There were thirteen tables in the Beis Hamikdash for various purposes. Some of them were used for preparing sacrifices to be offered on the altar, others were used for holding the tools used in offering sacrifices. Two of the tables were used for the shulchan for the lechem panim, the loaves of bread that always sat in the Beis Hamikdash. One of these two shulchanim was marble, the other was gold, and the Mishna says that they first put the bread on the marble shulchan and then transferred it to the gold one.
The loaves of bread were left out in the Temple for a week, and famously they never got stale because of a miracle. The Yerushalmi cites a baraisa claiming that the marble shulchan was actually silver, which seems to be because silver was a precious metal and the author of the baraisa believed that it was more appropriate to honor the lechem panim by putting it on silver rather than marble. But R' Yose teaches in the name of R' Shmuel ben Yitzchak that it was actually marble for practical reasons: Silver is a better conductor of heat than marble, in the hot sun the silver shulchan would heat the bread faster and make it go bad.
But wait a minute. Silver, gold, or marble, bread is going to go stale in a week of sitting out on a table in the open. It's not per se a 'bigger miracle' if God makes the lechem panim not go stale on a silver table. R' Yehoshua ben Levi answers Ein mazkirin ma'aseh nisim. We don't depend on a miracle. Which I love so much. They're in the Beis Hamikdash, where miraculous things happen on a daily basis, where you are closer to God than anywhere on the planet, but you don't go fishing for a miracle, you put the bread in the place where it has the best chance of not getting stale on its own and miraculously the bread doesn't go stale. Daf 18
If you're a zavah, or if you've given birth, before you're able to become ritually pure and permitted to your husband again, you have to offer a pair of birds as a sacrifice. Apparently for the sake of efficiency, it wasn't like you just brought your birds and handed them to the Kohen and he offered them right then and there. You put money in a bin and got a token and you gave your token to a clerk, and the clerk gave all the tokens to the Kohen and the Kohen offered all the bird sacrifices for the day in one go. We're discussing this because we're discussing all the money collecting bins in the Beis Hamikdash that weren't for the Chatzi Shekel.
Rabbi Yehudah gets very concerned about the problem of intermixing the coins. As is discussed elsewhere, if you designate birds as a bird sacrifice and then before you can offer them, you die, the birds can't be offered as a sacrifice, and they need to be set aside to die. But what if we're in this efficient scenario where you collect all the money for the birds to be offered in one go, and in between the money collection and the sacrifice, one of the women who put money in dies?
You're not permitted to offer her sacrifice, but how do you know which coins were hers, which birds were hers, which sacrifice is forbidden among all the permitted sacrifices? So potentially you have to say that since one of the sacrifices is forbidden and you don't know which one, you can't offer any of the sacrifices involving money in the collecting bin. This is an especially big problem because apparently the Kohanim went around telling women don't worry, you can rely on the sacrifice being performed, so at nightfall you will be tahor. What if this scenario happens, a woman dies before her sacrifice can be offered, all of the sacrifices are therefore not offered, and numerous other women have relations with their husbands when they are not actually tahor? Serious problem.
The Rabbis have no problem by basically saying look, the money's fungible. All the money in the collecting bin is the same, pluck out four zuzim and declare "These were the ones that were going to buy the birds for the woman who died, we will destroy them and use the rest for sacrifices." Rabbi Yehudah has a big problem with this! He says you can't do that, each woman's money has individual sanctity toward their offering. His solution is to say don't have a collecting bin at all for these bird offerings, have everyone individually deal with their own bird. The Rabbis seem to have dealt with it by ignoring Rabbi Yehudah and just making a communal announcement that if this ever happens, this is what they'll do, so that everyone putting money in the bin has kavanah that their money sort of counts for everyone and if someone dies it's okay. Rabbi Yehudah seems unhappy.Daf 19
What if you find a coin on the floor in the Beis Hamikdash, which is apparently full of different collecting bins full of money, each of which has a different dedicated purpose and many of which are considered meilah if used for some other purpose? You look for the nearest bin and say "Ah, it must have been intended for that bin!" If it's equidistant, you go for the bin that does the least halachic damage. The Mishna goes through a lot of scenarios in all cases trying to figure out what the least halachic damage means. So for example, if it's between the new Shekel bin and the bin for shirayim, the shekels left over from last year used for Temple repairs, you put it in the bin for shirayim because it was possibly going to end up there anyway if it was intended for the Shekel bin but didn't end up being used, whereas you're not allowed to take shirayim and put it in the Shekel bin.
I'm not really sure it's mathematically possible to be 'equidistant' in reality, so maybe it's a question of the lack of precision in their measurement instruments, or maybe the point isn't actually to resolve what to do in the equidistant case, the point is to establish these orders of priority to demonstrate how these bins of money interrelate in terms of accounting.Daf 20
Continuing on what to do with stuff found on the ground, the Gemara retreads some stuff from Maseches Chullin on what you do when you find unmarked meat on the ground. I think this discussion provides good clarity on the fact that there are actually two safeks here:
1. Is the meat owned by a particular person, or can you take it?
2. Is the meat kosher?
This can become confusing because both are questions of circumstance, and in some cases a particular circumstance can influence the answer to both questions. So some of the cases the Gemara discusses, it sort of answers both questions at once, making it harder to tease out the specific issues that it is weighing. Daf 21
More on stuff found on the ground. Spit! Saliva is a liquid that transmits tumah. If someone spit in the street and you stepped in it, how do you know if you have become tamei? Says the Mishna, you do it based on a chazakah depending on where you are and when you are. If you're in Jerusalem, and it's a festival, you can assume pretty much everyone has purified themselves for the festival and so the spit if it's found in the middle of the street is tahor, because anyone with the misfortune to be in Jerusalem during a festival but who has become tamei will take to the sides of the street to avoid contaminating anyone else. But apparently during the rest of the year, people who were tahor would take to the sides of the street to avoid potentially running into someone who was tamei in the middle of the street, so if you step on spit in the middle of the street you presume you are now tamei.
Tomorrow I"YH we finish Shekalim. Virtual siyum y'all?
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