Menahot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Four



Most of this mishnah deals with how the two loaves for Shavuot and how the showbread were made.


Mishnah Four

1)      All menahot require a vessel [for works that are performed] within, but do not require a vessel [for those works that are performed] outside.

2)      How so? The two loaves were seven handbreadths long and four wide and their horns were four fingerbreadths.

3)      The [cakes of the] showbread were ten handbreadths long and five wide and their horns were seven fingerbreadths. 

4)      Rabbi Judah says: lest you err [remember but the words] “zadad yahaz.” 

5)      Ben Zoma says: “And you shall set upon the table showbread (lehem panim) before me continually:” panim signifies that it should have faces.



Section one: This section provides a general rule regarding which works in preparation of a minhah are performed with a ministering (holy) vessel and which are not. Any work performed within the Temple, such as kneading, arranging and baking, needs to be done in a ministering vessel. However, any work performed outside of the Temple does not need to be done in a ministering vessel.

Section two: Usually the words “how so” mean that this section is an explanation of that which comes before it. However, in this case section two does not explain section one. Either the words shouldn’t be here, and they are missing in some manuscripts, or they simply mean that this section explains how one makes the two loaves and the showbread.

The “horns” of the two loaves and showbread can be explained in two ways. Some explain that they would take a piece of dough and stick it on the ends of the bread to make it look like horns. Others explain that this “seven fingerbreadths” actually refers to the height of the loaves.

Section three: The showbread cakes were slightly larger than the two loaves for Shavuot.

Section four: Rabbi Judah provides a mnemonic device to remember the size of each type of loaf. For the two loaves the mnemonic is “zayin” (7), “daled” (4), “daled” (4). For the showbread the mnemonic is “yod” (10), “heh” (5) and “zayin” (7).

Section five: Rabbi Shimon makes a midrash on why it is called “lehem panim.” “Panim” can mean face, so Rabbi Shimon interprets the word to mean that the cakes each have a face, meaning a side. This seems to mean that the cakes were not flat.