כ׳ באלול ה׳תשע״ח (August 31, 2018)

Menahot 21a-b: Salting Sacrifices in the Temple

Salt was an integral part of each and every sacrifice, as the Torah clearly states in Sefer Vayikra (2:13), that the covenant of salt should never be left out when bringing sacrifices.

According to the baraita quoted on today’s daf there were three places where the salt was applied in the Temple:

  • In the Chamber of the Salt in the Temple where salt was applied to the hides of the sacrifices that were given to the kohanim as their share in the sacrifice (see 7:8)
  • On the ramp leading up to the altar where the parts of the offering that were to be sacrificed were prepared
  • On the top of the altar itself, where various offerings were salted, including a variety of different types of meal offerings – the kometz and levona (the fistful of flour prepared by the kohen for sacrifice together with the frankincense), the meal-offering of the kohen and of the , as well as others.

Regarding the Chamber of the Salt in the Temple, Tosafot point to a Mishna in Massekhet Middot (5:3) where it appears that the Chamber of the Salt was where the salt for the sacrifices were stored, and the hides from the sacrifices were treated with salt in a different office nearby that was called lishkat ha-parva (the Chamber of the Hide). Tosafot suggest that the baraita in our Gemara wrote in shorthand, and what it means is that the Chamber of the Salt was where the salt was stored for use in salting the hides in the nearby lishkat ha-parva.

An alternative approach raised is that the Chamber of the Salt in our Gemara really refers to the lishkat ha-parva, where the actual salting was done – similar to the ramp and the altar where the salt was actually applied. The office mentioned in Massekhet Middot refers to a storage office that is not mentioned in our Gemara, whose sole focus is on where the salting took place.

In this diagram we see the three salting places –

  1. The altar (mizbe’aḥ)
  2. The ramp (kevesh)
  3. The Chamber of the Salt (lishkat ha-melaḥ)