SALT - Wednesday, 10 Iyar 5778 - April 25, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Yesterday, we noted the observation made by the Gemara (Menachot 89b) regarding the grain offering which accompanied the korban ha-omer, the special sacrifice brought on the 16th of Nissan, as the Torah commands in Parashat Emor (23:13).  The korban ha-omer consisted of the first omer of harvested grain, as well as a sheep which would be offered on the altar.  Normally, when a sheep is offered as a sacrifice, it is accompanied by a mincha (grain offering) consisting of an isaron (a unit of volume) of flour.  When it comes to the sheep of the korban ha-omer, by contrast, the Torah requires bringing double this amount – two esronim of flour.
            Interestingly, Rabbeinu Yosef Bekhor Shor suggests an alternative reading of the Torah’s command.  He proposes that when the Torah here speaks of two esronim of flour accompanying the sheep of the korban ha-omer, it refers not to a unique, double-sized mincha offering, but rather to a standard mincha offering plus the omer of newly-harvested grain that was mentioned earlier, and which stands at the center of the korban ha-omer.  Earlier, in Sefer Shemot (16:36), we read that an omer is equivalent to an isaron.  Therefore, Rabbeinu Yosef Bekhor Shor suggests, we can easily explain that in truth, the mincha accompanying the sheep of the korban ha-omer was no different than an ordinary accompanying mincha, and consisted of just one isaron of flour.  The Torah mentions two esronim in this context because this special sacrifice also included an isaron of newly-harvested grain, in addition to the standard accompanying mincha
            The advantage of this interpretation, Bekhor Shor adds, is that it explains the discrepancy between the amount of flour required for the accompanying mincha and the amount of wine required for the accompanying libation.  While the Torah here mentions double the amount of flour – two esronim as opposed to a single isaron – it commands bringing the usual amount of wine for the accompanying libation – one-quarter of a hin, the same amount always required when offering a sheep (Bamidbar 15:5).  Seemingly, Bekhor Shor contends, if the Torah made an exception for the sheep of the korban ha-omer, doubling the quantity of its accompanying offerings, then it should have doubled the quantity of the libation just as it doubled the quantity of the flour offering.  It thus appears preferable, Bekhor Shor writes, to explain that the Torah does not, in fact, double the required amount of the accompanying mincha, but rather speaks of a standard accompanying mincha in addition to the omer of newly-harvested grain mentioned several verses earlier.
            Chizkuni, however, convincingly rejects this explanation of the verse.  He notes that the flour required for this mincha offering, like for virtually all other mincha offerings, is solet – fine wheat flour.  The omer of grain offered as part of the actual korban ha-omer sacrifice, by contrast, was, according to tradition, barley.  Hence, if the Torah here requires offering two esronim of “solet,” it must, necessarily, refer to a double-sized accompanying mincha, and not to a regular mincha plus the omer of newly-harvested grain.