Talmud Tips

For the week ending 17 November 2018 / 9 Kislev 5779

Menachot 79 - 85

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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An Eating of Simcha

Nesachim (libations) must always come from chullin (i.e., mundane funds, as opposed to ma’aser sheini funds).”

This statement in the mishna on our daf teaches that although many types of offerings on the altar may be purchased with funds that have sanctity, such as money onto which ma’aser sheini fruits were redeemed, all nesachim must be bought only with chullin funds.

For example, a shelamim (peace-offering) that is brought as a nedava, a “gift” (as opposed to a neder, a “vow”), may be purchased with ma’aser funds since the person was not obligated to bring these offerings. Nevertheless, although this animal offering may be purchased using ma’aser money, the Torah-specified nesachim that accompany this type of offering may be bought only with chullin, non-ma’aser money. Why is this so?

There are at least two explanations that the Rishonim offer as the answer. One approach is that only offerings that are at least partially eaten may be brought from ma’aser funds. This would exclude nesachim since they are not eaten, but rather are poured onto the altar. The source for this rule is a teaching in the Sifri which teaches that one may not buy a korban olah (offering that is completely burned on the altar) with ma’aser sheini funds. This is based on the verse (Devarim 14:26): “And you will use that (ma’aser) money… and you will eat there in the presence of the L-rd, your G-d, and you will rejoice with your family.” This teaches, say Chazal in the Sifri, that ma’aser funds may be used only to buy items which may be eaten with joy. This excludes their use in purchasing olah offerings, which are not eaten at all. By the same reasoning, this teaching should also exclude use of ma’aser funds to purchase nesachim, since nesachim are poured into the sefalim (cups) on top of the altar, and are not consumed by people. (Rashi, Tosefot)

The Rambam, however, offers a completely different reason for the need to bring nesachim only using chullin funds. A verse in the Torah (Bamidbar 15:4) that teaches about nesachim (see Rashi and verse 15:5) states that, “One who brings an offering will bring his offering to G-d.” This implies that the nesachim must be his offering, which means that they must be purchased from his personal chullin funds and not from ma’aser, which is not considered his personal funds since ma’aser has sanctity to be used for holy purposes. Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky (Russia, London, Jerusalem 1890-1976) explains in his work called Chazon Yechezkel why the Rambam does not accept the comparison of nesachim to olah, and therefore does not exclude buying nesachim with ma’aser money from the teaching of the Sifri. The Rambam therefore requires a separate source to teach this halacha that nesachim must be bought from chullin funds.

  • Menachot 82a

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