SALT - Monday, 22 Iyar 5778 - May 7, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Yesterday, we noted the perplexing comment by the Rambam (Hilkhot Temura 1:1), based on the Tosefta, that one violates the prohibition of temura even on Shabbat.  The prohibition of temura forbids declaring the transfer of an animal’s status as a sacrifice to another animal, and the Rambam found it necessary to emphasize this prohibition applies even on Shabbat.  As many writers observed, there seems to be no reason to have considered the possibility of distinguishing Shabbat from other days of the week with regard to this prohibition.  Why would the Rambam have found it necessary to clarify that this prohibition can be violated on Shabbat?  What would have led someone to think that proclaiming the transfer of sanctity from a sacrificial animal is permissible on Shabbat?
            As we saw, some answered this question on the basis of the fact that personal sacrifices may not be offered on Shabbat.  The only sacrifices that are brought on Shabbat are the daily tamid sacrifice, which is brought each day of the week, and the special musaf offering for Shabbat.  Personal sacrifices, however, are forbidden.  Hence, one might have thought that proclaiming the transfer of a personal sacrifice’s sanctity to another animal is ineffectual on Shabbat.  Since this day is not a time when personal sacrifices can be offered, sacrificial sanctity cannot be transferred in this day, and thus declaring such a transfer is not forbidden.
            The question remains, however, as to why this should be the case.  After all, although the Sages enacted a provision forbidding the consecration of an animal on Shabbat (Mishna, Beitza 5:2), as it resembles a transaction, nevertheless, the consecration is binding if one did consecrate an animal on Shabbat.  Despite the fact that personal sacrifices may not be offered on Shabbat, an animal is capable of being consecrated on Shabbat, notwithstanding the law enacted by the Sages prohibiting consecration.  Why, then, would one have considered excluding Shabbat from the temura prohibition, which is merely the declaration of the transfer of sanctity from one animal to another?
            One simple possibility, suggested by Rav Yechezkel Abramsky, in his Chazon Yechezkel, is that this passage in the Tosefta instructs this very point – that after the fact, consecration declared on Shabbat is binding.  Lest one mistakenly think that consecrating an animal is not only forbidden on Shabbat, but also ineffective, the Tosefta teaches that consecration is effective on Shabbat despite the prohibition, and thus temura, too, can be violated on Shabbat.
            Rav Chaim Kanievsky, in his Ta’ama De-kra (Parashat Bechukotai), suggests a different approach.  He cites Rashi’s comment in Masekhet Temura (27a) indicating that the prohibition of temura does not apply when one seeks to transfer the sanctity of a consecrated ba’al mum – an animal with a physical defect – onto another ba’al mum.  In formulating the temura prohibition, the Torah writes that it is forbidden to exchange “tov be-ra o ra be-tov” – a “good” animal with a “bad” one, or even a “bad” one with a “good” one (27:10).  Rashi takes note of the fact that the Torah does not mention here the case of one who has a ba’al mum – a “bad” animal – and seeks to transfer its sanctity onto another ba’al mum – which is a case of exchanging “ra be-ra” – a “bad” animal with another “bad” animal.  As the Torah makes no mention of this case, Rashi suggests, such a transfer does not fall under the temura prohibition.  (It should be noted, however, that in his Torah commentary, Rashi writes explicitly that such an exchange indeed falls under the temura prohibition.)  If so, Rav Kanievsky writes, then we can perhaps understand why one might have assumed that temura cannot be performed on Shabbat, when personal sacrifices are not offered.  Given that neither animal can be offered on this day, one could have argued that they are considered “bad” in the sense that they cannot be offered as sacrifices at the present moment – just like a ba’al mum, which is disqualified as a sacrifice.  To dispel this misconception, the Tosefta found it necessary to clarify that even though personal sacrifices cannot be offered on Shabbat, animals on Shabbat are not considered “bad” with respect to the temura prohibition as physically blemished animals are, and thus the prohibition applies even on Shabbat.