Thursday, 26 December 2013

Yoma 48 a, b

What is the High Priest to do when incense or flour falls from his hands to the floor?  Can it be gathered together and offered as intended, or does is the rite invalidated?  Similarly, what does the High Priest do if the blood of an offering spills to the floor?  Can the blood be collected in a vessel and then gathered and sprinkled?  Are these two error related to each other?

The rabbis explore the expression, “and the anointed priest shall take 'from the blood of the bull'” (Leviticus 4:5).  Does this refer to spilled blood?  Are we to take all of the animal’s blood?  Or is this teaching us that the blood taken must be from the neck and not from a cut of the skin?

This discussion is followed by other examples of potential disqualification.   The touch of someone who was ritually impure but has immersed – but who is waiting for the end of the day to finalized his or her new state of ritual purity – that touch disqualifies a consecrated item.  The rabbis teach that consecrated items are subject to different types of ritual impurity. 

At the end of today’s daf the rabbis suggest that the High Priest’s every movement is conscious and important during these rituals.  For example, he must face the limbs of his offerings in specific directions.  However, they repeat a recent decision regarding the right and left hands.  In usual circumstances, rites must be performed by the right hand to be valid.   When using the coal pan and the spoon, this is not the case.  The simultaneous use of both hands teaches us that the left hand can be used to perform a Yom Kippur ritual.

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