Friday, June 18, 2010

Why does Rashi deviate from halacha in explaining וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו?

Summary: Why does Rashi deviate from halacha in explaining וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו? He explains it as that a zar, that is a non-kohen, slaughtering it before Eleazar, but this is like Shmuel, while we pasken like Rav! I suggest a few reasons for this deviation.

Post: While flipping through Heemek Davar, I saw an interesting comment. At the beginning of parshas Chukas,

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

As the Netziv notes in Heemek Davar, while this is indeed a position which appears in maseches Yuma, and is the position of Shmuel, we pasken like Rav who would explain the pasuk otherwise. To cite the gemara in Yoma:
אמר ר' יצחק שתי שחיטות שמעתי אחת של פרה ואחת של פרו אחת כשרה בזר ואחת פסולה בזר ולא ידענא הי מינייהו 
איתמר שחיטת פרה ופרו רב ושמואל חד אמר פרה פסולה פרו כשרה וחד אמר פרו פסולה פרה כשרה 
תסתיים דרב הוא דאמר פרה פסולה דאמר ר' זירא שחיטת פרה בזר פסולה ואמר רב עלה אלעזר וחוקה שנינו בה 
ורב מאי שנא פרה דכתיב אלעזר וחוקה פרו נמי הא כתיב אהרן וחוקה שחיטה לאו עבודה היא אי הכי פרה נמי שאני פרה דקדשי בדק הבית היא ולאו כל דכן הוא 
אמר רב שישא בריה דרב אידי מידי דהוה אמראות נגעים דלאו עבודה היא ובעיא כהונה ולשמואל דאמר פרו פסולה מאי שנא פרו דכתיב אהרן וחוקה פרה נמי הא כתיב אלעזר וחוקה שאני התם דכתיב  (במדבר יט, ג) ושחט אותה לפניו שיהא זר שוחט ואלעזר רואה ורב שלא יסיח דעתו ממנה
Read a translation in the Point by Point Summary. Thus, there is a dispute whether פרו or פרה (his cow, or the parah aduma) is kasher with slaughter by a non-kohen. And there is a dispute between Rav and Shmuel as to which is kasher and which is pasul. We don't know who said what, but the stama d'gemara derives that Rav is the one who passuls by Parah Aduma based on a statement he made upon a statement by Rabbi Zera permitting it via a zar. That statement, that it states chukkah and Eleazar, is semi-cryptic. He doesn't explicitly say whether he is supporting or arguing with Rabbi Zera. The reasoning is that the section begins that it is chukkat haTorah, which would imply that what happens in the midbar is a pattern for future generations. And it specifies Eleazar, so we should require a kohen.

But if we consider the psukim in question:

ב  זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתּוֹרָה, אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה יְהוָה לֵאמֹר:  דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה אֲשֶׁר אֵין-בָּהּ מוּם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָלָה עָלֶיהָ, עֹל.2 This is the statute of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer, faultless, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.
ג  וּנְתַתֶּם אֹתָהּ, אֶל-אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן; וְהוֹצִיא אֹתָהּ אֶל-מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה, וְשָׁחַט אֹתָהּ לְפָנָיו.3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, and she shall be brought forth without the camp, and she shall be slain before his face.
ד  וְלָקַח אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן, מִדָּמָהּ--בְּאֶצְבָּעוֹ; וְהִזָּה אֶל-נֹכַח פְּנֵי אֹהֶל-מוֹעֵד, מִדָּמָהּ--שֶׁבַע פְּעָמִים.4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times.

we see that the hazaya, that is, the zerika, is done by Eleazar. But the simple reading of the pasuk is that someone else is doing the slaughter, before Eleazar. How would he give this as counter-evidence to Rabbi Zera?! The setama reinterprets the pasuk in a far-fetched way. But still, this is a far-fetched implicit reading within the words of Rav, which is difficult.

Perhaps we could instead understand this as a statement of support. Namely, this is a chok, so an establishment ledorot, and only those things where Eleazar is written need it be performed by a kohen. Therefore, the zerika needs to be done by a kohen, but not the shechita. This is not as far-fetched as it may seem at first glance. Indeed, this may well be what comes directly out of the Yerushalmi on this topic.

First, though, I would point out that the straightforward interpretation, aligned in Yoma with just Shmuel, is put forth as well by the Sifrei on parashat Chukat. Thus:

ושחט אותה לפניו שיהיה אחר שוחט
ואלעזר רואה

This is perhaps different, as it calls this person who slaughters אחר rather than זר. But the meaning is that someone other than Eleazar slaughters while Eleazar watches, and the implication would be that it can then be anyone, including a non-kohen. Especially as it is used in the relevant derasha in Yoma.

I would be tempted to say that Sifrei is sometimes called Sifrei deVei Rav, the Sifrei of the academy of Rav, in which case we should see this as proof that Rav indeed holds by the interpretation attributed in the gemara only to Shmuel. But scholars point out that this is not an identical work, and so we cannot make any deductions about the position of Rav and his students from the Sifrei.

There is also the Yerushalmi, in Yoma 18a:
א"ר יוחנן לא מצאנו שחיטה כשירה בזר רב מפקד לתלמידוי בכל אתר הוון תניי שוחט חוץ מפרה הוון תני זורק וא"ר יוחנן לא מצאנו שחיטה פסולה בזר התיב ר' חייה בר בא והא כתיב (במדבר יח) ושחט והזה מה הזייה לא הוכשרה באשה כאיש אף שחיטה לא הוכשרה באשה כאיש א"ל הרי הזייה מיימיה הרי היא כשירה בזר ופסולה באשה א"ל תמן לית כתב כהן וליידא מילתא כתב איש להכשיר את הזר היא איש היא אשה ברם הכא כתיב כהן היא זר היא אשה אין תימר שהיא כשירה בזר תיכשר באשה 

It continues with a discussion of whether the Par of Yom Hakippurim requires a kohen to slaughter it. Now, this Yerushalmi most likely is at least a bit corrupted. This because first Rabbi Yochanan is reported as saying:
א"ר יוחנן לא מצאנו שחיטה כשירה בזר
and subsequently
וא"ר יוחנן לא מצאנו שחיטה פסולה בזר

Presumably, he would only be making one such statement. Given that the latter is followed with התיב ר' חייה בר בא in a way that he tries to prove that shechita (for a specific korban -- it would seem as well the Parah Adumah) is NOT permitted for a zar (because it is not permitted by a woman, at least in terms of the sprinkling on clean items), and התיב represents a question, it would seem that פסולה is correct and כשירה is not. This, of course, assuming that this statement by Rabbi Yochanan is being placed in the proper place. This is not altogether clear, because it seems like one of the two statements by Rabbi Yochanan are extraneous. Regardless, both Pnei Moshe and Korban HaEida agree in claiming that it should be פסולה rather than כשירה.

So Rabbi Yochanan is in effect making a general rule, that in ALL cases, shechita is permitted via a zar. There is also a statement by Rav that:
 רב מפקד לתלמידוי בכל אתר הוון תניי שוחט חוץ מפרה הוון תני זורק
Rav instructed his students that in all instances you should teach shochet, except by Parah Adumah where you should teach zorek.

This is a bit difficult, and perhaps requires emendation. But this should be, IMHO, a last resort. But an exclusion for shechita for a zar by Parah Adumah, as opposed to hazayah, is precisely in line which what I discussed above. After all, the pasuk in Chukas is clear that it is Eleazar who does the hazayah/zerika, but appears to indicate that a zar indeed does the shechita. So it works out perfectly. On the other hand, what are these other instances where one should teach shochet?! Perhaps those instances are by the Par shel Yom HaKippurim. (Indeed, that appears to be how Pnei Moshe explains it. I should also note that zerika appears in two different contexts, once in terms of the sprinkling towards the front of the Ohel Moed, and several times in terms of sprinkling things with the water of the ashes of the Parah Adumah to make them pure. It is unclear which one Rav would be speaking of. I can see arguments for both.)

Let us see how Korban HaEidah explains this. He writes, explaining the first part of the gemara, what is pictured to the right.

Thus, he crosses out the first statement by Rabbi Yochanan, which says כשירה. But further, he makes an elaborate emendation of the next statement. We have:
רב מפקד לתלמידוי בכל אתר הוון תניי שוחט חוץ מפרה הוון תני זורק
and Korban HaEidah boldly reverses shochet and zorek. Thus, the statement now reads:
רב מפקד לתלמידוי בכל אתר הוון תניי זורק חוץ מפרה הוון תני 
With this emendation, it would mean: In all places, teach that one who sprinkles {on the mizbeach} is invalid if done by a zar, but that slaughtering is kasher via a zar, but by a Parah Adumah, teach that even shechita is invalid by a zar.

Rabbi Yochanan would then be arguing with this statement by Rav, and stating that we never find that slaughter is invalid by a zar, even by kodshei panim, and all the more so the Parah Adumah which is kodshei chutz.

This works out rather nicely in terms of the flow of the gemara. However, this requires an elaborate rewriting of the gemara, switching around two terms to make them mean what we want.

This reading has a definite plus, in that now Rav's opinion is consistent with his opinion in Talmud Bavli. In Bavli he specified that a zar performing shechita on a para aduma would passul it, and that is what he says here. However, this is why I do NOT prefer this reading. As a result of an emendation, we bring the Yerushalmi in line with the Bavli. Talk about Bavli bias! No. If there is a contradiction, let the contradiction stand. Don't emend the text!

Indeed, if Yerushalmi says the opposite of Bavli, we should take stock. The Yerushalmi was explicit as to the position of Rav. The Bavli was uncertain. It knew that Rav and Shmuel argued about it, but they did not know who said what. The stama d'gemara interpreted a statement made by Rav upon a statement by Rabbi Zera to show that it was Rav who invalidated by a zar by Parah Adumah, but I proposed a way that the statement could be understood another way -- indeed, that he was talking about zerikah, which we see here in Yerushalmi that Rav maintains that a zar is invalid only in terms of the zerikah, and not the shechita.

I didn't actually speak out how the Yerushalmi would be understood without this emendation of Korban HaEdah. Let us see Pnei Moshe:

He does not remove the first statement by Rabbi Yochanan. It is rather like a gufa, where the gemara repeats the statement a second time to discuss it. And so Rabbi Yochanan's statement should indeed appear twice. He does, however, emend both statements to match, and presumably on the basis of the statement by Rabbi Chiya bar Abba, he chooses פסולה as the correct of the two. This strikes me as an eminently justified emendation, which is very conservative and does the least damage to the existing text.

In terms of Rav's instruction to his students, Pnei Moshe leaves it untouched. He explains it as that in all places, teach that the kohen slaughters, but by parah, teach that the kohen sprinkles, but the slaughtering is permitted by a zar. There is a difficulty in terms of what "in all places" means, since usually a zar may indeed slaughter, but he explains this as non-precise. Rav does not disagree with the Mishna in the beginning of Zevachim. Rather, he is speaking of the slaughter of the Par of Aharon (=Paro).

(Indeed, I wonder if this irregularity of בכל אתר, "in every place", led to the corruption of Rabbi Yochanan's statement. For with כשירה Rabbi Yochanan would then be saying that in no place was slaughter kasher with a zar.)

If indeed Rav invalidates a zar by Paro, then back in Bavli, we know that it is Rav who invalidates by Paro, and Shmuel who invalidates by Parah, contrary to the conclusion of the setama d'gemara.

Let us turn back to Chukas, and Rashi, and the Netziv. The Netziv claimed that we pasken like Rav over Shmuel in Yoma, but Rashi is explaining the pasuk in accordance with Shmuel. I questioned whether this is really Rav's position, and I further wonder whether either Amorah would really explain the pasuk as Eliezer not having hesech haddat as the gemara proposes. One can say it is not Eleazer but still not a zar, based on the link between slaughter and sprinkling by an ish tahor, which is not an ishah who is usually valid, and thereby we would also exclude a zar. This appears to be the approach of the named Amora, Rabbi Chiya bar Ba (=Abba) in Yerushalmi. And if so, both Rav and Shmuel could agree to the diyuk in the Sifrei.

Now, Netziv claimed that we pasken like Rav in Bavli, but I am not so sure that Rashi need agree. After all, here is Rambam, in Mishneh Torah, hilchot Pesulei haMukdashin, perek 1, halacha 2:

ב  וכן פר כוהן גדול של יום הכיפורים--אף על פי שנאמר בו "ושחט אהרון" (ראה ויקרא טז,יא)--אם שחטו זר, כשר; אף פרה אדומה ששחטה זר--כשרה, שאין לך שחיטה שפסולה בזר.

He paskens like neither Rav nor Shmuel, for both Paro and Parah are kasher bezar, as is the general rule. This is in accordance with Rabbi Yochanan's rule, that we never find a shechita which is pasul via a zar. Perhaps Rashi holds the same, and so his interpretation is directly in line with halacha.

There are two other possibilities for why Rashi would give Shmuel's reading over that of (purportedly) Rav in Yoma, even if it is keneged halacha. The first is that Rashi is NOT getting it from Yoma, despite Judaica Press giving it as the only source for Rashi's statement, above. Rather, Rashi is getting it from Sifrei. Indeed, if you investigate many of the midrashic statements Rashi brings down in context, a whole slew of them are drawn from the Sifrei. Rashi is thus presenting a consistent presentation of the Sifrei on Chukas.

The second possibility is that Rashi does not care if we actually pasken like this. Rather, of two midrashic interpretations, he will select the maamar Chazal he feels is closer to peshat, even if it is not lehalacha. Though I cannot provide other examples of this at the moment, I do recall that indeed Rashi does do this at times, even for midrash halacha.

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