As we learned regarding animal sacrifices in Massekhet Zevaḥim (see, for example, daf 13b) inappropriate thoughts that take place at key moments during the preparation of a sacrifice will cause that sacrifice to become invalid. Improper thoughts about where the sacrifice might be eaten or sacrificed will cause it to be considered notar – “left over” – which invalidates the sacrifice; improper thoughts about the time that the sacrifice was to be eaten or sacrificed will cause it to be considered piggul – “abhorrent.” Such a sacrifice is invalid; eating such a sacrifice also entails the punishment of karet – excision – a Heavenly death penalty.
The Mishna on today’s daf teaches that these laws apply to meal offerings, as well. The source for this law is the parallel that exists between the rules of animal sacrifices and meal offerings. According to Rashi this is based on the Torah’s placement of all sacrifices in a single passage in Sefer Vayikra (7:37).
Which are the “key moments” that are the times when the thoughts of notar or piggul will affect the validity of the meal offerings?
The sacrificial service that we find for the minḥa is similar to that of an animal sacrifice. After preparing the meal offering the kohen takes a kometz – a fistful – from the mixture, places it in one of the Temple vessels to sanctify it, carries it to the altar and burns it on the altar. From that time the remnants are permitted to the kohanim to eat. Thus, the four main activities of the minḥa parallel those of an animal sacrifice:
- Kemitza (taking the fistful of flour) parallels sheḥita (slaughtering the animal),
- Placing the kometz in the Temple vessel parallels collecting the blood in a Temple vessel,
- Carrying the kometz to the altar parallels carrying the blood to the altar,
- Burning the kometz on the altar parallels sprinkling the blood on the altar.
It is at these times that an inappropriate thought will invalidate the offering.