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Mincha from Barley

Menachot (12:3) | Yisrael Bankier | 5 days ago

The Mishnah (12:3) teaches that if someone vowed to bring a mincha offering from barley flour, they must bring a regular mincha offering from fine wheat flour. The Bartenura explains that this is because a voluntary mincha offering only come from wheat. The Bartenura adds that the case in our Mishnah is where the person is informed of his error and confirms that had he known that only wheat flour could be used, he would have stipulated as such and still made the neder (vow). If however, he explains that with that knowledge he would have never made the neder, then he is exempt from bringing an offering.

The comments of the Bartenura are based on the Gemara (103a). The Gemara questions the Mishnah explaining that since people know that a mincha offering cannot be brought from barley, it should be considered as if the person is immediately retracting on the neder. The explanation brought by the Bartenura is the answer of R' Yochanan. There Chizkiya explains that this would only be the case if he stipulated that he wanted to bring the mincha from barley. If however, one stipulated that they wanted to bring the mincha from lentils, then it would not be a neder at all. The reason for this difference is that since there are mincha offering brought from barley (omer and sotah), there is room to think that the person did want to obligate themselves with a mincha offering. This is then clarified when asking them. Regarding lentils, from which no mincha offering is brought, there is no doubt.

Zeiri in the Gemara also limits the Mishnah. He explains that the neder is only binding if the person used the word "mincha" when stipulating the neder.

The Rambam (Maaseh Korbanot 17:9) rules that if someone said they wanted to bring a "minchat se'orim" – a barley mincha – then he is exempt. If however he stipulated that he wanted to bring a mincha from barley, then whether he must bring a mincha depend on his response to the question described above. The Raavad however argues that in either case, the person is questioned. How do we understand the debate?1

The Chazon Yechezkel (12:3) cites the Rambam's commentary on the Mishnah who explains that if one stipulated that they want to bring a mincha from barley, they indeed wished to bring a mincha yet added conditions on that neder. If however one says that they wanted to bring a minchat se'orim, since there is no such mincha, the neder is meaningless.

The Chazon Yechezkel explains that according to the Rambam when person later would say, "had I know that a mincha can only be brought from wheat" then I would have stipulated it as such, that is not a declaration of a neder. How then does it help? He explains that the declaration annuls the condition to bring the mincha from barley that he made at the outset. To be clear, that would only work if he original declared that he want to bring a mincha offering from barley and not a minchat se'orim as described above.

According to the Raavad however, in both cases the validity of the neder depends on questioning him. The Chazon Yechezkel explains that the Raavad understands that when the person says "had I known…" it is considered as if he is then making a neder to bring the mincha offer as required. That being the case the difference between "minchat se'orim" and a mincha from barley is irrelevant, since his response does not build on the original declaration, but is considered a new neder on its own.


1 The Kesef Mishnah explains that they differ in their understanding of R' Zeiri. The Rambam understands that Zieri is building on the opinion of R' Yochanan, restricting it further. The Raavad however understands that Zeiri is commenting on the opinion of Chizkiya who originally maintained that the Mishnah was according to Beit Shammai. To explain, Beit Shammai maintain that the first words of a neder are already binding. Consequently, when one said the want to bring a mincha from barley, they were already obligated to bring the mincha once they uttered the word "mincha". Since however we do not rule according to the position of Beit Shammai, the Raavad does not bring this position in halacha.

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