Friday, February 04, 2011

Zevachim 86b - Torah give over power to chachamim to decide

I am trying to recall all places where we find a concept of מסרן הכתוב לחכמים to decide the parameters of a halacha on a Torah level. In general, the chachamim always have the ability to use methods of deduction to interpret the Torah or transmit a mesorah from earlier generations that dates back to Moshe mi'sinai. However, there are a handful of places where instead of the Torah indicating the parameters of a halacha, they give the power in the hands of the chachamim to draw the line, and decide what exactly should constitute a Torah violation.
1. The primary source for this concept is found in Chagiga 18a in the context of melacha on chol ha'moed. The gemara understands from the ambiguity of the pesukim as to whether all melacha is forbidden on chol ha'moed or not that - לא מסרכן הכתוב אלא לחכמים לומר לך איזה יום אסור ואיזה יום מותר, אי זו מלאכה אסורה ואי זו מלאכה מותרת. According to Tosafos that the prohibition of melacha on chol hamoed is d'oraysa, the Rabbonon are able to draw the line on their own as to which melachos should be a Torah violation.
2. In the context of the 5 inuyim that we refrain from on Yom Kippur, there is a big discussion in the Rishonim if those other than eating and drinking are d'oraysa or only d'rabonon. The Ran at the beginning of the 8th perek in Yoma writes that they are all d'oraysa just that since they aren't included in the torah's term "inuy", rather in the term "shabason" the Rabbonon have the control to set up the parameters for what should be assur and when it should be assur - ומסרן הכתוב לחכמים והן הקילו בהן כפי מה שראו והתירו כל שאינו נעשה לתענוג.
3. In our gemara Rashi understands that ideally the terumas hadeshen should be done no earlier than morning which would mean dawn. However, the pasuk indicates that sometimes there is a "boker" to the morning, and it can be done earlier. Rashi explains that since there is no specific time given by the Torah, it all depends on the needs of the day. Tosafos writes to explain rashi - ומסר המקום הדבר לחכמים להיות משכימין כל מה שירצולפי הצורך להם. Meaning, doing it earlier than dawn under normal circumstances would be a Torah violation, yet the Rabbonon have control to decide when it needs to be done earlier.

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