1) THE "GID HA'NASHEH" OF AN ANIMAL OF "KODSHIM"
QUESTION: The Mishnah (89b) states that the prohibition of Gid ha'Nasheh applies to "Mukdashin," animals sanctified as Korbanos. The Gemara asks that this is obvious. Why would one have thought that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh is removed from the animal once it becomes Kadosh?
The Gemara offers several answers. One might have thought that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh does not take effect because of the rule that one Isur cannot take effect on another Isur, "Ein Isur Chal Al Isur." In this case, however, they both take effect for one of two reasons. First, if the fetus of a Korban is also Kadosh (in which case the fetus is already prohibited because it is Kadosh before its Gid ha'Nasheh develops), then the Mishnah is discussing a Bechor. A Bechor becomes Kadosh only at birth. RASHI (DH Ela Hacha) explains that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh applies to an animal that becomes Kadosh at birth either because the Gid of a fetus, before it is born, is already prohibited (and thus it precedes the prohibition of Kodshim), or because the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh takes effect only at birth (as Rebbi Yehudah maintains), in which case it takes effect simultaneously with the Isur of Kodshim.
Second, the Gemara suggests that if Kedushah does not apply to the fetus of a Korban, then the Mishnah is discussing any type of Kodshim (and not just a Bechor). In every case of a fetus born to a Korban, the child becomes Kadosh only at birth, and thus the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh takes effect, since it is not preceded by the Isur of Kodshim.
One would expect Rashi to explain here, too, that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh takes effect whether or not the Gid ha'Nasheh of a fetus is Asur: If the Gid ha'Nasheh of a fetus is Asur, then that Isur preceded the Isur of Kodshim and certainly apples to the child when it is born. If the Gid of a fetus is not Asur, then it takes effect simultaneously with the Kedushah that comes at birth. However, Rashi here (DH v'Iba'is Eima) does not give this explanation. Rather, Rashi explains that this second answer of the Gemara is saying that the Mishnah follows the opinion of Rebbi Meir who maintains that the Gid of a fetus is prohibited (which is not the Halachic opinion). Why does Rashi not explain that even if the Gid of a fetus is permitted, the two prohibitions of Kedushah and Gid take effect simultaneously, as he explained earlier? (ROSH YOSEF, RASHASH, TIFERES YAKOV)
ANSWER: It seems that the reason why Rashi explains the Mishnah differently according to the Gemara's second answer is as follows. Even if the Kedushah of a fetus takes effect at birth, it still takes effect before the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh takes effect. The Gid ha'Nasheh becomes prohibited either at the moment that the head of the animal emerges from the womb, or at the moment that a majority of the animal's body emerges from the womb. Until the head emerges or a majority of the body emerges, the animal is not considered born yet. Even if the part of its body containing the Gid ha'Nasheh protrudes from the womb first, it does not become Asur, because it is still considered the Gid of a fetus. In contrast, the Kedushah of the animal takes effect on any part of the animal that emerges from the womb, even on a limb that protrudes, because there is no necessity for the animal to be considered a "Behemah" (that has been born in its entirety) in order in order for Kedushah to take effect on it.
Hence, if the Gid ha'Nasheh protrudes from the womb, then it becomes Kadosh, but it does not become prohibited with the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh. Later, when the animal is born, the prohibition of Gid ha'Nasheh no longer can take effect since it has already become prohibited because of the Isur of eating Kodshim. Therefore, the Gid ha'Nasheh of Kodshim can become prohibited only according to Rebbi Meir, who maintains that the Gid ha'Nasheh of a fetus is prohibited even before it is born.
In contrast, a Bechor becomes Kadosh only at the time that most of it emerges from the womb (since that is the moment at which it becomes a Bechor, a firstborn animal). Therefore, Rashi is justified in saying that both prohibitions of Bechor and Gid ha'Nasheh take effect at the same time. (M. KORNFELD, with the commendation of RAV MOSHE SHAPIRO shlit'a.)
2) OVERRIDING THE PROHIBITION OF "GID HA'NASHEH" FOR THE SAKE OF A "MITZVAS ASEH"
QUESTIONS: The Mishnah (89b) states that the prohibition of Gid ha'Nasheh applies to "Mukdashin," animals that were sanctified as Korbanos. The Gemara asks that this is obvious. Why would one have thought that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh is removed from the animal once it becomes Kadosh?
What is the Gemara's question? It is not so obvious that the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh applies to Kodshim. The principle of "Aseh Docheh Lo Sa'aseh" teaches that a Mitzvas Aseh overrides a Lo Sa'aseh. Accordingly, the Mitzvas Aseh to eat the meat of a Korban (Shemos 29:33) should override the Lo Sa'aseh not to eat the Gid ha'Nasheh!
(One cannot answer that since the Gid ha'Nasheh has no taste, it is not included in the Mitzvah of eating the Korban. The Gemara states that the Tana of the Mishnah maintains that "Yesh b'Gidin Ta'am" -- the Gid ha'Nasheh does have a good taste. See also SHA'AGAS ARYEH #96, p. 168, DH v'Od Kasheh.)
Moreover, the Gemara here states that the Gid ha'Nasheh of a Korban Shelamim must be removed from the animal and swept into the "Amah" (the water channel in the Azarah of the Beis ha'Mikdash). RASHI (DH Shelamim) writes that there is no Mitzvah to burn the Gid ha'Nasheh in order to prevent it from becoming Nosar, since the Mitzvah to burn the flesh of a Korban so that it not become Nosar applies only to flesh that is permitted to be eaten, and the Gid ha'Nasheh is not permitted to be eaten. Why, though, is it not permitted to be eaten due to the principle of "Aseh Docheh Lo Sa'aseh"?
Similarly, Rav Chisda here says that one is not permitted to eat the Gid ha'Nasheh of the Korban Pesach. Why does the Mitzvas Aseh to eat the Korban Pesach not override the Lo Sa'aseh not to eat the Gid ha'Nasheh?
ANSWER: The CHAZON ISH (YD 214, to Chulin 89b) answers in the name of his father based on the Gemara here that derives from the verse, "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael" (Yechezkel 45:15), that the Korbanos and their accompanying Nesachim that are offered in the Beis ha'Mikdash must be comprised of food and drink which a Jew is permitted to eat (see RASHI DH mi'Mashkeh). Therefore, even if one would eat the Gid ha'Nasheh, he would not fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Kodshim, because the Mitzvah to eat Kodshim may be performed only with something that is permitted to eat. Even if the principle of "Aseh Docheh Lo Sa'aseh" would apply, it would not make the Gid ha'Nasheh a permitted food; it merely would override the prohibition against eating it.
The Chazon Ish adds that although the Gemara (90a) says that if the Gid ha'Nasheh is still connected to the rest of the Korban, one should offer it upon the Mizbe'ach, this does not mean that the Mitzvah of offering the Korban is performed by offering the Gid. Rather, it means that there is a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that states that the Gid is not to be removed in such a situation (see TOSFOS to Menachos 6a, DH Mah).
In addition, since one does not fulfill the Mitzvah of a Korban through offering the Gid, Rav Papa's statement (90a) -- that "l'Ha'aloso" teaches that when one offers the Gid ha'Nasheh upon the Mizbe'ach the Isur of Gid ha'Nasheh does not apply -- refers only to offering the Gid when it is still connected to the animal, because there is a Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that it not be removed. However, if the Gid has already been removed, one should not offer it on the Mizbe'ach, because one cannot fulfill the Mitzvah of offering Kodshim by offering something that is prohibited to eat, due to the rule of "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael." (D. BLOOM)
3) "GUZMA" -- EXAGGERATIONS
QUESTION: The Gemara cites the Mishnah in Tamid that says that sometimes there would be 300 Kor of ashes on the ash-heap at the top of the Mizbe'ach. Rava says that this is an exaggeration ("Guzma"). Furthermore, the Mishnah there states that before slaughtering the Korban Tamid each day, they would give it water to drink from a gold vessel. Rava says that this, too, is an exaggeration. The Gemara continues to discuss exaggerations, and concludes with the Mishnah in Shekalim that states that the Paroches needed 300 Kohanim to hold it and immerse it in a Mikvah.
The Chachamim always take great care to show that every word of the Mishnah is meticulously chosen. Why does the Gemara here say that the Mishnah's words are an exaggeration?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu, Parshas Terumah, see also Tiferes Yisrael to Shekalim 8:5) offers an ingenious explanation to explain why the Mishnah says that 300 Kohanim were needed to immerse the Paroches. The Vilna Ga'on demonstrates that this number was not chosen at random.
The Mishnah in Tamid teaches that the Paroches was 40 Amos long and 20 Amos wide. Since the Amos used in the measurements of the Beis ha'Mikdash consisted of five handbreadths each (Kelim 17:10), the perimeter of the Paroches was 120 Amos (2 X (40 + 20)), or 600 handbreadths. Therefore, if as many Kohanim as physically possible would participate in the Mitzvah of immersing the Paroches, there would be room for exactly 300 Kohanim to grasp it, since each Kohen would hold two handbreadths of the perimeter with his two hands!
Why, then, does the Gemara say that the number 300 is an exaggeration? The answer is that although it was theoretically possible for 300 Kohanim to grasp the Paroches, it was never actually handled by this number of people. It would have been unusual for the Kohanim's hands to be so closely spaced as to allow them to cover every centimeter of the perimeter of the Paroches. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Mishnah did not choose the number 300 as its "exaggerated" figure randomly. This number was chosen because it represents the theoretical maximum number of Kohanim who could participate in this Mitzvah.
The YEFEH EINAYIM in Tamid, however, raises a serious objection to the calculation of the Vilna Ga'on. According to the Mishnah in Kelim (17:10) and the Gemara in Menachos (97b), the special five-handbreadth Amah measurement that was used in the Beis ha'Mikdash was used only for building the movable articles of the Beis ha'Mikdash, such as the Aron, Shulchan, Mizbe'ach ha'Zahav, etc. When they built the actual structural parts of the Beis ha'Mikdash, they used the regular, six-handbreadth Amah measurement. (This is the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah. Rebbi Meir maintains that the six-handbreadth Amah was used in an even more limited capacity.) Accordingly, the Paroches -- whose 20-by-40-Amah dimensions were for the purpose of filling the entire breadth of the Heichal in order to enclose the Kodesh ha'Kodashim (or to shield the entrance to the Ulam) -- would have to be measured with the same Amah that was used for measuring the sanctuary itself, or a six-handbreadth Amah. The perimeter of the Paroches would then measure 720, and not 600, handbreadths!
To answer this question on the Vilna Ga'on's explanation, we may suggest that when the Kohanim would grasp the Paroches in order to immerse it, they would not hold it on all four sides. One side had to be left free in order to allow it to be lowered into the Mikvah. If the Kohanim would have grasped the Paroches on the three sides that measured 40, 40, and 20 Amos, and they left the other side (20 Amos) free, then they would have covered 100 Amos, or 600 handbreadths, of the perimeter. (It is likely that this was the actual explanation that the Vilna Ga'on gave, and not as recorded in Kol Eliyahu.) (M. KORNFELD)
(b) Reb Yisroel Dovid Slutzkin zt'l (of Rechavia, Jerusalem, who passed away a few years ago; may these words be a merit for his Neshamah) once related to us an ingenious explanation for the exaggeration of the 300 Kor of ash on the Mizbe'ach.
The Kor is a measure of volume corresponding to 30 Se'ah-measures. Mr. Slutzkin pointed out that according to the Gemara in Pesachim (109b), the minimum size of a Mikvah -- 40 Se'ah of water -- corresponds to three cubic Amos of water. Accordingly, each cubic Amah contains the volume of 40/3, or 13.33, Se'ah. Since a Kor is equal to 30 Se'ah, the 300 Kor mentioned by the Mishnah with regard to the amount of ash on the Mizbe'ach would correspond to 9000 Se'ah of ash. This is equal to 9000/13.33, or 675, cubic Amos of ash.
The Mishnah in Midos (3:6) teaches that the base of the Mizbe'ach was 32 by 32 Amos. However, the top of the Mizbe'ach was two Amos narrower than its base on every side (south, east, north, and west). Thus, the top surface of the Mizbe'ach measured only 28 by 28 Amos. On the four corners of the top of the Mizbe'ach, there were four protrusions called Keranos. The dimensions of each Keren was one Amah by one Amah by one Amah, a perfect cube. Because the Keranos were an Amah wide, the entire outer one-Amah of the Mizbe'ach (including the part between the Keranos) was referred to as the Keranos area (Midos ibid.) and was never used for burning Korbanos. The area on top of the Mizbe'ach that remained available for burning Korbanos was 26 Amos by 26 Amos -- an area of 676 square Amos.
(In truth, an additional width of one Amah on each side of the top of the Mizbe'ach was reserved for the passage of the Kohanim who stood atop the Mizbe'ach (see Midos ibid.). This reduces the area on the Mizbe'ach available for burning to only 24 Amos by 24 Amos. However, we may suggest that in rare situations ashes would be allowed to overflow into that area. The ashes were allowed to overflow there because they did not impede the movement of the Kohanim, since the Kohanim could still walk in the Amah of the Keranos area, stepping on or over the Keranos to get from one edge of the Mizbe'ach to the next.)
How high was the accumulation of ash on the top of the Mizbe'ach allowed to reach? The verse in Tehilim (118:27) says, "Bind up the offerings, up to the Keranos of the Mizbe'ach." The verse implies that the Korbanos burned on the Mizbe'ach were never piled higher than the height of the Keranos -- a height of one Amah (see Sukah 45b).
Now that we have determined that the surface of the Mizbe'ach measured 676 square Amos and that the ashes were never piled higher than one Amah, we can see that the maximum volume of ash on the Mizbe'ach was 676 cubic Amos. However, we know that there is a requirement to have a fire burning on the top of the Mizbe'ach at all times (see Vayikra 6:6). Allowing for a space of one square Amah to be left free of ash in order to allow the fire to continue burning on the roof of the Mizbe'ach (since the wood used for the Ma'arachah was one Amah by one Amah, as the Gemara in Zevachim 62b teaches) results in a maximum volume of 675 cubic Amos of ash, which is equal to 300 Kor of ash, as shown above! We find that once again the Mishnah does not choose a random number in its exaggerated account of the ashes on the Mizbe'ach, but rather it gives the exact number of Se'ah that could have accumulated in the theoretical maximum accumulation!
(d) Mr. Slutzkin added that the word which the Chachamim use to describe an exaggeration -- "Guzma" -- might be understood as an acronym for the words, "Gam Zo Mah" -- "This is also something." Even when the Chachamim exaggerated, they did so with an exact calculation in mind! (See Parshah Page, Terumah 5755; see also Insights to Shekalim 21:3 and Tamid 29:2.)