By Rabbi Shmuel Wise


Are there times when we can use a double-hekish in the laws of sacrifices?

We explored this question on 57a–57b in the daf this week. The Gemara discusses the time frame for eating the meat of a Korban Bechor. R’ Akiva there explains that this halachah is derived from the fact that the Torah compares Bechor to “the breast and thigh portions.” Which breast/thigh portions? That of Korban Shelamim (which are waved and given to the kohen), and thus the Torah indicates that just as a Shelamim has an eating time frame of two days, so does a Korban Bechor.

However, the fiery scholar R’ Yose HaGalili (who really got off to a great start on his first official day of joining the High Court), points out that we could just as easily understand the above comparison to be referring to the breast/thigh of Korban Todah. Since Todah has a time frame of only one day, this would teach us that a Bechor, too, only gets one day (and it’s more reasonable to understand it this way given the rule of “Don’t grab too much,” which states that when faced with a choice in scriptural interpretation, we go with the reading that yields the smaller number). R’ Akiva responds by making an additional derashah from the verse that indicates that the longer time frame is intended.

R’ Yishmael objects that R’ Akiva didn’t need this last derashah since the suggested alternative — that the Torah wants us to compare Bechor to Todah — violates the derashah rule that was established on 49b that we may not use a double-hekish (Scriptural comparison) to derive sacrificial laws. For the very law that the breast/thigh of Todah is given to the kohen is itself only known based on a hekish to Shelamim. So going from Shelamim to Todah (hekish No. 1), and then from Todah to Bechor (hekish No. 2) would be an illegal double-hekish!

The Gemara then explains that R’ Akiva would respond by pointing out that we are not dealing with a classic double-hekish since each individual hekish isn’t dealing with the same halachah. Hekish No. 1 is dealing with the basic obligation to give the breast/thigh to the kohen. Hekish No. 2, on the other hand, is dealing with the one-day time frame for eating the sacrifice. That the breast/thigh of Todah has a one-day time frame is known not based on any hekish but simply based on the fact that the Torah assigns this time frame to Todah itself. Being that a critical part of the teaching is being derived from only a single hekish, R’ Akiva argues that this does not fall under the scope of the double-hekish rule.

The Gemara attempts to refute the opinion of R’ Yishmael from an apparent double-hekish that is made regarding the inner bull and goat of Yom Kippur. The Torah tells us that when inside the Holy of Holies with the blood of the bull, the kohen gadol performs an unspecified number of upward sprinklings and seven downward sprinklings. When teaching the sprinklings of the goat, the Torah indicates that one upward sprinkling is performed but does not specify the number of downward sprinklings. The matter is clarified once the verse compares these two sacrifices (hekish #1). We are thereby taught that one upward sprinkling and seven downward sprinklings are performed by each animal. The Torah then compares the sprinklings performed outside the Holy of Holies to the ones performed inside (hekish #2), which tells us that the same number of sprinklings for each animal is performed outside, too.

But wait: I thought we’re not allowed to use a double-hekish for sacrificial law! Now R’ Akiva can answer that there’s no problem here since the teaching in question only partially relies on a double-hekish (for the basic sprinkling procedure is described explicitly by each animal; we only needed the first hekish to nail down the exact number of sprinklings). But according to R’ Yishmael this double-hekish should not be allowed!

In its second approach, the Gemara suggests the following distinction in defense of R’ Yishmael. By these Yom Kippur sacrifices, the second hekish is clearly intended by the Torah, irrespective of whether or not we make the first hekish. That is because the Torah does explicitly require upward and downward sprinklings by these animals, and thus the comparison between the outside procedure with the inside procedure does at least teach us to perform those procedures outside of the Holy of Holies, too. Once it is clear that the Torah wants us to make this second hekish, it’s reasonable to assume that all known information regarding these sprinkling procedures — even information that is only known through an additional hekish — is to be applied outside as well.

By contrast, regarding the double-hekish from Bechor to Todah to Shelamim, without hekish #1 (that established that there is even such a thing as a kohanic breast/thigh portion by Todah) there is zero basis for hekish #2. So since this is a clear-cut chain that begins from one hekish and then continues to another, it is proscribed by the rule on 49b. Thus, the Gemara concludes that no refutation of R’ Yishmael can be drawn from the derashah concerning the Yom Kippur sacrifices.

Rabbi Wise is maggid shiur of Real Clear Daf (, a website and mobile app that offers free audio shiurim and other resources to assist your journey through Shas. He is also the director of Tehillim Together (, a mobile app (for iOS and Android) that offers a translated sefer Tehillim and facilitates Tehillim groups. To be a sponsor or to reach Rabbi Wise, please write to or call 855-ASK-RCD-1 (275-7231).


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