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Blood On The Mizbeach


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This column is dedicated to the refuah sheleimah of Shlomo Eliezer ben Chaya Sarah Elka.

In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses many different halachos that pertain to korbanos. Regarding the korban olah, the pasuk tells us that the entire animal must be brought on the mizbeach and is burned.

The Minchas Chinuch asks a simple question: How can the Torah command that the entire animal should be brought on the mizbeach when that will constitute that the blood of the animal would be brought up as well? After all, we know that the Torah has forbidden blood to be eaten. The Gemara states in several places that there is a concept called memashkeh Yisrael, which requires that only something fit for consumption by a Jew may be brought on the mizbeach. How then can the Torah require that the blood of the korban olah be brought on the mizbeach when it is biblically forbidden?

Although each korban was salted and the Gemara in Menachos 21a states an opinion that says that once blood is salted it is considered as if it were cooked and thus is no longer biblically forbidden (it is still forbidden mi’de’rabbanan), only several Rishonim hold this opinion. The Radvaz says that the Rambam and the Riff disagree, opining that even salted blood is biblically forbidden.

Even according to the Rishonim who opine that salted blood is only prohibited mi’de’rabbanan the question still remains, since the Gemara in Pesachim 48 says the rule of memashkeh Yisrael applies even to items that are not fit for consumption mi’de’rabbanan.

The Gemara in Chullin 90b discusses this issue. The Gemara quotes the Tanna, Rebbe, who asks how it is that the gid hanasheh may be brought on the mizbeach when it is not memashkeh Yisrael. Rebbe says that this is permitted because the rule of memashkeh Yisrael only prohibits something that comes from an entirely non-kosher animal. It is for this reason that the blood and the cheilev (forbidden fats) may be brought on the mizbeach, since they come from an otherwise kosher animal.

However, the Rabbanan disagree with Rebbe and say that the gid hanasheh may not be brought on the mizbeach. They say that one may not draw a proof from blood and cheilev to the gid hanasheh because, since the mitzvah must be done with the blood and the fats, the Torah obviously must have explicitly permitted it. Since the gid hanasheh may not have been permitted, one may not bring it on the mizbeach.

This does not answer the Minchas Chinuch’s question, for that Gemara is discussing the zereika (sprinkling) of the blood where the main part of the mitzvah is with the blood. But the Minchas Chinuch had asked from the haktarah whereby the blood is not the essential part of the mitzvah. Perhaps there the Torah had not meant to explicitly permit the blood on the mizbeach.

The Minchas Chinuch suggests a chiddush to answer his question. He says that every korban must be salted in order to remove the blood that was in the limbs. Afterwards, they would wash the limbs to remove any blood that was extrapolated by salt that remained there. Then they would salt the limbs a second time to fulfill the mitzvah of meleichah (salting). Salting was required a second time because once the limb was washed it was not considered a salted korban. Therefore it had to be salted a second time. Consequently there was no blood that was being offered on the mizbeach during the haktarah. Only during the zereika did they sprinkle blood on the mizbeach and, as explained earlier, The Torah explicitly permitted that.

Based on this he wants to answer a question of the Mishneh Lamelech. The Mishneh Lamelech asks: why does the Gemara in Menachos require a drasha from a pasuk that one may salt a korban on Shabbos? What is the melachah that one would transgress? Salting food is not a melachah; only when one salt skins is it prohibited under mi’abeid. But when the skin is part of a food, it is permitted – for the rule is that there is not eibud in food. The Minchas Chinuch suggests that in fact salting meat should also be prohibited, for it is also mefarek because one is separating the blood from the food.

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