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January 18, 2022 | 讟状讝 讘砖讘讟 转砖驻状讘 | TODAY'S DAF: Moed Katan 6

Birkat Cohanim and Teshuva – #Gefet 17

Masechet Ta鈥檃nit is one of the important sources regarding the laws of Birkat Cohanim. One of the important sugiyot is found here, on the seam line between daf 26 and daf 27, and contains a fundamental opinion of Tosfot. The gemara discusses the fact that we do not say Birkat Cohanim during Mincha because a drunk person cannot do 谞砖讬讗转 讻驻讬诐. The gemara comes to clarify this prohibition:

讚讻讜诇讬 注诇诪讗 诪讬讛转 砖讻讜专 讗住讜专 讘谞砖讬讗转 讻驻讬诐, 诪谞讛谞讬 诪讬诇讬?

讗诪专 专讘讬 讬讛讜砖注 讘谉 诇讜讬 诪砖讜诐 讘专 拽驻专讗: 诇诪讛 谞住诪讻讛 驻专砖转 讻讛谉 诪讘专讱 诇驻专砖转 谞讝讬专? 诇讜诪专: 诪讛 谞讝讬专 讗住讜专 讘讬讬谉 – 讗祝 讻讛谉 诪讘专讱 讗住讜专 讘讬讬谉. 诪转拽讬祝 诇讛 讗讘讜讛 讚专讘讬 讝讬专讗, 讜讗诪专讬 诇讛 讗讜砖注讬讗 讘专 讝讘讚讗: 讗讬 诪讛 谞讝讬专 讗住讜专 讘讞专爪谉! – 讗祝 讻讛谉 诪讘专讱 讗住讜专 讘讞专爪谉? 讗诪专 专讘讬 讬爪讞拽 讗诪专 拽专讗 诇砖专转讜 讜诇讘专讱 讘砖诪讜 诪讛 诪砖专转 诪讜转专 讘讞专爪谉 讗祝 讻讛谉 诪讘专讱 诪讜转专 讘讞专爪谉. 讗讬 诪讛 诪砖专转 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗. 讗祝 讻讛谉 诪讘专讱 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗! – 讛讗 讗讬转拽砖 诇谞讝讬专. – 讜诪讗讬 讞讝讬转 讚诪拽砖转 诇拽讜诇讗, 讗拽讬砖 诇讞讜诪专讗! – 讗住诪讻转讗 谞讬谞讛讜 诪讚专讘谞谉, 讜诇拽讜诇讗. (转注谞讬转 讻讜 注”讘 讻讝 注”讗)

The gemara brings two different limmudim which connect Birkat Cohanim to different worlds: On the one hand, Birkat Cohanim appears next to the section about the Nazir, and from there we learn the prohibition against saying the bracha while drunk. However, Birkat Cohanim is also juxtaposed to the work done in the Mikdash from a passuk in 讚讘专讬诐 驻专拽 讬 驻住讜拽 讞: “讘指旨注值转 讛址讛执讜讗 讛执讘职讚执旨讬诇 讛’ 讗侄转 砖值讈讘侄讟 讛址诇值旨讜执讬 诇指砖值讉讗转 讗侄转 讗植专讜止谉 讘职旨专执讬转 讛’ 诇址注植诪止讚 诇执驻职谞值讬 讛’ 诇职砖指讈专职转讜止 讜旨诇职讘指专值讱职 讘执旨砖职讈诪讜止 注址讚 讛址讬旨讜止诐 讛址讝侄旨讛.” The connection to these two worlds doesn鈥檛 create stringencies, but rather a simple common denominator – and therefore we learn lenient laws onto Birkat Cohanim from both Nazir and from the work in the Mikdash. Rashi explains this:聽

诪讛 诪砖专转 讻讜’ – 注讜讘讚 注讘讜讚讛, 讚诇讗 诪讬转住专 讗诇讗 砖转讜讬讬 讬讬谉 诪诪砖, 讚讻转讬讘 讬讬谉 讜砖讻专 讗诇 转砖转 讜讙讜’, 讛讗 讘讞专爪谉 – 诪讜转专.

诪注讘讜讚转 讛诪拽讚砖 诇诪讚谞讜 砖讛讗讬住讜专 注诇 讻讛谉 讛讜讗 专拽 砖诇 砖讻专讜转 诪诪砖讬转, 讜诪谞讝讬专 诇诪讚谞讜 砖讻讛谉 讘注诇 诪讜诐 讬讻讜诇 诇讘专讱.

The juxtaposition to Nazir which allows for someone with a blemish to do Birkat Cohanim, is a fascinating heter. While Birkat Cohanim is a type of temple work, this one is allowed to be done by someone with a blemish. Tosfot in 鈥溩撟欁懽曌 讛诪转讞讬诇 “讗讬 spend some time on this line in the gemara, give basis to it and expand it:

讗讬 诪讛 诪砖专转 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗 讗祝 诪讘专讱 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗 – 驻讬’ 讻讬讜谉 讚讬诇驻讬谞谉 讙”砖 诪诪砖专转 谞讬诪讗 讻诪讜 诪砖专转 讚诪砖专转 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗 讗祝 诪讘专讱 讜讻讜’ 讜诪砖谞讬 讛讗 讗讬转拽砖 诇谞讝讬专 讜讻讜’.

聽诪讻讗谉 谞专讗讛 讚讘注诇 诪讜诐 诪讘专讱 讘专讻转 讻讛谞讬诐 诪讚拽讗 讞讝讬谞谉 讚讛砖”住 专讜爪讛 诇诇诪讜讚 诪讘专讱 诪诪砖专转 讜诇讘注诇 诪讜诐 讜讚讞讬谞谉 诇讬讛 讗诐 讻谉 谞专讗讛 讚诇注谞讬谉 谞砖讬讗转 讻驻讬诐 讻讛谉 讘注诇 诪讜诐 谞讜砖讗 讻驻讬讜

However, Tosfot don鈥檛 suffice with emphasizing the law, but also expand it to an entirely different area:

讜诪讻讗谉 讬砖 诇讛讜讻讬讞 讚讻讛谉 砖讛诪讬专 讚转讜 谞讜砖讗 讻驻讬讜 讜讻砖专 诇讬砖讗 讻驻讬讜 讜诇拽专讜转 讘转讜专讛 讻诪讜 砖诇讗 讛诪讬专 讜专讗讬讛 诪讛讗 讚讻讛谞讬诐 砖砖讬诪砖讜 讘讘讬转 讞讜谞讬讜 诇讗 讬砖诪砖讜 讘诪拽讚砖 讗讘诇 谞讜讟诇讬诐 讞诇拽 注诐 讗讞讬讛诐 讻诪讜 讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 诪讚拽讗诪专 砖讛诐 讻讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 诪砖诪注 讚讻诇 注讘讜讚讛 砖讘注诇 诪讜诐 专讗讜讬 诇注砖讜转 讬注砖讜 讜讻讛谉 讘注诇 诪讜诐 谞讜砖讗 讻驻讬讜.

Tosfot create a parallel between a cohen with a blemish and a cohen who leaves Judaism, and claim that just like a cohen with a blemish can do Birkat Cohanim, so can a cohen who converted. Do the Tosfot really mean that a cohen who currently does not identify as Jewish can do Birkat Cohanim? If we look in the parallels to the Tosfot, we will see that this is not the message that comes out of these sources:聽

转讜住驻讜转 诪住讻转 住讜讟讛 讚祝 诇讟 注诪讜讚 讗 讚”讛 讜讻讬 诪讛讚专 诪讗诪爪注讜

….讘砖讗诇转讜转 驻专砖转 讜讬拽讞 拽专讞 讻讛谉 砖注讘讚 注讘讜讚转 讻讜讻讘讬诐 诇讗 讬砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 讚讙专注 诪讛讜专讙 讗转 讛谞驻砖 讚讗诪专讬谞谉 讘驻’ 讗讬谉 注讜诪讚讬谉 (讘专讻讜转 诇讘:) 讻讛谉 砖讛专讙 讗转 讛谞驻砖 诇讗 讬砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 讜专讘讬谞讜 讙专砖讜诐 诪讗讜专 讛讙讜诇讛 讛砖讬讘 讘转砖讜讘讜转讬讜 讚谞讜砖讗 讻驻讬讜 讜拽讜专讗 专讗砖讜谉 讘转讜专讛 讚讻讬讜谉 讚讞讝专 讘转砖讜讘讛 讞讜讝专 诇拽讚讜砖转讜 讚转谞谉 讘住讜祝 诪住讻转 诪谞讞讜转 (讚祝 拽讟.) 讗讱 诇讗 讬注诇讜 讻讛谞讬 讛讘诪讜转 讗诇 诪讝讘讞 讛’ 讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 讻讬 讗诐 讗讻诇讜 诪爪讜转 讘转讜讱 讗讞讬讛诐 讜讛专讬 讛谉 讻讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 砖讞讜诇拽讬谉 讜讗讜讻诇讬谉 讜讻砖诐 砖讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 谞讜砖讗讬谉 讗转 讻驻讬讛诐 讜拽讜专讗 专讗砖讜谉 讘转讜专讛 讜讗祝 讝讛 砖讗诐 诇讗 转讗诪专 讻谉 谞诪爪讗转 诪专驻讛 讬讚讬讛谉 砖诇 讘注诇讬 转砖讜讘讛 砖讬讗诪专讜 讗讜讬 诇讗讜转讛 讘讜砖讛 讗讜讬 诇讗讜转讛 讻诇讬诪讛 讜讬诪谞注讜 诪注砖讜转 转砖讜讘讛 讜讗诪专 专’ 讬讜讞谞谉 讻诇 讛讗讜诪专 诪谞砖讛 讗讬谉 诇讜 讞诇拽 诇注讜诇诐 讛讘讗 诪专驻讛 讬讚讬讛谉 砖诇 讘注诇讬 转砖讜讘讛 讜转谞讗 讚讘讬 专讘讬 讬砖诪注讗诇 讛讜讗讬诇 讜讛诇讱 讝讛 讜谞注砖讛 讻讛谉 诇讗诇讬诇讬诐 讗讚讞讛 讗讘谉 讗讞专 讛谞讜驻诇 讜讻讜’.

In Sotah, there is a clarification and expansion of the opinion of Tosfot. The Tosfot didn鈥檛 speak about a convert who stands firm in his rebellion, but rather about one who did teshuva. This explanation comes from the teshuva of Rabbainu Gershom Meor Ha鈥檊olah who compares a convert who did teshuva to a person with a blemish. The words of Rabbeinu Gershom are further illuminated from his historical context. One of his sons converted to Christianity and died a Christian. It is possible that these words of Rabbeinu Gershom are connected to the reality in which he lived, and to the great tension and deep understanding of what converts go through, and their ability to do teshuva. Rabbeinu Gershom claims that the period of time in which he was a convert blemishes the cohen, yet while he cannot return to work in the mikdash, he can go back to doing Birkat Cohanim.聽

In the Tosfot in Masechet Sotah, we also discover two important details about their opinion: 1. This opinion is subject to debate. Already in the Sh鈥檌ltot, Rav Achai Gaon鈥檚 book, in Parshat Korach, Rav Achai determines that a cohen who did avoda zara cannot do Birkat Cohanim, and he is like one who committed murder. 2. The dispute between Rabbeinu Gershom and the Gaon is surrounding a gemara in Masechet Menachot.

We will examine the sugiya in Masechet Menachot and the Tosfot in order to fill in the picture.聽

We will first see the mishna in Masechet Menachot:

诪转谞讬’ 讛讻讛谞讬诐 砖砖诪砖讜 讘讘讬转 讞讜谞讬讜 诇讗 讬砖诪砖讜 讘诪拽讚砖 砖讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 讜讗讬谉 爪专讬讱 诇讜诪专 诇讚讘专 讗讞专 砖谞讗诪专 (诪诇讻讬诐 讘 讻讙, 讟) 讗讱 诇讗 讬注诇讜 讻讛谞讬 讛讘诪讜转 讗诇 诪讝讘讞 讛’ 讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 讻讬 讗诐 讗讻诇讜 诪爪讜转 (讘拽专讘) 讗讞讬讛诐 讛专讬 讗诇讜 讻讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 讞讜诇拽讬谉 讜讗讜讻诇讬谉 讜诇讗 诪拽专讬讘讬谉:

The mishna says that a cohen who worshiped avoda zara can鈥檛 work in the Mikdash, but he, as a person with a blemish, takes part and eats, but doesn’t sacrifice. Does the work that the mishna is talking about also include Birkat Cohanim? Tosfot here bring a dispute:

转讜住驻讜转 诪住讻转 诪谞讞讜转 讚祝 拽讟 注诪讜讚 讗

诇讗 讬砖诪砖讜 讘诪拽讚砖 讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 – 讘住驻专 讛讝讛讬专 讻转讜讘 讻讛谉 砖讛诪讬专 讚转讜 诇讗 讬砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 讜诇讗 讬拽专讗 专讗砖讜谉 讚讻转讬讘 讜拽讚砖转讜 讜讛讜讗 讗讞诇讬讛 诇拽讚讜砖转讬讛 讜注讘讚讜 诇讬讛 专讘谞谉 诪注诇讛 诪驻谞讬 讚专讻讬 砖诇讜诐 讜讛讗讬 讻讬讜谉 讚讗讬讚讞讬 讗讬讚讞讬 讻讚转谞谉 讛讻讛谞讬诐 砖砖诪砖讜 讘讘讬转 讞讜谞讬讜 诇讗 讬砖诪砖讜 讘诪拽讚砖 砖讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐

聽讜专砖”讬 驻讬专砖 讚讻砖专 讜讝讛 诇砖讜谞讜 讛专讬 讗诇讜 讻讘注诇讬 诪讜诪讬谉 讻讜’ 诪讛讻讗 谞驻拽讗 诇谉 讚讻讛谉 砖讛诪讬专 讚转讜 讜讞讝专 讘转砖讜讘讛 讻砖专 诇讚讜讻谉 砖讛专讬 诇讗 诪爪讬谞讜 讻讛谉 讘注诇 诪讜诐 砖讬讛讗 驻住讜诇 诇讚讜讻谉 讗诇讗 讗诐 讛讬讛 诇讜 诪讜诐 讘讬讚讬讜 讻讚讗诪专讬谞谉 讘诪讙讬诇讛 (讚祝 讻讚:) 诪驻谞讬 砖讛注诐 诪住转讻诇讬谉 讘讜 讜转讜 讛讗 讚拽转谞讬 诇讗 讬砖诪砖讜 讘诪拽讚砖 讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 讜诇讛讻讬 讗讬爪讟专讬讱 讘讬专讜砖诇讬诐 诇讗砖诪讜注讬谞谉 讚讘谞讜讘 讜讙讘注讜谉 讛讬讜 诪讜转专讬谉 诇砖诪砖 讻诇 砖讻谉 讘讝诪谉 讛讝讛 砖讗讬谉 砖讬专讜转 讜讗讬谉 诪拽讚砖 讚讜讚讗讬 讻砖专 诇讚讜讻谉 讜诇拽专讜转 讘转讜专讛 转讞讬诇讛 讜转讜 讗诪专讬谞谉 (转注谞讬转 讚祝 讻讝.) 讗讬 诪讛 诪砖专转 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗 讗祝 诪讘专讱 讘注诇 诪讜诐 诇讗 转”诇 诇注诪讜讚 诇砖专转 诇注诪讬讚讛 讛拽砖转讬讜 讜诇讗 诇讚讘专 讗讞专 注讚 讻讗谉 诇砖讜谞讜.

Here too, the Tosfot show that there is a dispute regarding the attitude towards cohanim who did avoda zara and did teshuva. The dispute also is surrounding the reading of the mishna in Menachot. The mishna says that these cohanim can鈥檛 work in the mikdash or in other things, but they can eat from the korbanot as people with blemishes. Is the status of these cohanim entirely as that of people with blemishes? Can they do Birkat Cohanim as people with blemishes? Tosfot mention that in 住驻专 讛讝讛讬专 (which brings parshanut and psika from the end of the period of the Geonim) it says that these cohanim are completely rejected from their status, but the rabbis allowed them to eat from the sacrifices because of 讚专讻讬 砖诇讜诐. Tosfot quote Rashi who follows the opinion of Rabbeinu Gershom, however, he uses a different proof for how to read the mishna. Rashi quotes the gemara in Masechet Ta鈥檃nit, however does so in a way that is different from how it appears in our version of the text: in our gemara it says that the limmud from the work in the mikdash is not all encompassing because there is also the limmud from Nazir, and that both of these limmudim are mere asmachtot. However, Rashi, as brought in the Tosfot, says that the limmud from the work of the cohen in the Beit Hamikdash is an all encompassing limmud – but it is limited to the law of the cohen needing to stand. We will ask two questions about this Rashi: 1. Did Rashi have a different version of the gemara? 2. Is the difference between the two versions of Rashi halachically significant?

Regarding the first question, it is difficult to to say, as we have not found such a version in the manuscripts – however, in Masechet Sotah, we find a version that is very similar to Rashi鈥檚 words here:

转谞讬讗 讗讬讚讱: 讻讛 转讘专讻讜 – 讘注诪讬讚讛, 讗转讛 讗讜诪专: 讘注诪讬讚讛, 讗讜 讗讬谞讜 讗诇讗 讗驻讬’ 讘讬砖讬讘讛? 谞讗诪专 讻讗谉 讻讛 转讘专讻讜 讜谞讗诪专 诇讛诇谉 讗诇讛 讬注诪讚讜 诇讘专讱, 诪讛 诇讛诇谉 讘注诪讬讚讛, 讗祝 讻讗谉 讘注诪讬讚讛; 专’ 谞转谉 讗讜诪专: 讗讬谞讜 爪专讬讱, 讛专讬 讛讜讗 讗讜诪专: 诇砖专转讜 讜诇讘专讱 讘砖诪讜, 诪讛 诪砖专转 讘注诪讬讚讛, 讗祝 诪讘专讱 讘注诪讬讚讛. 讜诪砖专转 讙讜驻讬讛 诪谞诇谉? 讚讻转讬讘: 诇注诪讜讚 诇砖专转.

Rabbi Natan learns the requirement for standing during Birkat Cohanim as a Torah requirement from the passuk 诇讘专讻讜 讜诇砖专转 砖诪讜. Therefore we can suggest that Rashi didn鈥檛 have a different version, but rather quoted this gemara in Sotah. With regards to the second question, we can point to a significant halachic difference between the two different explanations. According to the words of Rashi as quoted from Menachot, the juxtaposition of Birkat Cohanim to the work in the Mikdash is not a mere asmachta, but rather a substantial juxtaposition. Birkat Cohanim is really a type of work in the Mikdash. This is no asmachta, but rather a Torah law. In light of this, the heter for people with blemishes to do Birkat Cohanim is of great significance – there is a type of work in the Mikdash which a person with a blemish is kosher to do. Additionally, the chiddush that a cohen that did avoda zara is like a person with a blemish and can do Birkat Cohanim takes on greater significance.聽

In order to emphasize the chiddush in the words of Tosfot, we will mention that the Rambam argued with their words and went in the way of Rav Hai Gaon and 住驻专 讛讝讛讬专. This is how the Rambam paskins in the Mishnah Torah:

聽专诪讘”诐 讛诇讻讜转 转驻讬诇讛 讜谞砖讬讗转 讻驻讬诐 驻专拽 讟讜 讛诇讻讛 讙

讛注讘讬专讛 讻讬爪讚 讻讛谉 砖讛专讙 讗 讗转 讛谞驻砖 讗祝 注诇 驻讬 砖注砖讛 转砖讜讘讛 诇讗 讬砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 砖谞讗诪专 讬讚讬讻诐 讚诪讬诐 诪诇讗讜 讜讻转讬讘 讜讘驻专砖讻诐 讻驻讬讻诐 讜讙讜’, 讜讻讛谉 砖注讘讚 讻讜讻讘讬诐 讘讬谉 讘讗讜谞住 讘讬谉 讘砖讙讙讛 讗祝 注诇 驻讬 砖注砖讛 转砖讜讘讛 讗讬谞讜 谞讜砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 诇注讜诇诐 砖谞讗诪专 讗讱 诇讗 讬注诇讜 讻讛谞讬 讛讘诪讜转 讜讙讜’, 讜讘专讻讛 讻注讘讜讚讛 讛讬讗 砖谞讗诪专 诇砖专转讜 讜诇讘专讱 讘砖诪讜, 讜讻谉 讻讛谉 砖讛诪讬专 诇注讻讜”诐聽 讗祝 注诇 驻讬 砖讞讝专 讘讜 讗讬谞讜 谞讜砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜 诇注讜诇诐, 讜砖讗专 讛注讘讬专讜转 讗讬谉 诪讜谞注讬谉.

This great dispute continues and also appears in the Shulchan Aruch:

砖讜诇讞谉 注专讜讱 讗讜专讞 讞讬讬诐 讛诇讻讜转 谞砖讬讗转 讻驻讬诐 讜谞驻讬诇转 讗驻讬诐 住讬诪谉 拽讻讞 住注讬祝 诇讝

聽诪讜诪专 诇注讘讜讚转 讗诇讬诇讬诐 诇讗 讬砖讗 讗转 讻驻讬讜; 讜讬”讗 砖讗诐 注砖讛 转砖讜讘讛, 谞讜砖讗 讻驻讬讜 讜讻谉 注讬拽专.

讜讻转讘讜 谞讜砖讗讬 讛讻诇讬诐 砖讘讻诇 注讜讝 讬砖 诇讛驻讱 讘讝讻讜转 讘注诇讬 转砖讜讘讛 砖诇讗 转谞注讜诇 讚诇转 讘驻谞讬 讘注诇讬 砖讘讬诐.

 

Summary:

In our learning today, we became acquainted with Tosfot鈥檚 unique opinion regarding Birkat Cohanim. This approach, which began with Rabbeinu Gershom, continues to Rashi, and receives great impact in the Tosfot on our sugiya. A cohen who did avoda zara and does teshuva is like a person with a blemish and can do Birkat Cohanim. There are those who disagree with this approach – Rav Achai Gaon in the Sh鈥檌ltot, and in 住驻专 讛讝讛讬专 quoted in Tosfot, and also the Rambam in Mishnah Torah. This dispute was brought l鈥檋alacha in the Shulchan Aruch, and the opinion of Tosfot was established as a heter.聽

(Translated by Daphna Ansel-Nizan)

Rabbanit Yael Shimoni

Rabbanit Shimoni has learned at Migdal Oz, Matan, and the Susi Bradfield Women鈥檚 Institute for Halakhic Leadership at Midreshet Lindenbaum. She holds a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and a BEd in Torah Shebe鈥檃l Peh and Jewish Thought from Herzog College. She is currently studying towards an MA in Jewish Thought Education at Herzog College. Rabbanit Shimoni taught gemara and halakha at Pelech High School and served as a ramit for shana bet at Migdal Oz. She directs Meshivat Nefesh, the online responsa program of the rabbaniyot of Beit Hillel. She is also a plastic artist and member of 鈥淎 Studio of Her Own.
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