As we have learned, one of the central practices that must be done to meal-offerings brought to the Temple is kemitzah – when the kohen takes a fistful of the flour-oil-frankincense mixture – and places it in a keli sharet – one of the Temple vessels – as preparation for sacrifice on the altar. Kemitzah is described on today’s daf (=page) where we learn that it was considered one of the most difficult of the sacrificial services.
Rava suggests that kemitzah was done by taking a full handful of the meal-offering mixture in a normal manner. TheGemara raises an objection from a baraita that names each of the five fingers on a person’s hand; they are zeret (pinky),kemitzah (ring finger), amah (middle finger), etzba (index finger) and gudal (thumb). The placement of the kemitzah in this list seems to indicate that a kemitzah is not performed with all five fingers. Rav Zutra bar Tuvia quotes Rav as teaching that a handful is taken and then the thumb and pinky are used to brush off any excess flour, leaving the amount that remains under the middle three fingers for sacrifice. Rav Papa concludes that it is clear to him that the passage describing kemitzah (see Sefer Vayikra 2:2) should be understood to mean that it is a full handful done in a normal manner.
It appears that Rav Papa’s teaching that all five fingers are used contradicts the ruling of the baraita that ultimatelykemitzah is the amount that is held under three fingers. This, in fact, is the position of the Rambam in his Commentary to the Mishnah, where he concludes that by quoting Rav Papa the Gemara indicates that the baraita is rejected and thekemitzah is not to be considered one of the most difficult of the Temple services. Rashi disagrees and suggests that Rav Papa is simply describing how the process of kemitzah is done. It begins with the kohen placing his hand in the flour and taking out a handful. According to this approach, Rav Papa never discusses the next step, where the excess is removed by means of the thumb and pinky.