Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rav Mordechai Gifter on how to understand וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו

At the start of parashat Chukat, perek 19:

3. And you shall give it to Eleazar the kohen, and he shall take it outside the camp and slaughter it in his presence.ג. וּנְתַתֶּם אֹתָהּ אֶל אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְהוֹצִיא אֹתָהּ אֶל מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו:

Rashi writes:

and slaughter it in his presence: A non- kohen slaughters it while Eleazar watches. — [Yoma 42a]ושחט אותה לפניו: זר שוחט ואלעזר רואה:

The gemara in 42a reads in part:

It is reported: Concerning the slaughtering of the heifer and of his bullock [there is a dispute between] Rab and Samuel, one holding the heifer to be invalidated [if killed by alay Israelite], but that his bullock [so slaughtered]  is fit, while the other holds that his bullock is invalidated [if a commoner killed], but [so killed] the heifer is fit. It may be ascertained that it is Rab who holds that [the slaughtering of] the heifer [by a lay Israelite] renders it invalid. For R. Zei'rasaid: The slaughtering of the heifer by a lay Israelite is invalid and Rab said thereupon: ‘Eleazar’ and ‘Statute’ we learned in connection therewith... 
Now according to Samuel, who holds the killing of ‘his’ bullock by a lay Israelite is invalid, wherefore the difference [in law] in the case of ‘his’ bullock, in connection with which ‘Aaron and ‘Statute’ are written, when also in connection with the heifer ‘Eleazar’ and ‘Statute’ are written? — It is different there, because it is written: And he shall slay it before him,12 which means that a lay Israelite may slaughter and Eleazar should watch it.13 And [how does] Rab [explain this]? — [It means] he14 must not divert his attention from it. 

In other words, according to Rav, אֶל אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן is written, so it must be a kohen in play. And this is the חוקה. And so the actor of וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ is Eleazar. And even though it says וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו, implying that there is a different actor who is slaughtering before him, meaning before Eleazar haKohen, this is not so. Rather, Eleazar slaughters it before himself. So, לְפָנָיו refers to intent. And this is how we pasken, apparently.

Meanwhile, Shmuel differs. Yes, Eleazar HaCohen is in play, but only as an observer at this stage. Thus, לְפָנָיו means before Eleazar, while the non-Kohen slaughters.

And Rashi goes against how we pasken, and says like Shmuel, that there is another actor in play. And so too Ibn Ezra, that לְפָנָיו is evidence that Eleazar is merely watching, and there was another actor introduced.

R' Mordechai Gifter
Rav Gifter refers us to the pasuk and Rashi. And then writes:

"And it is like Shmuel in Yoma 42a, and Rav darshens there that לְפָנָיו means that he {Eleazar acts and while acting} should not divert his attention from it. And since the peshat of the pasuk is like Shmuel, therefore Rashi explains here like Shmuel, despite the halacha being like Rav.

And see there in Yoma 43a, that according to Rav, that Eleazar was the slaughterer, what is meant by [the next pasuk]:

4. Eleazar the kohen shall take from its blood with his finger and sprinkle it toward the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times.ד. וְלָקַח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן מִדָּמָהּ בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ וְהִזָּה אֶל נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד מִדָּמָהּ שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים:
? For behold, we are dealing with Eleazar as well in slaughtering. And we say that for Rav, it is a miut [minimization] after a miut, which therefore includes something, that even a regular Kohen is valid, and not just Eleazar {or, segan Kohen or Kohen Gadol}, see there.

And it appears according to this that also in slaughtering, it is valid with a regular kohen. However, since the verse regarding slaughtering itself they explain that this was Eleazar himself and did not explain it as a non-kohen, like Shmuel, then it follows that the word לְפָנָיו means that he should not divert his attention from it. But after we learn from the [next] pasuk of וְלָקַח that it is valid also via another kohen, we explain לְפָנָיו as that another slaughters and Eleazar sees. For the Trah was makpid in the making of this first Para Aduma that it be made specifically with the intent of the choicest of the kehuna. And in the verse of 

5. The cow shall then be burned in his presence; its hide, its flesh, its blood, with its dung he shall burn it.ה. וְשָׂרַף אֶת הַפָּרָה לְעֵינָיו אֶת עֹרָהּ וְאֶת בְּשָׂרָהּ וְאֶת דָּמָהּ עַל פִּרְשָׁהּ יִשְׂרֹף:

is, as well, explained in the Sifrei that another slaughters {!?} and Eleazar watches -- so is the girsa in Pesikta Zutrata, and not like it is before us: one another slaughters and Eleazar watches. {J: Typo in the one instance for שורף?} And so, as well, is the girsa in T"Y to Yoma 42b, see there.

[And there is also to say that from the verse of לְעֵינָיו, this is that he should not divert his attention, and this is the law as well for generations, and for that time, they explained it as well as that Eleazar watched it, as they explained by slaughtering, and this is our nusach, that by burning they say "another person slaughters and Eleazar watches.]

And according to this, even according to Shmuel, we interpret the verse as for that time, in terms of Eleazar watching it, and only in terms of the halacha ledoros it is that Rav and Shmuel argue, and delve well into all this.

And see here in Targum Yonasan {on 19:3}: And another kohen shall slaughter it before him. And this is like Rav, that the slaughtering of a Para is invalid with a non-kohen, and yet the explanation of לְפָנָיו is that Eleazar watches. And not in terms of the law of diverting attention.

[And according to the simple meaning of the Sifrei, it appears that the law of labor invalidating -- that it is a law of diverting attention, we learn it from אֹתָהּ {in pasuk 3}, and לְפָנָיו is that Eleazar sees, and so too by burning we learn that labor invalidates, from אֶת הַפָּרָה, and from לְעֵינָיו we derive that Eleazar sees. However, from the words of the Pesikta Zutrasa, that writes: "Another explanation: Another one slaughters and Eleazar sees"; it implies that diversion of attention we derive from לְפָנָיו, as it seems from masechet Yoma. And therefore it wrote the second derasha in this with the words davar acher. And see there in Malbim.]"

Nothing to add here.

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