For the week ending 4 June 2011 / 1 Sivan 5771

Menachot 86 - 93

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The range of quality in olive oil used in the Beit Hamikdash
  • The sources for wine used for libation
  • The measures used in the Beit Hamikdash for solids and liquids
  • The amounts of oil used for nesachim and for menorah
  • Mixing nesachim or sacrificial fats
  • The flour or oil which rises above surface of vessel
  • Which sacrifices are accompanied by nesachim (flour, oil and wine)
  • The communal and individual sacrifices that requires semicha (owner leaning his hands on it)
  • Who is eligible for doing semicha
  • The concept of shiarei mitzvah
  • Comparison of semicha to waving

Mitzvah Residue

  • Menachot93a

"He shall lean his hands upon the head of the olah sacrifice and it shall become acceptable for him, to atone for him." (Vayikra 1:4)

This act of semicha– the owner leaning his hands on the sacrifice – is described in our mishna as shiarei mitzvah– the residue of the mitzvah of offering a sacrifice.

The gemara goes on to explain that this act is not what achieves atonement. This is achieved by applying the blood of the sacrifice to the altar as the Torah elsewhere states "for it is the blood that atones for the soul." (Vayikra 17:11) What the Torah is telling us in the first passage is that if one fails to do semicha because it is a mere “residue of a mitzvah” and not an indispensable element, he achieves atonement but has failed to do the mitzvah properly.

The same concept is found in regard to the purification process of the metzora, which includes an asham sacrifice which must be waved. Here again the Torah connects the waving to atonement (Vayikra 14:21), but it is only a shiarei mitzvah since the actual atonement is achieved with the blood of the sacrifice.

Other examples include the waving of the two lambs and two loaves on Shavuot (Vayikra 23:20), and the waving of the four species on Sukkot. The gemara (Sukkot 38a) states that although these wavings are only shiarei mitzvah, they are effective in preventing the dangers of negative climate.

What the Sages Say

"The Torah had consideration for the money of the Jews. (And therefore did not require the same quality of olive oil for the mincha offerings as it did for the menorah.)"

  • Rabbi Elazar - Menachot 86b

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