Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The Temple Mount as a Tool of Measurement

The Talmud Treatise of Chagiga deals with

the laws of the biblically mandated thrice-yearly pilgrimage to the Holy Temple—on Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot. The tractate also discusses at length the sacrifices offered on these occasions and the requisite ritual purification necessary to enter the Temple and partake of the sacrifices

It opens so:

מתני׳ הכל חייבין בראייה חוץ מחרש שוטה וקטן וטומטום ואנדרוגינוס ונשים ועבדים שאינם משוחררים החיגר והסומא והחולה והזקן ומי שאינו יכול לעלות ברגליו

MISHNA: All are obligated on the three pilgrim Festivals in the mitzva of appearance, i.e., to appear in the Temple as well as to sacrifice an offering, except for a deaf-mute, an imbecile, and a minor; and a tumtum, and a hermaphrodite, and women, and slaves who are not emancipated; and the lame, and the blind, and the sick, and the old, and one who is unable to ascend to Jerusalem on his own legs.

איזהו קטן כל שאינו יכול לרכוב על כתפיו של אביו ולעלות מירושלים להר הבית דברי בית שמאי ובית הלל אומרים כל שאינו יכול לאחוז בידו של אביו ולעלות מירושלים להר הבית שנאמר (שמות כג, יד) שלש רגלים

Who has the status of a minor with regard to this halakha? Any child who is unable to ride on his father’s shoulders and ascend from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount; this is the statement of Beit Shammai. And Beit Hillel say: Any child who is unable to hold his father’s hand and ascend on foot from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount, as it is stated: “Three times [regalim]” (Exodus 23:14). Since the term for feet is raglayim, Beit Hillel infer from here that the obligation to ascend involves the use of one’s legs.

In other words, since the whole purpose of the Chagiga sacrifice is that it be brought to the Temple Mount, and even a child can fall into that category of obligation, to define who is a minor involves using a concept of being to get into the precincts pof the Temple.

Of course nowadays, this last part is significant:

the obligation to ascend involves the use of one’s legs.

since you need to use your head more.


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