Rava raises a difficulty against the baraita that states that every haftorah must have 21 verses. The haftorah of Parshat Tzav, taken from Jeremiah 7, has only seventeen verses.
The answer is that as long as the subject is completed, then less than 21 verses can be read. The 21 verse minimum did not mean that two subjects would have to be covered.
Today’s section opens with a mishnah that teaches what rituals require a minyan of ten men in order to perform them.
Section one: In the time of the mishnah they recited the Shema in a way that we might call responsively—the leader would recite one half of the verse and the congregation would respond with the second half. This practice changed some time during the talmudic period. There are actually many different explanations for what they did, but this seems to be the most accepted by scholars.
Section two: Passing before the ark refers to reciting the Sh’moneh Esrei or Amidah. Without a minyan there is no public Amidah or repetition—everyone just does it silently.
Section three: The priestly blessing is recited before the end of the Amidah, but only with a minyan.
Section four: Without a minyan there is no public reading of the Torah.
Section five: Nor is there a haftarah, lest one think that although they can’t read from the Torah, they might be able to read from the prophets.
Section six: On the way to the cemetery and on the way back they would make formal stops at which they would recite eulogies. They would do this seven times, but it was only done with a minyan.
Section seven: The blessing for mourners was recited in the public square, whereas “comforting mourners” was done on the return from the cemetery. The blessing of the bridegrooms refers to the blessings recited under the huppah (the wedding canopy). In mishnaic times they probably recited three blessings, but by the time of the Talmud this had been increased to seven. None of these blessings is recited without a minyan.
Section eight: Before Birkat Hamazon, the blessing after the meal, there is an invitation to bless. This invitation is recited with God’s name only if there are ten present.
Section nine: If someone wishes to dedicate a piece of land to the Temple they estimate the value of the land and then he must pay that amount. The estimate is carried out by ten people, only one of whom must be a priest. Similarly, if a person dedicates himself or someone else to the Temple, and he can’t afford to pay the price mandated in Leviticus 27, then they estimate how much he can afford. This estimate is again done by nine regular men and one priest.#...
This section offers a complicated derivation of the notion that anything that entails “sanctification” must be done with ten, and that a minyan consists of ten. From the verse in Leviticus we learn that God wishes to be sanctified “among the children of Israel.” But from there we don’t learn any number. But the verse uses the word “among.” This connects us to Numbers 16 which uses the word “among” and also the word “congregation.” The word “congregation” leads us to Numbers 14, where congregation is clearly ten. This is God speaking about the spies. There were ten spies who had an evil report, therefore a congregation is ten. So too a minyan consists of ten.
This section interprets some of the elements of the mishnah we learned yesterday.
A minyan is required for the formal procedure of stopping and starting during the funeral procession, because there are formal announcements of when to rise and when to sit. It would not be proper to make these announcements without a minyan of ten.
The blessing for mourners was recited in the public square. It is a formal blessing, but one that we no longer recite. When such a blessing was recited, mourners did not count as part of the minyan. The parallel blessing, the blessing of the bridegrooms (which is still recited), also requires a minyan, but in this case the bridegroom counts towards the requisite ten.
To recite the full “zimmun” for Birkat Hamazon, ten are necessary. Without ten the word “our God” is omitted.
Today’s section contains a few last comments on the previous mishnah.
Leviticus 27 deals with sanctifying land and people and with the evaluation of that which was sanctified so that its value could be dedicated to the Temple. The word “priest/Kohen” is mentioned ten times in the passage. One mention is needed to teach that a priest must be present at the evaluation. The other nine are considered limitations that follow a prior limitation—all of them limit the evaluator to a priest. We have a rule that a limitation after a limitation has the force of an inclusion (sort of like two negatives make a positive). Therefore, the other nine people need not be kohanim.
The problem is that the second “Kohen” is a limitation after a limitation, but the third is not, because the prior mention was not a limitation. In reality only the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th are limitations and therefore, five of the people should be priests and only five can be Israelites. The Talmud admits that this is a difficulty, and in the end, we have no source for this halakhah.
The mishnah says that nine Israelites and a priest are required to evaluate a person sanctified to the Temple so that his worth can be redeemed. The Talmud asks how a person’s value is dedicated to the Temple. The answer is that the person says, “My monetary value is upon me.” His value is estimated by assessing how much he would be worth as a slave. Since slaves are compared with property (both are passed down as an inheritance), just as land requires nine and a priest when being evaluated, so too does a person.