ה׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ט (November 13, 2018)

Menahot 95a-b: Where Was the Shewbread Prepared?

As we learned on yesterday’s daf, many of the rules of Shetei ha-leḥem – the two loaves brought on Shavuot, celebrating the new wheat harvest (see 23:17) – and the Leḥem ha-panim – the 12 loaves places on the table in the Temple on a weekly basis (see 24:5-8) – are similar to each other. The Mishna on today’s daf discusses where these offerings must be prepared.

  • The Tanna Kamma teaches that they are kneaded and arranged outside of the Temple precincts, but that they are baked in the Temple courtyard,
  • Rabbi Yehuda rules that all of their preparations must be done in the area of the Temple,
  • Rabbi Shimon teaches that they can be prepared and baked either in the Temple courtyard, or outside of it in Beit Pagi, which was outside of the Temple grounds.

The source for these different opinion stems from how the tanna’im viewed the sanctification of the offerings. According to the Tanna Kamma, they do not become holy until they are baked, so there is no reason for the preparatory activities like kneading and arranging the loaves to be done on the Temple grounds. Rabbi Yehuda views the shetei ha-leḥem and the leḥem ha-panim as standard meal offerings, which become sanctified from the moment that the ingredients are measured out in a keli sharet – a Temple vessel. As such, from that moment they must be in the Temple. Rabbi Shimon permits even the baking to be done outside of the Temple, since he believes that the shetei ha-leḥem on Shavuot only becomes sanctified with the slaughter of the accompanying sacrifices, while the leḥem ha-panim become sanctified when they are placed on the table in the Temple.

It should be noted that earlier in the tractate we learned the opinion of Rabbi Elazar the son of Rabbi Shimon who rules that the sanctification of the shetei ha-leḥem does not occur until after the sacrifices are brought and their blood is sprinkled on the altar (see daf 47a).