מתני׳ הוציאו לו את הכף ואת המחתה חפן מלא חפניו ונתן לתוך הכף הגדול לפי גדלו והקטן לפי קטנו וכך היתה מדתה נטל את המחתה בימינו ואת הכף בשמאלו
MISHNA: They brought out the spoon and the coal pan to the High Priest so he may perform the service of the incense. He scoops his handfuls from the incense and places it into the spoon. The High Priest with large hands fills the spoon with incense in an amount corresponding to the large size of his hands, and the High Priest with small hands fills the spoon with incense in an amount corresponding to the small size of his hands. And this was the measure of the spoon, i.e., it was made to correspond to the size of his hands. He took the coal pan in his right hand and the spoon in his left hand.
גמ׳ מחתה תנא ליה נטל את המחתה ועלה לראש המזבח וחותה ויורד התם מחתה דגחלים והכא מחתה דקטורת דתניא הוציאו לו כף ריקן מלשכת הכלים ומחתה גדושה של קטורת מלשכת בית אבטינס
GEMARA: The Gemara expresses surprise at the statement of the mishna. In an earlier mishna, the tanna already taught that the High Priest must bring the coal pan: He takes a coal pan and ascends to the top of the altar and rakes and descends. Why does the tanna mention the taking of the coal pan again? The Gemara explains: There the mishna deals with the coal pan of burning coals, and here the mishna is referring to the coal pan of incense, which he would later scoop out. As it was explicitly taught in a baraita: They brought out an empty spoon for him from the chamber of vessels, and a coal pan heaped with incense from the Chamber of the House of Avtinas.
חפן מלא חפניו ונותן לתוך הכף הגדול לפי גדלו והקטן לפי קטנו וכך היתה מדתה כף ביום הכפורים למה לי (ויקרא טז, יב) מלא חפניו והביא אמר רחמנא
§ The mishna taught: He scoops his handfuls from the incense and places it into the spoon. The High Priest with large hands fills the spoon with incense corresponding to the large size of his hands, and the High Priest with small hands fills the spoon corresponding to the small size of his hands, and this was the measure of the spoon, according to the size of his hands. The Gemara asks: Why do I need a spoon on Yom Kippur? After all, the Merciful One states: “And he shall take a coal pan full of coals of fire from off the altar from before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small and bring it within the veil” (Leviticus 16:12). This verse suggests that the handfuls are brought by hand rather than in a vessel.
משום דלא אפשר דהיכי נעביד נעייל והדר נעייל הבאה אחת אמר רחמנא ולא שתי הבאות
The Gemara answers: The High Priest uses a spoon because it is impossible to perform the service otherwise. The Gemara elaborates: As what should we do? Let him bring in the coal pan and then bring in the incense? The Merciful One states one act of bringing for the coals and the incense, and not two acts of bringing.
נשקליה לקטורת בחופניו ונחתיה [למחתה] עלה וליעול כי מטי התם היכי לעביד נשקליה בשיניה ונחתיה למחתה השתא לפני מלך בשר ודם אין עושין כן לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה על אחת כמה וכמה
Instead, let him take the incense by his handfuls and place the coal pan on top of his two handfuls and enter, carrying it all in one go. This suggestion is also impractical, as when he arrives there, in the Holy of Holies, what should he do? How can the High Priest put down the coal pan where it is? Let him take the coal pan in his teeth and lower it. Now, before a king of flesh and blood one would not do so, as it is disrespectful. All the more so, one would not act in this manner before the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
הלכך לא אפשר וכיון דלא אפשר עבדינן כדאשכחן בנשיאים
The Gemara concludes: Therefore, it is impossible for the High Priest to behave in another way, and since it is impossible to act in any other manner, he acts as we find with regard to the sacrifices of the princes during the dedication of the Tabernacle. On that occasion, the princes brought spoons filled with incense: “One golden spoon of ten shekels full of incense” (Numbers 7:14).
נטל את המחתה בימין ואת הכף בשמאל יציבא בארעא וגיורא בשמי שמיא
§ The mishna taught that the High Priest took the coal pan in his right hand and the spoon in his left hand. The Gemara questions this arrangement by citing a well-known maxim: The native is on the ground and the stranger is in the heavens; i.e., this is the opposite of what one would expect. The main component of the mitzva is the incense, while the coal pan is required only for burning the incense. Consequently, the High priest should carry the spoon, which contains the main component of the service, in his right hand, and the accessory in his left hand.
זו מרובה וזו מועטת ואפילו בזמן ששניהן שוין וכמעשה דרבי ישמעאל בן קמחית זו חמה וזו צוננת
The Gemara explains: The service is performed in this manner for reasons of comfort, as this coal pan is greater in weight, since it holds the coals, and that spoon of incense weighs less. And even when the two of them are equal, when the spoon contains three kav of incense like the action of Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit, who could hold several kav in his exceptionally large hands, nevertheless, this coal pan is hot and must be held carefully in the right hand, and that spoon of incense is cold and is easily carried in the left.
אמרו עליו על רבי ישמעאל בן קמחית שהיה חופן ארבעת קבין במלוא חפניו ואומר כל הנשים זרדו וזרד אימא עלה לגג איכא דאמרי בערסן וכדרבה בר יונתן דאמר רבה בר יונתן אמר רבי יחיאל ערסן יפה לחולה
§ Since the Gemara has mentioned Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit, it discusses him further. They said about Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit that his hands were so large that he would scoop up four kav, which he would hold by his handfuls, and say: All the women selected the best they could for their children, but the selection of my mother rose to the roof, i.e., my mother chose the best. Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit is referring to himself, as he matured to a great height and stature. Some say he was referring to his mother’s selection of flour, in accordance with the statement of Rabba bar Yonatan. As Rabba bar Yonatan said that Rabbi Yeḥiel said: Flour is beneficial and healthy for the sick. Since his mother ate this flour when she was pregnant with him, her son grew heartily.
ואיכא דאמרי בשכבת זרע וכדרבי אבהו דרבי אבהו רמי כתיב (שמואל ב כב, מ) ותזרני [חיל] למלחמה וכתיב (תהלים יח, לג) המאזרני חיל למלחמה אמר דוד לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע זריתני וזרזתני
And some say this reference to selection is a euphemism for semen, in accordance with a statement of Rabbi Abbahu, as Rabbi Abbahu raised a contradiction between two verses. It is written: “For You have girded me [vatazreni] with strength for battle” (II Samuel 22:40), and it is written in a parallel verse: “Who girds me [hame’azreni] with strength” (Psalms 18:33). What is the difference between these two expressions? David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe: You selected me [zeritani] with the best drop of semen that my mother absorbed, with which, You fashioned me [zeraztani] within her. This accounts for the variant forms of this expression.
אמרו עליו על רבי ישמעאל בן קמחית פעם אחת סיפר דברים עם ערבי אחד בשוק ונתזה צינורא מפיו על בגדיו ונכנס ישבב אחיו ושמש תחתיו וראתה אמן שני כהנים גדולים ביום אחד
The Gemara continues to discuss Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit. They said about Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit: Once he was talking to a certain Arab in the market on Yom Kippur, and a drop of saliva sprayed from the Arab’s mouth onto the clothes of Rabbi Yishmael, who was the High Priest at the time. This spittle rendered him ritually impure by rabbinic law, like the ritual impurity of a zav, preventing him from serving in the Temple. And his brother Yeshevav entered and served as High Priest on that day in his stead. And, consequently, their mother saw two of her sons serving as High Priests on a single day.
ושוב אמרו עליו על רבי ישמעאל בן קמחית פעם אחת יצא וסיפר עם אדון אחד בשוק ונתזה צינורא מפיו על בגדיו ונכנס יוסף (עם) אחיו ושמש תחתיו וראתה אמן שני כהנים גדולים ביום אחד
And they further said about Rabbi Yishmael ben Kimḥit: Once he went out and talked to a certain officer [hegmon] in the market, and a drop of saliva sprayed from the officer’s mouth onto the clothes of Rabbi Yishmael, and his brother Yosef entered and served as High Priest in his stead. And, again, their mother saw two of her sons serving as High Priests on a single day.
ת"ר שבעה בנים היו לה לקמחית וכולן שמשו בכהונה גדולה אמרו לה חכמים מה עשית שזכית לכך אמרה להם מימי לא ראו קורות ביתי קלעי שערי אמרו לה הרבה עשו כן ולא הועילו
The Sages taught in a baraita: Kimḥit had seven sons, and they all served in the office of the High Priesthood, as High Priests or as his substitute. The Sages said to her: What good deeds did you perform to merit this? She said to them: In all my days, the beams of my house never saw the braids of my hair, as she was extremely modest and was strict about covering her hair even inside her own house. They said to her: Many women did so and did not succeed to such a degree; you must have been granted a special gift from God.
ת"ר (ויקרא ו, ח) בקומצו שלא יעשה מדה לקומץ איבעיא להו מהו שיעשה מדה לחפינה
§ The Sages taught: “And he shall take up from it his handful, of the fine flour of the meal-offering, and of its oil” (Leviticus 6:8). This verse teaches that he should not measure an amount for the handful of a meal-offering with a utensil, but he should separate it directly by hand. A dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the halakha as to whether the High Priest may measure an amount for the handful of incense? Must the incense also be scooped by hand?
התם הוא דכתיב בקומצו אבל הכא דלא כתיב בחפניו אלא (ויקרא טז, יב) מלא חפניו קטורת סמים דקה לא או דילמא יליף מלא מלא מקומצו
The Gemara explains the two sides of the dilemma: Perhaps there, in the case of the handful of a meal-offering, it is different, as it is written “in his handful,” which indicates that he must use his hand rather than a vessel. However here, where it is not written: In his hands, but “and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small” (Leviticus 16:12), perhaps this teaches that the handfuls of incense need not be taken directly by hand, and the High Priest may use a vessel to scoop out the required amount. Or perhaps this halakha is derived by means of a verbal analogy between “full” and “full,” from “his handful,” which is stated regarding the meal-offering. If this verbal analogy is accepted, the High Priest may likewise scoop the incense only by hand.
ת"ש וכך היתה מדתה מאי לאו שאם רצה לעשות מדה אחרת עושה לא ה"ק וכך היה חוזר וחופנה לפנים
The Gemara suggests: Come and hear an answer from the mishna: And this was the measure of the spoon. What, is it not correct to infer from the mishna that although the required measure is a handful, the High Priest is not obligated to scoop with his hand, and if he wanted to measure a different amount, he may measure the incense with a vessel? The Gemara rejects this contention: No, this is what the mishna said; this is what it means: And so too, the High Priest would return and scoop the incense inside the Holy of Holies in precisely the same manner.
שמעת מינה חופן וחוזר וחופן
The Gemara asks: If so, I can learn from this that the High Priest scoops the incense, and again scoops. That is, after scooping once, the High Priest repeats the action and scoops again in the Holy of Holies. This issue is subject to a dispute in the Gemara below.
דילמא שאם רצה לעשות מדה עושה אי נמי שלא יחסר ושלא יותיר
The Gemara rejects this claim: No; perhaps the mishna indeed means that if he wanted to measure a different amount, he may measure the incense with a vessel. The language of the mishna does not conclusively prove which interpretation is correct, and it is possible that the Gemara’s previous inference from the mishna is accurate. Consequently, the issue of whether or not the High Priest scoops incense a second time in the Holy of Holies cannot be considered resolved. Alternatively, the mishna may mean that the High Priest must take neither less nor more, and therefore this statement has no bearing on the dispute with regard to his scooping.
ת"ר מלא קומצו יכול מבורץ ת"ל בקומצו אי בקומצו יכול אפילו בראשי אצבעותיו תלמוד לומר מלא קומצו כדקמצי אינשי הא כיצד חופה שלש אצבעותיו על פיסת ידו וקומץ
§ The Sages taught: “His handfuls” (Leviticus 2:2). I might have thought it should be overflowing from the handful, and therefore the verse states: “His handful” (Leviticus 6:8), which indicates a precise amount. If the halakha is based solely on the phrase “his handful,” I might have thought the priest may pinch a small amount even with just his fingertips, not with his entire finger. Therefore, the verse states: “His handfuls” (Leviticus 2:2), meaning as people usually take a handful, i.e., with their whole hand. How should he perform this service? He scoops by closing his three fingers over the palm of his hand, and takes a handful from the flour of the meal-offering.