ט״ו בכסלו ה׳תשע״ט (November 23, 2018)

Menahot 106a-b: Contributing Wood to the Temple

The Mishna on today’s daf teaches that if someone obligates himself to bring wood to the Temple, he must bring at least two pieces of wood, as are usually placed on the altar together every morning and afternoon.

The Gemara quotes a baraita that teaches that contributing wood to the Temple is considered like committing oneself to bringing an actual sacrifice. This is derived from an extra word korban that appears in the Torah (either, according to Rashi, in Vayikra 2:1, or, according to Rabbeinu Gershom, in 1:2) and is supported by a passage in Sefer Nehemiah (10:35) that specifically talks about “the sacrifice of wood.”

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi goes so far as to claim that as a sacrifice, wood brought to the Temple must be accompanied by salt and must be brought ceremoniously up to the altar, just like any other korbanRava continues this thought by suggesting that according to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s reasoning, the wood should need kemitza, as well.

Kemitza is one of the Temple services that is specifically identified with meal offerings, where the priest takes a handful of flour, which is then placed on the altar. Rava understands that when the Torah creates a relationship between the wood and meal offerings by juxtaposing their laws, it obligates us to view them as halakhot that are closely related to one another. How was kemitza to be performed on wood? According to Rashi, soft chips must be taken from the wood for this purpose, or, perhaps, the wood must be processed into smaller chips. Tosafot add that all of the laws of kemitza would apply – the handful of wood chips must be taken by the kohen in his right hand, placed in a special Temple vessel (a keli sharet), etc.

Another approach to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s teaching – one that appears inconsistent with our Gemara – is offered by the Peirush Kadmon in Massekhet Me’ila, who argues that the intent is simply to point out that whoever contributes wood to the Temple is required to bring a meal offering together with it. This meal offering must include salt, etc.