לא איצטריך קרא לרבויי כי איצטריך קרא לגיד הנשה במחובר
it was not necessary for the verse to include them. When a verse was necessary it was for the sciatic nerve that is still attached to the flesh. The term “it all” teaches that if the sciatic nerve is attached to the flesh it is brought up to the altar.
ורבנן (יחזקאל מה, טו) ממשקה ישראל מן המותר לישראל
And the Rabbis would explain their opinion based upon the verse: “And one lamb of the flock, out of two hundred, from the well-watered pastures [mimashke] of Israel; for a meal offering, and for a burnt offering, and for peace offerings, to make atonement for them, says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 45:15). Since the term mashke also means beverage, which is consumed, the verse is interpreted to mean that offerings may be sacrificed only from that which is permitted to the Jewish people for consumption. Since the sciatic nerve is not permitted for consumption, it may not be sacrificed on the altar. Consequently, the term “it all” is understood to include sinews and bones even if they have become detached from the flesh.
ורבי מידי דהוה אחלב ודם ורבנן מצותן בכך שאני
And Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would respond that a sciatic nerve that is attached to the flesh may be brought up to the altar, just as it is permitted to sacrifice forbidden fat and blood upon the altar even though they are forbidden for consumption. And the Rabbis would say that forbidden fat and blood are different, because the Torah explicitly states that their mitzva is to be offered on the altar in this way, whereas the Torah never mandates the sacrifice of the sciatic nerve upon the altar. According to Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak, Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Yosef agrees with Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi that the sciatic nerve is offered upon the altar together with the rest of the animal, whereas Rabbi Yoḥanan holds in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis that the sciatic nerve is not offered upon the altar.
אמר רב הונא גיד הנשה של עולה חולצו לתפוח אמר רב חסדא מרי דיכי מי כתיב על כן לא יאכל המזבח (בראשית לב, לג) על כן לא יאכלו בני ישראל כתיב
§ The Gemara cites another discussion with regard to the sciatic nerve of a burnt offering. Rav Huna says: The sciatic nerve of a burnt offering is not placed upon the altar with the rest of the animal. Rather, one removes it and places it on the circular mound of ashes in the center of the altar. Rav Ḥisda said: Master of this [mari dikhi] ruling! Is it written in the Torah: Therefore the altar does not consume the sciatic nerve? This would indicate that it is prohibited to sacrifice the sciatic nerve on the altar. Rather, it is written: “Therefore the children of Israel eat not the sciatic nerve” (Genesis 32:33).
ורב הונא ממשקה ישראל מן המותר לישראל
And Rav Huna holds that the phrase: “From the well-watered pastures of Israel,” indicates that offerings may be sacrificed only from that which is permitted to the Jewish people. Since the sciatic nerve is not permitted for consumption, it may not be sacrificed upon the altar.
מיתיבי גיד הנשה של שלמים מכבדו לאמה ושל עולה מעלהו מאי לאו מעלהו ומקטירו
The Gemara raises an objection to Rav Huna’s opinion. It is taught in a baraita: What should one do with the sciatic nerve of a peace offering, since the meat of the offering must be eaten but the sciatic nerve is forbidden? One sweeps it to the Temple courtyard drain. And in the case of the sciatic nerve of a burnt offering, one brings it up to the altar. The Gemara comments: What, is it not that the baraita means that he brings it up to the altar and burns it with the rest of the animal, which contradicts the statement of Rav Huna?
לא מעלהו וחולצו ומאחר שחולצו למה מעלהו משום שנאמר (מלאכי א, ח) הקריבהו נא לפחתך
The Gemara responds: No, the baraita means that he brings it up to the altar and removes it from the thigh before placing the thigh on the fire. The Gemara asks: But since he removes it from the thigh, why does he bring it up to the altar? The Gemara answers that one cannot bring the thigh up to the altar after the sciatic nerve has been removed because it is stated with regard to one who sacrifices offerings that are damaged or unattractive: “Present it now unto your governor; will he be pleased with you, or will he accept your person? says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:8). Consequently, the leg of the animal must be brought up to the altar while it is whole, and the sciatic nerve must be removed on top of the altar.
תניא כוותיה דרב הונא גיד הנשה של שלמים מכבדו לאמה ושל עולה חולצו לתפוח
It is taught in a baraita in accordance with the opinion of Rav Huna: With regard to the sciatic nerve of a peace offering, one sweeps it into the Temple courtyard drain; and with regard to the sciatic nerve of a burnt offering, one removes it and places it on the circular mound of ashes in the center of the altar.
תנן התם תפוח היה באמצע המזבח פעמים היה עליו כשלש מאות כור אמר רבא גוזמא
We learned in a mishna there (Tamid 28b): There was a circular mound of ashes in the center of the altar, and sometimes there was as much as three hundred kor of ashes upon it. Rava said: This description is an exaggeration [guzma]; the tanna means merely that there was a significant quantity of ashes.
השקו את התמיד בכוס של זהב אמר רבא גוזמא
Similarly, it is taught in a mishna (Tamid 30a) that before slaughtering the daily offering the priests gave the lamb selected for the daily offering water to drink in a golden cup, in order to render the animal easier to flay after slaughter. With regard to this mishna, Rava said: It is an exaggeration, as the priests did not actually let the animal drink from a golden vessel.
אמר רבי אמי דברה תורה לשון הואי דברו נביאים לשון הואי דברו חכמים לשון הואי דברו חכמים לשון הואי הא דאמרן
The Gemara provides other examples of statements not meant literally. Rabbi Ami says: In some instances, the Torah spoke employing exaggerated [havai] language, the Prophets spoke employing exaggerated language, and the Sages spoke employing exaggerated language. The fact that the Sages spoke employing exaggerated language is evident from that which we stated above, concerning the mound of ashes and the lamb of the daily offering.
דברה תורה לשון הואי (דברים א, כח) ערים גדולות ובצורות בשמים דברו נביאים לשון הואי (מלכים א א, מ) ותבקע הארץ לקולם
The Torah spoke employing exaggerated language, as it is written: “Hear, Israel: You are passing over the Jordan this day, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven” (Deuteronomy 9:1), whereas the fortifications obviously did not actually reach up to heaven. The Prophets spoke employing exaggerated language, as it is written with regard to the coronation of King Solomon: “And all the people came up after him, and the people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth rent with the sound of them” (I Kings 1:40), where the verse means merely that the sound was very loud.
אמר ר' יצחק בר נחמני אמר שמואל בשלשה מקומות דברו חכמים לשון הואי אלו הן תפוח גפן ופרוכת תפוח הא דאמרן
Rabbi Yitzḥak bar Naḥmani says that Shmuel says: In three places the Sages spoke in exaggerated language, and they are with regard to the circular mound of ashes on the altar; the vine; and the Curtain separating the Sanctuary and Holy of Holies. The case of the circular mound of ashes is that which we said.
גפן דתנן גפן של זהב היתה עומדת על פתחו של היכל ומודלה על גבי כלונסות וכל מי שהיה מתנדב גרגיר או אשכול מביא ותולה בה אמר רבי אלעזר ברבי צדוק מעשה היה ונמנו עליה שלש מאות כהנים לפנותה
The case of the vine is as we learned in a mishna (Middot 36a): A golden ornament in the form of a vine was standing at the entrance to the Sanctuary, and it was hung upon poles. And whoever would donate an ornamental golden leaf, grape, or cluster of grapes to the Temple would bring it to the Temple and hang it upon the vine. Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Tzadok, said: There was once an incident, and three hundred priests were enlisted to move the vine because of its immense weight. According to Shmuel, this description is also an exaggeration.
פרוכת דתנן רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר משום רבי שמעון הסגן פרוכת עוביה טפח ועל שבעים ושנים נירים נארגת ועל כל נימה ונימה עשרים וארבעה חוטין ארכה ארבעים באמה ורחבה עשרים באמה ומשמונים ושתי רבוא נעשת ושתים עושים בשנה ושלש מאות כהנים מטבילין אותה:
The case of the Curtain is as we learned in a mishna (Shekalim 8:2): Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says in the name of Rabbi Shimon, the deputy High Priest: The Curtain is the thickness of a handbreadth [tefaḥ]. It is woven from seventy-two strands [nirim] of yarn, and each and every strand [nima] of those seventy-two is made from twenty-four threads consisting of six threads each of sky-blue wool, purple wool, scarlet wool, and fine linen. Its length is forty cubits, the height of the Sanctuary, and its width is twenty cubits, the width of the entrance. And it is made from eighty-two ten-thousands, i.e., 820,000 dinars. And the overseers of the Temple make two new Curtains every year. And the Curtain was so heavy that when it was immersed, three hundred priests would immerse it.
בירך של ימין ובירך של שמאל: מתני׳ לא כרבי יהודה דתניא רבי יהודה אומר אינו נוהג אלא באחת והדעת מכרעת את של ימין
§ The mishna teaches that the prohibition of the sciatic nerve applies to the thigh of the right leg and to the thigh of the left leg. The Gemara says: The mishna is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda says: The prohibition of the sciatic nerve applies only to the sciatic nerve in one of the animal’s thighs, and logic dictates that it is the right thigh.
איבעיא להו מיפשט פשיטא ליה לרבי יהודה ומאי דעת דעת תורה או דלמא ספוקי מספקא ליה ומאי דעת דעת נוטה
A dilemma was raised before the Sages: Is it obvious to Rabbi Yehuda that the prohibition applies only to the sciatic nerve in the right thigh, and accordingly, what does he mean when he says that logic dictates? He means the logic of the Torah. Or perhaps he is uncertain as to whether it applies only to the right thigh or only to the left, and accordingly, what does he mean when he says that logic dictates? He means that logic inclines one to believe that the prohibition applies to the right thigh.
ת"ש העצמות והגידים והנותר ישרפו לששה עשר והוינן בה הני גידי מאי עבידתייהו אי גידי בשר ליכלינהו ואי דאייתור היינו נותר אלא גידי צואר אי לאו בשר נינהו לישדינהו
The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a resolution based upon the following mishna (Pesaḥim 83a): The bones of the Paschal offering that contain edible marrow but cannot be eaten because it is prohibited to break the bones of the Paschal offering; and the sinews; and the leftover meat should all be burned on the sixteenth of Nisan, not on the fifteenth, the first day of Passover. And we discussed it: What are the circumstances in which these sinews must be burned? If we say they are sinews of meat, let one eat them. Why are they burned? And if they are sinews that were left over and not eaten, that is the case of leftover meat; why does the mishna list sinews separately? Rather, the mishna is referring to sinews of the neck, which are different from other sinews and are therefore mentioned separately. But if they are not meat, why do they require burning? Let one simply discard them like other waste.
ואמר רב חסדא לא נצרכא אלא לגיד הנשה ואליבא דרבי יהודה דאמר אינו נוהג אלא באחת
And Rav Ḥisda said: The mishna’s mention of sinews is necessary only in order to teach the halakha of the sciatic nerve, and in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who said: The prohibition of the sciatic nerve applies only to the sciatic nerve in one of the animal’s thighs, and not to both.
אי אמרת בשלמא ספוקי מספקא ליה שפיר אלא אי אמרת מיפשט פשיטא ליה דהיתירא ליכליה דאיסורא לשדייה
The Gemara explains how this resolves the dilemma: Granted if you say that Rabbi Yehuda is uncertain as to whether it is the sciatic nerve of the right or the left thigh, it works out well. Since it is uncertain which thigh may be eaten, one may not eat either of them, and one must burn each of them on the sixteenth due to the possibility that it was the permitted one and now has the status of leftover meat. But if you say that it is obvious to Rabbi Yehuda that the sciatic nerve of only the right thigh is forbidden, let him eat the sciatic nerve of the permitted left thigh, and let him throw away only the sciatic nerve of the forbidden right thigh. Neither one should be burned.
אמר רב איקא בר חנינא לעולם אימא לך מיפשט פשיטא ליה והכא במאי עסקינן כשהוכרו ולבסוף נתערבו
The Gemara responds: Rav Ika bar Ḥanina said: Actually I could say to you that it is obvious to Rabbi Yehuda that the sciatic nerve of only the right thigh is forbidden. Nevertheless, here we are dealing with a case where the sciatic nerves were identified and removed, but ultimately the sciatic nerves became intermingled and one cannot tell which is from the right thigh and which is from the left thigh. Consequently, they must both be left over until the next day and then burned.