SALT - Friday, 9 Nissan 5780 - April 3, 2020

  • Rav David Silverberg
One of the sacrifices described in Parashat Tzav is the mincha, which consisted of flour (6:7-16).  When a standard mincha offering is brought, the ministering kohein takes a handful of the offering and place it on the altar, while the rest of the offering is distributed among the kohanim in the Beit Ha-mikdash for consumption.  The exception is the mincha offered by a kohein, which is offered entirely on the altar.  This includes also the minchat chavitin – the special mincha offering which the kohein gadol is required to offer each morning and afternoon.  It, too, is burnt entirely on the altar.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likutei Sichot, Parashat Tzav, 5747) notes a subtle distinction between the Torah’s formulation in presenting this halakha in regard to the minchat chavitin, and in regard to mincha offerings brought by kohanim generally.  In reference to the kohein gadol’s daily minchat chavitin, the Torah instructs, “…kalil toktar” – “it shall be offered [on the altar] completely” (6:15).  In the next verse, the Torah says about a standard kohein’s mincha offering, “kalil tiheyeh” – “it shall be complete.”
The Rebbe suggests that this discrepancy underlies Rashi’s comments in explaining these two verses.  Commenting on the phrase “kalil toktar” in reference to the kohein gadol’s offering, Rashi writes, “A handful is not taken for the remainder to be consumed; rather, all of it is entirely [placed on the altar].”  Rav David Pardo, in his Maskil Le-David, explains Rashi’s comments to mean that kemitza – the removal of a handful from the offering – is, in fact, performed with the minchat chavitin, just like regular mincha offerings, but even the remainder is placed on the altar.  Meaning, as opposed to regular mincha offerings, when a handful is removed and placed on the altar, and the rest is eaten by the kohanim, in the case of the minchat chavitin, a handful is removed and placed on the altar, and then the remainder is placed on the altar.  This, Rav Pardo writes, is Rashi’s intent when he writes, “A handful is not taken for the remainder to be consumed.”  A handful is, in fact, removed, but not for the purpose of separating between a portion to be placed on the altar and a portion to be consumed by the kohanim, but rather for both portions to be offered on the altar, in two separate stages.  (Rav Pardo notes that Rav Yaakov Selnik, in his Nachalat Yaakov, explains Rashi’s comments differently.)  According to Rashi, this is the meaning of the phrase “kalil toktar” – the mincha is offered on the altar in its entirety, but it is not whole throughout the process, as a handful is taken and offered separately.
When it comes to the mincha offering brought by an ordinary kohein, however, Rashi writes, “Kulah shaveh la-gavo’ah” – “It is all equally [offered] to the heavens.”  In this context, Rashi emphasizes that all the grain in the offering is “equal,” with no separation at all.  The Rebbe understands this to mean that kemitza was not done at all when an ordinary kohein offers a mincha, and the entire offering is placed on the altar all at once.  This is why the Torah says about a regular kohein’s offering, “kalil tiheyeh” – “it shall be complete,” referring to the fact that no portion is separated at any stage in the process.
To explain the reason for this distinction, the Rebbe posits that fundamentally, the mincha offered by a kohein does not require kemitza, and is simply placed on the altar in its entirety.  However, the minchat chavitin offered by the kohein gadol, according to Rashi, has an element of a korban tzibur – a public offering.  The kohein gadol brings this offering not as an individual, but as a representative of all Am Yisrael.  Indeed, the Sefer Ha-chinukh (136) writes that the daily minchat chavitin parallels the daily tamid sacrifice, which – like the minchat chavitin – is offered each morning and each afternoon.  This offering thus had properties of both a kohein’s private offering – because it was, after all, offered by the kohein gadol, with his own money (Menachot 50b) – and a public sacrifice, as it was offered by the kohein gadol as the nation’s representative.  For this reason, it was, on the one hand, offered entirely on the altar, like a kohein’s personal mincha sacrifice, but it required kemitza, like the public minchat ha-omer offering (see Rambam, Hilkhot Temidin U-musafin 7:12).  And so while the mincha offered by a regular kohein is simply placed in its entirety on the altar, the minchat chavitin, a complex offering which was both a minchat kohein and a public offering, requires kemitza, like a standard mincha, but even the remainder is then placed on the altar, like a minchat kohein.