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Yoma 47

YOMA 46-48 - have been anonymously sponsored towards a REFU'AH SHELEMAH to Shmuel Yakov ben Ayala Hinda, Ilana Golda bas Chana and Klarees Marcia bas Mammie.


QUESTION: Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah asked about the status of the flour that gets stuck between the fingers of the Kohen Gadol when he does Kemitzah (scooping up a handful of flour from the Minchah offering to burn on the Mizbe'ach). Is that flour considered part of the Kometz (which is burned upon the Mizbe'ach), or part of the Shirayim (the leftover flour which is eaten, and not burned upon the Mizbe'ach)? The Gemara says that after Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah asked the question, he answered it. He concluded that the flour between the fingers of the Kohen Gadol is a Safek, an uncertainty.

What sort of answer is that? When he asked his question initially, it was also an uncertainty!


(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Hadar) explains that perhaps at one point, Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah thought that there was an answer to his question and that the flour between the Kohen's fingers was either certainly Kometz or certainly Shirayim. Upon further thought, though, he concluded that no such answer can be given and that his original question remains, and thus the status of the flour remains a Safek.

(b) TOSFOS answers further and says that the original question of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah was not whether the flour is considered Kometz or Shirayim, but rather whether it is Kometz/Shirayim, or something else entirely -- a Minchah which did not have Kemitzah performed with it in the first place (i.e. "Tevel"). The reason to say that the flour is Tevel even though a Kemitzah was -- in practice -- performed with it, is because flour that is inside the Kohen's fist is fit to become Kometz only if the Kohen *intends* for that flour to become the Kometz. Since people normally do not consider what is between their fingers to be part of what they are holding in their fist, perhaps the Kohen did not intend to sanctify the flour between his fingers as Kometz, and it therefore cannot have the Kedushah of "Kometz." On the other hand, it cannot be considered "Shirayim" since it actually was within the fist. For this reason, it should remain with its previous status of Tevel, Minchah flour with which Kemitzah had not been performed. In other words, there were three possible answers to what the status of the flour between the fingers is. Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah concluded, though, that the flour cannot be considered Tevel. Rather, it is considered Minchah with which Kemitzah was not done; it can only be either Kemitzah or Shirayim.

What difference does it make if it is a two-way Safek or a three-way Safek? Tosfos answers that if it is possible that the flour is Tevel, then if it falls into another food, it will *not* become Batel even if there is a quantity of food many times greater than the flour, because Tevel does not become Batel.

(c) The RITVA answers that when it says that Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah concluded that the status of the flour is a Safek, he concluded that it is not Kometz and it is not Shirayim, but rather it consists of *both* Kometz and Shirayim, we just do not know the exact point at which the flour between the fingers ceases to be Kometz and begins to become Shirayim. This is similar to the Safek of Bein ha'Shemashos (Shabbos 33b), the Ritva expains; Bein ha'Shemashos is part day and part night, but we do not know where the borderline is between day and night.

According to the Ritva, the continuation of the Gemara seems problematic. The Gemara says that the flour that was between the Kohen's fingers may not be burned before the Minchah, because "perhaps the flour is Shirayim." Why does the Gemara say "perhaps" it is Shirayim? According to the Ritva, Rebbi Yehoshua ben Uza'ah just concluded that it *definitely* contains Shirayim! The Ritva must learn that the word "Dilma" here means "certainly" and not "perhaps," as we find that the Ritva himself explains elsewhere (Eruvin 3a and 48a).

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