah. Even if the meat is subsequently invalidated, it does not become subject to the laws of me’ilah since at some point a kohen was allowed benefit from it.
The Gemara (Kiddushin 54a) questions this ruling based on a contradictory one: We know that me’ilah does not apply to priestly garments in good wearable condition, and yet, when such are ragged and beyond normal wear, it is forbidden to wear them and one who does so is guilty of benefiting from sanctified objects. This law seems to contradict R. Yehoshua’s rule.
Of Angels And Men
The Gemara explains that the Torah suspended the law of me’ilah regarding priestly garments as long as kohanim are wearing them. Why? Because the Torah was not given to angels, and kohanim would find it impossible to remove the garments at exactly the moment they have completed their service. But when the garments are no longer being used, their sacred status returns.
The Meiri (Kiddushin ad loc.) finds this answer quite puzzling. R. Yehoshua’s rule clearly dictates that once a hekdesh item is permitted, the laws of me’ilah do not return.
The Meiri answers that this case is different than all others since the garments were never truly exempt from the laws of me’ilah for intrinsic reasons. They were only exempt because “the Torah was not given to angels.”
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