י״ז באלול ה׳תשע״ח (August 28, 2018)

Menahot 18a-b: The Sacrificial Service of Meal Offerings

Although there are different types of menaḥot – meal offerings (see the Introduction to Massekhet Menaḥot) – the general service went as follows:

The individual bringing the sacrifice would bring a measure of fine flour and a measure of oil, and a bit of the oil would be put into an ordinary vessel and covered with the flour. Some more of the oil would be poured on and then these ingredients would be mixed together. After the mixing, the ingredients would be transferred to a keli sharet – a sanctified Temple vessel – and the rest of the oil would be poured on the mixture (some say that the mixing had to be done in one of the Temple vessels), and the frankincense would be added. The keli sharet is then brought to the kohen who takes it to the south-west corner of the altar, where it is placed in a special receptacle in that place. The kohen then moves all of the frankincense to one side and takes a kometz – a fistful of the flour – which he places in a different keli sharet. He then collects the frankincense, adds it to the kometz, puts salt on them, lifts them up and takes them to the altar to be sacrificed. At this point the remainder of the offering is eaten by the kohanim.

The Mishna on today’s daf discusses what must be done if parts of this process were skipped. According to the Mishna if any of the steps were skipped –

  • if he did not pour in the oil
  • if he did not mix the ingredients together,
  • if he did not break up the meal-offering in pieces,
  • if he did not salt it,
  • if he did not lift it,
  • if he did not bring it to the altar,
    – nevertheless, the offering is valid.

The Gemara explains that in truth, all of these things had to be done. The Mishna is teaching that they do not all need to be done according to the ideal of the Torah. Thus, for example, the offering would be valid if these activities were performed by an ordinary person who is not a kohen.