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Sprinkling the Blood of a Blemished Animal on the Altar

Sprinkling the Blood of a Blemished Animal on the Altar

Negative Commandment 93

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And the 93rd prohibition is that we are forbidden from sprinkling the blood of a blemished animal on the altar.

The source of this prohibition is G‑d's additional statement1 regarding blemished animals, "Do not offer them to G‑d."

The Oral Tradition explains that this prohibition forbids sprinkling the blood of blemished animals. This is the first opinion quoted [in the Talmudic passage], and is the final conclusion. R. Yossi the son of R. Yehudah, however, says that it prohibits receiving the blood [in a pan immediately after slaughter]. This corresponds to the statement of the Sifra, "The verse, 'Do not offer them to G‑d' means that you may not receive the blood."

Our Sages said in tractate Temurah,2 "According to the first opinion quoted, what is the meaning of the verse, 'Do not offer them to G‑d'? [If he holds] it teaches that you may not sprinkle the blood — didn't he derive this from the phrase,3 'on the altar'?!"

The meaning of this objection is that the verse, "Do not place any of them on the altar as a burnt-offering to G‑d," implies that anything that is placed on the altar may not come from [blemished animals].4

The answer is given, "It is normal for Scripture to speak in this way."

This means that the prohibition, "Do not place any of them on the altar as a burnt-offering" comes only to prohibit burning the fats. Nothing additional can be derived from the phrase, "on the altar" because the verse would not make sense without them. How else could it have been written? To write, "Do not place any of them as a burnt-offering" [leaving out "on the altar"] would leave the statement incomplete!

From this discussion it is clear that the verse, "Do not offer th

FOOTNOTES
1.

Ibid., 22:24. All three verses (Lev. 22:20,22,24) all use the same phrase "Do not offer" (lo takrivu).

2.

7a. The following discussion from tractate Temurah demonstrates that the prohibition involves sprinkling the blood, not receiving the blood.

After an animal is designated as a sacrifice, it is slaughtered, its blood is received in a vessel and then sprinkled on the altar. In addition, certain fats (cheilev) are burned on top of the altar.

If the animal was blemished, there are separate prohibitions for the designation (N91), slaughter (N92), and burning (N94). The question here is what does our verse (Lev. 22:24) come to prohibit, receiving the blood or sprinkling the blood.

The Talmud first tries to say that the verse must refer to both, because if it only meant the fats, it could have omitted the words, "on the altar." This phrase, the Talmud suggests, must come to include something that is placed "on the altar" but not burnt, i.e. the blood. And if this verse prohibits sprinkling blood, then our verse, "Do not offer them to G‑d" is extra — and can therefore serve as a source to prohibit receiving the blood.

The Talmud concludes that the phrase "on the altar" is not extra, and therefore sprinkling the blood must be learned from our verse, "Do not offer them to G‑d." Since it needs a separate verse, sprinkling the blood must be counted as a separate mitzvah.

3.

Lev. 22:22. See N94.

4.

Without the words, "on the altar," the verse clearly prohibits burning parts of the offering. The attempt here is to portray these words "on the altar" as teaching us something additional, i.e. that the blood may not be sprinkled, since it is also placed "on the altar."

Rabbi Berel Bell is a well-known educator, author and lecturer. He and his family reside in Montreal, Canada.
From "Sefer Hamitzvot in English," published by Sichos in English.
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