No Oil, No Frankincense

Menachot (5:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 7 months ago

The fifth perek compares the various mincha offerings by way of the laws that apply to them. One such case lists the mincha offering that require oil and/or frankincense or neither. The minchat choteh (sin offering) and minchat kena'ot (brought by the sotah) are mincha offering that require neither. The Mishnah (5:4) teaches that adding oil and frankincense to the minchat choteh would constitute the violation of two prohibitions. The Bartenura explains that this is based on the pasuk "you shall not place on it oil and you shall not place on it frankincense". Put simply, not only is oil and frankincense not required, it is prohibited to add them. We shall try to understand this prohibition.

The Tosfot R' Akiva Eiger cite the Tosfot who explain that even if one added oil first, which would thereby render the mincha invalid, and then added frankincense, one would still be liable to both prohibitions. He continues citing the R' Tam, who takes the opposite position. The R' Tam argues that one would only violate both prohibitions if the oil was placed on one minchat choteh and the frankincense on another, or if they were simultaneously placed on one mincha offering. In other words, according to the R' Tam, one would not violate the prohibition when adding frankincense to an invalid korban.

The Tosfot's comments are on the following Beraita (Menachot 60a):

"Do not place oil and do not place…", it is possible that the Torah is referring to two kohanim? The pasuk teaches "on it" – the Torah is referring to the mincha offering and not to the kohen.

The Tosfot understand that the initial assumption was that two kohanim, or more accurately, two mincha offerings were required to violate both prohibitions. Otherwise, once the oil was added, the mincha offering is already invalid. The Beraita however concludes that the Torah teaches that even in that case, the second prohibition would be violated.

The R' Tam however views the Beraita in the opposite way. The assumption was the one could violate both prohibitions if two kohanim each added oil and frankincense to the same mincha offering. The Beraita could have asked the question regarding one kohen, however in the Beit HaMikdash they would involve as many kohanim as possible to give honour to the mitzvah (berov am hadrat melech). The Beraita concludes that "on it" implies that the prohibitions apply only when adding to a valid korban.

The Rambam (Maaseh Korbanot 12:8) however teaches that, "if one placed [the oil and frankincense] and then offered [the minchat choteh] they would receive lashes for adding the oil independently, and for adding the frankincense independently." The Rambam therefore has a different understanding of the above Beraita. The Griz (stencil s.v. "lo") explains that the initial assumption was that the prohibitions applied to the act of adding the oil and frankincense. Were that the case, then indeed more than one kohen could violate the prohibition. The Beraita concludes that "on it" implies that the prohibitions relate to the mincha offering itself. In other words, it is the kohen that offers the minchat choteh with the oil and frankincense that violates these prohibitions and not the kohen that added the prohibited ingredients.

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