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Menahot 47a-b: Shavuot Sacrifices

A number of different offerings are brought as part of the sacrificial service on the holiday of Shavuot –

  • Two types of korban ola (burnt offering) – those brought as the musaf sacrifices (Bamidbar 28:27) as well as those brought to accompany the special shtei ha-leḥem (Vayikra 23:18), the kivsei atzeret
  • A korban ḥatat (sin offering, see 23:19)
  • A korban shelamim (peace offering, see 23:19)
  • Shtei ha-leḥem (two special ḥametz holiday loaves, see 23:17).

The Mishna (on daf 45b) teaches that all of these offerings are independent and can be brought one without the other, with the exception of the shtei ha-leḥem and the special korban ola that is meant to accompany it. Rabbi Akiva rules that the kivsei atzeret cannot be brought without the shtei ha-leḥem; Shimon ben Nannas argues that it is the shtei ha-leḥem that cannot be brought without the kivsei atzeret.

The Gemara on today’s daf quotes a baraita that teaches that the kivsei atzeret do not sanctify and thereby permit the shtei ha-leḥem to be eaten until they are slaughtered. Thus, if they were properly slaughtered and their blood was properly collected and sprinkled, the shtei ha-leḥem can be eaten.

What if the preparatory sacrifice and subsequent sprinkling of the blood was not completed properly?

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi rules that if the animals were slaughtered properly but the blood was not sprinkled with the proper intentions, then the shtei ha-leḥem is kadosh ve-eino kadosh – it is only partially sanctified (Abaye and Rava disagree about the defining the level of sanctification). Rabbi Elazar b’Rabbi Shimon argues, ruling that the shtei ha-leḥem will only become sanctified if both the slaughter and the sprinkling of the blood is done properly.

Although the Gemara quotes Biblical passages that each of these Sages would bring to support their positions, the Gri”z, Rav Yitzhak Zev Soloveitchik suggests that this argument is related to a general disagreement between Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi and Rabbi Elazar b’Rabbi Shimon. While Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi believes that if there are two requirements in sanctification, one offers partial sanctification, Rabbi Elazar rules that one cannot work without the other.


This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, and edited and adapted by Rabbi Shalom Berger.

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