Menahot, Chapter Thirteen, Mishnah One

 

Introduction

The entire thirteenth and final chapter of Menahot is concerned with a person who obligates himself to bring something to the Temple. The issue at hand is how to interpret his words in order to ensure that he fulfills his pledge.

 

Mishnah One

1)      [One who says], “I take upon myself to bring a tenth,” he must bring one [tenth].

2)      “Tenths,” he must bring two [tenths].

3)      [If he said,] “I specified [a certain number of tenths] but I do not know what number I specified,” he must bring sixty tenths   

4)      [If he said,] “I take upon myself to bring a minhah,” he may bring whichever kind he chooses.    

a)      Rabbi Judah says: he must bring a minhah of fine flour, for that is the distinctive [one] among the menahot.

 

Explanation

Section one: This is the general and a bit obvious introduction to the rest of the Mishnah. If someone pledges to bring a tenth of flour as a minhah to the Temple, then he must bring one tenth.

Section two: If he uses the plural, “tenths,” then he must bring at least two tenths, because the minimum number of “tenths” is two.

Section three: In this case, he remembers having specified a certain number of tenths, but he doesn’t remember how many tenths he specified. We must be concerned that he pledged to bring the maximum number of tenths possible. Therefore, he must bring sixty tenths, which as we learned in 12:4, is the largest number of tenths that a person can bring in one vessel.

Section four: In this case a person pledges to bring a minhah, but doesn’t specify what kind of minhah he intends to bring. As explained in the introduction, and as we shall see in tomorrow’s mishnah, there are five different kinds of menahot. According to the first opinion, the person can bring any minhah because we assume that he didn’t have any specific minhah in mind. In other words, he must have meant to just bring any minhah and therefore that is exactly what he can do.

Rabbi Judah says that he must bring a minhah of fine flour, for the Torah calls the minhah of fine flour “a minhah” without any accompanying name (see Leviticus 2:1). When it comes to other types of menahot, they all have an accompanying name, for instance “a minhah baked in an oven” (Leviticus 2:4). We can assume that had he wanted to bring such a minhah, he would have been more specific.

 

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