This week, daf yomi participants are beginning the perek of Gemara titled Eizeh Mekoman (Zevachim 47a), which starts out discussing the proper place for various sacrifices to be brought. The Shulchan Aruch writes (50:1) that after one recites Parashas HaTamid, he should recite the Mishnayos of this perek. Following this perek, one should recite the beraisa titled “Rebbe Yishmael Omer.” The Shulchan Aruch says that if one follows this practice, he is assured to have studied a portion of Torah, Mishnayos, and Gemara every day. In this way, he fulfills the dictum in Kiddushin (30a, as explained by Tosfos) that one should learn all three of those subjects every day.
Even though these additions have become part of davening, they differ from the conventional tefillos in at least two ways. The first is that they are not an integral part of davening and can be said even after davening. If one is running late, these perakim should be said after davening. However, often these additions are skipped altogether. As Rabbi Paysach Krohn commented, “When people come late to davening, korbanos are the first items to be sacrificed.”
The second and third parts, Eizeh Mekoman and Rebbe Yishmael differ. If one does not understand what he is saying, he has not accomplished anything. The Mishnah Berurah writes (50:2) that for reading to be considered learning Torah, the reader must understand what he is saying. This is in contradistinction to prayer, which could be effective even if one does not understand the meaning of words being recited. However, the Shulchan Aruch HaRav writes that reading portions of the Written Torah, such as Parashas HaTamid, is considered learning even if one does not know the meaning of the verses. The Shelah concurs, but notes that reading pesukim is considered learning Torah provided one is cognizant of what he is doing. If someone put his brain on autopilot, and he is mindlessly reading pesukim while his thoughts are elsewhere, that is not considered learning.
Nevertheless, even by Parashas HaTamid, one should strive to study and uncover the meaning of the words. This is to achieve an additional benefit. The Gemara states that one who studies the topic of korbanos is considered to have brought those korbanos that he studied. However, the Mishnah Berurah writes (48:1) that this is only true if one is actually studying the topic. Merely reading the Torah verses that describe korbanos, even though it is considered learning, is not enough to achieve this additional benefit to be considered like one brought that korban. One must actually understand what he is reading. It is only through studying the topic of korbanos that one will merit to be considered like he personally offered a sacrifice.
The Shulchan Aruch wrote that the specific reason that Eizeh Mekoman is recited in the morning is to ensure that no matter what may come up the rest of the day, one has at least studied Mishnayos. Why of all the Mishnayos in Shas was this chapter chosen? One reason is that it contains no disputes. It is clear halachah as it was transmitted to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai. The Tiferes Yisrael adds some depth to this explanation.
The third Mishnah in Eizeh Mekoman contains the following statement “These [the meat from these sacrifices] were eaten within the curtains [of the Temple courtyard] by male priests …”
The Tiferes Yisrael asks the obvious question: The Azarah, the Temple courtyard, did not have curtains surrounding it! It has solid walls! It is true that the Mishkan had curtains, but the Beis HaMikdash had walls. All the Tannaim mentioned in the Mishnah never saw the Mishkan; they only saw a Beis HaMikdash with real walls! So why does the Mishnah use the words “curtains” to describe the solid walls?
The Tiferes Yisrael answers that the formulation of this perek of Mishnayos was composed by none other than Hashem. Hashem taught this perek with this text to Moshe Rabbeinu, who then taught it to Klal Yisrael. At that time, Klal Yisrael had the Mishkan, which had curtains. Later, when the Beis HaMikdash was built, no one dared change such an ancient and authoritative text of the Mishnah. Therefore, the original word “curtains” remains in the Mishnah text until this day.
When we recite this perek of Mishnayos in the morning, we are declaring our profound and essential belief that the Oral Law was given to Moshe Rabbeinu on Har Sinai as well as the Written Law.
Certainly, this perek of Mishnayos about korbanos is not something that should be easily sacrificed.
Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow leads a daf yomi chaburah at Eitz Chayim of Dogwood Park in West Hempstead. He can be contacted at ASebrow@gmail.com.