SALT - 9 Iyar 5778 - April 24, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
Please pray for a refua sheleima for טובה מאטל בת חנה אטל
            The Torah in Parashat Emor introduces the mitzva of korban ha-omer – the special sacrifice brought from the first portion of harvested grain on the 16th of Nissan.  The amount of one omer of grain would be harvested for this offering on the night of the 16th of Nissan, and it was offered together with a sheep brought as an ola (burnt-offering).  Like all ola sacrifices, this sheep was accompanied by a mincha (flour offering), however, as noted already by the Gemara (Menachot 89b), cited by Rashi (23:13), this mincha differed from other accompanying mincha offerings.  Normally, a sheep brought as an ola (or shelamim) was accompanied by the amount of one isaron (one-tenth of an eifa) of flour as its mincha.  This rule is explicitly stated in Sefer Bamidbar (15:4).  The sheep brought as part of the korban ha-omer, by contrast, required a mincha consisting of double this amount – two esronim (23:13).
            Chizkuni and Rabbeinu Yosef Bekhor suggest that the grain offering was doubled as an expression of the people’s desire for a bountiful harvest.  This sacrifice was offered right at the beginning of the spring harvest, a time when people were naturally anxious about the quantity and quality of that year’s yield, and the Torah therefore doubled the grain offering on this occasion as a symbol of the blessing for which the people hoped and prayed.
            Chizkuni adds another interesting comment relevant to this unique feature of the korban ha-omer, explaining on this basis the text of a passage recited in our musaf prayer.  We recite the musaf prayer every Shabbat, Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov to commemorate the musaf sacrifice offered on these occasions, and on each occasion, we cite in the prayer the verses from Sefer Bamidbar which describe the contents of that day’s musaf sacrifice.  Thereafter, we note that a mincha offering would accompany each animal: “three esronim for a bull, two esronim for a ram, and one isaron for a sheep.”  This is based on the verses in Sefer Bamidbar (15) which designate these quantities for the three different kinds of animal sacrifices.  Curiously, rather than simply state in general terms that the animal sacrifices comprising the musaf were all accompanied by the appropriate mincha offerings as required, we take the time to specify the amount of flour offered as the accompanying mincha for each animal.  Then, immediately thereafter, we make note of the nesakhim – the wine libations required with each animal sacrifice.  The Torah in Sefer Bamidbar (15) specifies different amounts of wine required with each animal, just it specifies different amounts of flour required with each animal, and so we mention both in our musaf prayer.  However, whereas in reference to the mincha we mention the specific amounts required for each animal, in speaking of the wine libations we say simply, “yayin ke-nisko” – that the appropriate amounts of wine were brought for different animals.  Chizkuni explains that we need to specify the amounts of flour for the mincha offerings because they are not entirely constant.  As there is an exception to the standardized system of the accompanying mincha offerings – namely, the sheep offered as part of the korban ha-omer, with which double the normal quantity of flour was offered – it would not suffice to generically state that the appropriate quantities of flour were offered with the animals of the musaf sacrifice.  This would not be sufficiently clear, given that the Torah makes an exception, and so we make a point of specifying the amounts of flour required when offering the various kinds of animals as part of the musaf offering.