SALT - Motzaei Shabbat, April 3, 2021


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  • Rav David Silverberg
            The Torah in Parashat Shemini tells of the special sacrifices that were offered on the day when Aharon and his four sons functioned as kohanim for the first time.  We read that Aharon slaughtered the animal sacrifices, and his sons collected the blood and brought it to him so he could sprinkle it on the altar, as required.
            A number of commentators noted that the Torah uses two different verbs in telling of Aharon’s sons bringing him the sacrifices’ blood.  After he slaughtered his sin-offering, the Torah relates, “va-yakrivu benei Aharon et ha-dam eilav” – literally, “Aharon’s sons brought the blood close to him” (9:9).  Later, however, in reference to Aharon’s ola (burnt-offering), the Torah uses the verb “va-yamtzi’u” – literally, “they made accessible” (9:12).  This verb is used also later, in reference to the shelamim sacrifice offered on behalf of the nation (9:18).
            Rav Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenberg, in his Ha-ketav Ve-ha-kabbala, cites an explanation for this transition in the name of Rav Naftali Hertz Wessely, noting a difference between the way the blood of different sacrifices was sprinkled on the altar.  The blood of the ola and shelamim was thrown onto the altar directly from the basin in which it was collected, whereas the blood of the chatat was sprinkled with the kohen’s finger.  Accordingly, in reference to Aharon’s sin-offering, the Torah uses the word “va-yakrivu” – indicating that Aharon’s sons brought the basin close to Aharon, so he could dip his finger into it and sprinkle the blood.  When it came to the ola and shelamim, however, Aharon’s sons had to actually hand him the basin so he could then throw the blood onto the altar.  The Torah therefore uses the word “va-yamtzi’u,” which has the connotation of placing something in another person’s hand.  The Gemara in Masekhet Bava Metzia (27a) understands the word “u-metzatah” used by the Torah in reference to one who finds another person’s lost item (Devarim 22:3) to mean that the object had “come to his hand.”  Thus, here in Parashat Shemini, too, the verb “va-yamtzi’u” means that Aharon’s sons handed him the basin of collected blood so he could throw it on the altar.
            Rav Pinchas Horowitz (the “Ba’al Hafla’a”), in his Panim Yafot commentary, also cites this explanation, but then proceeds to suggest an alternative approach.  He writes that although all these sacrifices were slaughtered on the northern side of the altar, the sprinkling of their blood took place in different locations.  The sprinkling of the blood of the chatat began in the southwestern corner of the altar, whereas the sprinkling of the ola and shelamim began at the northeastern corner.  Accordingly, after Aharon slaughtered the chatat, he went from the northern side of the altar to the southwestern corner, and his sons had to bring the basin of blood to that corner.  The Torah therefore uses in this context the verb “va-yakrivu,” implying that the blood had to be transported.  After the slaughtering of the other sacrifices, however, the blood did not need to be transported to a different area of the altar, and Aharon’s sons merely needed to make it more accessible to Aharon, as implied by the word “va-yamtzi’u.”