א׳ בכסלו ה׳תשע״ו (November 13, 2015)

Sota 19a-b: The Meal-Offering

While the second perek of Massekhet Sota focused on the preparations that were done for the ceremony, the third perek, which begins on our daf, deals with the ceremony itself.

The first Mishna in the perek teaches that the minha – the meal-offering – 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 – lifting the minha – 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 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 lower down than her hands. 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 , 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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