כ״ח בניסן ה׳תשע״א (May 2, 2011)

Menahot 54a-b – The most difficult kemitzah

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 altarKemitzah has been described as one of the most difficult of the sacrificial services (see above, daf or page 11).

 

On today’s daf (=page) we find the opinion of Rabbi Ila who teaches that among the different meal-offerings, it is theminhat hotei – the sinner’s offering (when a person is obligated to bring a sacrifice for one of a number of specific sins, in the event that he cannot afford a more expensive sacrifice, he can bring a meal offering – see Vayikra 5:1-13), that is truly the most difficult. This is because the minhat hotei is hareivah – it is dry with no oil added to it, as was the case with other meal-offerings (see 5:11). If the flour is entirely dry it is exceedingly difficult for the kohen to wipe away excess flour with his thumb and pinky, yet ensure that no additional flour will spill out, as well.

 

Rav Yitzhak bar Avdimei apparently disagrees; he recommends adding water to the mixture and performing the kemitzahin that manner. The Gemara concludes that their disagreement stems from the definition of hareivah. Rabbi Ila understands that it is entirely dry, with neither oil nor water; Rav Yitzhak bar Avdimei understands that it cannot have oil added, but water would be permitted.

 

Although there are other meal-offerings where oil is not added, e.g., the shtei ha-lehem – the two loaves brought onShavuot, celebrating the new wheat harvest (see 23:17) – nevertheless they are not considered to be hareivah, since they are kneaded with water. Furthermore there is no specific prohibition against adding oil to them as is the case in the minhat hotei.