Salt was an integral part of each and every sacrifice, as the Torah clearly states in Sefer Vayikra (2:13), that the covenant of salt should never be left out when bringing sacrifices.
According to the baraita quoted on today’s daf (=page) there were three places where the salt was applied in the Temple:
- In the “salt office” in the Temple where salt was applied to the hides of the sacrifices that were given to thekohanim as their share in the sacrifice (see Vayikra 7:8)
- On the ramp leading up to the altar where the parts of the offering that were to be sacrificed were prepared
- On the top of the altar itself, where various offerings were salted, including a variety of different types of meal-offerings – the kometz and levonah (the fistful of flour prepared by the kohen for sacrifice together with the frankincense), the meal-offering of the kohen and of the kohen gadol, as well as others.
Regarding the “salt office” in the Temple, Tosafot point to a Mishnah in Masechet Middot (5:3) where it appears that the “salt office” was where the salt for the sacrifices were stored, and the hides from the sacrifices were treated with salt in a different office nearby that was called lishkat ha-parva (the “hide office”). Tosafot suggest that the baraita in our Gemarawrote in shorthand, and what it means is that the “salt office” was where the salt was stored for use in salting the hides in the nearby lishkat ha-parva. An alternative approach raised is that the “salt office” in our Gemara really refers to thelishkat ha-parva, where the actual salting was done – similar to the ramp and the altar where the salt was actually applied. The office mentioned in Masechet Middot refers to a storage office that is not mentioned in our Gemara, whose sole focus is on where the salting took place.
In this diagram we see the three salting places –
Number 4 – the altar (mizbe’ah)
Number 5 – the ramp (kevesh)
Number 8 – the “salt office” (lishkat ha-melah)
Adjoining the salt office we find the lishkat ha-parva (Number 7).