Most of the meal-offerings brought in the Temple were baked as matzah and were not permitted to rise and becomehametz (see Vayikra 2:11). According to the Mishnah on today’s daf (=page), the flour was mixed with lukewarm water, and care was taken to ensure that it did not become hametz. In the event that it became hametz, the kohen would be liable separately for each of the stages of preparation – for kneading the dough, for setting it out and for baking it.
In his Melekhet Shlomo, Rav Shlomo haEdni suggests that there is no actual requirement to prepare the minhah flour with lukewarm water, rather it was the recommended practice, since there is no concern lest the mixture become hametz given the accepted adage that kohanim zerizim hem – that the kohanim were zealous in their work in the Temple. Several reasons are offered to explain why preparing the meal-offering with lukewarm water was preferable –
- The Mahar”i Kurkus suggests that this method creates a whiter product and leads the mixture to be well-baked.
- According to the Zevah Todah this offers an opportunity to the kohanim to fulfill the commandment to guard the mixture so that it does not become hametz.
The Hazon Ish points out that this approach, which views the use of lukewarm water as preferable but not required, only works according to the opinion of the Rambam who permits the use of fruit juice – which never becomes hametz – in the meal-offering. According to the Ramban, however, who rules that unless the mixture can become hametz it will not be considered appropriate for use as a korban minhah, mixing with water is a basic requirement.
Another issue raised in this context is whether any water can be used or if the water must be consecrated or else it is as if a mundane offering was being brought in the Temple.