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S.A.L.T. - Sunday

Rav David Silverberg

          Yesterday, we noted the command introduced in Parashat Vayikra (2:13) to add salt to every sacrifice.  The Rambam, in Hilkhot Issurei Mizbei’ach (5:11), writes that sacrificial meat should be thoroughly salted, the same way that meat is thoroughly salted before being roasted for consumption.  Nevertheless, the Rambam adds, even if one, for whatever reason, added just one grain of salt to the sacrifice, he has fulfilled his obligation.

          Rav Pinchas Menachem Yustman of Piltz, in Siftei Tzadik, raises the question of whether the Rambam refers to a single grain of salt placed on the entire sacrifice, or one grain placed on each part of the sacrifice.  The carcass of an animal sacrifice is separated into pieces before being placed on the altar (nitu’ach), and the question thus arises as to whether the minimum standard of this mitzva requires just one grain of salt on the entire sacrifice, or a grain on each portion of the carcass.

          The Siftei Tzadik creatively suggests hinging this issue on a debate among the Tanna’im in Masekhet Bekhorot (3a) concerning an entirely different matter.  The Gemara there addresses the situation where a Jew and a gentile arrange that the Jew will care for the gentile’s animal in exchange for the right to keep half of the animal’s offspring.  If the animal has a firstborn male child, the question arises whether the newborn animal has the status of a bekhor – a firstborn animal that must be given to a kohen.  Rabbi Yehuda maintains that in such a case, the Jew must pay half the value of the newborn animal to a kohen, as he in essence owns half the animal.  The majority view among the Tanna’im, however, disagrees, and rules that the obligation of bekhor applies only when a Jew enjoys full ownership over the animal.  The Gemara explains that the debate revolves around the question of how to interpret the phrase “kol bekhor” (“every firstborn”) used by the Torah in reference to this command (Shemot 13:2).  The majority of Tana’im understand the word “kol” (“all,” or “every”) as implying that the obligation takes effect only if a Jew owns the entirety of the animal.  In their view, the world “kol” refers to the totality of the item under discussion, and thus, in this context, it speaks of an animal owned fully by a Jew.  Rabbi Yehuda, however, felt that the word “kol” means “any,” and not “all,” and thus the expression “kol bekhor” instructs that even partial ownership suffices for the bekhor obligation to take effect. 

          Perhaps, the Siftei Tzadik writes, this debate regarding the phrase “kol bekhor” can be applied also to the command to offer salt “al kol korbankha” – “with all your sacrifices.”  According to the majority opinion, the word “kol” connotes the entirety of the item in question, and thus the command “al kol korbankha takriv melach” requires adding salt to the entire sacrifice.  Hence, we might assume that salt must be placed on each portion of the sacrifice that is offered on the altar.  According to Rabbi Yehuda, however, the word “kol” implies “any,” such that he might deem it sufficient to add salt to only one piece of the sacrifice.



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