Why are there mishnayot which discuss halachot of situations that occured in history and can never occur again?

As an example of this phenomenon, consider Nega'im 7:1:

אֵלּוּ בֶהָרוֹת טְהוֹרוֹת. שֶׁהָיוּ בוֹ קֹדֶם לְמַתַּן תּוֹרָה...‏

The following bright spots are clean: Those that one had before the Torah was given...

A further example that comes to mind is Zevachim 14:4-7.

Is this simply a case of magnifying and glorifying the Torah, or is there something more going on?

  • 1
    if you were citing a little more: "אֵלּוּ בֶהָרוֹת טְהוֹרוֹת. שֶׁהָיוּ בוֹ קֹדֶם לְמַתַּן תּוֹרָה, בְּנָכְרִי וְנִתְגַּיֵּר, בְּקָטָן וְנוֹלַד, " you would understand that the Mishnah compare Matan Torah to conversion, to teach an additional lesson (as usual). Zvochim is different, it teaches the dependence of on Mishkan and Temple.
    – Al Berko
    May 23, 2019 at 9:52
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    I'm not fluent with Mishnayos, but I think there are many other cases that are relevant to your question more than the one you quoted.
    – Al Berko
    May 23, 2019 at 9:55
  • @AlBerko There could very well be. Feel free (or anyone else reading this) to edit them in to the question.
    – Joel K
    May 23, 2019 at 10:00
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    Note that some of these historical teachings have practical applications today; for instance, whether Gid HaNasheh was taught before or after Har Sinai will tell you whether it applies to treif animals or not (cf. Chullin 100b). Perhaps this holds true for other cases as well, where by teaching about what was before Har Sinai, it informs on that which is practiced after as well.
    – DonielF
    May 23, 2019 at 13:10
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    And in addition to @DonielF's point, if these points come out of drashos, then we need to know that, both to understand the pesukim and so that we know not t oderive other halachos from the same pesukim.
    – Heshy
    May 23, 2019 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


The Torah is there to give us knowledge of Hashem, for Him to become known. This is called Yediyat Hashem. In that context, knowing what He would want even in a case that is historically dated is still perfectly good knowledge about Him.


The Mishnah is meant to be a complete repository of all halachos in the Torah, even if they are not applicable nowadays.

  • 2
    Really? Can you source this claim? I'm skeptical. What about all the things only mentioned in other sources?
    – Double AA
    Aug 20, 2020 at 12:53
  • Introduction of Rambam to Mishnah: And his words in the Mishnah were terse words that included many matters...And that is the Tosefta, and its purpose is to elucidate the Mishnah. And it is possible to extrapolate the Tosefta's explanation from the Mishnah [itself] after great exertion, but he extrapolated them to teach us how to engender and bring out matters from the Mishnah. And so [too] did Rabbi Oshaya. (sefaria.org/…)
    – N.T.
    Aug 20, 2020 at 21:10
  • Yeah - why is the last perek of Zevachim about the laws of heiter bamos, which will never happen again, but there's nothing about how to do Har Sinai?
    – MichoelR
    Jan 8 at 3:45
  • @MichoelR WDYM how to do Har Sinai?
    – N.T.
    Jan 8 at 9:55
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    @N.T. Could be, but there were plenty of temporary "mitzvos" given after the giving of the Torah. All the laws of what to do on Yom Hashemini of consecrating the Mishkan (and really the first seven days as miluim as well, though they do show up in the gemara). Some are really temporary: Move away from Korach's tent! - But the laws of bamos are a sub-piece of a permanent mitzvah, of not bringing korbonos outside the Mishkan, so that may explain it somewhat.
    – MichoelR
    Jan 9 at 13:16

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