QUESTION: The Gemara questions the order of the Avodah as described in the
Mishnah. The Mishnah says that the Avodah of the morning-Ketores is done
between the Zerikas Dam ha'Tamid and placing the Evarim of the Korban upon
the Mizbe'ach (Zerikah-Ketores-Evarim). We know, however, that at least part
of the Hatavos ha'Neros was done immediately before the Ketores, but the
Mishnah makes no mention of the Neros!
According to the Rabanan, who say that the Ketores was burned between the
Hatavah of the five Neros and the Hatavah of the two Neros, the Mishnah
should say that the Hatavos ha'Neros (of the two Neros) is done after the
Ketores, and not the Evarim (Zerikah-five Neros-Ketores-two Neros-Evarim)!
According to Aba Sha'ul, who maintains that the Zerikas ha'Dam was done
between the two Hatavos, the Mishnah should not say that the Avodah before
the Ketores was the Zerikas ha'Dam, but that it was the Hatavah of the two
Neros (five Neros-Zerikah-two Neros-Ketores-Evarim)!
The Gemara answers that the Mishnah follows the opinion of the Rabanan who
say that the Ketores is brought before the last two Neros, and that the
Mishnah is "not being precise" regarding the specific order, and it omits
the steps which come immediately before and immediately after the Ketores
(i.e. the Hatavos of the five and two Neros).
If the Mishnah is not being precise, then why does the Gemara say that it is
the Rabanan? The Mishnah could just as well be Aba Sha'ul, and it is not
being precise and is omitting the Hatavah of the two Neros that is done
before the Ketores! RASHI touches on this question and explains that it is
"preferable" to say that the Mishnah is the Rabanan. Why, though, is there
such a preference?
(a) The RITVA says that it is preferable to say that the Mishnah is the
Rabanan because the Rabanan are the majority opinion.
(b) TOSFOS (DH l'Olam) explains that it is preferable to say that the
Mishnah is the Rabanan, because the Reisha of the Mishnah mentions the
Ketores before the Hatavah of the two Neros, and the Gemara (14a) proved
from here that the Mishnah follows the opinion of the Rabanan and not Aba
Sha'ul. Therefore, it is preferable to say that this part of the Mishnah,
too, is according to the Rabanan.