ט״ו באלול ה׳תשע״ח (August 26, 2018)

Menahot 16a-b: Inappropriate Thoughts While Sacrificing Meal Offerings

The rule with regard to meal offerings is that the parts of the offering that are eaten by the kohanim are permitted to them only after both the kometz – the fistful of flour taken for sacrifice – and the levona – the frankincense – are placed on the altar.

The Mishna on today’s daf discusses whether having an inappropriate thought about eating the meal offering – that is, planning to eat it when it is forbidden to do so – will disqualify the offering if it happened only when sacrificing just one of these elements. According to the , it is only if the inappropriate thought occurred during both the sacrifice of the kometz and that of the levona that the offering will become piggul and the person who eats of it will be liable to receive karet – excision (a Heavenly punishment). Rabbi Meir rules that an inappropriate thought during either one of those times will suffice to disqualify the offering.

The Mishna continues and explains that there are some meal offerings that do not include levona

  • The meal offering brought by a sinner – when a person is obligated to bring a sacrifice for one of a number of specific sins, in the event that he cannot afford a more expensive sacrifice, he can bring a meal offering (see 5:1-13).
  • The meal offering brought by a – a woman suspected of an affair (see 5:25). 

In those cases, since there is only one element of sacrifice that acts to permit eating the offering, there is no disagreement.

In the first Mishna of this perek on daf 13a, we found a disagreement between Rabbi Yosei and the Ḥakhamim about whether an inappropriate thought about sacrificing the levona would be a problem if it happened when sacrificing the kometz or vice versa. Today’s discussion is a different one – whether thoughts about eating the offering are significant when they occur during only one of the parts of the sacrifice, or if we need both elements together. According to the Sages of our Mishna, since the offering cannot be eaten until both the levona and the kometz had been brought, in order for the offering to become piggul the inappropriate thoughts would have to have occurred in both.