Menahot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah Eight

 

Introduction

This mishnah establishes the minimum value of the animals that one has to bring when one has pledged to bring a specific animal.

 

Mishnah Eight

1)      [If he said,] “I take upon myself to offer an ox,” he must bring one with its drink-offerings to the value of a maneh.

a)      “A calf,” he must bring one with its drink-offerings to the value of five selas.

b)      “A ram,” he must bring one with its drink-offerings to the value of two selas. 

c)      “A lamb,” he must bring one with its drink-offerings to the value of one sela.

2)      If he said “An ox valued at one maneh,” he must bring one worth a maneh apart from its drink-offerings.

a)      “A calf valued at five selas,” he must bring one worth five selas apart from its drink-offerings.

b)      “A ram valued at two selas,” he must bring one worth two selas apart from its drink-offerings.

c)      “A lamb valued at one sela,” he must bring one worth one sela apart from its drink-offerings.

3)      [If he said, “I take upon myself to offer] an ox valued at a maneh,” and he brought two together worth a maneh, he has not fulfilled his obligation, even if one was worth a maneh less one denar and the other also was worth a maneh less one denar.

4)      [If he said] “A black one” and he brought a white one, or “a white one” and he brought a black one, or “a large one” and he brought a small one, he has not fulfilled his obligation.

5)      [If he said] “a small one” and he brought a large one, he has fulfilled his obligation;

a)      Rabbi says: he has not fulfilled his obligation.

 

Explanation

Section one: This section sets standard values for animals that one might pledge to bring as a sacrifice. If he pledges to bring an animal without specifying an amount, then the mandatory value of the animal includes the value of the drink-offerings (wine, oil and grain) that must accompany the animal. Thus the ox and its drink-offerings must be worth a maneh, which is 100 denar. The calf and its drink-offerings must be worth only five selas which is equivalent to twenty denar. The ram must be worth ten denars, and the lamb must be worth only five denars.

Section two: If he specifies the value of the animal, then he must bring an animal worth that amount and on top of that, the requisite drink-offerings.

Section three: If he pledges to bring an ox worth a maneh, he cannot bring two oxen that together add up to one maneh. Even if each ox is worth 99 denar, he has not fulfilled his obligation because he stated that he would bring one ox worth one maneh (100 denar).

Section four: If he specified the color of the animal that he was going to bring, he cannot bring one of a different color. Similarly, if he pledges to bring a large animal, he cannot bring a smaller one.

Section five: However, if he pledges to bring a small one and he brings a larger one, there is a debate over whether he has fulfilled his obligation. According to the first opinion, he has fulfilled his obligation because the smaller ox is encompassed in the larger ox. This is akin to a situation in which he pledges to bring a small amount of money and he brings a larger amount of money.

Rabbi [Judah Hanasi] disagrees and holds that even in this situation he has not fulfilled his obligation. A small animal is qualitatively different from a large animal and therefore if he pledges to bring a small one, he must bring that type. This might be akin to promising to give a friend a small dog. The receiver might not be happier to get a larger one. Small things are perhaps not necessarily less than large ones [I wonder what would Rabbi Judah Hanasi have said about our SuperSize Me culture?]

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