Nesachim Measures

Menachot (9:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 8 years ago

In our study of the ninth perek we learnt about the volumes of the measures used for dry products (flour) and liquids (oil, wine and water). The first Mishnah records a debate between R’ Meir and the Chachamim regarding the number of measures there were for dry products.1 Both agree that that there was one for an issaron and another for a half issaron. R’ Meir however argues that there were two types of measures for a full issaron. One measured an issaron only when heaped, while the other measured an issaron when the flour was smoothed off.

R’ Meir understood that the smoothed measure was used for the chavitei kohen gadol since the measure was ultimately halved and a heaped measure would likely spill. For all other menachot the heaped measure was used. The Tifferet Yisrael explains that the heaped measure had a better visual appearance. Nevertheless, the Chachamim maintained that there was only the latter and the Gemara explains how each side derives their position from the pesukim.

One might ask, why was it necessary for the Mishnah to teach us about all the different measures? We know that each of the various nesachim required different volumes, but why the focus on the measuring utensils?

The Gemara(57b) records a debate between R’ Yonatan and R’ Yoshaya regarding whether the different measures were anointed as kli sharet and how. R’ Yoshaya argues that the liquid measure were anointed both inside and out where as the dry measures were only anointed on the inside. R’ Yonatan argues that the liquid measures were only anointed on the inside while dry measures where not anointed at all. The practical difference is whether dry measure would sanctify the contents placed inside it. To strengthen his position, R’ Yonatan cites the pasuk discussing the shtei halechem that seems to suggest that they were not sanctified until they were baked. This must mean that they were not sanctified when the flour was measured, so dry measures were not sanctified.

When analysing the debate the Gemara asks why R’ Yoshaya did not argue that in that case, the flour was simply measured in regular measuring utensil that was not sanctified. The response given is that since the Torah explicitly mentioned that they should make an issaron, why would they use a mundane one instead?

The Achronim see significance in that discussion for we find that the there was importance in measuring in these utensils of the Beit HaMikdash beyond simple practicalities of obtaining the correct volume of the ingredients.

The Chazon Ish(25:8) also understands that there appears to be a mitzvah to measure using the sanctified measures. He however understands that it is not because it is one of the essential avodot in preparing the mincha offering, and understands that measuring was required as it was necessary to obtain the required volume. So why was a kli sharet required? He explains that it would be impossible for humans to get the exact volume required. Yet the Torah was not given to angels. Consequently, the Torah instructs us to measure using the sanctified issaron and whatever true volume this amounts to whenever used – that is the measure that the Torah required.2

1 The Tifferet Yisrael explains that all the keilim had duplicates so the discussion is not about the number of utensil, but rather the different volumes.

2 The Chazon Ish understands that the requirement of using an issaron shel kodesh is le’mitzvah and not me’akev. This would differ with those that understand that measuring in an issaron shel kodesh becomes an essential avodah.


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