Talmud Tips

For the week ending 27 October 2018 / 18 Heshvan 5779

Menachot 58 - 64

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
ArtscrollLibrary

Glory in Numbers

“In a multitude of people is the King’s (G-d’s) glory.…” (Mishlei 14:28)

Rashi comments in Mishlei that the “people” in the verse refer to tzadikim, righteous ones. A multitude of righteous people are evidence and testimony to the glory of G-d. The end of the verse tells the flip side, “in the lack of people (i.e. tzadikim) is (the appearance of) the lack of His Kingdom”.

In our gemara, however, we learn from this verse a halachic implication to perform a mitzvah with as many people as reasonably possible. It is cited on our daf to explain why the Torah requires the involvement of three separate kohanim for bringing the korban shelamim. Although one kohen could have physically performed all of the actions alone, the Torah requires him to join two more kohanim in fulfilling the three actions involved. This requirement is in accordance with the principle from Sefer Mishlei that “In the multitude of people is the King’s glory”.

Our gemara explains the three steps performed by the three kohanim, and Rashi in Chumash learns from our sugya the correct interpretation of the relevant verses describing the offering of this sacrifice.

One verse (Vayikra 7:30) states that the kohen brings “the fat on the breast”. This refers to the first kohen who brings it from the place of shechita to the hands of the second kohen. In the first kohen’s hand the fat is on top of the breast. Another verse (Vayikra 10:15) states “the breast upon the fats he will bring to wave.” This verse refers to the second kohen, who waves it. Since it was handed to him, what was on top before is now on the bottom, and what was on the bottom before is now on the top. A third verse (Vayikra 9:20) teaches to place “the fats on the breasts and burn them on the altar.” This refers to the action of the third kohen involved in the process. Once again, we see that what was on top before in the hands of the second kohen is now on the bottom in the hands of the third, and what was on the bottom before is once again on the top.

Besides this mitzvah, the principle of “in a multitude of people…” might apply to many other halachic scenarios, such as kiddush, havdala, zimun, bircat hachama, and more. (These are found in a multitude of places in Shas, Shulchan Aruch and responsa from Poskim.)

  • Menachot 62a

Wave It!

Rav Chama bar Ukva said in the name of Rabbi Yosi bar Rabbi Chanina, “He moves it away and then back in order to stop bad winds; he moves it up and then down in order to stop bad dews.”

This is one reason taught in the gemara for the mitzvah of tenufa — waving — that is mentioned in the Torah in numerous places. Rashi explains that the order for this waving is north, south, east and west (against bad winds that come from all four directions), and up and down (against bad dews, which come from up to down). I wonder, does this cause anyone to think about hurricanes?

The mishna (61a) lists a number of types of offerings where there is a mitzvah to wave the object, in addition to performing the other, main parts of the sacrificial service: oil of the metzora and his asham, the bikkurim (first-fruits), the Omer mincha, the Sota mincha, the two sheep of Shavuot, shelamim (peace-offerings), and more. The Sage Rabbah, in the gemara, adds that waving in this manner is also required for the lulav on Succot.

We are told on our daf that when Rav Acha bar Yaakov waved his lulav he would thrust it away from himself and then bring it back, saying, “This is an arrow in the eye of the Satan”. The gemara rejects doing this since “it would only incite the Satan even more”. Clearly, this “argument” in the gemara is rooted in Kabbalistic concepts beyond the scope of this forum. However, perhaps we can have a rudimentary understanding based on the following idea: If a person acts in a manner that expresses even a smidgen of exaggerated self-worth or pride in his strength, he faces two additional challenges. One is that he may be tested in an even tougher way, and, also, he may become complacent to spiritual threats instead of being as vigilant as possible.

  • Menachot 62a

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