א׳ במרחשון ה׳תשע״ט (October 10, 2018)

Menahot 61a-b: Waving in the East

As we learned on yesterday’s daf there were different activities that were done to the menaḥot as part of the ceremonial Temple service. Specifically, the two activities were hagasha – bringing the offering to the altar prior to performing kemitza on the flour – and tenufa – lifting or “waving” the offering.

The Mishna on today’s daf teaches that the tenufa was performed in the east, while the hagasha was performed in the west; the tenufa was performed before the hagasha.

The “east” and “west” mentioned refer to the eastern side of the altar – where the entrance from the ezrat yisrael to the ezrat kohanim was located – and the western side of the altar which was referred to as bein ha-ulam la-mizbe’aḥ, between the sanctuary and the altar, which had a higher level of holiness.

Rashi explains that there is no obligation to perform tenufa on the eastern side of the altar, the Mishna is teaching that even the eastern side is considered lifnei HaShem – before God – as required by the Torah (see Vayikra 6:7), and tenufa on that side would be sufficient. The western side of the altar would certainly be appropriate for tenufa, as well.

The Rambam appears to disagree and require that tenufa be performed specifically on the eastern side of the altar. The Gri”z – Rav Yitzhak Soloveitchik – explains that this requirement stems from the fact that all who enter the Temple enter from the eastern side, so they first pass the eastern side of the altar, which is their first opportunity to perform the mitzva. Given the general principle that ein ma’avirin al ha-mitzvot – that one should not pass on the opportunity to perform a mitzva tenufa should be done immediately at that point, followed by hagasha at the southwest corner of the altar, as required.