ז׳ בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (April 15, 2016)

Kiddushin 36a-b: The Meal-Offering of a Sota and a Nezira

The Mishna on our daf teaches that many of the laws that relate to bringing sacrifices in the Temple apply to men and not to women. The exceptions are the mitzva of tenufa – lifting the minha (the meal offering) – brought by a  (see Bamidbar 5:11-31) and a nezira (see Bamidbar 6). The minha was brought by the person bringing the sacrifice in a basket. It was removed from the basket and placed in a keli sharet – a utensil belonging to the Temple – and was given to the woman to hold. As is generally the case with menahot, tenufa was then done, with the kohen placing his hands under the hands of the owner and lifting the minha up in the air. Afterwards it was brought to the altar and sacrificed, with the remainder given to the kohanim to eat.

Tosafot in Massekhet Yevamot (19a) bring a question that is presented by the Talmud Yerushalmi. Is there not a lack of propriety in having the kohen lift the minha up thereby touching the hands of the woman? The Yerushalmi rejects the possibility that a cloth was placed between their hands, arguing that something like that would create a hatzitza – a separation – which would not allow the requirement of tenufa to be fulfilled correctly. Rather, the Yerushalmi concludes, such a short term physical touch does not lend itself to sensuality.

Others suggest that the kohen did not actually place his hands directly under the woman’s while he was performing tenufa with her, rather he would hold the edges of the utensil on their upper end. The Rosh suggests that we can reconcile the two explanations by saying that the Talmud Yerushalmi recognized that given the close proximity of the kohen and the sota, it was likely that they would come into contact with one another, and that putting them into such a situation was deemed inappropriate. The conclusion, however, was that contact for just a moment is not something that should be of concern to us.

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