1) THE SIX SHEEP IN THE "LISHKAS HA'TELA'IM"
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that a minimum of six examined sheep are kept in the Lishkas ha'Tela'im at all times, ready to be used for Korbanos. RASHI (DH Arba) cites an explanation for why six sheep must always be available. A minimum of six are necessary because it takes four days to inspect an animal properly for blemishes (including the day on which it is slaughtered). Since two sheep are used every day for the two daily Tamid offerings, the supply of six examined sheep is used up every three days. The next day (the fourth day), the two sheep that were added three days earlier are now ready to be offered as Korbanos (since four days of examination have passed for them).
Rashi questions this explanation. The Gemara (12b) explains that the requirement to have a constant supply of six sheep is derived from the number of days before Yetzi'as Mitzrayim that the people in Mitzrayim were commanded to set aside the lamb used for the Korban Pesach. According to the explanation cited by Rashi, this is not an accurate comparison, because in Mitzrayim the lambs were designated four days in advance besides the day on which they were slaughtered. In the Beis ha'Mikdash, however, the lambs are designated only three days before the day on which they are slaughtered!
(a) RASHI offers an alternate explanation for why there must be a constant supply of six sheep in the Lishkas ha'Tela'im. Eight, and not just six, sheep are kept in the Lishkas ha'Tela'im. After two are taken out for the daily Tamid offerings, six are left. These are the six sheep to which the Mishnah refers. Accordingly, each sheep indeed is prepared four days in advance besides the day on which it is slaughtered.
(b) The MOSHAV ZEKENIM (Parshas Bo) supports the first explanation in Rashi. It is true that the Korban Pesach was designated on the tenth of Nisan, four days before the day of its slaughter. However, had the lamb been separated shortly before the end of the day, there would not have been four full days left between the time that the lamb was designated to be used and the time of its slaughter. This is why we may learn from the Korban Pesach that a sheep must be designated four days before its slaughter including the day on which it is slaughtered.
2) THE NUMBER OF HORNS AND HARPS USED IN THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
QUESTION: The Mishnah (13a) states that there is no upper limit to the number of Chatzotzeros and Kinoros that may be used in the orchestra of the Beis ha'Mikdash that accompanies the singing of the Leviyim.
The Gemara (13b), however, immediately asks, "What is the upper limit to the number of Chatzotzeros and Kinoros?" It answers by citing a verse to prove that the maximum number is 120.
If the Mishnah says that there is no upper limit, why does the Gemara assume that there is a limit? If, as the Gemara proves from the verse, there is limit of 120, then why does the Mishnah say that there is no limit?
(a) TOSFOS (13a, DH u'Mosifim) answers that the Gemara means that it is not appropriate to use only the minimum number of Chatzotzeros and Kinoros (two and nine, respectively) in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Although that number will suffice, it is not considered "Hidur Mitzvah," a fulfillment of the requirement to beautify a Mitzvah. The Gemara acknowledges that there is no upper limit to the number of instruments used in the orchestra. However, it asks what number of instruments is considered a full Hidur Mitzvah. It answers that 120 instruments is considered Hidur Mitzvah.
(b) Tosfos suggests further that there actually is an upper limit to the number of musical instruments used in the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Gemara understands that when the Mishnah says that there is no upper limit, it does not meant literally that there is no limit to the number of instruments that may be used. The instruments are used to make music to accompany the singing of the Leviyim. If there would be too many instruments, their music would obscure the sound of the voices of the Leviyim, which is more important. Therefore, there must be some upper limit to the number of instruments. The Mishnah means merely that many instruments may be used.
(c) The RAMBAM (in Perush ha'Mishnayos) suggests a compromise. When the Mishnah says that there is no upper limit, it refers to the limit for instruments other than the Chatzotzeros and Kinoros. For the Chatzotzeros and Kinoros, there is an upper limit of 120.
3) WHEN MAY A CHILD ENTER THE "AZARAH"?
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that a Levi child is not allowed to enter the Azarah to perform any duty of the Leviyim (as Rashi (DH Ein) explains), except when the Leviyim are singing Shirah. When the Leviyim are singing Shirah, the children may enter the Azarah and sing with the adults, because the youthful, high voices of the children enhance the Shirah.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 5:15) writes, "When a young Kohen matured and became an adult (at the age of 13), he became fit to perform the Avodah. However, his fellow Kohanim would not allow him to perform any Avodah until he was twenty years old. The first time he performed the Avodah, he would enter the Azarah at the time the Leviyim were singing Shirah."
The RA'AVAD writes that the Rambam seems to have grossly misunderstood the Mishnah here. The Mishnah is discussing a Levi child who enters the Azarah for the Shirah, and not a Kohen who has reached adulthood!
What is the meaning of the Rambam's statement?
ANSWER: The EVEN HA'AZEL shows that the text of the Mishnah of the Rambam differs from our text, as is evident from the Rambam's comments in Perush ha'Mishnayos. In the Rambam's text of the Mishnah, the words, "Ein ha'Katan Nichnas la'Azarah la'Avodah...," appear at the end of the Mishnah and not at the point at which they appear in our version of the Mishnah.
There are three basic Halachic differences between our text of the Mishnah and that of the Rambam:
1. According to the Rambam's text, under no circumstances may a Levi child enter the Azarah to perform an Avodah, even to sing Shirah with the adults. The Rambam (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 3:7) rules that a Levi may not enter the Beis ha'Mikdash to perform any Avodah until he becomes an adult. He does not mention any exceptions to this rule. According to our text of the Mishnah, the young Levi is permitted to enter the Azarah to sing Shirah with the Leviyim.
2. The word "Katan" in the Mishnah, according to our text of the Mishnah, refers to a minor. According to the Rambam's text, it refers to a Kohen who is new to the Avodah. (According to the Rambam, "Katan" means "junior," and not "minor." Similarly, the word "Katan" is used to mean "inferior" in the Mishnah on 14b.)
3. According to our text of the Mishnah, the statement, "Kedei Liten Tevel b'Ne'imah," explains why the young Leviyim are allowed to sing together with the adults. According to the Rambam's text, the Mishnah is explaining why those who sing do not play instruments as well; they do not play instruments in order to enable them to sing at their best. (This appears to be the Rambam's intention, according to KAPACH's translation of the Perush ha'Mishnayos. The Even ha'Azel suggests a different explanation for these words, "Kedei Liten Tevel b'Ne'imah," according to the Rambam's reading of the Mishnah.)