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Menachos, 69


OPINIONS: Rami bar Chama whether or not grain that was mixed in animal dung may be collected and used for a Korban Minchah. The Gemara says that such grain certainly may not be used, because the verse says, "When you present a blind animal for sacrifice, is it not bad? And when you present a lame or sick animal for sacrifice, is it not bad? Present it, if you please, to your governor; would he be pleased with you or show you favor?" (Malachi 1:8). This verse teaches that items used for Mitzvos must be respectable. The Gemara explains that Rami bar Chama meant to ask a different question. His question was whether or not we may collect grain from dung, replant it, and then use it for a Minchah. Do we say that the problem with using grain collected from dung is that it is disgusting and disrespectful, and this problem is removed once the grain is replanted, or do we say that the problem with such grain is that it became weak when it was digested in the stomach of the animal, and thus it is still unfit, even after being replanted, to be brought as a Minchah? The Gemara leaves this question unanswered ("Teiku").

What exactly is Rami bar Chama's question? Is he suggesting that we may use the original grain that was collected from the animal dung after they have been replanted, or is he discussing the use of the new grain that grows from the grain extracted from the dung?

(a) RASHI (DH v'Zarinhu) explains that the Gemara is discussing the new grain that grows from the grain extracted from the animal dung. Accordingly, the question is whether or not the new grain is still unfit because it is weak, since it grew from weak grain. Rashi (DH v'Hashta) explains that once the grain was digested in the stomach of the animal, the new grain that grows from it might also be weak grain. The Gemara does not address the possibility that this new grain is disgusting.

What, though, is the problem with offering "weak" grain as a Minchah? It seems that the weak grain is also Pasul because of the verse ? It would seem that the reason that "weak" grain is Pasul is also due to the aforementioned verse in Malachi. Rashi earlier (64a, DH Afilu Nimtzeis) explains that this is the reason why there is a problem with offering a "weak" animal (see EIZEHU MEKOMAN). However, the KEREN ORAH suggests that the fact that the grain is weak is only a reason why it is not valid l'Chatchilah, but it may be offered b'Di'eved (as opposed to grain that is disgusting, which is Pasul even b'Di'eved).

(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Mizbe'ach 6:13) says that the doubt in the Gemara is whether or not the disgusting nature of the grain is removed by being planted in the ground. He says that "there is a doubt whether the disgusting nature of wheat picked from animal dung has been removed [once it has been planted in the ground]. Therefore, one should not bring a Minchah from such grain, but if he does it is valid."

The LECHEM MISHNEH has difficulty with the Rambam's words. The Gemara here makes no mention of the grain being disgusting, as we mentioned above. Why, then, does the Rambam introduce this new problem?

1. The Lechem Mishneh suggests that perhaps the Rambam had a different text which expressed a concern that perhaps the grain is Pasul because it is disgusting.

2. Alternatively, the Lechem Mishneh suggests that the Rambam is simply replacing the word "weak" with the underlying problem presented by offering weak grain -- the problem of "Mi'us." The problem with offering weak grain is that it is of a lower quality, which is the same problem as offering disgusting grain. A low-quality item offered as a Korban can be aptly described by the word "Mi'us" -- "disgusting," since it is not respectful to offer such an item to Hashem. The Gemara contrasts "disgusting" and "weak" because it wants to give two different explanations for why this grain might be Pasul. However, it is possible that the Rambam calls the weak grain "disgusting" because of the underlying reason for why weak grain is Pasul.

3. The SEFAS EMES explains that the Rambam understood from his text of the Gemara that the Gemara's question refers to the original grain that was extracted from the dung, and not to the new grain that grows from that grain. According to his text, the Gemara is asking whether or not the old grain is no longer disgusting since it was planted and grew new grain, or do we say that it is still disgusting just as it was before it was planted. The Sefas Emes points out that according to Rashi it is obvious that the old grain is still Pasul, as Rami bar Chama asks his question only with regard to the new grain. (Y. Montrose)


OPINIONS: Rebbi Zeira asked what is the rule regarding wheat that fell from the clouds. The Gemara is unsure what he is asking. If he is asking whether or not the wheat may be brought as a Minchah offering, what reason could there be to prohibit using such wheat? The Gemara concludes that his question must be referring specifically to the Shtei ha'Lechem. Does wheat that falls from the clouds fulfill the requirement of "mi'Moshvoseichem" -- "from your dwelling places" (Vayikra 23:17)? Perhaps that verse is only excluding wheat from Chutz la'Aretz. Perhaps, however, the verse means that the wheat must be from "your dwelling places" on the ground and not from clouds. The Gemara leaves this question unanswered.

The Gemara then asks, "And is there such a thing?" The Gemara answers that there is such a thing as wheat falling from the clouds, as we find in the case of Adi the merchant who had a depth of a Kizba of wheat fall over an area of three Parsa'os.

The Gemara's answer merely says that such a thing indeed happens; it does not explain how it happens that wheat falls from the sky. How are we to understand this phenomenon of wheat falling from the sky?

(a) TOSFOS (DH Chitin) says that the Gemara must be referring to a case in which a miracle happened, causing wheat to fall from the clouds. The RADVAZ (Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin 8:3) says that this seems very strange. Hashem does not just send clouds of wheat to rain on people unless there is a pressing need! The Radvaz answers that Tosfos must be referring to such a case, such as when there was a severe famine and Hashem sent a cloud of wheat to feed the people. (It might be added that according to the Girsa of the ARUCH, Erech Namas, the Gemara in Megilah 12b tells of a person named Adi who was well-known in his times for his scrupulous adherence to the Mitzvos of the Torah. -M. Kornfeld)

The MITZPEH EISAN asks a question on Tosfos in the name of the MINCHAS KOHEN. The Gemara in Ta'anis (24a-b, see Rashi DH Ela) says that one should not benefit from things produced through miracles. We know that all Korbanos must be "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael" -- "from Yisrael's fatted animals" (Yechezkel 45:16). The Gemara earlier (6a) derives from these words that a Korban must be "Min ha'Mutar l'Yisrael" -- "from that which is permitted for a Yisrael." If one cannot benefit from acts of miracles, then the requirement of "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael" is not fulfilled! How, then, can Tosfos say that the Gemara's question is whether wheat that came through a miracle is eligible to be a Korban Minchah?

1. The Mitzpeh Eisan answers that when the Gemara says that one may not derive benefit from acts of miracles, it does not mean that one is forbidden to do so, but rather that it is preferable not to do so. This is also evident from Rashi in Ta'anis (24b, DH Amar l'Hu). Grain that results from miracles, therefore, is still considered "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael."

2. The EINEI SHMUEL answers that we know that "Mitzvos Lav Leihanos Nitnu," Mitzvos cannot be considered to be a source of physical benefit, and the pleasure derived from a Mitzvah is not considered Hana'ah. Since this wheat is brought to fulfill a Mitzvah, it is not considered as though one is benefiting from it, and thus one is not benefiting from an act of a miracle (see PARDES YOSEF to Shemos 35:27 regarding the opinion of RABEINU CHANANEL in Chagigah 16a, and the KLI CHEMDAH #5 regarding the oil of Chanukah that came about through a miracle).

(b) RASHI (DH she'Yardu b'Avim) explains that the wheat fell with rain; when the clouds drank from the ocean, they also swallowed a boat full of wheat. TOSFOS (DH Chitin) quotes RABEINU TAM who has difficulty with Rashi's explanation. According to Rashi, what is the Gemara's question? If the wheat that was soaked up was from Chutz l'Aretz, then why should it become valid for use for the Shtei ha'Lechem merely because it became carried by clouds? It still is not called "mi'Moshvoseichem!" If the wheat was from Eretz Yisrael, then why should it become Pasul as a result of being carried by the clouds? If Rashi understands Rebbi Zeira to be asking about wheat whose origins are unknown, then why does he ask specifically about wheat that fell from the clouds? It should be judged like any wheat whose origins are unknown!
1. The MAHARI KURKAS (Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin 8:3) answers for Rashi that even if the wheat was definitely from Eretz Yisrael, we might think that the wheat must be harvested from the ground by people in order to fulfill the verse of "mi'Moshvoseichem *Tavi'u" -- "from your dwelling places *you shall bring* it."

2. Alternatively, the Mahari Kurkas answers that the wheat is of uncertain origin, and the question applies only to wheat that fell from a cloud. If wheat of uncertain origin was found in Eretz Yisrael, then it is considered to have the status of wheat from Eretz Yisrael. If wheat of uncertain origin was found in Chutz la'Aretz, then it is considered to be wheat grown in Chutz la'Aretz. Only wheat that fell from a cloud remains in a state of uncertainty.

3. In a similar vein, the Mahari Kurkas suggests that Rebbi Zeira is indeed asking about a case in which we are unsure of the wheat's origins, and he could have asked about any case of wheat with uncertain origins. However, because we would usually be able to determine the origins of a pile of wheat, Rebbi Zeira gives a case in which the origins of the wheat cannot be determined. (See also RADVAZ to Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin 8:3, and EINEI SHMUEL here). (Y. Montrose)

4. It could be that Rashi's intention is not to explain that Rebbi Zeira was asking about wheat of uncertain origin. Rather, Rebbi Zeira was asking about wheat that was "planted" in the clouds (similar to the modern method of hydroponics). While the wheat is in the clouds it is considered to be in a state in which it can thrive, similar to when it is planted in the ground, and therefore it becomes Batel to the clouds. Therefore its point of origin no longer makes a difference; the wheat is now coming from the *clouds*, and not from Eretz Yisrael or Chutz la'Aretz. The Gemara earlier raises several questions regarding whether wheat that was replanted in the ground becomes Batel to the ground. However, it seems that wheat that is in the clouds certainly becomes Batel to the clouds, unlike wheat that is in the ground. The reason for this is because wheat in the ground can be removed easily and prevented from growing, unlike wheat in the clouds, which is not accessible to man. Rebbi Zeira was asking what the Halachah is regarding wheat that became "planted" in the clouds, after being transported there by the wind. Since such wheat becomes Batel to the clouds, it loses its status as wheat grown in Eretz Yisrael or in Chutz la'Aretz, and instead it is simply wheat "from the clouds." May such wheat be used for the Shtei ha'Lechem? (M. Kornfeld)

There is, however, another troubling point with Rashi's explanation. How are we to understand Rashi's description of how wheat falls from the sky? Rashi does not follow the approach of Tosfos who says that it happens through a miracle. Rashi is giving a scientific explanation for how wheat falls from the sky. Is it possible that the clouds can swallow a boat full of wheat, such that the wheat should then rain down on the land?

RABBI NOSSON SLIFKIN writes that there indeed is scientific evidence to support such a claim. Rabbi Slifkin quotes sources which discuss accounts of fish that fell with the rain, ranging from a second century account by a Greek author to a twentieth century report by a weather observer in South Carolina about a heavy rainstorm that included catfish, perch, and trout. It is true that one ichthyologist (from the American Museum of Natural History) provides several possible explanations that would account for the reports without postulating that these creatures actually fell from the heavens: first, the reports may have concerned only fish that occasionally move over land; second, that overflow from ponds may have left fish stranded on land; and third, that fish lying dormant underneath the soil may have burrowed upwards during rainfall. However, he also presents a fourth possibility: that fish in oceans and lakes had been lifted into the sky by waterspouts and tornadoes and had subsequently fallen with the rain.

Such a phenomenon is certainly possible. Photographs show waterspouts lifting large quantities of water from the surface of oceans. Waterspouts have lifted boats from the water as well. Thus, Rashi's explanation is certainly plausible from the perspective of science and nature. (See MYSTERIOUS CREATURES, by Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, Jerusalem: Targum Press 2003, pp. 20-21.)

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