Maaser Sheni and Nesachim

Menachot (7:6) | Yisrael Bankier | a year ago

The final Mishnayot in the seventh perek discuss if and when a korban todah or lachmei todah can be funded with maaser sheni money. Recall, that the second tithe separated from produce in the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the shmittah cycle is called maaser sheni. One is meant to take the produce to the Yerushalaim and consume it there. One can also transfer the sanctity from the produce to money, take that money to Yerushalaim and purchase food (ideally a korban Shelamim) and consume it there.

The Mishnah (7:6) explains that one cannot use maaser sheni money to fund an obligatory sacrifice. The previous Mishnah explains that even regarding voluntary offerings, there are certain situations where maaser sheni cannot be used. Our focus however will be on the Mishnah's final statement, that the nesachim (the mincha offering and wine libation) that come with korbanot can never be funded with maaser sheni money. We shall try to understand why.

The Bartenura explains that when the Torah permitted purchasing a korban Shelamim with maaser sheni money, that was because that korban is consumed. The nesachim however are fully burnt on the mizbeach so that money cannot be used. Indeed, this is also the explanation of the Tosfot (82a, s.v u'nesachim) who cites the Sifri as the source of the law. The Sifri explains that when the Torah adds "and you shall be happy", it implies that the consumption is one that is partnered with simcha, thereby excluding the olah (fully-burnt offering) and, the Tosfot explains, the nesachim as well.

The Rambam (Maaseh Korbanot 16:17) however provides a different source for this law. When the Torah discusses the nesachim, it says, "… and he that offers his offering…". The Rambam explains that the nesachim must therefore be owned by the one who offers it and not have any element of kedusha at all. This thereby exclude maaser sheni.

Considering the more general rule of the Sifri which ostensibly also excludes nesachim, one might ask why the Rambam needed a separate source to specifically exclude nesachim.

The Ezrat Kohanim (Tzav 5 – 73a) explains that while the Sifri is enough to exclude maaser sheni, it does enough to demand that the nesachim must come from chulin – regular money. For example, if one set aside money for a mincaht nesachim, and then later was obligated to bring a korban olah (e.g. olah re'iyah) one might think that they can use that money to purchase the nesachim. The additional pasuk cited by the Rambam precludes this possibility since the money has already been sanctified for the purpose of bring a minchat nesachim and is no longer considered "his" money.

The Chazon Yechezkel (Menachot 8:14) however suggests that one might have thought that the rule of the Sifri would not apply to the nesachim. The Sifri excludes using maaser sheni for korbanot that are offered independently, e.g. the korban Olah; since they are not consumed, one cannot use maaser sheni money. These nesachim however are offered only with a korban. Consequently, one might have aligned the nesachim with the eimorim (the sacrificial parts). The korban Shelamim can be funded with maaser sheni despite the eimorim being fully burnt on the mizbeach. I might have thought that the same is true for the nesachim. They also come with the Shelamim and fully burnt on the mizbeach. It follows then that they can also be funded with maaser sheni money. In other words, despite the eimorim (and nesachim) not qualifying as having a consumption of simcha, it is sufficient that the korban Shelamim broadly does. Consequently, the Rambam required the addition pasuk to specifically exclude the nesachim.

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