Arakhin 11b:17ערכין י״א ב:יז
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11bי״א ב

על עסקי קול רב אשי אמר מהכא (דה"ב ה, יג) ויהי כאחד למחצצרים ולמשוררים להשמיע קול אחד

This indicates that God responded to Moses, who was a Levite, by commanding him about matters pertaining to the voice, i.e., that the Levites must accompany the sacrifices with song. Rav Ashi says that the obligation for the Levites to sing in the Temple is derived from here: “It came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord” (II Chronicles 5:13). This indicates that just as there is a requirement for trumpets to be sounded during the sacrifice of communal offerings (see Numbers 10:10), there is likewise a requirement for the Levites to sing.

רבי יונתן אמר מהכא (במדבר יח, ג) ולא ימותו גם הם גם אתם מה אתם בעבודת מזבח אף הם בעבודת מזבח

Rabbi Yonatan says that the requirement for the Levites to sing in the Temple is derived from here: The Torah commands the priests with regard to the Levites: “They shall not come near the altar, that they die not, neither they nor you” (Numbers 18:3). The verse equates the Levites with the priests, indicating that just as you, the priests, are obligated to perform the service on the altar, so too they, the Levites, are obligated to perform a service pertaining to the altar, i.e., the song that accompanies the offerings.

תניא נמי הכי ולא ימותו גם הם גם אתם אתם בשלהם והם בשלכם במיתה הם בשלהם אינן במיתה אלא באזהרה

A derivation of halakhot based on the comparison between priests and Levites in this verse is also taught in a baraita: It is stated: “That they die not, neither they nor you.” This indicates that if you, the priests, perform their duties, i.e., the Levites’ duties, or they, the Levites, perform yours, e.g., the sacrificial rites, the perpetrator is liable to receive death at the hand of Heaven. But if they, the Levites, perform a function that belongs to a different group of Levites, but is nevertheless a duty of theirs, i.e., the Levites in general, e.g., if Levites assigned to open and close the gates of the Temple decide instead to sing, they are not punished with death; rather, they have merely violated a prohibition.

אמר אביי נקיטינן משורר ששיער בשל חבירו במיתה שנאמר (במדבר ג, לח) והחונים לפני המשכן קדמה לפני אהל מועד וגו' והזר הקרב יומת מאי זר אילימא זר ממש הכתיב חדא זימנא אלא לאו זר דאותה עבודה:

Abaye said: We hold that a Levite designated to serve as a singer who instead served in another Levite’s position as a gatekeeper is liable to be put to death, as it is stated: “And those that were to pitch tent before the Tabernacle eastward, before the Tent of Meeting toward the sunrising, were Moses and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the Sanctuary, for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that drew near was to be put to death” (Numbers 3:38). What is the meaning of the term “stranger” in this verse? If we say it is referring to an actual stranger, i.e., a non-Levite, isn’t it written already on another occasion that he is liable to be put to death (see Numbers 3:10)? Rather, this is not its meaning; instead, it is referring to one who is a Levite but is a stranger to that service.

מיתיבי משורר ששיער ומשוער ששורר אינן במיתה אלא באזהרה

The Gemara raises an objection to Abaye’s statement from a baraita: A singer who served as a gatekeeper and a gatekeeper who sang are not punished with death; rather, they have merely violated a prohibition.

תנאי היא דתניא מעשה בר' יהושע בר חנניה שהלך לסייע בהגפת דלתות אצל ר' יוחנן בן גודגדא אמר לו בני חזור לאחוריך שאתה מן המשוררים ולא מן המשוערים

The Gemara explains that this matter is a dispute between tanna’im, as it is taught in a baraita: There was an incident involving Rabbi Yehoshua bar Ḥananya, a Levite, who went to Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda, also a Levite, in order to assist in closing the doors of the Temple. Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda said to him: My son, go back, as you are among the singers and not among the gatekeepers.

מאי לאו בהא קמיפלגי דמר סבר מיתה היא וגזרו בה רבנן ומ"ס אזהרה היא ולא גזרו בה

The Gemara analyzes the baraita: What, is it not the case that these two Levite Sages disagree about this, that one Sage, Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda, holds that if a Levite who is a singer closes the gate by himself, it is a prohibition punishable by death, and therefore the Sages decreed that a Levite who is a singer should not even assist the gatekeepers in closing the gates; and one Sage, Rabbi Yehoshua bar Ḥananya, holds that it is a prohibition that is not punishable by death, and therefore the Sages did not decree that a Levite who is a singer should not assist the gatekeepers in closing the gates?

דכ"ע אזהרה היא מר סבר מסייע גזרו ביה רבנן ומר סבר לא גזרו ביה רבנן

The Gemara responds: No, that is not necessarily the correct analysis of the baraita. Rather, everyone agrees that one Levite performing another Levite’s task by himself is a prohibition that is not punishable by death. One Sage holds that the Sages nevertheless decreed that a Levite who is a singer should not even assist the gatekeepers, and one Sage holds that the Sages did not decree that a Levite who is a singer should not assist the gatekeepers in closing the gates.

בעי רבי אבין עולת נדבת ציבור טעונה שירה או אינה טעונה שירה {במדבר י } עולותיכם אמר רחמנא אחת עולת חובה ואחת עולת נדבה או דלמא עולותיכם דכולהו ישראל קאמר רחמנא

§ Rabbi Avin raises a dilemma: Does a communal voluntary burnt offering require an accompanying song or does it not require song? He explains the two sides of the dilemma: The Merciful One states in the Torah: “You shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings” (Numbers 10:10). Does the term “burnt offerings” include both an obligatory burnt offering and a voluntary burnt offering, or perhaps the Merciful One is saying that the trumpets and song must accompany the burnt offerings of the entire Jewish people, i.e., they must be burnt offerings that are an obligation of the people?

ת"ש (דה"ב כט, כז) ויאמר חזקיהו להעלות העולה (על המזבח) ובעת החל העולה החל שיר ה' והחצוצרות ע"י כלי (שיר) דוד מלך ישראל האי שירה מאי עבידתה אילימא דעולת חובה ל"ל אימלוכי אלא לאו דעולת נדבה

The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof from a verse: “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar, and when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, and the trumpets, together with the instruments of David king of Israel…And Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praises unto the Lord” (II Chronicles 29:27–30). The Gemara analyzes the description of this service: This song, what was its purpose? If we say that it accompanied an obligatory burnt offering that was brought on that day, why did they have to seek authorization from Hezekiah? Why did Hezekiah need to issue a specific command that they should accompany this offering with song? Rather, is it not the case that this song served to accompany the voluntary burnt offering that Hezekiah brought on that day?

א"ר יוסף לא עולת ראש חודש הוה וקא מיבעיא להו מי הוקבע ר"ח בזמנו דליקרב או לא

Rav Yosef said: No, that day was a New Moon, and it was the additional burnt offering of the New Moon, an obligatory burnt offering, that was accompanied by the song. As for the need for Hezekiah’s approval, the explanation is as follows: It was the thirtieth day following the previous New Moon, and they were asking him if the current New Moon was established in its time, i.e., on that day, so that the burnt offering of the New Moon should be sacrificed, or if the New Moon had not been declared on that day. Hezekiah clarified that the court had declared the New Moon, and therefore they should sacrifice the offering.

אמר ליה אביי ומי מצית אמרת הכי והכתיב (דה"ב כט, יז) ביום ששה עשר לחדש הראשון וגו' ויאמר חזקיהו להעלות העולה (על המזבח)

Abaye said to Rav Yosef: And how can you say that that day was the New Moon? Isn’t it written: “On the sixteenth day of the first month” (II Chronicles 29:17), and later, in that context, it states: “And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar”?

אלא אמר רמי בריה דרב ייבא כבש הבא עם העומר קמיבעיא להו מי קבע ר"ח בזמנו דליקריב או לא

Rather, Rami, son of Rav Yeiva, said: The question they were asking Hezekiah referred to the obligatory, communal burnt offering lamb that comes with the omer, i.e., the barley offering brought on the sixteenth of the first month, Nisan. They asked: Was the New Moon of Nisan established in its correct time, which means that it is now in fact the sixteenth of Nisan and the omer offering and the lamb brought with it should be sacrificed, or was it not really the sixteenth of Nisan?

מתקיף לה רב אויא וליחזי פסח היכי עביד מצה היכי אכיל

Rav Avya objects to this explanation: How is it possible that they were unsure whether it was the sixteenth of Nisan? Let them see how the Paschal offering was performed on the fourteenth of Nisan and how matza was eaten the following night. The day of the sixteenth of Nisan could easily be determined from when those mitzvot were performed.

אלא אמר רב אשי מידי דהוה אשליחא דציבורא דממליך השתא דאתית להכי אפילו תימא עולת חובה מידי דהוה אשליחא דציבורא דממליך

Rather, Rav Ashi said: They asked permission from Hezekiah before sacrificing the lamb that comes with the omer offering, just as it is with regard to a prayer leader, who, as a gesture of respect, asks permission from the congregation before leading them in prayer. Likewise, the people asked permission from Hezekiah as a formal gesture of respect, not because they required his advice. The Gemara notes: Now that you have arrived at this explanation, you may even say that it was a common obligatory burnt offering, e.g., the daily offering, and they asked permission of Hezekiah before sacrificing it, just as it is with regard to a prayer leader, who asks permission from the congregation before leading it in prayer.

ת"ש רבי יוסי אומר מגלגלין זכות ליום זכאי וחובה ליום חייב

The Gemara has still not proven whether or not a communal voluntary burnt offering must be accompanied with song. The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof from the following baraita. Rabbi Yosei says: A fortunate matter is brought about on an auspicious day, and a deleterious matter on an inauspicious day.

אמרו כשחרב הבית בראשונה אותו היום תשעה באב היה ומוצאי שבת היה ומוצאי שביעית היתה ומשמרתו של יהויריב היתה והיו כהנים ולוים עומדים על דוכנן ואומרים שירה ומה שירה אמרו (תהלים צד, כג) וישב עליהם את אונם וברעתם יצמיתם ולא הספיקו לומר יצמיתם ה' אלהינו עד שבאו אויבים וכבשום וכן בשניה

As the Sages said: When the Temple was destroyed for the first time, that day was the Ninth of Av, a date on which several calamities had already occurred; and it was the conclusion of Shabbat, i.e., it was on the day after Shabbat, a Sunday; and it was the year after a Sabbatical Year; and it was the week of the priestly watch of Jehoiarib; and the priests and Levites were standing on their platform and singing song. And what song were they singing? They were singing the verse: “And He brought upon them their own iniquity, and He will cut them off in their own evil” (Psalms 94:23). And they did not manage to recite the end of that verse: “The Lord our God will cut them off,” before gentiles came and conquered them. And likewise, the same happened when the Second Temple was destroyed.

האי שירה מאי עבידתיה אילימא דעולת חובה מי הואי בי"ז בתמוז בטל התמיד אלא לאו דעולת נדבה

The Gemara analyzes the baraita: This song, what was its purpose? If we say that it accompanied an obligatory burnt offering, was there any obligatory communal burnt offering sacrificed at that time? The daily offering had already ceased to be sacrificed, due to a lack of animals, on the seventeenth of Tammuz, three weeks before the Ninth of Av. Rather, is it not correct to say that this song accompanied a voluntary burnt offering?

ותסברא מ"ש דעולת חובה דלא הואי ומ"ש דעולת נדבה דהואי הא לא קשיא בן בקר אקראי בעלמא הוא דאיתרמיא להו

The Gemara asks: And can you understand this to be the case? What is different about an obligatory burnt offering, which was not sacrificed at this time because they did not have animals to bring, and what is different about a voluntary burnt offering, that it was sacrificed? Just as there were no animals available for obligatory offerings, there were none available for voluntary burnt offerings either. The Gemara answers: That is not difficult. A young bull, which cannot be sacrificed as the daily offering, for which lambs are required, happened to come into their possession merely by coincidence, and they sacrificed it as a voluntary burnt offering. This indicates that the Levites are required to sing as an accompaniment to the sacrifice of a communal voluntary burnt offering.

אמר רבא ואיתימא רב אשי ותסברא שירה דיומיה (תהלים כד, א) לה' הארץ ומלואה וישב עליהם את אונם בשיר דארבעה בשבת הוא אלא אילייא בעלמא הוא דנפל להו בפומייהו

Rava said, and some say Rav Ashi said: And how can you understand the description of the destruction cited in the baraita? The song of the day for Sunday, which is when the baraita says that the Temple was destroyed, is the psalm that begins: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). And yet the verse that the baraita says that the Levites were singing, “And He brought upon them their own iniquity,” is in the song for Wednesday, not the song for Sunday. Rather, it was merely a portentous lamentation [eiliyya] that came into their mouths, not an actual song recited over an offering.

והא עומדין על דוכנן קתני כדר"ל דאמר אומר שלא על הקרבן אי הכי בעולת נדבה נמי לימא נפיק מינה חורבא

The Gemara asks: But isn’t it taught in the baraita that the Levites were standing on their platform near the altar, which is where they stood when they sang to accompany offerings? The Gemara answers: This can be explained in accordance with the opinion of Reish Lakish, who says: The Levites are permitted to recite songs on the platform even when it is not for an offering. The Gemara asks: If so, if the Levites may recite songs on the platform at will, let them also recite a song for a voluntary burnt offering, even if it is not required. The Gemara answers: That could result in a mishap, as the Levites might assume that just as singing for a voluntary burnt offering is optional, so too singing for an obligatory burnt offering is also optional.

מאי הוה עלה ת"ש דתני רב מרי בריה דרב כהנא (במדבר י, י) על עולותיכם ועל זבחי שלמיכם

The question of whether a song must be recited for a communal voluntary burnt offering has still not been resolved. The Gemara asks: What came of it, i.e., what is the resolution to that question? The Gemara responds: Come and hear a proof, as Rav Mari, son of Rav Kahana, teaches that the verse: “You shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings” (Numbers 10:10), juxtaposes burnt offerings to peace offerings, which indicates that there is a relevant comparison between them with regard to the sounding of trumpets, and, by extension, to song.

מה עולה קודש קדשים אף שלמים קודש קדשים ומה שלמים קבוע להם זמן אף עולה קבוע לה זמן:

There are two conclusions that are to be drawn from this comparison: Just as the burnt offering is an offering of the most sacred order, so too, the peace offering that must be accompanied by song is one that is an offering of the most sacred order, and the only peace offering of this kind is the lambs that are brought together with the two loaves on Shavuot. And just as this peace offering has a set time when it must be brought, so too, the burnt offering that must be accompanied by song is one that has a set time, which excludes voluntary burnt offerings. Consequently, voluntary burnt offerings are not accompanied by song.