Today’s sugya tries to explain what “sprinkling” of the blood is referred to in the mishnah. There are several occasions on which a priest sprinkles blood. Which occasion is one in which we need to know that women cannot do so?
The sprinkling of the ashes of the red heifer can be performed only by the deputy high priest, as it was by Elazar in the wilderness. The sprinkling inside the Holy of Holies must be performed by the high priest. If even other priests cannot do this sprinkling, all the more so women cannot. Thus the mishnah should not even need to state this.
The sprinkling referred to is the sprinkling of the blood of a bird offering on the altar. That it must be offered by a male priest is derived from an inference from animal offerings. Even an Israelite may slaughter an animal offering, but only a priest can sprinkle its blood. So if only a priest can slaughter a bird offering, obviously only a priest can sprinkle its blood.
The mishnah had stated that women who are a sotah (a woman suspected of adultery) and a nezirah, a woman who took a nazirite vow, can wave their own meal offerings. These are exceptions to the general rule that women do not perform Temple rituals.
The question which emerges from this section is how we know that the meal offering of a sotah is waved by its owners and not by the priests.
The word “hand” is used in the context of the sotah offering and the peace-offering. This allows the rabbis to combine the two procedures—in the context of the sotah-offering it seems like the priest is supposed to wave the offering, whereas in the context of the peace-offering it seems like the owner brings it. So the resolution is that they both do so together.
The word “kaf” is used in both the context of the sotah (Numbers 6:19) and the nezirah (Numbers 5:18). This allows the process used in the sotah to be applied to the nezirah. She too waves her offering with the priest’s hand underneath.
This week’s daf opens with a mishnah that discusses which commandments are obligatory only inside the land of Israel and which are incumbent on Jews no matter where they live.
In general, all commandments which are connected to the land are practiced only in the land of Israel. There are some commandments such as tefillin concerning which the Torah uses language such as “When God brings you into the land…” (Exodus 13:5). One might have thought that these commandments would be obligatory only for a Jew living in the land of Israel. The mishnah, however, says that the distinction between commandments observed in and outside of Israel is not the language used in the Torah but rather whether or not the observance of the commandment itself is tied to land.
The only exceptions to this rule are “orlah” and “kilayim.” “Orlah” is the prohibition of using the fruit of a tree for its first three years. “Kilayim” refers to the prohibition of planting wheat in a vineyard.
Rabbi Elazar adds to the list of exceptions the prohibition of new produce. This refers to the prohibition from eating from the new grain harvest until the omer sacrifice is brought on the sixteenth of Nisan (see Leviticus 23:14).