This baraita proves that the watches share the showbread on the festivals.
The Torah states that the priests shall receive equal portion of their dues, meaning of the sacrificial food. This means that since they offer the sacrifices equally, they share the proceeds. The question is—to what does this refer? We already know from Leviticus that when a priest offers a sacrifice, it is his right to eat it. So what more could we learn from the verse in Deuteronomy. The answer is that it refers to the showbread.
Now the showbread is a weekly offering. It is not connected to the festival at all. We might have thought that just as all priests share the showbread during the festival, so too they share all offerings that are offered on the festivals, even those that are not connected to the festivals. This would include voluntary offerings that people happen to bring during that week. The answer is midrashically derived from the next verse. The Torah says that all of the priests share only to that which has been sold according to their fathers’ houses. What they sold to the other is basically the system of watches, whereby one watch serves this week, receives all of the sacrifices, and in return, allows the other watches to serve in other weeks and receive all of the sacrifices then. This means that any sacrifice except for the showbread that does not come because of the festival, is taken by that week’s watch.
Today’s sugya discusses the order of the blessings recited when we first enter the sukkah.
This amoraic debate is over which blessing is said first—”who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the Sukkah” or “who has kept us alive and brought us to this day” (shehehiyanu). According to Rav we first recite the blessing over the sukkah because that is the obligation of the day, and the obligation of the day always takes precedence. According to Rabbah b. Bar Hannah we first recite the blessing over the season because it is recited more frequently than the blessing over the sukkah and there is general halakhic principle that whatever is performed more frequently is performed first.
The Talmud now tries to establish a parallel between the dispute concerning the two blessings recited upon entering the Sukkah and the dispute between Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel concerning the two blessings that constitute Kiddush. Bet Shammai holds that one first recites the blessing over the day (mekadesh hashabbat/hazemanim) and then the blessing over the wine (bore peri hagafen) because the important occasion of the holy day is what causes the wine to be drunk. This is similar to Rav who holds that the blessing over the sukkah comes first due to its importance.
Bet Hillel holds that we first recite the blessing over the wine because it is more frequent. This is similar to Rabbah b. Bar Hannah who said the exact same thing with regard to the blessings of the sukkah. First the shehehiyanu, which is more frequently recited, then the blessing over the sukkah.
Tomorrow’s section will reject this parallel. We should note that whenever the Talmud says, “shall we say X” it is always rejected. So stay tuned!
Today’s section is a direct continuation of yesterday’s comparison of the debate between Rav and Rabbah b. Bar Hannah over the order of blessings made in the sukkah with Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel’s dispute over the order of blessings of Kiddush.
Rav said that we recite the blessing over the festival first and then the blessing over the season, whereas Bet Hillel said that when it comes to Kiddush, the blessing over the wine is first and then the sanctification of the day. These positions seem to differ. However, Rav claims that Bet Hillel made his statement only with regard to Kiddush, where the wine is the mechanism through which Kiddush (the sanctification of the day) is recited. No wine, no Kiddush. In contrast, the blessing over the sukkah is independent from the blessing over the season. It is recited even on subsequent days, when no blessing over the season. Therefore, it comes first.
Rabbah b. Bar Hannah says that the blessing over the season comes first and then the blessing over the day. He could claim that Bet Shammai who says that the blessing over the day comes first could agree with him in the case of the sukkah that the blessing of the season is first. Bet Shammai says that the blessing over the day comes first because it is the reason that we drink the wine. No festival/Shabbat, no wine. In contrast, even if one didn’t have a sukkah, he’d still have to recite the blessing over the season. Therefore, the two are independent, and even Bet Shammai could agree that first the blessing over the season is recited and then the blessing over the day.
The Talmud now raises a difficulty on Rav. On Shavuot there are both the regular showbread which comes in the form of matzah and the leavened bread of the two special loaves for Shavuot. The leavened bread is the essential main sacrifice of the festival, yet the matzah of the regular showbread is mentioned first when both breads are divvied out to the priests. This is a difficulty for Rav who holds that the blessing over the day comes first because that is the main feature of the day.
Rav resolves the difficulty upon him by referring to a baraita in which there is a tannaitic debate over which comes first—the matzah or the unleavened bread. Rav would hold like Abba Shaul who says that they first mentioned the leavened bread, the special sacrifice for Shavuot.
Here there is a dispute among later amoraim as to the order of the berakhot. The sugya concludes with a ruling that first we recite the blessing over the Sukkah (leshev basukkah) and then the blessing over the season (shehehiyanu). That is the way the practice remains to this day.
This short section deals with the sacrifices divvied up the watch of priests whose set time fell during the festival.
The mishnah had stated: “A watch whose period of service was fixed [for that festival week] offered the tamid, vow-offerings and freewill-offerings and all other public offerings; and it offered them all.”
The Talmud asks what else the words “all other public offerings” includes. After all most public offerings had already been listed. It answers with two types of sacrifices not already mentioned—a bull brought when the entire congregation erred and sinned. And the male goats brought as atonement for unintentional acts of idolatry committed by the public.
The second half of the mishnah also contains some additional words “and it offered them all.” What do these words come to include? The Talmud answers they include animals offered on the altar when it was not otherwise being used. The altar was not supposed to be left without any other sacrifice on it. Rashi explains that there were special funds for this. Occasionally an animal set aside for a sacrifice cannot be offered. It is then left to pasture until it develops a blemish. The animal is then “redeemed” meaning its value goes to the Temple and animal becomes non-sacred. These funds go for this purpose.
Today’s section is a mishnah. My commentary is taken from Mishnah Yomit.
The final mishnah of Sukkah is a continuation of the previous mishnah which dealt with the division of the showbread.
Section one: If Shabbat fell either on the day before the festival or the day after, all of the watches would receive an equal portion of the showbread. If it fell before the festival, they would have to get to Jerusalem before Shabbat, a day earlier than if the festival had fallen during the week. If it fell after the festival, they would have to stay a day later. Since they had to be there anyway, they received a portion of the showbread even though Shabbat was not on the festival.
Section two: If there was one day in between Shabbat and Yom Tov, the watch whose week it was would get most of the showbread but not all. Since some of the watches might not be able to begin their way back home because they lived too far away to make it in one day, or might need to get to Jerusalem before Shabbat, they were compensated by getting at least a little bit of the showbread.
Section three: At all other times of the year the incoming and outgoing watches would split the showbread evenly. The watches would actually switch their service on Shabbat. The new watch would arrange the new showbread and the two would split the showbread from the previous week.
Rabbi Judah says that this division was not completely equal.
Section four: In order that the watches should not get confused, the incoming watch would divide the showbread in the northern section of the Temple and the outgoing watch would divide in the south.
Section five: Bilgah is the name of one of the watches (see I Chronicles 24:14). According to the Talmud they divided their sacrificial meat as punishment. We shall learn why in the final two sections of the tractate.
In the Temple there were twenty-four rings, one for each watch. When skinning a sacrifice they could put the animal’s neck through the ring and have it held up while they skinned it. Bilgah’s ring was closed up so that they couldn’t use it. In addition, every watch had its own alcove in which they could store their knives. Bilgah’s was closed up, again as a punishment for their misdeeds.
The mishnah had stated: “A festival which fell next to Shabbat, either before or after it, all the watches shared equally in the distribution of the showbread.” Our sugya discusses the precise meaning of this mishnah and then discusses other parts of the mishnah.
If “before” means that the first day of the festival fell before Shabbat and “after” means that the last day of the festival fell after Shabbat, then the Shabbat is Shabbat Hol Hamoed. We already know from earlier in the mishnah that on this Shabbat the watches divide the showbread equally.
Therefore, it must mean that the last day of the festival fell right before Shabbat or the first day of the festival fell right after Shabbat.
If the last day of the festival comes right before Shabbat, then the watch that serves after the festival will have to arrive early and the watch that is leaving will have to stay an extra day. So too if the first day of the festival fell right after Shabbat. Since in either case both watches had to stay in Jerusalem an extra day, thereby overlapping with the other watch, the rabbis made an enactment such that they would eat together.