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Yoma 19b - Tzedukkim and the ketores

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1 Yoma 19b - Tzedukkim and the ketores on Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:48 pm

The machlokes between the Sages and the Tzeddukim on when to burn the ketores is a very big deal. They were moser nefesh to do it their way, and we were moser nefesh to stop them - making the cohen gadol swear. I'm wondering, what are they arguing about? Is this just some technical detail, and a disagreement on the drashos?
Several points:
1) The simple reading of the verses is unmistakeably like the Chachamim (unlike my normal perception that people like the Tzeddukim are against תורה שבע"פ):

יב וְלָקַ֣ח מְלֹֽא־הַ֠מַּחְתָּ֠ה גַּֽחֲלֵי־אֵ֞שׁ מֵעַ֤ל הַמִּזְבֵּ֨חַ֙ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י ה' וּמְלֹ֣א חָפְנָ֔יו קְטֹ֥רֶת סַמִּ֖ים דַּקָּ֑ה וְהֵבִ֖יא מִבֵּ֥ית לַפָּרֹֽכֶת: יג וְנָתַ֧ן אֶת־הַקְּטֹ֛רֶת עַל־הָאֵ֖שׁ לִפְנֵ֣י ה' וְכִסָּ֣ה ׀ עֲנַ֣ן הַקְּטֹ֗רֶת אֶת־הַכַּפֹּ֛רֶת אֲשֶׁ֥ר עַל־הָֽעֵד֖וּת וְלֹ֥א יָמֽוּת
Is it not obvious that you go in first, then place the ketores on the fire? (Malbim, RSR Hirsch)
2) On the other hand, the position of the Tzeddukim seems perhaps more reasonable מסברא פשוטה. If you doubt my word, here's how they are quoted in the Sifra:

שהרי הצדוקים אומרים יתקן מבחוץ ויכניס מבפנים אם לפני בשר ודם עושים כן ק"ו לפני המקום
It seems to be logical to prepare first, then bring it in, rather than patchki-ing around before the king.

If so, and the Sifra doesn't argue the point, why then does the Torah tell us to do it differently? (Rav Hirsch has a lengthy explanation, and seems to think that the normal practice is irrelevant. But I'm looking for something simpler, if possible, and I'm not as sure as he is that one should just ignore their argument.)

Last edited by MichoelR on Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:12 pm; edited 1 time in total

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2 Re: Yoma 19b - Tzedukkim and the ketores on Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:09 pm

I'm wondering if one approach might work with the issue that I raised here
- the connections between Megillas Esther and Yoma. Esther tries to suggest to Mordechai that she wait to be brought in to the king. But Mordechai will have nothing of it. The Maharik in his Eshes Mashiach teshuva explains: people who are dragged in don't get to make requests! She must go in on her own.

Maybe we can say more: she must go in on her own, even though she wasn't invited. She must show the king that she is willing to come to him even when it isn't safe. She goes in, and she waits to see if he'll be merciful. That's the only way she can do it.

So too on Yom Kippur.
כִּ֚י בֶּֽעָנָ֔ן אֵֽרָאֶ֖ה עַל־הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת: ג בְּזֹ֛את יָבֹ֥א אַֽהֲרֹ֖ן אֶל־הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ
The Tzeddukim held that if you do that, you'll be safe. You have a cloud as your shield, so to speak. But that's not how it works. The cohen gadol has to acknowledge that he is completely dependent on Hashem's mercy; he must walk in without any shield. He is not allowed to be safe. If Hashem wants, he'll let him live to burn the ketores.

Note that the Tzedduki in the gemara was killed by a malach, by a blow to the back - "בין כתיפיו". His shield couldn't help him.

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3 Re: Yoma 19b - Tzedukkim and the ketores on Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:14 pm

Now that I'm up to the fifth perek, I'm actually seeing the tzeddukim's argument, used by the Chachamim! At the beginning of the perek, the gemara says that, even though the Torah says for the cohen gadol to bring in a chafnav (double handful) of keteros, he can't just bring it with his hands, he needs a kli ("kaf"). Because he must also bring in the firepan with coals, and what can he do? Pile it on top of the double-handful of ketores and bring it in that way (hopefully not burning himself)? But what will he do when he gets there (and needs to lower the fire-pan to the ground before putting the ketores on it?) How shall he do it, grab it with his teeth?! In front of an earthly king you would never do such a thing,...
Exact same argument. So it is a valid point, even though it can't overcome the pshuto shel mikra in our case.

Amazingly, this argument is completely ignored a little later in the perek (49b). There it brings an opinion that (even though we've decided at the beginning of the perek that the ketores is transferred from his double-handful to a kaf to bring it in), in the end it must be transfered back to his hands before putting it on the fire-pan. Not easy to do, given that the ketores is exactly the amount that fits in his hands.
Various choices are given: the gemara suggests holding it with his teeth, or (Rashi/Ritva) turning the handle of the kaf with his elbows to dump the contents into his hands. The Yerushalmi suggests turning it with his knees. Or - tossing the kaf into the air with a turn so that his hands catch the ketores!
Why do none of these have the problem we started with - you would never do this before an earthly king, ...!?

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4 Re: Yoma 19b - Tzedukkim and the ketores on Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:22 am

The gemara in Horiyos 4a defines an interesting category: דברים שהצדוקין מודין בו - things that the Tzeddukim would agree on. It says that a mistake by the Sanhedrin on such things wouldn't require a פר העלם דבר - because זיל קרי בי רב הוא - these are things that are explicit in the Torah, and people should not have relied on the Sanhedrin!
It sounds from this gemara that my initial impression was correct: Tzeddukim are assumed to agree with the simple p'shat of the Torah.

But I find all this very confusing: aside from the issue here, there is a much more serious issue that the careless Tzeddukim apparently missed entirely! I'm referring to the fact that the entire section is out of order, all based on (32a) Halacha l'Moshe b"Sinai that there have to be five tevilos (=five stages) in the avodah of the day. If they don't accept that, why weren't they moser nefesh to do it in order?

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