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Menachos, 53


QUESTION: Rebbi Preida asked Rebbi Ami what the source is that teaches that a Minchah offering must be brought as Matzah. Rebbi Ami rejects Rebbi Preida's question, pointing out that for most types of Minchah, the Torah explicitly writes that it must be Matzah. For all other types of Minchah (for which the verse does not explicitly say that they must be brought as Matzah), we learn from the verse, "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" (Vayikra 6:10) that they must be Matzah, and if they are not Matzah they are Pasul.

Rav Chisda asks (in defense of Rebbi Preida's question) that perhaps the verse of "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" does not mean that the Minchah must be Matzah and not Chametz, but rather it means that the Minchah may be *Si'ur* (partially fermented dough), as long as it is not Chametz! Therefore, we need another source to teach that the Minchah must be Matzah.

The Gemara explains that Rebbi Preida's question, with Rav Chisda's explanation, is valid only according to Rebbi Yehudah. Rebbi Yehudah maintains that Si'ur is not Chametz, and thus the verse might be telling us that the Minchah may be made Si'ur, as long as it is not Chametz. (Rebbi Meir, who argues with Rebbi Yehudah, maintains that Si'ur has the status of Chametz, and thus the only thing that the verse of "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" can be teaching, according to Rebbi Meir, is that the Minchah must be Matzah.)

How, though, do we know that Rebbi Yehudah maintains that Si'ur does not have the status of Matzah? TOSFOS (53b, DH Ein Machmitzin) says that Rebbi Yehudah might even hold that, mid'Oraisa, one may eat Si'ur on Pesach, since it has the status of Matzah! This is because, according to Rebbi Yehudah, the beginning of the leavening process is not considered to be Chametz at all, and thus Si'ur is still Matzah. (SEFAS EMES)

ANSWER: The SEFAS EMES answers that we know that Si'ur is not Matzah even according to Rebbi Yehudah, because the Beraisa says that one who eats Si'ur on Pesach is "Patur" from Malkus. If Si'ur would be considered Matzah, then the Beraisa should say that one may eat Si'ur, l'Chatchilah, on Pesach. It must be that it is not considered Matzah.

Proof for this can be found in the Gemara in Pesachim (43a). The Gemara there discusses Chametz items that are not intended for eating, but rather are meant to be used as material by craftsmen (and thus are not completely fit for eating). Such items are called "Chametz Nuksheh." The Mishnah in Pesachim says that one who eats this type of Chametz is punished with Malkus. The Gemara there says that the Mishnah is following the view of Rebbi Meir, who maintains that one is punished with Malkus for eating Si'ur on Pesach. Since Rebbi Meir maintains that one receives Malkus for eating Si'ur even though it is not absolute Chametz, he also maintains that one receives Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh. (Chametz Nuksheh, according to Rebbi Meir, is actual Chametz ("Chametz Gamur"), and Si'ur is fit for eating ("Achilah Gemurah"). However, since both have an aspect of irregularity to them, eating them is not considered to be an act of eating real Chametz, and a special verse, "Kol Machmetzes," is needed to teach that one who eats them is punished with Malkus. Since Rebbi Meir includes Si'ur in this special verse, the Gemara understands that he also includes Chametz Nuksheh, because of the similar irregular aspect that both have. See KEHILOS YAKOV, Pesachim #34.)

However, according to Rebbi Yehudah, one does not receive Malkus for eating Si'ur on Pesach, because it is not completely Chametz. Similarly, one also does not receive Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh, since it is not completely fit for consumption.

We see from the Gemara there that Rebbi Yehudah agrees that Si'ur is not Matzah. If he held that Si'ur is Matzah, then the Gemara would not be able to compare Si'ur with Chametz Nuksheh and say that since one does not receive Malkus for eating Si'ur, he does not receive Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh! It must be that Rebbi Yehudah agrees that Si'ur is not Matzah, but he does not learn the Derashah of Rebbi Meir that teaches that one receives Malkus for eating this type of Chametz. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)

Rebbi Preida asked Rebbi Ami how we know that every Minchah must be kneaded with warm water, and that it must be guarded from becoming Chametz. Rebbi Preida himself suggested that we learn these Halachos from the Halachos of Pesach. The verse regarding Pesach commands us to guard the Matzos from becoming Chametz (Shemos 12:17). Rebbi Ami answered him that we learn from the verse written with regard to the Minchah offering itself that it must be guarded from becoming Chametz. The verse says, "Matzah Tiheyeh" (Vayikra 2:5), from which we learn that one must guard it to ensure that it remains Matzah.

The Gemara then relates that the Rabanan said to Rebbi Preida that Rebbi Ezra, the grandson of Rebbi Avtulas, who was the tenth generation descendant of Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, who was the tenth generation descendant of the prophet Ezra, was standing at the entrance to the study hall, waiting to be allowed to enter. Rebbi Preida asked why the Rabanan introduced Rebbi Ezra with a summary of his lineage. If he is a Talmid Chacham, then that is fine. If he is a Talmid Chacham and he has regal lineage, then that is fine. If, however, he has regal lineage but is not a Talmid Chacham, then he should be consumed by fire. The Rabanan answered that he indeed is a Talmid Chacham.

The simple connection between the question regarding the source for kneading a Minchah offering with warm water and guarding it from becoming Chametz, and the incident involving Rebbi Ezra, is that both of them involve Rebbi Preida.

The KEREN ORAH suggests a deeper, allegorical explanation for the Gemara. In Rebbi Preida's question regarding how to prepare a Korban Minchah, the Korban Minchah is a metaphor for a person. A person's acts of Torah and Mitzvos are similar to the part of the Minchah that is separated during the Kemitzah process, an act that sanctifies part of the Minchah to be offered directly on the Mizbe'ach. A person's mundane acts, on the other hand, are similar to the rest of the Minchah. The rest of the Minchah is eaten by Kohanim in order to give them strength to do the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Similarly, a person's mundane acts sustain him in order to serve Hashem.

Rebbi Preida asked, "How can a Minchah," referring to a person, "that is mixed with warm water," referring to the Yetzer ha'Ra inside of a person that always tries to "ferment" the person and cause him to sin (as the Gemara in Berachos (17a) compares the Yetzer ha'Ra to the fermenting agent in dough), "stay unleavened," without sinning?

Rebbi Preida suggested that perhaps the answer can be learned "from Pesach." That is, perhaps the only way a person can keep himself from sinning is by constantly bearing in mind the great miracles that our forefathers experienced at Yetzi'as Mitzrayim.

Rebbi Ami answered that the verse says, "Matzah Tiheyeh" -- one's faith in Hashem should not be strengthened solely by the memory of the miracles that his forefathers experienced. Rather, one must delve into learning Torah to understand Hashem and His wondrous ways, and this will give him the fortitude to resist the temptations of the Yetzer ha'Ra.

To demonstrate this lesson, the Gemara records the incident involving Rebbi Preida and Rebbi Ezra. "One who has regal lineage" is one who has a strong tradition and is strengthened in serving Hashem by the miracles that Hashem wrought for his ancestors. "One who is a Talmid Chacham" is one who seeks knowledge in Torah and thereby strengthens his Avodas Hashem. One who does not seek knowledge in Torah but remembers the miracles that occurred to his forefathers will not survive. Only one who himself learns Torah will find the strength to resist the Yetzer ha'Ra's lure. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)


The Gemara depicts four degrees of sin that the Jewish people committed, which culminated in the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The four degrees of sin are expressed in a verse in Yirmeyahu (11:15). The first degree of sin is expressed by the words, "She does her evil schemes", implying that they sinned intentionally. The second degree of sin is expressed by the next word in the verse, "ha'Rabim" -- "the many," stating that it was not merely a small minority who sinned, but many people sinned. The third degree of sin was that they did not remember the sign of Bris Milah upon their bodies, as it says, "And the holy flesh they have passed from upon you." The fourth degree of sin was that they lost the opportunity to do Teshuvah, as it says, "For when you act with evil, that is when you rejoice."

The KEREN ORAH points out that in contrast to these four degrees of sin of the Jewish people, the preceding Gemara mentions four praiseworthy traits of the Jewish people. The Gemara refers to the Jewish people as "Adirim, "Yedidim," "Tovim," and "Zu." The Jewish people fell from their lofty status and lost each of these praiseworthy traits when they sinned.

The first trait is "Adirim." The MAHARSHA explains that this trait depicts the strength of the Jewish people in their Avodas Hashem. The Jewish people lost this trait when they sinned intentionally (the first degree of sin).

The second trait is "Yedidim." The Maharsha explains that this trait depicts the closeness and love that Hashem has for the Jewish people. When a minority of the Jewish people sin, while most of the people are Tzadikim, Hashem continues to express His love for the entire nation. However, when most of the people sin, Hashem does not express His love for the nation.

The third trait is "Tovim." The Maharsha explains that there are three types of things that people desire. The first is "Tov," that which is intrinsically good and beneficial. The second is "Arev," that which is sweet and pleasurable (but not necessarily beneficial for the person's wellbeing). The third is "Mo'il," that which is beneficial for the person's wellbeing (but not necessarily pleasurable). The Jewish people are imbued with true goodness, even when they are sinning and not acting in a sweet or productive way. Their essence is "Tov," good, as represented by the Mitzvah of Bris Milah which gives holiness to the physical form of the Jewish people, regardless of the sins that they do. However, in their third degree of sin, the Jewish people covered up their Milah. They sinned so terribly that they blocked their essential goodness from being expressed.

The fourth trait is "Zu." The Maharsha explains that the word "Zeh" or "Zu" refers to something set aside from others because it is special and unique. The Jewish nation is separated from all other nations due to its unique status as Hashem's chosen nation. The Jewish nation remains Hashem's special and unique nation regardless of their outward appearance. However, when the Jews reached the fourth level of sin, they covered up this unique trait as well. They became far from Teshuvah even in their hearts.

It was upon hearing about this fourth degree of sin that Avraham Avinu placed his hands on his head and cried, out of fear that perhaps the Jewish people will have no chance to rectify their waywardness. As the Gemara learns from the next verse in Yirmeyahu (11:16), Hashem answered Avraham Avinu by comparing the Jewish people to the fruit of an olive tree. Just as the olive needs to be crushed in order to release its oil, so, too, the Jewish people will need to undergo Yisurin in order for their essential goodness to show. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)

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