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Siman 50 . The Reason that We Say the Mishnah "Eyzehu Mkoman [What is the place...]"

[A brief introduction: The Talmud is composed of two primary elements, the Mishnah and the Gemara, and are the primary sources in our hands which comprise the "Oral Law" - the part of the Torah which, according to tradition, was not given in written form. From the time of Moses until Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi {Judah the Prince}, there was never a written document which was used publicly to teach the Oral Law - rather, each sage wrote his own notes, and then taught in his own words. Shortly after the destruction of the Second Temple (somewhere in the early hundreds of the Common Era), Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi realized that Torah was being forgotten, and so he collected the notes and teachings of the various sages of his and earlier generations, and composed a document to be learned in public - the Mishnah. The Gemara was a commentary written several hundred years later primarily by Rav Ashi, after gathering most of his contemporaries with him. A "Braitha" is a saying by one of the sages of the Mishnaic age, which was not included in Rabbi Yehudah's Mishna for any of several reasons. Many of these were later recorded in the Gemara. They and other sayings from the Talmudic era are also termed "Midrash" - teachings - even if they were not included in the Talmud. There are various books of Midrash, often organized around the various Torah portions, but these books alone are not all that is called by the term "Midrash." All of this is necessary to understand today's Halacha. -- YM]

[At the end of the first part of the morning prayers (Shaharis), before starting Psukei D'Zimra ("Verses of Song"), we recite a chapter of Mishnah, Tractate Zvahim (Sacrifices), Chapter 8. The chapter lists different types of animal sacrifices, and specifies various details regarding each of them, such as where they are to be slaughtered, where they may be eaten, who may eat them, what to do with their blood, etc. The chapter begins with the introductory question "Eyzehu Mkoman shel Zvahim ?" ("What is the place of the sacrifices?", i.e., where are the various sacrifices to be slaughtered?) The chapter is referred to by its first words, "Eyzehu Mkoman". (In general, chapters of the Talmud are often referred to by the first words of the first mishnah in the chapter.) -- SB]

50.1: (1) They [who fixed the order of the prayers] established that after the portion of the daily sacrifice the chapter of "Eyzehu Mkoman" and the Braitha of Rabbi Yishma`el should be learned, in order that every person attain the merit of learning Scripture, Mishnah, and Gemara every day, with the Braitha of Rabbi Yishma`el in place of Gemara, (2) for the Midrash is like Gemara.

MB 1: They established to recite - There are places where they do not say Eyzehu Mkoman in the house of a mourner, because he is forbidden to learn Torah [as it causes joy], and this is not correct, as anything which is part of the fixed order of the day is not considered 'learning Torah' for a mourner [with respect to the law forbidding him to learn] as is ruled in Siman 554, Para. 4.

MB 2: For the Midrash is like Gemara - And they chose this particular Braitha because it is the beginning of Toras Cohanim [the halachic midrash of R. Yishm`ael on Leviticus], which is at the head of the entire portion of the sacrifices [the laws of sacrifices are at the beginning of Leviticus]. Thus they fixed it [in the prayers] immediately following the sacrifices. And they also chose the mishna of "Eyzehu Mkoman" and placed it after the portion of the daily sacrifice because it is written "And in every place is offered up and presented to my name [incense and sacrifices]." (Malachi 1:11) And is it indeed true that in EVERY place they offer up and present them? [The law is that these may only be offered in the Bais HaMikdash, the Holy Temple] Rather, this refers to the Torah scholars who are engaged in the laws of the sacrificial order every day wherever they are - I [G-d] credit them as if they are offering up and presenting to my name. And another reason is that in this chapter of mishnah, there are no disagreements, and it is a clear [pure] teaching to Moshe on Mt. Sinai.

[The author of the Tiferes Yisroel, a commentary on the Mishna, notes that the use of one particular word in this chapter of Mishna is extremely unusual. He explains that this was given to us in the very words taught by Moses from 'Heaven's mouth', and that this word was used because at that time (when there was a Tabernacle but no Temple) no other description was accurate. (The word, for those who will understand, is 'Kloyim'.) "And any Mishna which has no disagreement within it is handed down as it was and in the same language used since Moses, and for this reason the chapter of 'Eyzehu Mkoman' is said every day, because it has no argument, and therefore was handed down to us in this same language from the time of Moses." -- YM]


 






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