S.A.L.T. - Parashat Tzav

  • Rav David Silverberg

Motzaei Shabbat

            Yesterday, we noted the discussion among the halakhic authorities concerning the addition of salt when baking matza for Pesach.  The Mordekhai (Pesachim 594) strictly forbade baking matza for Pesach with salt, and ruled that eating such matza on Pesach amounts to partaking of chametz on Pesach, since the salt content causes the flour to ferment and turn to chametz.  The Rashba, on the other hand, in one of his published responsa (1:224), disagrees, and permits adding salt when baking matzot.  As we saw yesterday, the Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 455:5) approvingly cites the custom to avoid adding salt to the matza batter, though his formulation implies that after the fact, if salt was added, the matza is permissible for consumption on Pesach (see Bei’ur Halakha).  The Rama, however, rules that one should not eat such matzot on Pesach.

            The Chafetz Chayim, in Bei’ur Halakha, observes that this stringent ruling of the Rama would not apply to seasalt, which is what is commonly used nowadays, in light of the Rama’s comments elsewhere.  The Tur (O.C. 462), amidst his discussion of matza baked with liquids other than water (“egg matza”), addresses the status of wheat that had come in contact with salt.  Wheat that had come in contact with water before the beginning of the baking process may not be used for the baking of matzot, and the Tur cites those who maintain that salt must be treated as water in this regard, and thus wheat that came in contact with salt may not be used for matzot.  The Tur, however, disagrees, and claims that salt may be treated as mei peirot (liquids other than water), such that wheat which had come in contact with salt may be used for matzot.  The Rama, in his Darkhei Moshe, claims that the Tur refers here to salt extracted from the ground, as opposed to seasalt, which is treated as water even according to the position of the Tur.  As such, the Chafetz Chaim reasons, when it comes to baking matza with salt, such matza would be permitted, as matza is, of course, always baked with water.  And thus when the Rama rules that matza baked with salt is forbidden, he must, necessarily, be referring to matza baked with salt extracted from the ground.  Seasalt, however, does not render the matza forbidden.

            The Chafetz Chayim concedes that the Magen Avraham disagreed with the Rama’s understanding of the Tur, and maintained that the Tur referred to seasalt.  Nevertheless, the Shulchan Arukh (462:7) disputed the Tur’s position, and ruled that salt (whichever salt the Tur was referring to) has the status of water with regard to the chametz prohibition.  Therefore, either way, we may assume that seasalt is to be considered like water and does not cause fermentation in a batter.

            Furthermore, the Chafetz Chayim observes that numerous poskim disputed the Rama’s stringent ruling that matza baked with salt may not be used on Pesach.  For all these reasons, the Chafetz Chayim held, one may be lenient after the fact and use on Pesach matza that had been baked with salt.

Sunday

            The Chafetz Chayim, as we saw yesterday, ruled in his Bei’ur Halakha (to 455:5) that if some salt was mixed with matza dough before baking, the matza may be eaten on Pesach.  Although the Shulchan Arukh codifies the custom to avoid adding salt to the matza batter, and the Rama rules that if this was done, the matza may not be eaten on Pesach, the Chafetz Chayim gave several reasons to permit such matza, including the fact that many authorities dispute the Rama’s ruling, and the likelihood that the Rama does not refer here to seasalt. 

            Other Acharonim, however, accepted the Rama’s ruling and forbade eating on Pesach matza that had been baked with salt.  These include Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the Ba’al Ha-Tanya), who writes explicitly in Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav (vol. 3, 455:30) that one may not eat such matza, in deference to the opinion among the Rishonim that salt causes the dough to leaven.

            This ruling of the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav is cited as an authoritative source by Rav Avraham Borenstein, in his Avnei Neizer (532), where he addresses the question concerning sugar that mixed with flour.  The case under discussion involved wheat that was stored in bags that had been previously used for sugar, and which thus contained some residual sugar.  The question arose as to whether this flour, which had a small amount of sugar mixed into it, may be used for baking matza for Pesach.  Rav Borenstein, interestingly enough, considers equating this case to the case of salt added to batter before baking.  He notes a source cited by the Minchat Chinukh (119) claiming that the obligation to salt sacrifices before they are offered on the altar could be fulfilled by adding sugar, which shares certain properties as salt.  Although Rav Borenstein dismisses out of hand such a possibility, he writes that the basic premise, that sugar has properties resembling those of salt, may be correct and relevant to this question regarding matza.  He further notes the startling account of Rav Yaakov of Lisa (the Netivot) using sugar, instead of salt, to drain the blood of raw meat, believing that sugar is equivalent to salt in this regard.  If, indeed, we may draw a halakhic equation between sugar and salt, Rav Borenstein writes, then we should conclude that flour with which some sugar had been mixed may not be used for matza on Pesach, in accordance with the stringent ruling of the Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav.  In his conclusion, Rav Borenstein writes that scientists need to be consulted to determine whether sugar indeed triggers a process of fermentation in flour as salt does.

            Regardless, it is clear that Rav Borenstein did not follow the Chafetz Chayim’s lenient ruling, and maintained that matza that had been baked with salt should not be used on Pesach.

Monday

            We read in Parashat Tzav of the special mincha (grain) offerings that were offered by each kohen on the first day he served in the Mikdash, and by the kohen gadol each morning.  The Torah introduces this section by saying, “Zeh korban Aharon u-vanav” (“This is the sacrifice of Aharon and his sons” – 6:13), and the Midrash (Vayikra Rabba 8:1) draws a connection between this verse and a verse from the story of cheit ha-eigel (the sin of the golden calf).  After Moshe returned from atop Mount Sinai and witnessed the people’s worship of the calf, he asked Aharon what had happened, and Aharon explained the sequence of events, telling his brother that the people brought him gold which he then threw into fire, “va-yeitzei ha-eigel ha-zeh”- “and this calf emerged” (Shemot 32:24).  The Midrash finds it significant that the word “zeh” which is used in reference to the golden calf, the event which marked Aharon’s moment of failure and shame, is also used in reference to his lofty stature as kohen gadol.  In the Midrash’s words, “With [the word] ‘zeh’ he was shamed, and with the word ‘zeh’ he was lifted.”

            How might we explain the connection drawn between these two contexts?

            The word “zeh” is often viewed in Midrashic literature as a term that connotes something visible that can be clearly identified.  As Rashi (Shemot 32:2) explains, Aharon’s intent in collecting gold and fashioning a calf was to stall, assuming that by the time the people would actually produce and worship a graven image, Moshe would return and the people would recognize their mistake.  Aharon believed that the project of producing a golden image would be fairly innocuous, and would not cause any trouble by the time Moshe returned to the camp.  He was mistaken, of course, and failed to realize how swift and significant the repercussions of his idea would be.  The people responded enthusiastically to his call for gold, and the calf was fashioned far quicker than he imagined.  He never thought anything significant would come of his plan to produce a golden image, but in the end “va-yeitzei ha-eigel ha-zeh” – it resulted in an actual idol that became an object of pagan worship.

            Just as seemingly innocuous actions can lead to disastrous consequences, many mitzva acts that we perform seem minor, insignificant or not impactful, but in truth yield far-reaching effects.  The rituals performed by the kohanim inside the Beit Ha-mikdash did not outwardly appear to influence the nation, but it in fact did.  This, perhaps, is the significance of the phrase “zeh korban Aharon u-vanav.”  The sacrifices offered in the Temple courtyard truly had a tangible impact upon all Am Yisrael, even if they appeared detached and dissociated from the nation.

            The Midrash thus alerts us to the fact that our actions have much farther-reaching consequences than we often think.  The wrongful acts that we commit can have a significant impact upon our surroundings, whereas the mitzvot we perform, even in the privacy of our homes and away from public view, are likewise very meaningful and impactful not only for us, but for others, as well.  We should never belittle the importance or impact of even our seemingly minor decisions, or of the seemingly meaningless words we speak or actions we perform, because they all could potentially yield significant and far-reaching effects.

(Based on Rav Baruch Yitzchak Yissachar Leventhal’s Birkat Yitzchak, Parashat Tzav)

Tuesday

            In its discussion of the shelamim sacrifice, the Torah in Parashat Tzav establishes that meat of a shelamim may be eaten until the end of the day after the day when the sacrifice was offered.  This means that if a person brought his shelamim offering on Sunday, the meat may be eaten until sundown on Monday.  The shelamim differs in this regard from other sacrifices (chatat, asham and mincha), whose meat may be eaten only through the night following the offering.  The exception to this rule is the korban toda (thanksgiving offering), which, though it generally shares the properties of a shelamim, may be consumed only through the night after the sacrifice is brought (7:15-16).

            In formulating the halakha regarding standard shelamim offerings, the Torah writes, “...it shall be eaten on the day the offering is sacrificed, and the next day – that which remains from it shall be eaten” (7:16).  The Ramban understood from this formulation that the primary mitzva is to partake of the shelamim on the day the offering was brought.  Meat that was not consumed on that day may be eaten the following day, but the primary obligation requires eating the sacrificial meat on the day of the offering, as is done when other sacrifices are offered.

            Rav Meir Simcha Ha-kohen of Dvinsk, in his Or Samei’ach (Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-korbanot 10:6), notes that the Rambam does not appear to follow this view.  The Rambam writes simply that shelamim sacrifices may be eaten on the day it is offered and through the next day, without giving any indication that there is a preference to eating the meat on the first day, suggesting that he disagreed with the Ramban’s position. 

Rav Meir Simcha observes further that this issue seems to underlie a debate among the Rishonim concerning the Gemara’s discussion in Masekhet Pesachim (59a) regarding the rule of hashlama, which forbids offering sacrifices in the Beit Ha-mikdash after the offering of the afternoon tamid (daily) sacrifice.  According to one view – that of Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yochanan ben Beroka – an exception is made in the case of a mechusar kippurim, somebody who had been tamei (ritually impure) and has completed his process of purification except for the offering of a sacrifice.  A zav or zava (person who experienced certain abnormal bodily emissions), for example, must offer a sacrifice in order to complete the purification process.  A mechusar kippurim is still considered impure with respect to the fact that he may not enter the Beit Ha-mikdash or partake of sacrifices.  If a mechusar kippurim had sent a voluntary shelamim sacrifice to the Beit Ha-mikdash, he now bears an obligation to partake of the meat, but he is forbidden from eating sacrificial meat by virtue of his status of mechusar kippurim.  Rabbi Yishmael maintained that in such a case, the purification offering of a mechusar kippurim may be brought even if the afternoon tamid had already been offered.  Although we generally forbid offering sacrifices after the offering of the afternoon tamid, this prohibition is overridden by the need to complete this individual’s purification process to allow him to partake of his shelamim

The Rishonim debate the question as to the scope of this ruling.  The Ba’al Ha-ma’or claimed that Rabbi Yishmael’s stated his ruling only with regard to the day after the shelamim offering was brought.  If a mechusar kippurim had not offered his purification sacrifice on this day, then the sacrifice may be brought even after the tamid, because otherwise he would be unable to partake of his shelamim.  Since the time for eating his shelamim ends at sundown that day, the rule of hashlama is waived so he can fulfill his mitzva to partake of the meat of his shelamim sacrifice.  On the day his shelamim is offered, however, Rabbi Yishmael would not allow his purification sacrifice to be offered after the tamid, as he can still partake of his shelamim the following day.  According to the Ba’al Ha-ma’or, since the only justification for suspending the rule of hashlama is to enable the individual to fulfill his mitzva of eating his shelamim sacrifice, it is suspended only if the time for eating the shelamim ends that day.  The Ra’avad, however, disagrees.  Following the view of the Ramban, the Ra’avad maintained that the primary mitzva of eating the meat of the shelamim is on the day it is offered, and therefore, the rule of hashlama is suspended even to facilitate the consumption of a shelamim on that day.  Even though the meat may also be eaten the following day, nevertheless, Rabbi Yishmael permits offering the purification sacrifice after the tamid to enable the individual to partake of his shelamim already that day.  The Ba’al Ha-ma’or’s view, by contrast, seems to reflect the position implied by the Rambam, that there is no preference to eating the meat of a shelamim on the day it is offered, and the mitzva is fulfilled at the same standard even if the meat is eaten the next day.

Wednesday

            Yesterday, we saw the view taken by the Ramban, in his commentary to Parashat Tzav (7:16), that the primary mitzva of eating a shelamim sacrifice requires partaking of the meat on the day the offering is brought.  Although the Torah permits partaking of the meat even the next day, the mitzva is to eat the meat already on the first day.  As we saw, Rav Meir Simcha Ha-kohen of Dvinsk notes in his Or Samei’ach (Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-korbanot 10:6) that this issue is actually subject to debate, as the Rambam (there in Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-korbanot) and the Ra’avad (in his critique of the Ba’al Ha-ma’or, to Pesachim 59a) seem to disagree.

            Rav Meir Simcha concludes his discussion of this topic by observing that the Ramban’s view provides a simple answer to a question raised by Tosefot in Masekhet Zevachim (57b).  Tosefot ask why in regard to some sacrifices, Chazal enacted a safeguard to protect against eating sacrificial meat beyond the Torah’s deadline, but they did not enact such a provision in regard to other sacrifices.  Specifically, the Torah enacted a safeguard when it comes to the meat of sacrifices that may be eaten on the day of the offering and throughout that night.  As the Mishna famously teaches in the beginning of Masekhet Berakhot (2a), the Torah permits eating the meat of these sacrifices throughout the night, until daybreak, but Chazal enacted a provision requiring that the meat be consumed no later than midnight (as defined by Halakha).  This was done to protect against possible violations of the strict Torah prohibition that forbids eating sacrificial meat beyond the stipulated deadline.  However, when it comes to shelamim offerings, which may be eaten also on the day after the sacrifice is offered, we find no such safeguard.  Halakha permits eating the meat of the shelamim throughout the second day, until sundown, without any rabbinic provision requiring that the consumption be completed earlier to safeguard against violating the Torah’s deadline.  Tosefot answer that sundown is more discernible than daybreak, and thus Chazal felt inclined to enact a provision only with regard to sacrifices that may be eaten until morning.  When it comes to this sacrificial meat, Chazal feared that if Halakha permitted eating until daybreak, people might mistakenly eat the meat beyond this deadline, not realizing that light has already appeared on the eastern horizon.  With regard to sacrifices that may be eaten until sundown of the second day, however, there was no such concern, as people can easily recognize the advent of sunset, and thus Chazal permitted the consumption of sacrifices throughout the day.

            According to the Ramban, Rav Meir Simcha suggests, a simpler answer may be offered.  Since the primary obligation is to partake of the shelamim already on the first day, there was no need to enact an earlier deadline on the second day.  In the vast majority of cases, the meat of the shelamim would be completed before the second day, or, at least, just a small portion of meat would be left for the second day.  It was thus very unlikely that people would mistakenly miss the sunset deadline on the second day, and partake of the meat beyond that point.  As such, Chazal had no need to enact a safeguard to protect against such violations.  (This point is also made by the Tzelach to Berakhot 2a.)

Thursday

            As we’ve discussed over the last two days, the Torah allocates different time-frames for the consumption of different kinds of sacrifices.  Most sacrifices may be eaten only on the day of the offering and through the next night.  Shelamim sacrifices, by contrast (with the exception of the toda and the korban pesach), may be eaten until the end of the following day.  As we saw yesterday, Tosefot in Masekhet Zevachim (57b) note that Chazal enacted a safeguard with respect to the deadline for the first category of sacrifices, but not with regard to the second.  Meaning, when it comes to sacrifices which the Torah allows eating only through that night, Chazal enacted that the meat must not be eaten past midnight (Mishna, Berakhot 2a).  By contrast, shelamim offerings may be eaten throughout the day after the day the sacrifice was offered, until sundown, and Chazal did not impose an earlier deadline as a safeguard.  As we saw yesterday, Rav Meir Simcha Ha-kohen of Dvinsk suggests an explanation for this distinction in his Or Samei’ach (Hilkhot Ma’aseh Ha-korbanot 10:6) based on the comments of the Ramban in his commentary to Parashat Tzav.

            Interestingly, Rav Meir Simcha gives a different answer to this question in his other famous work – Meshekh Chokhma (Vayikra 7:15).  There Rav Meir Simcha insightfully observes that the Torah never actually issues a prohibition against partaking of a shelamim sacrifice beyond the second day.  Whereas in several contexts the Torah explicitly commands not to eat other sacrifices on the second day, it issues no similar explicit prohibition against eating the meat of a shelamim beyond its deadline – the end of the second day.  The reason, Rav Meir Simcha suggests, is because, quite simply, people are in any event unlikely to eat meat beyond the day after the animal is slaughtered.  Before refrigeration, meat would not remain fresh and tasty for more than two days, and there was thus no reason for the Torah to forbid eating meat of a shelamim sacrifice beyond the second day.  Rav Meir Simcha draws our attention to the Gemara’s discussion in Masekhet Ta’anit (30a) and in Masekhet Sanhedrin (70a) regarding the prohibition against eating meat on Erev Tisha B’Av.  The Gemara states that this prohibition applies only within the period when a shelamim sacrifice may be offered – meaning, through the day after the day of the animal’s slaughtering.  Beyond this period, the meat is not considered tasty, and is thus permissible for consumption on Erev Tisha B’Av.  Therefore, the Torah had no need to forbid eating meat of a shelamim beyond the second day.

            Rav Meir Simcha adds that this easily answers Tosefot’s question.  Since the Torah does not actually forbid eating meat of a shelamim beyond the second day, there was no need for Chazal to enact a provision to safeguard against violations of this deadline.

            In conclusion, it is worth noting that Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel translates the Torah’s command regarding the consumption of the shelamim (Vayikra 7:16) as, “…on the day of the offering of the sacrifice it shall be eaten, and the next day, and that which is left over shall be eaten in the afternoon.”  The question naturally arises as to why Targum Yonatan found it necessary to specify that the shelamim may be eaten even on the afternoon of the second day.  Rav Yitzchak Baruch Yissachar Leventhal, in his Birkat Yitzchak (Parashat Tzav), suggests that Targum Yonatan sought to emphasize the point that Chazal did not act a safeguard with respect to the shelamim, and permitted eating the meat throughout the second day.  The meat may be eaten even in the afternoon, until sundown, as the Sages saw no need to legislate an earlier deadline as a safeguard.

Friday

            The Torah in Parashat Tzav discusses the laws relevant to the consumption of sacrificial meat, including that of the shelamim offering, which was divided between the individual bringing the sacrifice and the kohanim.  Most of the meat was consumed by the person offering the sacrifice (or by people with whom he wished to share it), whereas the animal’s chazeh (chest) and shok (thigh) was given to the kohanim (7:31-36).  In discussing these halakhot, the Mishna in Masekhet Zevachim (55a) notes that the chazeh and shok may be eaten by “the kohanim, their wives, their children and their servants.”

            A number of writers raised the question of why the Mishna needed to specify that the sons of the kohanim were permitted to partake of this portion of the shelamim.  After all, they are themselves kohanim, and so it is obvious that once the Torah grants the chazeh and shok to all kohanim, this includes the sons of all kohanim.  The Sefat Emet suggests that since kohanim were not eligible to perform the service in the Beit Ha-mikdash until they reached halakhic adulthood, one might have assumed that minors were barred from partaking in the kohanim’s portion of the sacrifices.  The Mishna therefore found it necessary to clarify that even the young children of kohanim, who did not serve in the Mikdash, were given these portions.

            Another possibility (suggested by Rav Ari Storch in his Tiferet Aryeh commentary to Masekhet Zevachim) is that one might have thought to forbid sharing these portions with young kohanim because this food must be eaten in an honorable manner.  The Gemara (Chulin 132b) establishes that sacrificial food must be eaten in a manner of “gedula” (“greatness” or “nobility”), the way dignitaries eat their food.  This halakha has several different applications, and one might have extended it to forbid sharing sacrificial food with young children.  This would, at first glance, constitute a dishonorable way of consuming the sacrifice, and it should thus be forbidden.  The Mishna therefore clarifies that in truth, sharing sacrificial food with young children does not violate the requirement to partake of sacrificial food in a “regal” manner, and it is therefore entirely permissible.

            Symbolically, this halakha perhaps expresses the fact that Torah tradition sees absolutely nothing disrespectful about including young children in matters of kedusha.  At first glance, one might have assumed that sacred matters such as Torah, prayer and other mitzvot should be shared only with youngsters who have already grown and matured, such that they act in a generally respectable manner.  But in truth, Halakha allows sharing “sacrificial food” even with young children.  There is nothing at all dishonorable in including youngsters in the realm of sanctity, and to the contrary, children should be exposed to Torah, prayer and mitzvot already from a young age.  We in fact give honor to sacred matters by making a point of sharing them with children of every age, as part of our fervent effort to ensure the successful transmission of Torah to the next generation.

 

 

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