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Menachot 64 – Josephus, Hyrcanus, and the Pig on the Wall

See our new post: “Menachot 64 – Josephus, Hyrcanus, and the Pig on the Wall,” on!

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Are Oats Really one of the 5 Species of Grain? – When Science and Halakha Collide

See our new post: Are Oats Really one of the 5 Species of Grain? – When Science and Halakha Collide, on our new daf yomi site:!

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Chadash Nowadays – Primary Sources

Read our new post, Chadash Nowadays – Primary Sources, on our new website:!

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New Resources – Five Species of Grain, Chadash Nowadays

New resources have been posted to our Resources page on our new site:

  • Under “Pictorial Guides
    • “The Five Types of Grain,” by Professor Yehuda Felix (author of “Flora and Fauna in the Torah,” and “Flora and Fauna in the Mishna”).  This is a selection from Professor Felix’s book-length commentary on Mishna Kelayim.
    • “Harvesting Grain in Rabbinic Times,” by Professor Yehuda Felix.  This is taken from his work “Agriculture in the Land of Israel during Mishnaic Times.”
  • Under “Primary Sources
    • Primary Sources on Chadash Nowadays
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Bringing the Omer: What Day is the “Day After Shabbat”?

Please see the new post, “Bringing the Omer: What Day is the “Day After Shabbat,” at our new location,

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Menachot 69 is here

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Administrative Oops!

Hello all,

In completing the migration to the new Daily Daf site, I mistakenly re-subscribed all the email subscribers on the old site. So if you had subscribed, you may have gotten an email a few minutes ago (Monday 5/16 11:40am) asking for you to confirm this subscription request. You may safely either ignore or confirm this request.

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Menachot 64 – Questions from the Field

I recently received an email asking two excellent questions on yesterday’s daf, Menachot 64. I post the questions here, with my answers below.

QuestionWhy would you be permitted to be mechalel Shabbat on erev Pesach in order to flay the animal to get at its innards if the innards could instead be offered up later that night (i.e., after Shabbat is over)? Convenience alone shouldn’t be enough to be docheh the prohibition.

Answer: You are right, this is far from obvious. Even R. Yishmael’s position – which limits the flaying until the chest – needs justifying. What is the need to do this on Shabbat? The Keren Orah underscores this, pointing out that we are specifically talking about the Pesach, and not other korbanot which are brought on Shabbat and eaten (e.g., chatat of a musaf of Yom Tov), because here there is no need to do it today. In the case of a chatat, by contrast, since the eating of the meat on that day is part of the mitzvah, and since that can only be done after the innards are offered up, there is clear justification to offer the innards today. But for a Pesach,, even the meat can’t be eaten until tonight! Therefore, it is a chiddush to say that this can be done on Shabbat. Here is what he says:

ולאו דוקא נקט פסח, דבכל קרבנות ציבור הוי מצי לאשמעינן כו’. אין דבריהם ז”ל מובנים, דבכל קרבנות ציבור לא שייכא פלוגתא זו, לא בעולת ציבור ולא בחטאת, דעולה ודאי מפשיט את כולה ומעליהו מיד, ובחטאת נמי דצריך לאכול מיד וודאי מפשיט את כולו אפילו בשבת, וכי פליגי בפסח, דלא חזי לאכילה עד הערב, א”כ הוי טירחא שלא לצורך שבת, ואפילו בישול חטאת ציבור נראה דהותר בשבת, כמו הקטר חלבים, דהוי מצוה בשעתה, ה”נ אכילת חטאת, ודווקא בפסח הוא דאין צלייתו דוחה שבת, דלא חזי היום…

Tosafot says that the debate is not specifically about Pesach, because this issue could have been raised by any of the communal sacrifices (when it is brought on Shabbat).  But their words do not make sense, because this debate would not have been relevant neither in regards to a communalolah or a communal chatat. In the case of the olah, it would obviously be required to flay the entire animal so that it can all be put on the altar immediately.  Similarly, regarding a chatat which must be eaten immediately, one would certainly flay it even on Shabbat [since it cannot be eaten as long as the innards have not been offered on the altar].  Rather, the debate is specifically in regards to the Pesach, which cannot be eaten until nightfall, and thus effort regarding it are not being done for the sake of Shabbat [but rather for the eating after Shabbat].  In contrast, it appears that cooking of a communal chatat would be allowed on Shabbat, just like the burning of its innards which is the doing of a mitzvah in its proper time, and this is also true in regards to eating a chatat. It is specifically the Pesach whose roasting does not override Shabbat and that is not fit for eating today, that this debate [regarding how much can be flayed] exists.

So what is the answer? It seems that there is an implicit understanding that anything that is part of the avodah today, even if it can be postponed until tonight, can be done today – that all of this is included in the principle that Pesach overrides Shabbat. Interestingly, in the Tosefta where this appears (Pesachim 4:10, Lieberman), R. Yishmael’s statement appears alone, without the opinion of the Sages. This leaves open the possibility that he is being lenient, allowing the flaying, and not strict, in limiting it to the chest. And, indeed, the Yerushalmi, when it quotes the Tosefta, states:

תני רבי ישמעאל הפשיטו דוחה את השבת תני רבי ישמעאל בנו של יוחנן בן ברוקה או’ בשבת היה מפשיט את החזה

We taught in a braitta, ‘R. Yishmael says that flaying of Pesach overrides Shabbat.’  We taught in a braitta, “R. Yishmael the son of R. Yochanan ben Broka says, ‘On Shabbat they would flay it until the chest.”

Yerushalmi Pesachim 6:1

That is, according to the Yerushalmi, R. Yishmael is being lenient and introducing the idea that they flaying can override.  The Yerushalmi does go on to say, like our Gemara, that R. Yishmael is also being restrictive, and not allowing more to be done, although it would make the mitzvah nicer.  Nevertheless, the first point that R. Yishmael is introducing is that there is an allowance to do the flaying of the Pesach altogether on Shabbat.

Ritva in Shabbat (116b, s.v. Tanu Rabbanan) implicitly makes this point as well, except following the Bavli assumes that it is not the innovation of R. Yishmael but an assumption shared between him and the Sages. Here is what he says: דשחיטת הפסח והקטרת אימורין וכל צורכיהן דוחה שבת לדברי הכל, דאמר קרא במועדו אפילו בשבת. “Because the slaughtering of the Pesach and the offering up of its innards and everything that is needed (for the korban) override Shabbat according to all opinions (R. Yishmael and the Sages), for the verse states: “In its season,” [which means] even on Shabbat.

QuestionWhy do we compare our situations of melacha d’oraita to techum Shabbat, which is d’rabbanan?

Answer: If by techum shabbat you mean the case of testifying for the new moon – that is not limited to a techum problem. It includes carrying provisions for the journey, which would be a biblical prohibition of carrying. See mishna Rosh Hashana 1:9:

מי שראה את החדש ואינו יכול להלך מוליכין אותו על החמור אפילו במטה ואם צודה להם לוקחין בידם מקלות ואם היתה דרך רחוקה לוקחין בידם מזונות שעל מהלך לילה ויום מחללין את השבת ויוצאין לעדות החדש שנאמר (ויקרא כ”ג) אלה מועדי ה’ אשר תקראו אותם במועדם

If one who has seen the moon is not able to go on foot, he may be brought on an donkey or even in a bed [on Sabbath].  If they [the witnesses] are likely to be waylaid, they may take cudgels [to defend themselves].  If the distance is great [to Jerusalem], they may take provisions with them, since for as much as a night and a day’s journey they were allowed to profane Sabbath and go forth to testify to the appearance of the new moon, as it says: “These are the appointed seasons of the Lord . . . which ye shall proclaim in their appointed season.”

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Kupach, Kira, and Tanur – What Did all these Ovens Look Like?

The mishna in today’s daf (Menachot 63a) stated that a mincha that is ma’feh tanur, an oven-baked mincha cannot be made in a kupach. R. Yehudah disagreed and said that a kupach could be used for such a mincha.  What, exactly, is a kupach, and how did it differ from a tanur?

Rashi, here, states that a kupat is a small oven and can only fit one pot (s.v. kupat).  Rashi’s comments are more spelled out in the third chapter of Shabbat, where the mishnayot distinguish between three instruments for cooking: the kirah, the kupach, and the tanur. Here is what Rashi says about these three items (I have reordered the statements to appear in ascending order of the size of the items):

כופח – בגמרא מפרש לה: עשוי חלל ככירה, אבל ארכו כרחבו, ואין בו אלא שיעור שפיתת קדירה אחת, וכירה יש בה שפיתת שתי קדירות. (לח:)

כירה – עשויה כעין קדירה, ונותנין קדירה לתוכה. (לו:)

תנור – מתוך שקצר למעלה ורחב למטה, נקלט חומו לתוכו טפי מכירה (לח:)

Kupach is explained in the Gemara: it is made with a hollow, like the Kirah, but its length is equal to its width, and it only has the size to hold one pot.  The kirah has the size to hold two pots. (Shabbat 38b)

Kirah is shaped like a pot, and one puts a pot inside it. (Shabbat 36b)

Tanur – an oven, because it is narrow above and wide at the bottom, its heat is concentrated inside it more than is the case with a  kirah (Shabbat 38b)

The differences between these three items can be seen visually in the pictures below.  These are all taken from the book כלי חרס בתקופת התלמוד, “Earthenware Vessels from the Talmudic Period,” by Dr. Yehoshua Brand, and a pdf of the sections on these ovens can be downloaded on our Resources page under Diagrams and Maps.

The first picture is that of a kupach, the next of an earthenware kirah.   The kupach’s hollow would be filled with wood and fuel and the pot would be put on its top (not inside it).  The holes on the floor of the kupach which would allow the ashes to fall away into the bottom chamber.  In contrast, the earthenware kirah looked like a pot-holder with walls.  It could have four walls or, as the picture below shows,  three walls.  The woods and fire was put in between the walls, and the pot supported above.  It could be wider than the picture shown and support two pots.

The last picture is that of a tanur, and – like Rashi described – it is pyramidal in shape, and as can be seen was used for baking bread by sticking the bread on its walls.

It is not clear why our mishna did not consider the question of using a kirah for baking bread.  The Gemara in Shabbat states, in its explanation of the greater serverity afforded to a kupach over a kirah, that the heat of a kupach was greater than a kirah (Shabbat 35b).  Brand assumes that this means that the kupach was taller (it is assumed that the kira was wider, since it could hold two pots).   It is also possible that its heat was greater because the kupach was not as wide, and because it had walls all around without ventilation.  This could explain why R. Yehuda only mentions a kupach for baking.   Its greater heat would allow for more effective baking than the kirah.

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