Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Zevachim 40: A Roof Over the Courtyard? Idealizing the Temple Times

Some very brief thoughts about today's daf:

Continuing their discussion about the inner versus the outer courtyard, Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yehuda argue about the instructions regarding sprinkling blood.  If one should sprinkle indoors but sprinkles outdoors, is this acceptable?  If it is discovered after the fact?  The rabbis disagree about the words that describe the courtyard.  Does the Temple courtyard have a roof that might be breached?  If so, would such a breach invalidate the sprinkling? 

Today's daf provides us with a solid example of the difficulties that our rabbis faced.  In their attempts to interpret texts written after the Temple's destruction, the rabbis must use their imaginations.  Different thinkers interpret the texts differently.  There is no way for us to know the actual practices of our ancestors when the Temple was standing.

It is fascinating that our tradition continues to consider the eras around the Temples to be our most coveted times.  So much of our texts consider the importance of Temple worship, rituals, halachot.  Since the second Temple's destruction, our prayers long for the times of the Temple.  Of course, because the Torah described how to build and worship in and around the Temple, it makes sense that the eras of the Temples are seen as important.  But how instructive should they be?  Do we believe that people actually practiced as they were told to practice?  Perhaps the reason that our rabbis focus on errors in sacrificial rituals is because they assume that many - if not most - offerings were characterized by erroneous practice.  

No comments:

Post a Comment