י״ב באלול ה׳תשע״ח (August 23, 2018)

Menahot 13a-b: Inappropriate Thoughts About Frankincense

The second perek of Massekhet Menaḥot begins on today’s daf. Perek HaKometz et HaMinḥa continues the discussion of the problems associated with improper thoughts when bringing a meal offering. As we saw on yesterday’s daf, menaḥot are similar to animal sacrifices in that the offering will become invalid if someone has improper thoughts during key parts of the sacrificial service, regarding when or where the offering would be sacrificed or eaten.

There are, however, differences between meal offerings and animal sacrifices. While in an animal sacrifice, the single activity that permits the sacrifice to be eaten is the service of sprinkling the blood of the sacrifice, there are two essential elements that must be done in order for a meal offering to be permitted. Those two elements are the placing on the altar of the kometz – the flour-oil mixture removed by the kohen – and the levona – the frankincense.

In the first Mishna of the perek we find a disagreement between Rabbi Yosei and about a case where during the kemitza – when the kohen takes the fistful of flour from the minḥa to be placed on the altar – the kohen thinks that he will sacrifice the levona at the wrong time. The Sages rule that this meal offering becomes piggul – abhorrent – and the penalty for eating it would be karet – excision – since that is the law for someone who had this inappropriate thought while involved in the preparation of the minḥa. Rabbi Yosei argues that it cannot become piggul (although he allows that the offering becomes invalid), since inappropriate thoughts can only affect the service that is being done and not the other service.

The Mishna relates that the Sages asked Rabbi Yosei why he distinguishes between meal offerings and animal sacrifices, and he responded that all parts of the animal sacrifice are essentially one – the blood, the meat and the innards that are to be sacrificed. The levona, however, is a separate entity that is added to the minḥa, but is not truly part of the minḥa. As such, an inappropriate thought about the levona cannot make the minḥa become piggul.