Menahot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

This mishnah continues to teach cases in which the minhah is invalid.

 

Mishnah Two

1)      As for both a sinner’s minhah and any other minhah if [one of the following] removed the handful:

a)      a non-priest;

b)      or [a priest] that was an onen;   

c)      or one who immersed himself during the day;   

d)      or was not wearing the priestly vestments,   

e)      or whose atonement was lacking;   

f)        or who had not washed his hands and feet;  

g)      or that was uncircumcised;   

h)      or unclean;

i)        or was sitting,   

j)        or standing upon vessels or upon a beast or upon another’s feet,   

k)      it is invalid.

2)      If [a priest] removed the handful with his left hand it is invalid.

a)      Ben Batera says: he may put [the handful] back and take it out again with the right hand.

3)      If on taking the handful there came into his hand a small stone or a grain of salt or a drop of frankincense it is invalid, for they have said: if the handful was too much or too little it is invalid.

4)      What is meant by “too much? If he took an overflowing handful.

5)      And ‘too little’? If he took the handful with the tips of his fingers only. 

6)      How should he do it? He should stretch out his fingers on to the palm of his hand.

 

Explanation

Section one: This section contains a list of cases in which a priest who removes the handful from the minhah renders it invalid. The same list appears in Zevahim 2:1, so I am basically replicating my commentary here:

Non-priest: only priests can perform these activities.  

An onen: Someone who had one of their close relatives die is considered an onen on the day of the death.  

A tebul yom: This is the word for an impure person who has immersed in a mikveh but before the end of the day (before the sun sets after he was made pure). See Leviticus 22:7.

One lacking [priestly] vestments: A regular priest must wear four garments and the high priest must wear eight garments (see Yoma 7:5). Without the proper attire, the minhah is invalid.

One lacking sacrificial atonement: In certain cases, when one’s period of impurity is over he must bring a sacrifice. If the priest has not brought the required sacrifice, he cannot take part in the sacrificial worship.

One who had not washed his hands and feet: See Exodus 30:19.

An uncircumcised [priest]: See Ezekiel 44:9.

An unclean [priest]: one must be ritually pure to offer sacrifices.

One who was sitting, one who was standing on utensils or on an animal or on another’s feet, are disqualified: the sacrificial procedure must be performed while standing on the floor of the Temple’s courtyard, not sitting or standing on something else.

Section two: The handful should be removed with the right hand. According to the first opinion, if he removes it with his left hand the minhah is invalid, whereas Ben Batera holds that he may put the handful back into the remainder and take it out again with his right hand.

Section three: If when taking the handful the priest removes the correct amount, but then finds that something else was in the handful, a stone, salt or frankincense, it is invalid, because as we shall see, it turns out that he didn’t take enough.

Section four: The mishnah now explains the meaning of the statement, “if the handful was too much or too little it is invalid.” If he took a heaping handful and it was overflowing, then it is too much and the fistful is invalid.

Section five: If he took it just with his fingertips, without using his palm, then it is similarly invalid, because it is not enough.

Section six: The proper way of taking out the fistful is for the priest to use his whole hand, with outstretched fingertips. This way he uses his palm and fingers.

 

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