Most of the meal offerings brought in the Temple were baked as matza and were not permitted to rise and become ḥametz (see Vayikra 2:11). According to the Mishna on today’s daf, the flour was mixed with lukewarm water, and care was taken to ensure that it did not become ḥametz. In the event that it became ḥametz, the kohen would be liable separately for each of the stages of preparation – for kneading the dough, for setting it out and for baking it.
In his Melekhet Shlomo, Rav Shlomo haEdni suggests that there is no actual requirement to prepare the minḥa flour with lukewarm water, rather it was the recommended practice, since there is no concern lest the mixture become ḥametz given the accepted adage that kohanim zerizim hem – that the kohanim were zealous in their work in the Temple. Several reasons are offered to explain why preparing the meal offering with lukewarm water was preferable –
- The Mahari Kurkus suggests that this method creates a whiter product and leads the mixture to be well-baked.
- According to the Zevaḥ Toda this offers an opportunity to the kohanim to fulfill the commandment to guard the mixture so that it does not become ḥametz.
The Ḥazon Ish points out that this approach, which views the use of lukewarm water as preferable but not required, only works according to the opinion of the Rambam who permits the use of fruit juice – which never becomes ḥametz – in the meal offering. According to the Ramban, however, who rules that unless the mixture can become ḥametz it will not be considered appropriate for use as a korban minḥa, mixing with water is a basic requirement.
Another issue raised in this context is whether any water can be used or if the water must be consecrated or else it is as if a mundane offering was being brought in the Temple.