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Steinsaltz

The Gemara raises an objection from a mishna (Shekalim 4:5): With regard to the incense left over from the previous year, which could no longer be used, what would they do with it in order to render it usable again? The Temple treasurers would set aside an amount of it equal to the value of the wages of the artisans who worked in the Temple.

And they would then desacralize that incense by transferring its sanctity to non-sacred money in the amount owed to the artisans. And they would subsequently give the incense to the artisans as their wages. And finally, they would return and buy back the incense from the artisans with funds from the new collection of shekels, so that the incense would now be considered to have been acquired from the shekels of the current year.

The Gemara explains its objection: But why was this procedure necessary according to Shmuel, who maintains that one builds the structures in the Temple with non-sacred materials? Let them desacralize the leftover incense by transferring its sanctity to the completed, non-sacred structure, thereby consecrating it with the sanctity of the incense. After the leftover incense is desacralized, it can be given to the artisans as wages and the Temple treasurers can buy it back with funds from the new collection.

The Gemara explains: The mishna is referring to a situation where there is currently no ongoing construction in the Temple, and therefore there is no structure to which they can transfer the sanctity of the leftover incense. The Gemara raises a difficulty: But the mishna teaches: The wages of the artisans, which indicates that construction is taking place in the Temple. The Gemara responds: Although there is indeed ongoing construction, the mishna in Shekalim is referring to a case where there is no construction equaling the amount of the value of the leftover incense. Therefore, it is not possible to transfer the sanctity of the leftover incense to the construction.

The Gemara raises a further difficulty: But doesn’t Shmuel say with regard to consecrated property worth one hundred dinars that if the Temple treasurer redeemed it for an object worth only one peruta, it is redeemed, despite the fact that the redemption was performed with an item that was not worth the full value of the consecrated property? The Gemara answers: This statement of Shmuel applies to a case where one did so, i.e., it applies only after the fact, but the Temple treasurer should not act in this manner ab initio.

Rav Pappa said: This is the reason that one builds the structures in the Temple with non-sacred materials and afterward consecrates those materials upon completion: It is because the Torah was not given to the ministering angels, who do not tire and do not have physical needs, but rather to human beings. Therefore, the Sages said that perhaps an artisan will want to rest and sit on the stones being used in the construction, and he might in fact sit on them. And if he builds with consecrated materials, it will be found that he misused consecrated property. Consequently, it is preferable for one to build with non-sacred materials, and the structure should be consecrated only upon completion.

The Gemara raises an objection to this reasoning from that which we learned in the mishna: In the case of the Temple treasurers who purchased non-sacred logs to use for repairs in the Temple, one is liable for misusing the wood itself, but he is not liable for misusing the sawdust, nor is he liable for misusing the leaves that fall from the log.

But why should this be a situation where one could be liable for misusing the wood? Here too, let him work with non-sacred logs and consecrate them only after they have been fixed in the structure. After all, in this case too one can apply the above reasoning that the Sages said that perhaps he will want to rest and sit on the logs he is working with, and he might sit on them, and it will be found that he misused consecrated items.

Rav Pappa said that if the mishna were referring to logs that the Temple treasurers acquired for use in construction from this point forward, then indeed they should not be consecrated until they are fixed in the structure. But when we learned in the mishna that one is liable for misuse of the wood, the tanna was referring to logs acquired for use on that same day. Since they are meant to be used immediately, there is no concern that one might sit on them.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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