ולדורות מנלן אמר קרא (במדבר ג, יב) והיו לי הלוים והיו בהווייתן יהו The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that the priests and Levites are exempt from their offspring being counted a firstborn for all generations? The Gemara answers that the verse states: “And the Levites shall be Mine” (Numbers 3:12). The term “shall be” indicates that they shall be, i.e., shall remain, in their current state of sanctity. Just as firstborn status did not apply to the priests or the Levites in the wilderness, it does not apply to priests or Levites in subsequent generations.
וממאי דבשה אמר רב חסדא נאמר כסף לדורות ונאמר שה לדורות § Rav Safra (4a) referred to the fact that the sanctity of the firstborn donkeys of the Israelites was abrogated by the lambs of the Levites. The Gemara asks: From where is it derived that this abrogation was accomplished with a lamb? Rav Ḥisda says: The word “silver” is stated with regard to the redemption of a woman’s firstborn son for later generations in the verse: “And their redemption money…shall be, according to your valuation, five shekels of silver” (Numbers 18:16). And in addition, the word “lamb” is stated with regard to the redemption of a firstborn donkey for later generations in the verse: “And every firstborn donkey you shall redeem with a lamb” (Exodus 13:13).
מה כסף האמור לדורות בו פדו לדורות בו פדו לאותה שעה אף שה האמור לדורות בו פדו לדורות בו פדו באותה שעה Therefore, one can derive that just as concerning silver, which was mentioned with regard to later generations, the Israelites redeemed with it in later generations and they also redeemed with it at that time, as the surplus firstborn in the wilderness were redeemed with five shekels (see Numbers 3:47), so too concerning the lamb, which was mentioned with regard to later generations, they redeemed with it in later generations, and they redeemed with it at that time.
מה לכסף שכן פודין בו הקדשות ומעשר שני The Gemara rejects the comparison: What is notable about silver? It is notable in that it is also used for redemption in other cases, as one can redeem consecrated property and second-tithe produce with it, which is not the halakha with regard to lambs.
אלא אמר קרא (במדבר יח, טו) אך פדה תפדה את בכור האדם ואת בכור הבהמה הטמאה תפדה מה בכור אדם לא חלקת בין לדורות בין לאותה שעה בכסף אף בהמה טמאה לא תחלוק בו בין לדורות בין לאותה שעה בשה Rather, it can be derived from the fact that the verse states: “Yet you shall redeem the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of non-kosher animals you shall redeem” (Numbers 18:15). The juxtaposition of the two cases demonstrates that just as with regard to a woman’s firstborn son you have not distinguished between the halakha for later generations and the halakha for that time, as the redemption is performed with silver in both cases, so too, with regard to the redemption of a non-kosher animal, you should not distinguish between the halakha for later generations and for that time, as it must be performed with a lamb in both situations.
אמר ר' חנינא שה אחד של בן לוי פטר כמה פטרי חמורים מישראל אמר אביי תדע שהרי מנה הכתוב עודפים באדם ולא מנה עודפין בבהמה § The Gemara resumes its discussion of the procedure for the redemption of the firstborn donkeys in the wilderness: Rabbi Ḥanina says that one lamb of a Levite in the wilderness rendered several firstborn donkeys of the Israelites exempt from the obligations of firstborn status. Abaye says: Know that this is so, as the verse enumerates the surplus of firstborn humans when it says that there were 273 more firstborn Israelites than Levites who needed to be redeemed with silver (see Numbers 3:46); but the verse does not enumerate any surplus of Israelite animals.
ממאי דילמא לא הוי נפישי להו בהמות טובא לא ס"ד דכתיב (במדבר לב, א) ומקנה רב היה לבני ראובן ולבני גד The Gemara asks: From where is this proven? Perhaps the Israelites did not have many animals, and their firstborn donkeys did not outnumber the lambs of the Levites. The Gemara answers: Do not let this possibility enter your mind, as it is written: “Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of livestock” (Numbers 32:1).
דילמא אפילו הכי פשוטים דלוים הוו קיימי לבהדי בכורי ישראל אמר קרא (במדבר ג, מה) ואת בהמת הלוים תחת בהמתם בהמה אחת תחת בהמות הרבה The Gemara challenges: Perhaps even so, the number of ordinary animals of the Levites that were not firstborn corresponded to the number of firstborn animals belonging to the Israelites. The Gemara explains that the verse states: “Take the Levites in exchange for all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the animal of [behemat] the Levites in exchange for their animals [behemtam]” (Numbers 3:45). The use of the word behemat in the singular indicates that the transaction involved one animal of the Levites in exchange for many animals of the Israelites.
ואימא (יונה ד, יא) בהמה רבה א"כ ליכתוב קרא או בהמה תחת בהמה או בהמתם תחת בהמתם מאי בהמת תחת בהמתם ש"מ חד פטר טובא The Gemara asks: And say the word behemat is referring to many animals, as in the phrase: “And many animals [uvhema rabba]” (Jonah 4:11). The Gemara answers: If so, let the verse write either: Behema of the Levites in exchange for behema, or: Behemtam in exchange for behemtam. What is the significance of the phrase “behemat the Levites in exchange for behemtam”? Learn from it that one lamb of a Levite rendered many donkeys of Israelites exempt.
אמר רבא אף אנן נמי תנינא ופודה בו פעמים הרבה ור' חנינא טעמא דמתני' מפרש והכי קאמר מאי טעמא פודה בו פעמים הרבה משום דשה אחד של בן לוי פוטר כמה פטרי חמורים של ישראל Rava said: We learn in a mishna (9a), as well, a support for Rabbi Ḥanina’s statement: And if the priest returns the lamb to him, he may redeem firstborn donkeys with it many times if he repurchases the lamb from the priest each time upon redeeming a donkey. And actually, Rabbi Ḥanina is not offering his own opinion, but is rather explaining the reasoning of the mishna, and this is what he is saying: What is the reason that the owner may redeem firstborn donkeys with the same lamb many times? It is because one lamb of a Levite renders exempt several firstborn donkeys belonging to an Israelite.
איתמר ר' יוחנן אמר קדשו בכורות במדבר וריש לקיש אמר לא קדשו בכורות במדבר § It was stated with regard to the sanctity of the firstborn in the wilderness: Rabbi Yoḥanan says that both firstborn animals and firstborn sons born in the wilderness were sanctified, and Reish Lakish says: The firstborn that were born in the wilderness were not sanctified.
ר' יוחנן אמר קדשו בכורות במדבר דרחמנא אמר ליקדשו כדכתיב (שמות יג, ב) קדש לי כל בכור The Gemara explains the reason for each opinion: Rabbi Yoḥanan says that the firstborn that were born in the wilderness were sanctified, since the Merciful One states they should be sanctified, as it is written prior to the Jews leaving Egypt: “Sanctify to Me all the firstborn” (Exodus 13:2).
וריש לקיש אמר לא קדשו בכורות במדבר מדכתיב (שמות יג, ה) והיה כי יביאך וכתיב בתריה והעברת מכלל דמעיקרא לא קדוש And Reish Lakish says: Although the firstborn in Egypt were sanctified, the firstborn that were born in the wilderness were not sanctified, as it is written: “And it shall be when the Lord shall bring you into the land of the Canaanites” (Exodus 13:11), and it is written afterward: “And you shall set apart all firstborn of the womb to the Lord” (Exodus 13:12). By inference, it can be derived that initially, before the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, those that were born in the wilderness were not sanctified.
איתיביה רבי יוחנן לריש לקיש עד שלא הוקם המשכן היו במות מותרות ועבודה בבכורות אמר ליה באותן שיצאו ממצרים Rabbi Yoḥanan raised an objection to the opinion of Reish Lakish from a mishna (Zevaḥim 112b): Until the Tabernacle was established, private altars were permitted and the sacrificial service was performed by the firstborn. Clearly, then, the firstborn in the wilderness were sanctified. Reish Lakish said to him: That mishna is referring to those firstborn who left Egypt, who performed the sacrificial service, and not to the ones born in the wilderness.
הכי נמי מסתברא דאי לא תימא הכי בן שנה בר מיעבד עבודה הוא The Gemara comments: This too stands to reason, as if you do not say so, is an infant in its first year capable of performing the sacrificial service? Since the Tabernacle was established only a year after the Jewish people left Egypt, clearly the firstborn who performed the sacrificial service at that time were born in Egypt.
ודקארי לה מאי קארי לה The Gemara asks: And he who asked it, why did he ask it? Isn’t it obvious that the firstborn born in Egypt performed the sacrificial service in the first years of the Tabernacle?
הכי קא קשיא ליה אי אמרת בשלמא דלא פסיק קדושתייהו הנך דמעיקרא נמי לא פקעא קדושתייהו אלא אי אמרת דפסק קדושתייה הנך דמעיקרא נמי פקעא ליה קדושתייהו The Gemara answers: This was his difficulty: Granted, if you say that the sanctity of the firstborn did not cease from the time that the mitzva of: “Sanctify to Me all the firstborn” (Exodus 13:2), was given in Egypt, and those born in the wilderness were also sanctified, then with regard to these firstborn who were originally in Egypt, their sanctity also did not lapse. Therefore, they could perform the sacrificial service in the first years of the Tabernacle. But if you say that the sanctity of the firstborn ceased and the firstborn born in the wilderness were not sanctified, then with regard to these firstborn that were originally born in Egypt, their sanctity also lapsed.
ואידך דקדוש קדוש דלא קדוש לא קדוש And the other amora, Reish Lakish, responded: No proof may be derived from here, as those who were sanctified in Egypt were sanctified and did not then lose their sanctity in the wilderness, while those who were not sanctified in Egypt were not sanctified in the wilderness.
איתיביה אותו היום שהוקם המשכן קרבו להם בישראל נדרים ונדבות חטאות ואשמות בכורות ומעשרות הכי נמי באותן שיצאו ממצרים ומינה אותו היום הוא דקרוב מיכן ואילך לא קרוב Rabbi Yoḥanan raised an objection to the opinion of Reish Lakish from a baraita: On the same day that the Tabernacle was established, many types of offerings were sacrificed by the Jewish people, including vow offerings and gift offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings, kosher firstborn animal offerings and animal tithe offerings. If firstborn animal offerings were sacrificed in the wilderness, then evidently the firstborn animals were sanctified in the wilderness. Reish Lakish answered him: This is referring also to those firstborn animals that left Egypt and were already sanctified there. The Gemara comments: And it may be understood from the baraita itself that the opinion of Reish Lakish is correct, as one can infer from it: That day is when the firstborn were sacrificed, but beyond that they were not sacrificed.
איכא דאמרי איתיביה ריש לקיש לר' יוחנן אותו היום שהוקם המשכן קרבו להם ישראל נדרים ונדבות חטאות ואשמות בכורות ומעשרות אותו היום אין מיכן ואילך לא אימא מאותו היום ואילך There are those who say the discussion proceeded as follows: Reish Lakish raised an objection to the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan: On the same day that the Tabernacle was established, many types of offerings were sacrificed by the Jewish people, including vow offerings and gift offerings, sin offerings and guilt offerings, kosher firstborn animal offerings and animal tithe offerings. It may be inferred that on that day, yes, the firstborn animals were sacrificed, but beyond that the firstborn animals were not sacrificed, indicating that the male firstborn animals in the wilderness were not sanctified. The Gemara responds: One can say that the baraita means that from that day onward, all of those offerings were sacrificed.
ומאי קמשמע לן מאותו היום אין מעיקרא לא אלמא חובות בבמה לא קרוב The Gemara asks: And what, then, is the baraita teaching us? The Gemara answers: It is teaching that from that day onward, yes, the Jewish people brought those offerings, but initially, prior to the establishment of the Tabernacle, they were not brought. Evidently, obligatory offerings such as these were not sacrificed on a private altar; only voluntary offerings were sacrificed on such altars.
תא שמע נמצאת אתה אומר בשלשה מקומות קדשו בכורות לישראל במצרים ובמדבר ובכניסתן ישראל לארץ במצרים מהו אומר (שמות יג, ב) קדש לי כל בכור במדבר הוא אומר (במדבר ח, יז) כי לי כל בכור בבני ישראל בכניסתם לארץ הוא אומר והיה כי יביאך והעברת The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a proof for the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan from a baraita: You are found to be saying that the firstborn of the Jewish people were sanctified in three locations: In Egypt, and in the wilderness, and upon the entry of the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael. In Egypt, what does the verse state? “Sanctify to Me all the firstborn” (Exodus 13:2). In the wilderness, the verse states: “For all the firstborn among the children of Israel are Mine” (Numbers 8:17). With regard to their entry into Eretz Yisrael, the verse states: “And it shall be when the Lord shall bring you into the land of the Canaanites…and you shall set apart all firstborn of the womb to the Lord” (Exodus 13:11–12). This baraita indicates that the firstborn born in the wilderness were sanctified.
אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק בשלשה מקומות הוזהרו על הבכורות ליקדש ולא קדשו ובמצרים נמי לא קדוש הא קאמרי' דקדוש ה"ק מהן קדשו ומהן לא קדשו The Gemara rejects this proof. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: The baraita means that the Jewish people were commanded in three locations with regard to the firstborn, that is, to sanctify them, but they did not sanctify them in practice. The Gemara asks: But according to this, were they not sanctified in Egypt either? Didn’t we say that they were sanctified even according to Reish Lakish? The Gemara answers: This is what the tanna is saying: They were commanded in three locations to sanctify the firstborn. In some of those cases, i.e., in Egypt and in Eretz Yisrael, they sanctified them, and in some of them, i.e., in the wilderness, they did not sanctify them.
מתקיף לה רב פפא ובמדבר לא קדשו והכתיב (במדבר ג, מ) פקוד כל בכור זכר לבני ישראל אלא אי איתמר הכי איתמר רבי יוחנן אמר קדשו ולא פסקו וריש לקיש אמר קדשו Rav Pappa objects to this: And did they not sanctify them in the wilderness? But isn’t it written: “Count all the firstborn males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward” (Numbers 3:40), a commandment that was fulfilled (see Numbers 3:42)? The firstborn referred to certainly include those born in the wilderness, as this counting occurred in the second year after the exodus from Egypt. Rather, if a dispute between Rabbi Yoḥanan and Reish Lakish was stated with regard to this matter, it was stated like this: Rabbi Yoḥanan says the firstborn that were born in the wilderness were sanctified and their sanctity did not cease, and Reish Lakish says they were sanctified only until the time of the counting referred to above,