SALT - Monday, 6 Adar I 5779 - February 11, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            The final of the sacrifices offered on each of the seven days of the kohanim’s consecration was the “eil ha-miliuim” – a special ram sacrifice which was eaten by both Moshe and the kohanim.  Essentially, this sacrifice was handled as a shelamim offering – a sacrifice whose fats are placed on the altar, while the meat is shared by the kohanim and the individual who brought the offering.  Specifically, the chazeh (chest) and shok (right thigh) are given to the kohanim, and the rest of the meat is partaken by the one who brought the sacrifice (and anyone with whom he wishes to share it).  During the seven days of the miluim, Moshe tended to the sacrifices as the kohen, and the sacrifices were offered by Aharon and his sons.  And thus the “eil ha-miluim,” which was modeled after the shelamim, was divided between Aharon and his sons – who in this instance were the owners of the sacrifice – and Moshe, who served as the officiating kohen.  Thus, the majority of the meat was given to Aharon and his sons, and the chazeh and shok – in principle – were assigned as Moshe’s share, though as an extraordinary measure, the shok in this instance was placed on the altar together with the fats (29:22).  God instructed that the chazeh should be given to Moshe as his “mana” – “portion” (29:26).
            Rav Meir Simcha Ha-kohen of Dvinsk, in his Meshekh Chokhma, comments that the meaning of the word “mana” in this verse may have implications for the obligation of “mishloach manot” – sending gifts of food to one’s fellow on Purim (Ester 9:22).  The chazeh of this sacrifice, Meshekh Chokhma notes, is described as Moshe’s “mana” only once the sacrificial blood had been sprinkled and the fats were offered on the altar, at which point Moshe earned the privilege of partaking of this portion of meat.  A “mana,” Meshekh Chokhma writes, is something which is already suitable for consumption, and thus God told Moshe that he would be receiving the chazeh as his “mana” only after the sacrificial rituals were completed, whereupon Moshe the meat was allowed to be eaten.
            Accordingly, Meshekh Chokhma establishes, when the Megilla commands us to give “manot” to another person on Purim, it requires us to send food that is ready for consumption.  As implied by the verse here in Parashat Tetzaveh, a “mana” is food fit for consumption, and thus giving raw food which still requires preparation does not fulfill the mitzva of mishloach manot.
            Interestingly, others reach the precise opposite conclusion from the very same verse.  Rav Yair Bachrach, in his Mekor Chayim notes to the Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 695), as well as Netziv, in his Ha’ameik She’eila (67:9), assert that to the contrary, the use of the word “mana” in this verse proves that it refers even to unprepared food.  Moshe’s portion of the sacrifice was called a “mana” once it became permissible for consumption, but the meat was still raw at that point; it had not been cooked.  Meshekh Chokhma’s inference from this verse thus seems difficult, as it appears to prove the precise opposite, since Moshe’s portion of the meat was still raw when it was called a “mana.”
            Some have noted that this issue might hinge on a debate among the Rishonim in interpreting the Mishna in Masekhet Beitza (14b) which discusses the permissibility of sending gifts on Yom Tov.  Although generally it is forbidden to give gifts on Yom Tov, Beit Hillel ruled that one may send a kosher animal to one’s fellow on Yom Tov, as the animal may be slaughtered and its meat prepared for consumption on Yom Tov.  Since the gift is something which could be used as part of the Yom Tov celebration, it may be given on Yom Tov.  Beit Shammai, however, disagreed, and allowed giving only “manot.”  Rashi explains that Beit Shammai permitted giving only readymade food, which is prepared for immediate consumption.  Meiri, by contrast, writes that Beit Shammai allowed giving even raw meat, and disagreed with Beit Hillel only with respect to live animals, which still require slaughtering.  These Rishonim thus seem to debate the question of whether the word “manot” refers specifically to readymade food, or even to food that still needs to be cooked and made fit for consumption.
            The Mishna Berura (695:20) brings both opinions among the poskim as to whether one fulfills the mishlo’ach manot obligation by giving raw food, implying that this issue has not been definitively resolved one way or the other.