י״ז במרחשוון ה׳תשע״ט (October 26, 2018)

Menahot 78a-b: Sanctifying 40 of 80 Loaves

As we have learned on yesterday’s daf whenever a korban toda – a thanksgiving offering – was brought in the Temple, it was accompanied by 40 loaves that served as meal offerings. These 40 loaves were divided up so that there were ten loaves made of ḥametz (leaven) and 30 of matza – see Sefer Vayikra (7:11-15).

The Gemara on today’s daf presents a case where the individual bringing the korban toda brought 80 loaves, rather than the required 40, to accompany the thanksgiving offering. Ḥizkiyya rules that 40 of these loaves become sanctified; Rabbi Yoḥanan says that they do not become sanctified. In explaining this argument, Rabbi Zeira explains that the disagreement is limited:

If the individual bringing the korban says that he wants 40 of the loaves to become sanctified, the holiness takes effect. Similarly, if he is insistent that all 80 become sanctified, then none become holy. The difference of opinion between Ḥizkiyya and Rabbi Yoḥanan is only in a case where the owner does not specify his intentions. Ḥizkiyya argues that he most likely brought the extra ones in order to guarantee that if there was a problem, he would have extra. Rabbi Yoḥanan suggests that he must have wanted to bring “a big sacrifice” which he cannot do, so none of the loaves become sanctified.

Tosafot point out that the case where all agree that the loaves become sanctified appears, at first glance, to be a question of bereira – that is to say, whether when there is a question about the status of a given object, can an act that takes place later clarify the status retroactively. This would be problematic since we know that Rabbi Yoḥanan does not accept bereira, yet he accepts the ruling that 40 out of 80 loaves become sanctified. They explain that cases of bereira are dependent on a later action that may or may not occur (e.g. someone who wishes to eat untithed produce now, based on the fact that he will tithe the fruit at a later time). In our case, although we are unaware of the status of the loaves at the time when the korban toda is brought, the 40 loaves can immediately become sanctified where they are.