TalmuDigest

For the week ending 28 April 2012 / 5 Iyyar 5772

Me'ilah 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • The ban on me'ilah misuse of sacred property applies to sacrifices slaughtered in wrong place
  • Me'ilah in regard to the flesh of a sacrificial animal which died
  • Rabbi Yehoshua's basic principle for when me'ilah applies
  • Does me'ilah apply to sacrificial flesh which had a lapse in its kashrut before the blood was placed on the altar
  • The differences between the different kinds of sacrifices regarding me'ilah
  • Me'ilah in regard to the bird offered as a chatat sacrifice

Respect for What We Don't Understand

Me'ilah - the name of the Mesechta we begin this week - means transgressing by using for private purposes an animal, funds or any other property which has been consecrated for the use of the Beit Hamikdash.

One who transgresses by thus misappropriating even the value of a prutah must atone for his sin in the following way:

If he was aware that the property was sacred and intentionally misappropriated it, he is punished with flogging and he must repay the amount he took. If he was unaware that this was sacred property and mistakenly thought he was using his own, then he achieves atonement by repaying the amount taken and adding a chomesh (literally a fifth but since this means a fifth of the amount taken with the fifth added on, we would refer to it in our language as a fourth) and offering a ram as a korban asham me'ilah sacrifice.

Rambam, at the conclusion of his codification of the laws pertaining to this subject, draws this powerful lesson for us in how to relate to Torah statutes that defy our comprehension:

"It is proper for a person to ponder the laws of the Torah in order to comprehend them as much as he can. But he should not view disrespectfully those laws whose reasons he fails to grasp. His thoughts about them must not be like the thoughts one has of secular matters. Let us take a look at how severely the Torah deals with the transgressor of me'ilah. If sticks and stones, dust and ashes become sacred simply because the Name of G-d has been declared upon them, and anyone who utilizes them for a secular purpose has transgressed and requires atonement even if he did so involuntarily; how much more so is this true in regard to the commands which G-d legislated that one should not disrespectfully reject them just because he fails to understand the reason for them."

  • Me'ilah 2

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