Daf Yomi

For the week ending 22 November 2003 / 27 Heshvan 5764

Menachot 48-54

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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The World or Forever

A chok olom is the way the Torah refers to the minchat chavitin (Vayikra 6:15).

This flour offering was brought by every kohen on the day he was inaugurated into the Beit Hamikdash service and by the kohen gadol every day. The issoron amount of flour that the kohen brought was divided into two halves, one of which was burned on the altar in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

What is meant by the term olom used in regard to this statute? The Hebrew word olom can be translated as "world" or "forever". Its meaning here is a matter of dispute between Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yehuda.

Rabbi Shimon applies the term to a situation in which the kohen gadol has passed away and a successor has yet to be appointed. The materials for the mincha during the interim must be supplied by the community from the Beit Hamikdash treasury and not by the heirs of the kohen gadol. This, Rabbi Shimon contends, is indicated by the term olom, which means the "world" or, more precisely, the general community.

Rabbi Yehuda, on the other hand, on the basis of the text regarding Aarons sons, rules that it is the heirs of the deceased kohen gadol who must supply the material for the mincha which was their fathers responsibility, until a successor is appointed to assume this responsibility. He translates the term olom as "forever" and views it as the Torahs instructions regarding the inauguration process of kohanim is to be forever according to what is directed in that chapter. Tosefot explains that this was intended to rule out the misconception that a kohen who had already brought a minchat chavitin for his inauguration as an ordinary kohen is required to bring another one when he is inaugurated as a kohen gadol but that there is no need for the kohen gadol to bring such a mincha every day. The term olom is therefore used to indicate that the service of the kohen gadol must go on forever on a daily basis in the Beit Hamikdash.

Menachot 51b

Olives and the Jewish Problem

The Jewish nation is compared to the olive by the Prophet Yirmiyahu:

"Hashem has given you the title of a beautiful, fresh olive." (Yirmiyahu 11:16)

Several explanations are offered by our Sages for this comparison.

Rabbi Yitzchak sees in it the fulfillment of Jewish destiny in the end of days. When the Patriarch Avraham came to the ruins of the Beit Hamikdash to pray for his exiled descendants, G-d reassured him that, despite their serious sinning that precipitated their exile, there was still hope for their survival and return. A voice from Heaven quoted the above comparison to the olive, explaining that just as the true essence of the olive is the oil which can be extracted from it at the end of its existence, so too will the true essence of the Jewish nation emerge at the end of days. How this massive return to G-d will be effected has already been outlined by our Sages who stated that in order for Jews to be worthy of redemption by Mashiach a wicked ruler will be imposed upon them by Heaven, whose draconic decrees will motivate Jews to repent their ways and return to G-d.

This concept is echoed by Rabbi Yochanan who pointed out that just as the oil is extracted from the olive by crushing it, so too do Jews return to the proper path only through suffering.

Maharsha makes an interesting observation regarding the relationship of the olive to its oil. In the Torah listing of the seven agricultural species for which Eretz Yisrael is famed, the olive is described as the "oil-producing olive" (Devarim 8:8), for it is the oil rather than the fruit that is the true essence of the olive.

Jewish survival is the theme of the comparison to the olive in the approach of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. His focus, however, is on the tree bearing the olives rather than the oil produced from them. Just as the olive tree does not shed its leaves both in winter and summer so will Jewry remain both in this world and in the Hereafter. Maharsha explains that winter is an allegory for the difficulties that Jews suffer in the generations preceding Mashiach, while summer symbolizes the era of redemption that awaits them.

Menachot 53b

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