1) HOW MANY "BATEI AVOS" WERE THERE?
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses the thirteen collection boxes ("Shofros") that were in the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Mishnah states that six of them were designated for the collection of money for Nedavah (freewill) offerings. The Gemara lists various opinions for why six Shofros were needed for this purpose.
According to Chizkiyah, six Shofros were needed in order to accommodate the six Batei Avos into which each Mishmar was divided. The Gemara in Menachos (107b) adds that the reason why each Beis Av needed its own donation box was so that the Batei Avos should not quarrel with each other over the money that was donated for Korbanos. If there would be only one box for all of them, then each Beis Av might suspect the others of taking, on their designated day to perform the Avodah, more than their share of the money in order to bring more Korbanos from which to collect more hides for themselves. Therefore, the money donated for Korbanos was divided into six equal portions, each of which was placed into a different box.
Of course, having six Shofros was no assurance that all of the Batei Avos received equal portions of money for Korbanos. Not everyone donated money for the purchase of a Korban; some brought actual animals as personal Olos, the hides of which were given to the Kohanim of the Beis Av on duty that day. If more animals were donated on one day than on another, then that day's Beis Av received more hides than the other Batei Avos. Nevertheless, the six boxes assured that each Beis Av would get an equal share of the public offerings that were bought with the money deposited in the boxes. Any excess that one Beis Av received from private offerings would be attributed to their "luck" and not to unfairness. (The Gemara in Menachos (108a) quotes others who disagree with Chizkiyah and suggest different reasons for why six boxes were necessary. Those opinions maintain that the Chachamim were not concerned that the Batei Avos would quarrel with each other.)
It is clear from the Yerushalmi here and from the Bavli in Menachos that each Mishmar was comprised of six Batei Avos. Each Mishmar came for one week at a time, and each Beis Av served for one day of the week. Who performed the Avodah on the seventh day, Shabbos? RASHI in Menachos (107b, DH k'Neged) explains that on Shabbos, all of the Batei Avos of that Mishmar served together.
However, RASHI in Ta'anis (15b, DH Anshei Beis Av, and the Bartenura there) writes that each Mishmar was comprised of seven Batei Avos, each of which served on a different day of the week. According to Rashi there, a separate Beis Av served in the Beis ha'Mikdash, alone, on Shabbos. How can the words of Rashi in Ta'anis be reconciled with the Gemara here? (CHASAM SOFER OC 200; MIKDASH DAVID 35:2)
(a) The CHASAM SOFER (OC 200) explains that it is far more logical to assume that a single Beis Av served in the Beis ha'Mikdash on Shabbos rather than to assume that all of the Batei Avos served together on that day. Since Nedavos were not allowed to be offered on Shabbos, there was far less work to do, and one Beis Av certainly would suffice. Why, then, does Chizkiyah insist that there were only six Batei Avos?
Chizkiyah maintains that the Chachamim were concerned that the Batei Avos would quarrel with each other over the money. If each Beis Av would demand an equal portion, there would be no way to compensate the Beis Av that worked on Shabbos, since no Nedavos were offered on Shabbos. Therefore, Chizkiyah is forced to say that there were only six Batei Avos, one for each weekday, and that all six performed the Avodah together on Shabbos.
However, the opinions that argue with Chizkiyah assert that the donation boxes served another purpose, because the Chachamim did not suspect the Batei Avos of quarreling with each other over the money. According to those opinions, there is no reason to limit the number of Batei Avos to six. Rashi in Ta'anis sides with this opinion, and thus he explains that seven, and not six, Batei Avos served in each Mishmar, and that only one Beis Av (the seventh) served on Shabbos.
(b) Perhaps the comments of Rashi in Ta'anis (where he says that there were seven Batei Avos) and the comments of Rashi in Menachos (where he says that there were six Batei Avos) are presenting two different ways to understand Chizkiyah's statement. Rashi in Menachos explains that all of the money that was donated was given to the Kohanim. The Kohanim were the ones who deposited the money into the boxes, which they did only after they divided the money into equal portions. The contents of any of the boxes could be offered on any day of the week. (Hence, the Mizbe'ach did not suffer any loss if the contents of the box of that day's Beis Av was all used up, since the contents of the next box would be offered.) However, the hides of the Korbanos which came from the money of a particular box would be given to the Beis Av of that day. (This appears to be the view of Rashi in Menachos 107b, DH she'Yehei, and 108a, DH Kol Chad.) Accordingly, if there indeed were seven Batei Avos and not six, there should have been seven boxes, since the Beis Av of Shabbos should have had its own box, the contents of which did not have to be offered on Shabbos at all. There is no choice but to explain that there were six, and not seven, Batei Avos.
Rashi in Yoma (55b, DH v'Shishah), however, offers another interpretation for the words of Chizkiyah. Rashi explains there that the donors themselves would deposit the money into the boxes. Each day, only one box would be left open, and the Korbanos purchased from the donations that were given on that day would be offered by that day's Beis Av. (That is, if one Beis Av ended up with more donations, it was due simply to their luck, and not to any unfairness in the distribution of the donations.) Accordingly, even if a separate Beis Av served in the Beis ha'Mikdash on Shabbos there was no point in making a separate collection box for it, since no donations could be brought on Shabbos, and no Korbanos (other than the Korbanos of Shabbos) could be offered on that day (as mentioned above in the name of the Chasam Sofer). The Beis Av of Shabbos lost out simply due to its "bad luck." (Alternatively, it was compensated by the fact that it alone was entitled to eat from the Lechem ha'Panim.) Hence, there indeed may have been seven Batei Avos, but Chizkiyah maintained that it was necessary to have boxes installed only for six of the seven Batei Avos. This may be the intent of Rashi in Ta'anis as well. (M. Kornfeld)
Incidentally, the Tosefta in Ta'anis (ch. 2) supports the second interpretation of Rashi. The Tosefta states that a single Beis Av served in the Beis ha'Mikdash on Shabbos. (Actually, the Tosefta asserts that some Mishmaros were comprised of only four Batei Avos, while others had five, six, seven, eight, or even nine Batei Avos (in which case two Batei Avos served on the same day). This does not contradict Rashi's assertion in Ta'anis that there were seven Batei Avos, because Rashi's intention in Ta'anis is that each Mishmar was divided into seven days, on which individual Batei Avos usually served, but on occasion more than one Beis Av may have served on a certain day.)