Selection of Mishnayos Relating to the Shtei HaLechem (Shavuous 5780)

This source sheet is a study of Mishnayos referencing one of the two special Korbanos brought on the Holiday of Shavuous, the Shtei HaLechem.

This source sheet remains a work in progress. Comments, questions and criticisms can be sent to [email protected]. All mistakes are my own.

The Korban Shtei HaLechem

The Torah in Parshas Emor discusses two special sacrifices made of grain (Korbanei Mincha). The first, is the Korban Omer brought on the second day of Pesach.* It is made of the first, ripening barley and, as detailed in the Torah, it is prohibited for the masses to consume any new grains prior to the bringing of this Korban. Further, the bringing of the Korban Omer triggers a special obligation to count 49 days, a countdown of sorts, at the end of which, i.e., the fiftieth day, we are commanded to bring another special Korban, the Korban Shtei HaLechem, the two leavened loaves.

This Korban is detailed in Vayikra 23:15-21.**

(טו) וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃ (טז) עַ֣ד מִֽמָּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לַיי׃ (יז) מִמּוֹשְׁבֹ֨תֵיכֶ֜ם תָּבִ֣יאּוּ ׀ לֶ֣חֶם תְּנוּפָ֗ה שְׁ֚תַּיִם שְׁנֵ֣י עֶשְׂרֹנִ֔ים סֹ֣לֶת תִּהְיֶ֔ינָה חָמֵ֖ץ תֵּאָפֶ֑ינָה בִּכּוּרִ֖ים לַֽיי׃ (יח) וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֣ם עַל־הַלֶּ֗חֶם שִׁבְעַ֨ת כְּבָשִׂ֤ים תְּמִימִם֙ בְּנֵ֣י שָׁנָ֔ה וּפַ֧ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֛ר אֶחָ֖ד וְאֵילִ֣ם שְׁנָ֑יִם יִהְי֤וּ עֹלָה֙ לַֽיי וּמִנְחָתָם֙ וְנִסְכֵּיהֶ֔ם אִשֵּׁ֥ה רֵֽיחַ־נִיחֹ֖חַ לַיי׃ (יט) וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֛ם שְׂעִיר־עִזִּ֥ים אֶחָ֖ד לְחַטָּ֑את וּשְׁנֵ֧י כְבָשִׂ֛ים בְּנֵ֥י שָׁנָ֖ה לְזֶ֥בַח שְׁלָמִֽים׃ (כ) וְהֵנִ֣יף הַכֹּהֵ֣ן ׀ אֹתָ֡ם עַל֩ לֶ֨חֶם הַבִּכּוּרִ֤ים תְּנוּפָה֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יי עַל־שְׁנֵ֖י כְּבָשִׂ֑ים קֹ֛דֶשׁ יִהְי֥וּ לַיי לַכֹּהֵֽן׃ (כא) וּקְרָאתֶ֞ם בְּעֶ֣צֶם ׀ הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֗ה מִֽקְרָא־קֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֔ם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָ֖ה לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָ֛ם בְּכָל־מוֹשְׁבֹ֥תֵיכֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶֽם׃

The Korban Omer and Shtei HaLechem act as bookends to the grain harvest period. It starts with the earlier ripening barley and ends with the wheat harvest. In both instances, the Torah describes unique details and Halochos applicable to each.

Halochos of the Shtei HaLechem

  1. The Shtei HaLechem is brought from the new grain, specifically wheat (which ripens around Shavuous time).
  2. The Shtei HaLechem are made of leavened dough, Chametz. They are the only obligatory Korban permitted to have Chametz.
  3. The wheat must be from Eretz Yisroel and, in fact, this requirement is what differentiates the holiness of Eretz Yisroel over other lands.
  4. The Shtei HaLechem are supposed to be the first grain sacrifices brought in the Beis HaMikdash from the new grains.
  5. Along with the Shtei HaLechem, the Torah commands that two sheep be brought as special Korbanei Shelamim or Kisvei Atzeres. There are no other public Korbanei Shelamim.
  6. Because the Shtei HaLechem are made of Chametz, they cannot be placed onto the Mizbeach. Rather, the Torah mandates a special waving ceremony and they are then given to the Kohanim to eat.

Shtei HaLechem in the Mishnah

For a somewhat unique and one-off Korban, there are a surprising number of Mishnayos that speak directly or, at the very least, reference the Shtei HaLechem. More importantly, a study of these Mishnayos indicate that the Chachomim appreciated the Shtei HaLechem from a multi-faceted vantage point. It is possible to identify four categories of Mishnayos dealing with the Shtei HaLechem.

First, are those Mishnayos highlighting the connection between the Shtei HaLechem and the land of Eretz Yisroel and the special Divine protection it receives. Second, are those Mishnayos detailing the attributes applicable to the Shtei HaLechem because it is a Korban Tzibur, a Korban brought on behalf of the public. Third are those Mishnayos comparing and contrasting the Shtei HaLechem to other Korbonos and describing the unique aspects and characteristics of the Shtei HaLechem. Fourth, are those Mishnayos narrating the process, the technical details, of fashioning and bringing the Shtei Halechem.

These Mishnayos are found throughout the Shisha Sidrei Mishnah and are collected below. Each section will have a brief introduction summarizing its core idea. For many of the Mishnayos there will either be a brief introduction or a short insight into one aspect of the Mishnah. This is not meant as a fulsome commentary. The interested reader is ecouraged to review the panoply of commentators on the Mishnah. Finally, each section will be followed by questions to consider.

*A selection of Mishnayos describing the Korban Omer may be found here:

**The blue highlights passages related to the Shtei HaLechem and the purple, passages related to the special Shalmei Tzibur.

Section I

Kedushas Eretz Yisroel

Eretz Yisroel, הארץ שעיני ה' בה, has, ever since the time of our forefather Avrohom, played a unique role in our nation's destiny. More than a national homeland, Eretz Yisroel encapsulates the essence of the Jewish people. It is the singular space where the full spectrum of our relationship with the Creator may be expressed. Most importantly, it creates a symbiotic and bilateral relationship between Hashem and his עם סגולה.

On the one hand, the land itself is suffused with Kedusha, a sublime Holiness. Walking its hills and plains is alone sufficient to awaken within a person a deeper spiritual awareness. On the other, it is only within this land that a person can fulfill the full corpus of Mitzvos, thereby imbuing his every action with purposeful meaning and drawing him spiritually closer to his Maker.

The Omer and Shtei HaLechem symbolize this duality and our unique connection to the land. As Korbanei Tzibur, these two Korbonos, made of new grain, express Am Yisroel's gratitude for and connection to the land. Hashem, in turns, returns this favorable expression, raining down his munificence upon the land (TB Rosh HaShana 16a). Eretz Yisroel stands alone and unparalleled in this fashion and the Mishnah reflects this phenomenon.

In light of the special nature of Eretz Yisroel, much ink has been spilled in identifying the precise contours, regions and borders of Eretz Yisroel and the varied nature of its Holiness. In fact, there are more than seventy Mishnayos in which these broader notions are mentioned along with its effects on the particular Halacha under discussion. At times, the "borders" were extended by expanding application of certain restrictions or Mitzvos to a neighboring land. Depending on the situation Eretz Yisroel may come to encompass Yeduah, Gallil, Transjordan, Amon and Moav, Suriya, Mitzrayim and Bavel. At other times, the land or the law under consideration was narrowly construed and constricted; limiting application to a narrow strip of land. A certain fluidity to these discussions exist, and harmonizing these many instances is beyond the scope of this summary.

For our immediate purpose, however, when it comes to the Korban Omer and the Shtei Halechem, the rule was clear, unlike all other Korbonos, these two offerings must only be brought from grains grown in Eretz Yisroel. See Mishna Menachos 8:1 and Parah 2:1. More poignant, however, is the assertion by the Mishnah in Keilim 1:6, that the unique holiness of Eretz Yisroel is evidenced, perhaps even emanates, from the the fact it is only from Eretz Yisroel that these Korbonos may be sourced.

Finally, the Mishnah in Avos 5:5 highlights the special providential protection these two Korbonos received.

Introduction to Keilim 1:6

Our Mishnah is the first, in a series of four Mishnayos, outlining ten levels of Holiness, beginning with Eretz Yisroel, until reaching the apex of the Kodesh Kedoshim.

Many ask why our Mishnah, in addition to the Omer, Shtei HaLechem and Bikkurim, does not list the many other Mitzvos HaTiluyos B'Aretz, such as Teruma, Challah and Ma'asros. Answering this question requires dissembling each of these Mitzvos into their component parts, identifying commonalities and then grouping them into specific categories and sub-categories. A survey of many of the Meforshim, however, suggest that guiding the discussion in our Mishnah are three intertwined points.

First, is whether Bikkurim is to be included in the same cohort as Omer and Shtei HaLEchem. This, in turn, is dependent on how you define Eretz Yisroel for these purposes, which will then inform the nature of the Kedusha under discussion in our Mishnah.* As an example, in referring to Eretz Yisroel, does the Mishnah mean to include "Eivar HaYarden" (Transjordan) or is it limited to the biblically defined borders. A definitive view of this question requires aligning the disparate views on whether the Omer, Shtei HaLechem and Bikkurim may be brought from Transjordan.** The determination on the inclusion of Transjordan will then help define the nature of the Kedusha referenced in our Mishnah.

The GR"A, perhaps based on the reading in the Sifrei Zuta, emends our Mishna, deleting the reference to Bikkurim, supporting his reading by differentiating between those Mitzvos inherent in the Kedusha of Eretz Yisroel and those that are merely obligations of the land (קדושת הארץ וחובת הארץ).*** As explained by R' Moshe Shternbuch (Moadim V'Zmanim Vol. 1 Siman 17), there are two distinct sources of Kedushas Eretz Yisroel. The first is a direct result from the promise HaShem made to Avrohom creating the sacred and inviolable bond between nation and land. That bond creates an everlasting Kedusha which is limited to the defined borders of Eretz Yisroel. Through proper conquest, however, the borders may be expanded beyond the initial grant, and alongside the physical expansion comes along a secondary level of Kedusha. This Kedusha obligates those lands in all of the Mitzvos HaTeluyos B'Aretz. Our Mishnah is teaching that the Omer an Shtei HaLechem may only come from the initial grant.****

*Rav Yosef Dov Solovechik has a novel understanding of our Mishnah, refocusing our attention from the land to the Beis HaMikdash. He suggests that the ten levels of holiness are not merely steps on a ladder of Holiness; rather, they are concentric circles of holiness, all emanating from a central source, the Beis HaMikdash. The "Temple Holiness" that Eretz Yisroel has is that certain Korbonos (and Bikkurim) are brought to the Beis HaMikdash. Hence, because it is not about the holiness of the land per se, all other Mitzvos HaTeluyos are irrelevant from this perspective and are not listed. (See Nefesh HaRav, pp. 76 and Shiurei HaRav on Mesches Challah, Hilchos Terumah, Perek 1 Halacha 5, pp. 131). See also, R' Menachem Zemba, (Kuntros Otzar HaSifri, Ois Aleph) differentiating between קדושת הארץ וקדושת המקדש.

**Whether Bikkurim may be brought from Transjordan is a dispute among the Tanaim (Bikkurim 1:10). While most Rishonim limit the Omer and Shtei HaLechem to Eretz Yisroel proper, Rashi (TB Menachos 83b) seemingly allows them to be brought from Transjordan.

***Reb Ya'akov Kaminetzky (Emes L'Yaakov, Keilim 1:6) suggests a proof for the GR"A's position based on the fact that the work "Bikkurim" in the Mishnah interrupts the natural grouping of Omer and Shtei HaLechem, suggesting that it was a later or errant insertion.

****R' Shternbuch is clearly of the position that the Omer and Shtei Halechem cannot come from Transjordan. See, R' Yakov Zev Yaskowitz, Amvuha D'Sifrei on Sifrei Zuta, Ois 10, explaining the Sifrei and its deletion of Bikkurim, similarly. See also, R' Yehoshua Weitzman, Kedushas Ha'Aretz--Omer, Bikkurim and Shtei Halechem, in Bikurei Ha'Aretz, Machon HaTorah V'Haretz, Iyaar 5763, pp.161.

For more on the nature of Transjordan, its unique relationship with Eretz Yisroel and Mitzvos HaTeluyos B'Aretz, see, R' Menachem Zemba, (Kuntros Otzar HaSifri, Ois Aleph), R' Yakov Zev Yaskowitz, Amvuha D'Sifrei on Sifrei Zuta, Ois 10, Chazon Ish, Zerayim, Shevi'is 3:25 and Likuttim Siman 10 and R' Ovadiah Yosef, Chazon Ovadiah, Terumos U'Ma'asros, pp 3 Ois Katan 7.

For a fulsome description of the geography of Transjordan and its Jewish settlements, see Yehuda Landy, Shalosh Artz'os L'Shevi'is, Jerusalem 5774, Chapter 46.

(ו) עֶשֶׂר קְדֻשּׁוֹת הֵן, אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת מִכָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת. וּמַה הִיא קְדֻשָּׁתָהּ, שֶׁמְּבִיאִים מִמֶּנָּה הָעֹמֶר וְהַבִּכּוּרִים וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, מַה שֶּׁאֵין מְבִיאִים כֵּן מִכָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת:

(6) There are ten grades of holiness: the land of Israel is holier than all other lands. And what is the nature of its holiness? That from it are brought the omer, the firstfruits and the two loaves, which cannot be brought from any of the other lands.

Introduction to Menachos 8:1 and Parah 2:1

In addition to the general rule that the Omer and Shtei HaLechem must be brought from Eretz Yisroel, the Mishnah teaches that the grain itself must be of the highest quality. In fact, the Mishnah identifies the regions that have the best grain. We find a similar notion of requiring superior provisions to be used in the Beis HaMikdash in Menachos 8:3 regarding the oil and in Bikkurim 1:10 where the Mishnah enjoins bringing inferior produce as Bikkurim.

Our Mishnah mentions the city of Zanuach. In Sefer Yehoshua there are two cities mentioned with this name. See Ben-Zion Segal, Hagiagraphiya B'Mishna, identifying the Zanuch in our Mishnah. In 1950, a Jewish Moshav was reestablished in its vicinity by Yemenite Jews. In the 1990's this area was sold and became part of Ramat Beit Shemesh.

כָּל קָרְבְּנוֹת הַצִּבּוּר וְהַיָּחִיד בָּאִים מִן הָאָרֶץ וּמִחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ, מִן הֶחָדָשׁ וּמִן הַיָּשָׁן, חוּץ מִן הָעֹמֶר וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, שֶׁאֵינָן בָּאִים אֶלָּא מִן הֶחָדָשׁ וּמִן הָאָרֶץ. וְכֻלָּן אֵינָן בָּאִים אֶלָּא מִן הַמֻּבְחָר. וְאֵיזֶהוּ מֻבְחָר. מִכְמָס וּמְזוֹנִיחָה, אַלְפָא לַסֹּלֶת. שְׁנִיָּה לָהֶם, חֲפָרַיִם בַּבִּקְעָה. כָּל הָאֲרָצוֹת הָיוּ כְשֵׁרוֹת, אֶלָּא מִכָּאן הָיוּ מְבִיאִים:
All the sacrifices communal or individual may be offered from [produce grown] in the Land [of Israel] or outside the Land, from new [produce] or from the old, except for the omer and the two loaves, which must be offered only from new produce and from [produce grown] in the land. All [offerings] must be offered from the choicest produce. And which is the choicest? That from Michmas and Zanoha are “alpha” for the quality of their fine flour; second to them is Hafaraim in the valley. The [produce of the] whole land was valid, but they used to bring it from these places.

(א) רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, פָּרַת חַטָּאת הַמְעֻבֶּרֶת, כְּשֵׁרָה. וַחֲכָמִים פּוֹסְלִין. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, אֵינָהּ נִלְקַחַת מִן הַנָּכְרִים. וַחֲכָמִים מַכְשִׁירִים. וְלֹא זוֹ בִלְבַד, אֶלָּא כָל קָרְבְּנוֹת הַצִּבּוּר וְהַיָּחִיד בָּאִין מֵהָאָרֶץ וּמִחוּץ לָאָרֶץ, מִן הֶחָדָשׁ וּמִן הַיָּשָׁן, חוּץ מִן הָעֹמֶר וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם שֶׁאֵינָן בָּאִין אֶלָּא מִן הֶחָדָשׁ וּמִן הָאָרֶץ:

(1) Rabbi Eliezer says: a [red] cow for the hatat that is pregnant is valid, But the sages say: it is invalid. Rabbi Eliezer says: it may not be bought from non-Jews, But the sages say: it is valid. And not only this, but all sacrifices of the congregation or the individual may be brought from the land of Israel and from outside the land, from new produce and from the old; Except the omer and the two loaves, which may be brought only from new produce and from within the land.

Introduction to Avos 5:5

In describing various miracles that consistently took place in the Beis HaMikdash, the Mishnah includes the Omer, Shtei HaLEchem and the Lechem HaPanim. The exact nature of the miracle is a matter of dispute among the Rishonim, but in all events, the point was that nothing interfered with the making and the bringing of these Korbonos. The question is why was it so important for these Korbonos to never cease.

According to some, it was because once their appointed time passed, it would be impossible to make them up (Mitzvah Overes). For instance, the Omer may only be cut on the night of the 16th of Nissan and the Lechem HaPanim was to be placed on the Shulchan on Shabbos. Others suggest, that because the Omer and Shtei HaLechem were not just Korbonos but they also acted as a catalyst for allowing the new grains and, in their absence, these grains would continue to be prohibited. I would suggest, as noted above, that these Korbonos symbolized and actualized the close relationship between Hashem and his nation. Therefore, the miracle was not just about our being able to bring these Korbonos, but it was another way for Hashem to show his love and special relationship with his people and bestow them with His blessings.

עֲשָׂרָה נִסִּים נַעֲשׂוּ לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ בְּבֵית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. לֹא הִפִּילָה אִשָּׁה מֵרֵיחַ בְּשַׂר הַקֹּדֶשׁ, וְלֹא הִסְרִיחַ בְּשַׂר הַקֹּדֶשׁ מֵעוֹלָם, וְלֹא נִרְאָה זְבוּב בְּבֵית הַמִּטְבָּחַיִם, וְלֹא אֵרַע קֶרִי לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים, וְלֹא כִבּוּ גְשָׁמִים אֵשׁ שֶׁל עֲצֵי הַמַּעֲרָכָה, וְלֹא נָצְחָה הָרוּחַ אֶת עַמּוּד הֶעָשָׁן, וְלֹא נִמְצָא פְסוּל בָּעֹמֶר וּבִשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וּבְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, עוֹמְדִים צְפוּפִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים רְוָחִים, וְלֹא הִזִּיק נָחָשׁ וְעַקְרָב בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם מֵעוֹלָם, וְלֹא אָמַר אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ צַר לִי הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁאָלִין בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם:
Ten wonders were wrought for our ancestors in the Temple: [1] no woman miscarried from the odor of the sacred flesh; [2] the sacred flesh never became putrid; [3] no fly was ever seen in the slaughterhouse; [4] no emission occurred to the high priest on the Day of Atonement; [5] the rains did not extinguish the fire of the woodpile; [6] the wind did not prevail against the column of smoke; [7] no defect was found in the omer, or in the two loaves, or in the showbread; [8] the people stood pressed together, yet bowed down and had room enough; [9] never did a serpent or a scorpion harm anyone in Jerusalem; [10] and no man said to his fellow: the place is too congested for me to lodge overnight in Jerusalem.

Section I

Questions to Consider:

  1. During the recent pandemic, many of us have been exiled from our usual Batei Kenisiyos and Batei Midrashos, our traditional sacred spaces, and have been forced to recreate these spaces within our own homes. How do we go about defining and creating these spaces and their borders? When things return to normal will we allow them to simply disappear?
  2. Oftentimes, we are faced with situations of Mitzvos passing us by, even if for good reason. This is especially so with the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, Torah study. How careful are we to ensure we do not let these opportunities slip through our hand?

Section II

Shtei HaLechem as Korban Tzibur

Public sacrifices were at the core of the day to day operations in the Beis HaMikdash. The day began and ended with the Korban Tamid. Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh and the Yomim Tovim were defined by their special, additional Korbonos. These Korbonos set the tempo and the rhythm of Temple life. Personal Korbonos were, of course, essential as well, providing a more intimate connection between a person and his G-d. Nevertheless, it was the public service that captured the minds and hearts of the masses.

The exact relationship between the public and the Beis HaMikdash was the source of much controversy during the middle to late stages of the Second Temple. Specifically, we find tensions by and among the Chahomim (Peirushim), the Tziddukim (Saduccees) and the Kohanim themselves.* One hotly debated area, as is often the case, was about money and the public funding of the Beis HaMikdash.

The opening B'rayso of Megillas Taanis** describes a dispute between the Peirushim and the Tziddukim whether the Tamid, a public Korban may be donated by an individual. The Tziddukim were of the opinion that individuals were not only able to donate an individual Korban Tzibbur, but that it may be the preferable system, much like the donations of the wood to the Beis HaMikdash. The Chachomim disagreed. To them, the Beis HaMikdash was the democratic expression of the Jewish people and its funding was, therefore, required to be raised from the public. This dispute raged until the Chachomim prevailed. On the day they prevailed--Rosh Chodesh Nissan--they established an eight day holiday during which eulogies were prohibited.

At that time, the B'rayso continues, the Chachomim established a treasury*** into which each individual donated a half-Shekel to provide for the public fisc. Mesechtas Shekalim, in large part, describes the collection and use of these funds. The Mishnah in Shekalim 4:1, clearly states that these funds were used to procure the Shtei HaLechem.

*Examples include, control over the calendar (Rosh Hashana 1:7), installation of the Ma'amodos (Taanis 4:2-5), entry into the inner sanctums (Sukkah 4:5), proper Temple procedure (See Yoma 1:5) and the proper day to bring the Korban Omer (Menachos 10:3-4). For an expansive analysis of the relationship between the Peirushim and Tziddukim, see generally, Eyal Regev, הצדוקים והלכתם: על דת וחברה בימי בית שני, יד יצחק בן צבי, ירושלים תשס"ה . The relationship between the Koahnim and the Tzidukkim is beyond the subject matter at hand.

**Megillas Ta'anis is a late Second Temple publication listing holidays celebrated during this period. For a detailed description and analysis of the Megillah, see Vered Noam, Megillat Ta’anit: Versions, Interpretation, History Yad Ben-Zvi Press, 2003 (Hebrew).

***Despite the fact that many view the obligation to contribute the annual half-Shekel as a biblical imperative, this B'erayso is unclear whether this was a new invention or the reestablishment of an existing but discarded rule. A deeper analysis awaits.

הַתְּרוּמָה מֶה הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין בָּהּ, לוֹקְחִין בָּהּ תְּמִידִין וּמוּסָפִין וְנִסְכֵּיהֶם, הָעֹמֶר וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, וְכָל קָרְבְּנוֹת הַצִּבּוּר. שׁוֹמְרֵי סְפִיחִים בַּשְּׁבִיעִית, נוֹטְלִין שְׂכָרָן מִתְּרוּמַת הַלִּשְׁכָּה. רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, (אַף הָרוֹצֶה) מִתְנַדֵּב שׁוֹמֵר חִנָּם. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אַף אַתָּה אוֹמֵר, שֶׁאֵינָן בָּאִין אֶלָּא מִשֶּׁל צִבּוּר:
What did they do with the appropriation? They bring with it the daily burnt-offerings (tamidim) and the additional burnt-offerings (musafim) and their libations, the omer and the two loaves and the showbread and all the other public offerings. Those who guard the aftergrowths of the seventh year take their wages out of the appropriation from the chamber. Rabbi Yose says: [if a man wished] he could volunteer to watch without payment. But they said to him: you too admit that they can only be offered out of public funds.

Introduction to Shekalim 1:4

Our Mishnah describes a particularly clever attempt by the Kohanim to exempt themselves from having to contribute the half-Shekel to the Beis HaMikdash. It is premised on the fact that a Korban Mincha, when brought by a Kohein, may not be consumed. Typically, a only a small portion of the Mincha is placed on the Mizbeach, the rest is eaten by the Kohanim. When a Kohein brings a Mincha, however, it is wholly burnt on the Mizbeach.

Argued the Kohanim, if we were to contribute the half-shekel, that necessarily would mean that public Korbanei Mincha, like the Omer and Shtei HaLechem, would be deemed to be owned, in part, by the Kohanim as well. Yet, they argued, if even partially owned by us, how could we then eat these Korbonos, they should have to be wholly burnt. Therefore, they concluded, it must be the case that we have no obligation to contribute the half-Shekel.* Their position was rejected by Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai.**

*As an interesting aside, R' Akiva Eiger (Mahadurah Kama Siman 9) discusses the interaction between a person being exempt from the Half-Shekel and his obligation to Daven Mussaf, which stands in lieu of the Korbanei Mussaf which are public sacrifices.

**Similar to his push back, here, against the Kohanim, we find Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai asserting the Chachomim's view in a dispute with the Tziddukim. See Yadayim 4:6.

אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה, הֵעִיד בֶּן בּוּכְרִי בְּיַבְנֶה, כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁשּׁוֹקֵל אֵינוֹ חוֹטֵא. אָמַר לוֹ רַבָּן יוֹחָנָן בֶּן זַכַּאי, לֹא כִּי, אֶלָּא כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁאֵינוֹ שׁוֹקֵל חוֹטֵא, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים דּוֹרְשִׁים מִקְרָא זֶה לְעַצְמָן, (ויקרא ו) וְכָל מִנְחַת כֹּהֵן כָּלִיל תִּהְיֶה לֹא תֵאָכֵל, הוֹאִיל וְעֹמֶר וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים שֶׁלָּנוּ, הֵיאָךְ נֶאֱכָלִים:
Rabbi Judah said: Ben Bukri testified at Yavneh that a priest who paid the shekel is not a sinner. But Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai said to him: not so, but rather a priest who did not pay the shekel was guilty of a sin, only the priests expounded this verse for their own benefit: “And every meal-offering of the priest shall be wholly burnt, it shall not be eaten” (Leviticus 6:16), since the omer and the two loaves and the showbread are [brought] from our [contributions], how can they be eaten?

Introduction to Pesachim 7:4

Our Mishnah describes one difference between a personal and public Korbon. The Torah enjoins a person who is Tamei from bringing a Korban. So long as he is Tamei he may not bring the Korban. However, this rule does not apply to public offerings.

Originating with the Korban Pesach, the Chachomim ruled that those Korbanei Tzibbur having a set time for being offered may be brought despite the fact that a majority of the nation was Tamei. Since most public offerings are either Korbanei Olah or are otherwise wholly burnt and not consumed, the dispensation to bring them while Tamei will allow the Korban to be properly sacrificed in accordance with its procedures. Our Mishnah goes beyond this and teaches that even the subset of public Korbonos that have an element requiring it to be eaten may be brought in a state of public Tumah. This is so despite the fact that you cannot eat these Korbonos. The exception to this is the Pesach which not only may be brought but may be eaten as well in a state of public Tumah.

חֲמִשָּׁה דְבָרִים בָּאִין בְּטֻמְאָה וְאֵינָן נֶאֱכָלִין בְּטֻמְאָה. הָעֹמֶר, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, וְזִבְחֵי שַׁלְמֵי צִבּוּר, וּשְׂעִירֵי רָאשֵׁי חֳדָשִׁים. הַפֶּסַח שֶׁבָּא בְטֻמְאָה, נֶאֱכָל בְּטֻמְאָה, שֶׁלֹּא בָא מִתְּחִלָּתוֹ אֶלָּא לַאֲכִילָה:

Five things [sacrifices] may come in uncleanness, but may not be eaten in uncleanness:the omer, the two loaves, the showbread, the sacrifices of the public peace-offerings, and the goats of new months. The pesah which comes in uncleanness is [also] eaten in uncleanness, for from the very beginning it came for no other purpose but to be eaten.

Section II

Questions to Consider:

  1. The Mishnah in Avos (5:13) describes four categories of those who give charity. The highest order being those who, not only themselves donate, but also encourage others to step beyond themselves and contribute as well. How do we think about our obligations to the general needs of the public? How punctilious are when when handling Tzedakah funds? How careful are we when utilizing public funds?

Section III

Shtei HaLechem: Unique Among Korbonos

The Shtei HaLechem stands unique among the panoply of Korbonos. It is made of Chametz without additives. While requiring the Kohein to both raise and wave the Korban, it is neither brought near or burnt on the Alter. Rather, it is given to the Kohanim for their consumption. No other Korban shares all of these attributes, nevertheless, each of them, on a stand alone basis, can be found in other Korbonos. The following seven Mishnayos highlight the uniqueness and the connection the Shtei HaLechem has with other Korbonos.

Introduction to Menachos 5:1

The Torah specifically enjoins all Mincha Korbonos from using any leavening agent and honey.

כָּל־הַמִּנְחָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר תַּקְרִ֙יבוּ֙ לַיי לֹ֥א תֵעָשֶׂ֖ה חָמֵ֑ץ כִּ֤י כָל־שְׂאֹר֙ וְכָל־דְּבַ֔שׁ לֹֽא־תַקְטִ֧ירוּ מִמֶּ֛נּוּ אִשֶּׁ֖ה לַֽיי׃

Nevertheless, there are two exceptions. The first is the Korban Todah, which, in addition to the Korban itself, a person was also obligated to bring forty loaves of bread, ten of which were to be made of Chametz. The second was the Shtei HaLechem.* Notably, the Shtei HaLechem was the only public Chametz-inclusive sacrifice. In addition to teaching the basic exceptions, our Mishnah, also notes a dispute in how to go about leavening the breads. Whether they were self-leavened or whether it was permissible and/or beneficial to use an extraneous leavening agent.**

* The connection between these two "exceptions" is much discussed. R' Yosef Zvi Rimon, in describing the Chametz portion of the Todah, suggests that a person most often brings a Korban because he sinned. Even when that is not the case, he approaches the opportunity as a humble servant. He cannot bring himself to bring Chometz, a sign or pride and fulfillment. The Todah, on the other hand, is brought in recognition of those moments when a person realizes that Hashem allowed him to go beyond his natural boundaries, bringing him closer to his Creator. The Chometz brought with the Todah is representative of the fulsome nature of a person's recognition and thankfulness to Hashem. I would similarly suggest, as noted earlier, that the Shtei HaLechem is a Korban meant to evoke the same feelings between Nation and King, hence, it was appropriate for these Korbonos to be made of Chametz as well.

**Fascinatingly, the Mishnah in Shavuous (7:2) describes the process of expanding the borders of Yerushalyim and/or the Azarah. Part of the ceremony requires bringing two Korbanei Todah and walking around the expansion while carrying only the Chometz loaves. The Gemara explains that this was the case for expanding Yerushalayim. When expanding the Azarah, however, you would use a regular Korban Mincha. The Gemara (TB Shavuos 15ab) has a long discussion why you couldn't use the Shtei HaLechem when expanding the Azarah.

כָּל הַמְּנָחוֹת בָּאוֹת מַצָּה, חוּץ מֵחָמֵץ שֶׁבַּתּוֹדָה וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, שֶׁהֵן בָּאוֹת חָמֵץ. רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, שְׂאֹר בּוֹדֶה לָהֶן מִתּוֹכָן וּמְחַמְּצָן. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, אַף הִיא אֵינָהּ מִן הַמֻּבְחָר, אֶלָּא מֵבִיא אֶת הַשְּׂאֹר, וְנוֹתֵן לְתוֹךְ הַמִּדָּה, וּמְמַלֵּא אֶת הַמִּדָּה. אָמְרוּ לוֹ, אַף הִיא הָיְתָה חֲסֵרָה אוֹ יְתֵרָה:
All minhahs must be offered unleavened, with the exception of the leavened cakes of the todah and the two loaves [of Shavuot] which are offered leavened. Rabbi Meir says: the leaven must be taken from [the minhahs] themselves and with this they are leavened. Rabbi Judah says: that is not the best way, rather [first of all] he brings leaven and puts into the measuring vessel and then he fills the measuring vessel up [with flour]. But they said to him: even so [it is not satisfactory], for it would be sometimes too little and sometimes too much.

Introduction to Menachos 6:2, Zevachim 9:5 and 14:3

The Mishnah in Menachos 6:2 compares and contrasts two types of Menachos. Those that are consumed without any portion being placed on the Mizbeach and those that wholly burnt on the Mizbeach and not consumed at all.

The first group is the Shtei HaLechem and the Lechem HaPanim. The former, could not be brought on the Mizbeach since, despite the dispensation for the Shtei HaLechem to be made of Chometz, nevertheless, the fact that they are Chometz prohibited them from being placed on the Mizbeach. The Lechem HaPanim was similarly divided among the Kohanim serving in the Beis HaMikdash.* Rather, they were eaten by the Kohanim. The second group, as discussed above, was a Kohein's personal Korban Mincha. These were placed fully on the Mizbeach, no part was consumed by the Kohein.

Prohibited from being placed on the Mizbeach, meant that even if placed there accidentally, they would have to be removed. As described in Zevachim 9:5, the Shtei HaLechem are among a number of other Korbonos and/or portions of Korbonos which must be likewise removed.

Similarly, subject to certain exceptions (see Zevachim 14:4-8) there is a prohibition on sacrificing a Korban outside of the Beis HaMikdash. However, this rule only applies if the Korban being "sacrificed" would otherwise be an appropriate Korban to be bringing. Meaning, if, for instance, the animal was too young (under eight days) or if the person was still Tamei, the Korbonos are not valid Korbonos and, therefore, he would not violate the prohibition against Sh'Chutei Chutz. The Mishnah Zevachim 14:3 teaches that the same exception to the prohibition applies to a person who places any of the items that are not normally placed on the Mizbeach, such as the Shtei HaLechem, on a Mizbeach constructed outside the Beis HaMikdash.

*While none of the bread itself made its way onto the Mizbeach, the Levona, frankincense that accompanied the Lechem HaPanim, was placed on the Mizbeach and burnt.

מִנְחַת כֹּהֲנִים וּמִנְחַת כֹּהֵן מָשִׁיחַ וּמִנְחַת נְסָכִים, לַמִּזְבֵּחַ, וְאֵין בָּהֶם לַכֹּהֲנִים. בָּזֶה יָפֶה כֹחַ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ מִכֹּחַ הַכֹּהֲנִים. שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, לַכֹּהֲנִים, וְאֵין בָּהֶם לַמִּזְבֵּחַ. וּבָזֶה יָפֶה כֹחַ הַכֹּהֲנִים מִכֹּחַ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ:
The minhah of the priests, The minhah of the anointed high priest, And the minhah that is offered with the libations are [wholly] for the altar and the priests have no share in them; with these the altar is more privileged than the priests. The two loaves and the showbread are eaten by the priests and the altar has no share in them; with these the priests are more privileged than the altar.
וְאֵלּוּ אִם עָלוּ יֵרְדוּ, בְּשַׂר קָדְשֵׁי קָדָשִׁים, וּבְשַׂר קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים, וּמוֹתַר הָעֹמֶר, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, וּשְׁיָרֵי מְנָחוֹת, וְהַקְּטֹרֶת. הַצֶּמֶר שֶׁבְּרָאשֵׁי כְבָשִׂים, וְהַשֵּׂעָר שֶׁבִּזְקַן תְּיָשִׁים, וְהָעֲצָמוֹת, וְהַגִּידִים, וְהַקַּרְנַיִם, וְהַטְּלָפַיִם, בִּזְמַן שֶׁהֵן מְחֻבָּרִין, יַעֲלוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא א), וְהִקְטִיר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הַכֹּל הַמִּזְבֵּחָה. פָּרְשׁוּ, לֹא יַעֲלוּ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יב), וְעָשִׂיתָ עֹלֹתֶיךָ הַבָּשָׂר וְהַדָּם:
The following if they ascended are taken down:The flesh of most sacred sacrifices The flesh of lesser sacrifices; The remnants of the omer; The two loaves; The showbread; The remnants of meal-offerings; And the incense. The wool on the heads of lambs, the hair of he-goats’ beards, the bones, tendons, horns and hoofs if they are attached, go up, because it is said, “And the priest shall turn it all into smoke on the altar” (Leviticus 1:9). If they were severed [from the animal], they do not go up, for it is said, “And You shall offer your olah, the flesh and the blood, [upon the altar of the Lord your God]” (Deuteronomy 12:27).
מְחֻסַּר זְמָן, בֵּין בְּגוּפוֹ בֵּין בִּבְעָלָיו. אֵיזֶה הוּא מְחֻסַּר זְמָן בִּבְעָלָיו. הַזָּב, וְהַזָּבָה, וְיוֹלֶדֶת, וּמְצֹרָע, שֶׁהִקְרִיבוּ חַטָּאתָם וַאֲשָׁמָם בַּחוּץ, פְּטוּרִין. עוֹלוֹתֵיהֶן וְשַׁלְמֵיהֶן בַּחוּץ, חַיָּבִין. הַמַּעֲלֶה מִבְּשַׂר חַטָּאת, מִבְּשַׂר אָשָׁם, מִבְּשַׂר קָדְשֵׁי קָדָשִׁים, מִבְּשַׂר קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים, וּמוֹתַר הָעֹמֶר, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, וּשְׁיָרֵי מְנָחוֹת, הַיּוֹצֵק, הַבּוֹלֵל, הַפּוֹתֵת, הַמּוֹלֵחַ, הַמֵּנִיף, הַמַּגִּישׁ, הַמְסַדֵּר אֶת הַשֻּׁלְחָן, וְהַמֵּטִיב אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת, וְהַקּוֹמֵץ, וְהַמְקַבֵּל דָּמִים בַּחוּץ, פָּטוּר. אֵין חַיָּבִין עָלָיו לֹא מִשּׁוּם זָרוּת, וְלֹא מִשּׁוּם טֻמְאָה, וְלֹא מִשּׁוּם מְחֻסַּר בְּגָדִים, וְלֹא מִשּׁוּם רְחוּץ יָדַיִם וְרַגְלָיִם:
“Before time” applies both to [the animal] itself and to its owner. What is “before time” as applied to its owner? If a zav or a zavah, a woman after childbirth, or a metzora, offered their hatat or their asham outside [before the time in which they were obligated], they are exempt; [If they offered] their olah or their shelamims outside [before their time], they are liable. One who offers up flesh of a hatat, or flesh of an asham, or flesh of most holy sacrifices, or flesh of less holy sacrifices; or the remainder of the omer, or the two loaves, or the showbread, or the remainder of meal-offerings; Or if he pours [the oil on to the meal-offering], or mingles [it with flour], or breaks up [the meal-offering cakes], or salts [the meal-offering], or waves it, or presents it; or sets the table [with the showbread], or trims the lamps, or takes out the fistful, or receives the blood; [If he does any of these] outside, he is exempt. One is also not liable for any of these acts on account of not being a priest, or uncleanness, or lack of [priestly] vestments, or the non-washing of hands and feet.

Introduction to Menachos 5:3

In addition to the flour (and water) there were two additional ingredients that accompanied a Korban Mincha. First was a measure of oil. The second was Levona, frankincense. The oil was mixed into the Mincha and the Levona was placed on top and then collected and burnt on the Mizbeach.

Our Mishnah teaches that while the standard Mincha contained all these items, there were some that only had oil without the Levona, the Levona without the oil (Lechem HaPanim) and then three Minachos that contained neither.* One being the Shtei HaLechem. The other two were Menachos brought on account of sin and, therefore, lacked any enhancements.

*The format of our Mishnah, breaking the rule down into four quadrants, is a common form and would allow for easy memorization when transmitted orally. See, e.g., Bikkurim 2:8.

יֵשׁ טְעוּנוֹת שֶׁמֶן וּלְבוֹנָה, שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא לְבוֹנָה, לְבוֹנָה וְלֹא שֶׁמֶן, לֹא שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא לְבוֹנָה. וְאֵלּוּ טְעוּנוֹת שֶׁמֶן וּלְבוֹנָה, מִנְחַת הַסֹּלֶת, וְהַמַּחֲבַת, וְהַמַּרְחֶשֶׁת, וְהַחַלּוֹת, וְהָרְקִיקִין, מִנְחַת כֹּהֲנִים, וּמִנְחַת כֹּהֵן מָשִׁיחַ, וּמִנְחַת גּוֹיִם, וּמִנְחַת נָשִׁים, וּמִנְחַת הָעֹמֶר. מִנְחַת נְסָכִין טְעוּנָה שֶׁמֶן, וְאֵין טְעוּנָה לְבוֹנָה. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים טָעוּן לְבוֹנָה, וְאֵין טָעוּן שָׁמֶן. שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, מִנְחַת חוֹטֵא וּמִנְחַת קְנָאוֹת, לֹא שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא לְבוֹנָה:

Some [minhahs] require oil and frankincense, some require oil but not frankincense, some frankincense but not oil, and some neither oil nor frankincense. These require oil and frankincense: the minhah of fine flour, that prepared on a griddle, that prepared in a pan, the cakes and the wafers, the minhah of the priests, the minhah of the anointed high priest, the minhah of a gentile, the minhah of women, and the minhah of the omer. The minhah offered with the drink-offerings requires oil but not frankincense. The showbread requires frankincense but not oil. The two loaves, the sinner's minhah and the minhah of jealousy require neither oil nor frankincense.

Introduction to Menachos 5:6

In connection with many Korbonos, there are two ceremonial aspects that are included in the process. The first, is to lift up the Korban (Tenufah) and wave it around.* The second, was to bring it close to the Mizbeach (HaGasha). Our Mishnah, includes the Shtei HaLechem among those Korbonos (e.g., Bikkurim) that are lifted but not brought close to the Mizbeach. The Mishnah then goes on to describe how exactly the lifting of the Shtei HaLechem was performed. This was especially difficult since along with the Shtei HaLechem the Kohein would simultaneously lift and wave the Kisvei Atzeres as well.

Interestingly, the three Menachos grouped together in the prior Mishnah (Shtei HaLechem, Minchas Kinos and Minchas Choteh) each have a different rule when it comes to waving and bringing closer.

*The Mishnah mentions waving the Shtei HaLechem up and down and to and fro. The Talmud already notes that, in fact, it was waved in all four directions and up and down. A number of reasons are given for this ceremony. It is either to tame the natural elements; alternatively, is is meant to recognize Hashem's sovereignty. Today, we find a similar practice when waving the Lulav. See generally, J. Tabory, Moadei Yisroel B'Tekufas HaMishna v'Hatalmud (Hebrew) pp. 141 and n.45.

אֵלּוּ טְעוּנִין תְּנוּפָה וְאֵין טְעוּנִין הַגָּשָׁה, לֹג שֶׁמֶן שֶׁל מְצֹרָע וַאֲשָׁמוֹ, וְהַבִּכּוּרִים כְּדִבְרֵי רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בֶּן יַעֲקֹב, וְאֵמוּרֵי שַׁלְמֵי יָחִיד וְחָזֶה וָשׁוֹק שֶׁלָּהֶן, אֶחָד אֲנָשִׁים, וְאֶחָד נָשִׁים, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֲבָל לֹא בַאֲחֵרִים, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, וּשְׁנֵי כִבְשֵׂי עֲצָרֶת. כֵּיצַד הוּא עוֹשֶׂה, נוֹתֵן שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם עַל גַּבֵּי שְׁנֵי כְבָשִׂים, וּמַנִּיחַ שְׁתֵּי יָדָיו מִלְּמַטָּן, מוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא, מַעֲלֶה וּמוֹרִיד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כט), אֲשֶׁר הוּנַף וַאֲשֶׁר הוּרָם. תְּנוּפָה הָיְתָה בַמִּזְרָח, וְהַגָּשָׁה בַּמַּעֲרָב. וּתְנוּפוֹת קוֹדְמוֹת לְהַגָּשׁוֹת. מִנְחַת הָעֹמֶר וּמִנְחַת קְנָאוֹת, טְעוּנוֹת תְּנוּפָה וְהַגָּשָׁה. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים וּמִנְחַת נְסָכִים, לֹא תְנוּפָה וְלֹא הַגָּשָׁה:
These require waving but not bringing near: The log of oil of the leper and his guilt-offering, The first fruits, according to Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov, The innards of an individual’s shelamim and its breast and thigh, whether they are the offerings of men or of women, by Israelites but not by others; The two loaves and the two lambs of Shavuot. How does he perform [the waving]? He places the two loaves upon the two lambs and puts his two hands beneath them and waves them forward and backward and upward and downward, for it is written, “which is waved and which is lifted up” (Exodus 29:27). The waving was performed on the east side [of the altar] and the bringing near on the west side. The ceremony of waving comes before that of bringing near. The minhah of the omer and the minhah of jealousy require bringing near and waving. The showbread and the minhah with the libations require neither bringing near nor waving.

Section III

Questions to Consider:

  1. In this section we saw that despite its shared commonalities with many different types of Korbonos, it was the unique combination that made it the singular Korban we have been learning about. Similarly, every person is unique, they have different strengths and weakness, good qualities and bad habits. How do we think about our unique set of strengths and weakness within the larger community? Can we draw inspiration from those that are different, incorporating their values to make yourself into a better whole?

Section IV

Shtei HaLechem: Form and Process

A brief perusal of Shisha Sidre Mishna highlights the intense focus and interest the Tannaim had with the Beis HaMikdash. Few, but for the earliest Tannaim, lived during the existence of the Second Temple and the immediate aftermath of its destruction. Yet, its memory loomed large and its rituals captures their imagination. The Mishna recounts in detail the rules, laws, rituals and procedures of the Temple's daily life and sacrificial rites. It expounds on the beauty and measurements of its physical structure and boundaries. The precise movements of the Priests and other functionaries are listed with utmost care. Most importantly, the people's (Hamon Am) relationship, physical and spiritual, to this sacred space are noted and debated.*

When describing the Korban Omer, the Mishna details the fanfare associated with the harvesting ceremony. People would gather on the night after the first day of Pesach in the fields outside Yerushalyim and watch as the barley was harvested. There was significant audience participation in this event and the mood was particularly joyous.

It is quite the opposite when it comes to the Shtei HaLechem. There are many Mishnayos outlining the exacting process by which this unique Mincha was formed and the process by which it was sacrificed. However, unlike the the Korban Omer, there was no similar fanfare (at least described in the Mishnah) when the wheat was harvested for the Shtei HaLechem.** In fact, the Torah does not specifically command the harvest; only the bringing of the new wheat. Most likely, the wheat was harvested days, if not weeks, prior to Shavuos.

The following Mishnayos will take us through the process from harvesting the wheat through its final consumption by the Kohanim. I note, that this review is a cursory review and will not delve into the intricacies of the processes.

*In addition to Mesechtos Tamid and Middos, examples of such Mishnayos are scattered across Mishnayos. These include, the third chapter of Bikkurim, the fifth chapters of both Pesachim and Shekalim, large portions of Mesechtas Yoma, various Mishnayos in Sukkah, Rosh HaShana, Chagigah and Sotah among others. Most often, these Mishnayos can be identified by their being anonymous and without dispute.

**The fanfare surrounding the Omer, not surprisingly, arises from the fact that upon bringing the Omer, the Nation was permitted in the new grains and could replenish their winter-depleted stocks. Also, the harvest for the Omer took place while the Jews were gathered in Yerushalyim having arrived earlier for Pesach. The Shtei HaLechem was brought on Shavuous, and preparation would have taken place while the people were journeying to Yerushalayim.

From Harvest to Bread

Introduction to Menachos 10:2

Our Mishnah adjures that the barley for the Omer be harvested locally, close to Yerushalayim, so as not to pass by the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah. While the Mishnah does not specifically speak to the wheat for the Shtei HaLechem, one could infer that it too should be harvested close by as well. However, as noted above, there is no specific Mitvzah of harvesting the wheat and, in fact, we learned earlier, that the best location for wheat was Zanuach.

The Mishna brings a story of a particular time when neither barley or wheat could be loacted in the environs of Yerushalyim. They had to source the wheat from Ein Sokhar, located near Shechem. The Gemara relates that this story took place during the internecine battles between the two brothers, John Hyrcanus and Aristobulous.

מִצְוַת הָעֹמֶר לָבֹא מִן הַקָּרוֹב. לֹא בִכֵּר הַקָּרוֹב לִירוּשָׁלַיִם, מְבִיאִים אוֹתוֹ מִכָּל מָקוֹם. מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבָּא מִגַּגּוֹת צְרִיפִין, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם מִבִּקְעַת עֵין סוֹכֵר:
The mitzvah of the omer is that it should be brought from [what grows] near by. If [the crop] near Jerusalem was not yet ripe, it could be brought from any place. It once happened that the omer was brought from Gagot Zerifin and the two loaves from the plain of En Soker.

Introduction to Menachos 6:6 and 6:7

The following two Mishnayos describe the both the amount of flour required for the Shtei HaLechem but also the process by which is was sifted into fine flour.

In Mishnaic measurements, an "Isaron" or one tenth, meant one-tenth of an "Eipha" The Eipha was triple the size of a "Se'ah" or, three Se'ah made up an Eipha. The Eipha was the volume equivalent of 432 eggs. So a tenth of an Eipha would be the equivalent of 43.2 eggs.

The coarser the grain, the more you needed process to ensure you ended up with the required amount of flour. Barley being the coarsest, required a full Eipha to extract an Isaron and the most amount of sifting. The wheat for the Shtei HaLechem was still new and fresh so it required a full Eipha to extract two Isaron and less sifting. Finally, the Lechem HaPanim needed one Se'ah for each of its twenty four loaves and required less sifting*

* The Mishna in Menachos 10:4 describes what they did with the excess flour of the Omer. Presumably the same happened with the excess flour of the Shtei HaLechem. Because only a small portion of the extracted flour was needed for the Korban, the residual could be purchased and redeemed by anyone. Once redeemed, any dough made from the flour was subject to the obligation of Challah [the requirement to give a potion of every dough to the Kohein]. The end of Mishna 4 describes a dispute over whether the redeemed flour is obligated in Terumos and Maasros. The Chachomim say it is not obligated since at the time the obligation comes into being (i.e., the obligation to give Terumos and Ma'asros arises once the winnowed pile of grain is smoothed over) the grain was owned by Hekdesh. Whereas, according the Rabi Akiva, from the onset, Hekdesh only wanted to purchase the limited amount of flour needed for the Korban, therefore, the residual flour was never purchased by Hekdesh--hence the flour was subject to Ma’asros from the very beginning.

הָעֹמֶר הָיָה בָא עִשָּׂרוֹן מִשָּׁלשׁ סְאִין. שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, שְׁנֵי עֶשְׂרוֹנִים מִשָּׁלשׁ סְאִין. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה עֶשְׂרוֹנִים מֵעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבַּע סְאִין:
The omer consisted of one tenth [of an ephah of flour] taken from three se'ahs. The two loaves consisted of two tenths taken from three se'ahs. And the showbread consisted of twenty-four tenths taken from twenty-four se'ahs.
הָעֹמֶר הָיָה מְנֻפֶּה בִּשְׁלשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה נָפָה. וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם בִּשְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה. וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים בְּאַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, לֹא הָיָה לָהּ קִצְבָּה, אֶלָּא סֹלֶת מְנֻפָּה כָּל צָרְכָּהּ הָיָה מֵבִיא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כד), וְלָקַחְתָּ סֹלֶת וְאָפִיתָ אֹתָהּ, עַד שֶׁתְּהֵא מְנֻפָּה כָּל צָרְכָּהּ:
The omer was sifted through thirteen sieves, the two loaves through twelve, and the showbread through eleven. Rabbi Shimon says: there was no prescribed number for them, rather they brought fine flour and sifted it as much as was necessary, as it is said, “You shall take fine flour and bake it” (Leviticus 24:5) [you should not bake it] until it is sifted as much as is necessary.

Introduction to Menachos 11:1

The following Mishnah describes the kneading and baking process for the Shtei HaLechem. Each of the loaves were fashioned separately from a tenth of an Eipha. Once formed, they were baked separately in the oven.*

The Rambam in describing the various processes involved in fashioning the Shtei HaLechem, asserts that there is no specific source for the rules, rather, they are a long-standing tradition from the times of Moshe.

*The basic understanding of the Mishnah is that each loaf of the Shtei HaLechem were baked separately. In fact, the Tosefta (Menachos 11:1) describes the oven used to bake the Shtei HaLechem as having the capacity to only bake one loaf at a time. Nevertheless, many of the Achronim discuss the exact nature of the baking process and suggest several alternative understandings. First, perhaps the requirement is only that each loaf is placed into the oven separately but can be baked together (Keren Orah Menachos 94a). Second, perhaps the Mishnah means to say that the loaves need not be baked together, but rather they can be baked separately (Chazon Ish Siman 26:5). Finally, the Minchas Chinuch suggests that the Mishnah means to say that you cannot bake both of the Shtei HaLechem together, but you are able to bake each of the loaves with other, non-Shtei HaLechem bread. See R’ Aaron Daum, HaPardes, Vol. 58:9 (June 1984) Siman 58, collecting sources. See also, R’ Menashe Klein, Kovetz Nezer HaTorah, Sivan 2003pp. 313-317, reprinted in Mishneh HaLachos OC, Mahadurah Tinyana, Vol. 5:166.

שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם נִלּוֹשׁוֹת אַחַת אַחַת, וְנֶאֱפוֹת אַחַת אַחַת. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים נִלּוֹשׁ אֶחָד אֶחָד, וְנֶאֱפֶה שְׁנַיִם שְׁנָיִם. וּבִטְפוּס הָיָה עוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָן. וּכְשֶׁהוּא רָדָן, נוֹתְנָן בִּטְפוּס, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְקַלְקְלוּ:
The two loaves [of Shavuot] were kneaded each on its own and baked each on its own. The [cakes of the] showbread were kneaded each on its own and baked two at a time. They were prepared in a mould, and when they were taken out from the oven they were again put in a mould lest they become damaged.

Introduction to Menachos 11:2

When preparing a Korban for sacrifice, you were typically required to do so within the precincts of the Beis HaMikdash. Similarly, was the need to utilize sacred vessels when preparing the Korban or collecting its blood. In fact, the vessel itself works to consecrate the Korban. Our Mishnah describes a dispute whether the Shtei HaLechem (and the Lechem HaPanim) should be prepared and baked inside or outside the sacred precincts. and whether they required K'li Shareis. This, in turn, would determine whether they required K'li Shareis.

According to the Tana Kama, preparation could take place outside but the baking must take place inside. More importantly, he rules that the baking of the Shtei HaLechem does not push aside Shabbos,* meaning you would have to bake it on the day prior, Friday. The Gemara is bothered by the combination of these two Halochos. On the one hand, by requiring the Shtei HaLechem to be baked inside the Azarah, it necessarily means that a K'li Shareis was used. If so, the moment it is placed inside the vessel the dough is consecrated. A corollary of this rule is that once consecrated, a Korban may not be left overnight without being sacrificed. It becomes "Pasul B'Linah."

According to the Tana Kama, the dough must be baked on Friday, ahead of Shabbos. If that is the case, it must mean that the Shtei HaLEchem must wait overnight before being brought as a Korban. According to convention, therefore, why aren't they "Nifsal B'Linah?"

Because the Gemara does not answer this question, Tosfos suggests that it must be that the opening statement in our Mishnah is an amalgam of two different sources. In fact, he says, the person who says that you bake the Shtei HaLechem inside must hold that you can bake them on Yom Tov and Shabbos. And the concluding statement of the first part of the Mishnah was said by someone else.

For an insightful attempt at a resolution, see R' Moshe Shternbuch, Moadim U'Zmanim, Vol. 4 Siman 326. Briefly, he argues that the oven used to bake the bread while consecrating the Shtei HaLechem, it is a limited level of Kedusha, Kedushas HaGuf. But because the bread will not immediately be sacrificed, it lacks what he terms, the power of infusing the Shtei HaLechem with Kedushas HaKorban. It is only the later Kedusha, he argues, that triggers the potential for the Pesul Linah. In the case of the Shtei HaLechem, he concludes that the higher level of Kedusha only starts at the the of the waving ceremony. But See Moadim u'Zmanim Vol. Siman 328 where posits three stages to the Kedusha of the Shtei HaLechem, starting with the baking, then the Tenufah and the final stage following the Shechting of the Kisvei Atzeres.

* Although the Mishnah speaks only to Shabbos, later Mishnayos and Rambam rule that these Korbonos likewise do not push aside Yom Tov.

(ב) אֶחָד שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְאֶחָד לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, לִישָׁתָן וַעֲרִיכָתָן בַּחוּץ, וַאֲפִיָּתָן בִּפְנִים, וְאֵינָן דּוֹחוֹת אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, כָּל מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם בִּפְנִים. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, לְעוֹלָם הֱוֵי רָגִיל לוֹמַר, שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם וְלֶחֶם הַפָּנִים כְּשֵׁרוֹת בָּעֲזָרָה, וּכְשֵׁרוֹת בְּבֵית פָּאגִי:

(2) Both the two loaves and the showbread their kneading and their shaping were performed outside [the Temple Court], and their baking was inside. And they do not override the Shabbat. Rabbi Judah says: all of these were performed inside [the Temple Court]. Rabbi Shimon says: One should always accustom himself to say, “The two loaves and the showbread were valid whether made in the Temple Court or in Bet Pagi.”

Introduction to Menachos 11:4

The Mishnah begins with the basic premise, mentioned above, that all processes performed inside the sacred precincts of the Beis HaMikdash require the use of a K'le Shareis. The processes performed outside, on the other hand, do not.

The second part of the Mishnah, starting with "Keitzad"* describes the shape of the Shtei HaLechem. Its length and width and the rise of their corners.

* Albeck notes that some manuscripts, including the Gemara's transciption, omit this word as the second half of the Mishnah is not connected to the first part.

כָּל הַמְּנָחוֹת יֵשׁ בָּהֶן מַעֲשֵׂה כְלִי בִּפְנִים, וְאֵין בָּהֶן מַעֲשֵׂה כְלִי בַחוּץ. כֵּיצַד. שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם אָרְכָּן שִׁבְעָה וְרָחְבָּן אַרְבָּעָה, וְקַרְנוֹתֵיהֶן אַרְבַּע אֶצְבָּעוֹת. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים, אָרְכָּן עֲשָׂרָה וְרָחְבָּן חֲמִשָּׁה, וְקַרְנוֹתָיו שֶׁבַע אֶצְבָּעוֹת. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, שֶׁלֹּא תִטְעֶה, זד"ד יה"ז. בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר, וְנָתַתָּ עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן לֶחֶם פָּנִים לְפָנַי תָּמִיד, שֶׁיְּהֵא לוֹ פָנִים:
All menahot require a vessel [for works that are performed] within, but do not require a vessel [for those works that are performed] outside. How so? The two loaves were seven handbreadths long and four wide and their horns were four fingerbreadths. The [cakes of the] showbread were ten handbreadths long and five wide and their horns were seven fingerbreadths. Rabbi Judah says: lest you err [remember but the words] “zadad yahaz.” Ben Zoma says: “And you shall set upon the table showbread (lehem panim) before me continually:” panim signifies that it should have faces.

Potential Ritual Pitfalls

Introduction to Menachos 3:6, Menachos 4:3, Me'illah 2:6, Menachos 2:2 and Menachos 2:5

Sacrificial ritual requires focused attention and precise action. Even slight deviations from the proscribed processes will invalidate the Korban in question. A wrongful intent or skipping of a step works irrevocable harm to the process. In most cases, it will require a full repeat of the process in question. At times it may result in being unable to fulfill the Mitzvah, for others it may cause the transgressor to receive Kareis. These laws are numerous and complex, with exceptions and exceptions to exceptions, therefore, this overview will simply provide some basic background, sufficient to understand this cohort of Mishnayos. I encourage the interested learner to explore these topics in more depth.

The Korbonos of Shavuous: In addition to the Shtei HaLechem, the Torah commands us to bring alongside them numerous, additional Korbonos--a bull, two rams, seven sheep and a goat, to be specific. In addition, the Torah mandates a unique Korban, two sheep, as public Korbanei Shelamim. These Shelamim are intricately tied to the Shtei HaLechem in that the Kohein, when performing the waving ritual, holds both the sheep and the bread together. Further, unlike the Shtei HaLechem, the Shelamim are sacrificed, with their blood and certain fats being placed on the Mizbeach. This act, of placing the blood on the Mizbeach, is what permits the Shtei HaLechem to be eaten by the Kohanim. They act as a "Matir."

In Menachos 3:6, the Mishnah looks internally within the pair of sheep and the two loaves and rules that if one is missing or invalid, the other, remaining, part of the pair is also invalid. A fault in one impedes the use of the second.

The Mishna in Menachos 4:3, on the other hand, focuses on the relationship between the Shtei HaLechem and the Kisvei Atzeres. If something happen to the former, can the Shelamim be sacrificed? What about if the Shelamim are invalidated, can you still use the Shtei HaLechem (they are waved and burnt)? Rabi Akiva rules that invalid bread will automatically invalidate the Shelamim. Whereas, a Pesul in the Shelamim will not impede the use of Shtei HaLechem.*

Shimon ben Nanas and Rabi Shimon, each for different, yet fascinating, reasons, rule in the opposite. If the Shtei HaLechem is invalid, the Shelamim may still be sacrificed. If, however, the Shelamim are Pasul, then the bread can no longer be used. According to Shimon Ben Nanas, we find the exact scenario--Shelamim without Shtei HaLechem--throughout the Jews' sojourn in the desert, when only the Shelamim was able to be brought (there were no Shtei HaLechem since the obligation to bring them did not arise until they had entered Eretz Yisroel). According to Rabi Shimon the Kisvei Atzeres are the "Matir" for the Shtei HaLEchem. Without their blood on the Mizbeach, there is no possible way one can use the Shtei HaLechem.**

*The Gemara notes that each of the Tanaim in our Mishnah rely on a G'Zeirah Shava for their ruling. In addition, the Gemara also concludes that once the Tenufah, waving, was performed, all agree that the invalidation of either the Shtei HaLechem or the Kisvei Atzeres will invalidate the other. תנופה עושה זיקה.

**R' Moshe Shternbuch (Moadim V'Zmanim Vol. 7 Siman 229) notes that we Pasken that the invalidation of the Shelamim does not prevent the Shtei HaLechem from being brought (they are waved and burnt). If so, he wonders, why can we not bring the Shtei HaLechem today, even without a Beis HaMikdash. We know that the Shtei HaLechem may be brought when Klal Yisroel is Tamei and there is no need for a Mizbeach, as the loaves never go on the Mizbeach. We just need to wave and burn them. So why not preserve at least one vestige of the Korbonos-? R' Shternbuch finds a technical answer why this would not work out, nevertheless, the question alone, and the yearning for greater spiritual access it reveals, is thought provoking in its own right.

Me'ilah: One may not usurp or misappropriate items that have been designated or dedicated to the Beis HaMikdash for personal use. A person who accidentaly does so is obligated to bring a Korban Asham and repay the amount so used with an additional penalty. The second chapter of Mesechtas Me'ilah broadly outlines for each of the Korbonos when the prohibition attaches to the item and when it is no longer in effect.

The general rule is that when the Kedusha attaches to the item, a person can violate Me'ilah. For most Korbonos this begins when a person designates (with his mouth) an animal as a Korban. Me'ilah falls away once the service is complete and only for those items that are now permitted to be used (e.g., the meat of a Chattas is permitted to a Kohein.). To be clear, at that point, a person may still not use the item for his personal benefit, it remains prohibited. However the strict rules of Me'ilah, the Korban and repayment, no longer apply.

In Me'ilah, 2:6, the Mishnah teaches that Me'ilah attaches to the Shtei HaLechem, when the bread starts to crust in the oven. At that point, they may be used in the ceremony along with the Kisvei Atzeres and they are susceptible to becoming Tamei from a Tevul Yom and Mechusar Kapparah (both persons with low levels of Tumah). Once the blood of the sheep is on the Mizbeach, strict Me'ilah falls away. In addition to Me'ilah falling away, the Mishnah teaches that it is at that time, when the blood is placed on the Mizbeach, that the prohibition against Pigul takes effect.

Pigul: When sacrificing an animal, it is imperative that the person doing the sacrificing have the proper intent. Not only about which type of Korban he is bringing and for whom (see Zevachim 1:1 and 1:3) but that the Korban will be consumed both in the right place* and during the right time.** If he intends the wrong place, the Korban is pasul and cannot be eaten. If he intends the wrong time, that is called Pigul and eating such a Korban results in a punishment of Kareis.

The Mishnah in Menachos 2:2 discusses a situation where you Shechted both of the Kisvei Atzeres and had in mind to eat one of the loaves of the Shtei HaLechem outside the right time. All agree that the one loaf you were thinking about is Pigul. There is a dispute, however, whether the second loaf is simply Pasul or also Pigul. Rabi Yose says Pasul while the Chachomim rule both are Pigul.*** They see the pair as one set and if one is Pigul the other is as well.

The Mishna in Menachos 2:5 focuses on the Shalmei Tzibur, the two sheep and whether they each act as a single unit to create Pigul or must they be considered a pair for these purposes. Specifically, the Mishnah is teaching that the prohibition of Pigul does not attach until the person has the prohibited intention while sacrificing the entire "Matir," (in our case, the two sheep). The question our Mishnah raises is whether the two sheep are single unit for this purpose or are they each separate "Matirim" for the Shtei HaLechem. Rabi Meir views them as separate, therefore, a Pigul intent for one sheep is sufficient to taint the Shtei HaLechem. Whereas, the Chachomim require that he have the Pigul intent for both sheep. As between the two sheep, all agree that a Pigul intent for one will not disturb the other.

* Some Korbonos, like the Shelamim, may be eaten in Yerushalyim, while others, like the Chattas, may only be consumed within the confines of the Beis HaMikdash.

**Each Korban that may be eaten is given a specific period of time within which it may be consumed. For instance, the Pesach, may only be eaten on the night after it is brought; the Todah and Chattas, both the day it is brought and the following night; and the Shelamim may be eaten on the day it was brought, the following night and the next day).

***There is a second dispute in the Mishnah as to what happens if one of the loaves become Tamei, must you burn both or may you retain the Tahor one for consumption. The Chachomim rule that only the Tamei one is Pasul. This is interesting since when it comes to Pigul they view the pair of loaves as a single unit.

(ו) שְׁנֵי שְׂעִירֵי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. שְׁנֵי כִבְשֵׂי עֲצֶרֶת מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. שְׁתֵּי חַלּוֹת מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ. שְׁנֵי סְדָרִים מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. שְׁנֵי בְזִיכִין מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. הַסְּדָרִים וְהַבְּזִיכִין מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. שְׁנֵי מִינִים שֶׁבַּנָּזִיר, שְׁלשָׁה שֶׁבַּפָּרָה, אַרְבָּעָה שֶׁבַּתּוֹדָה, אַרְבָּעָה שֶׁבַּלּוּלָב, אַרְבָּעָה שֶׁבַּמְּצֹרָע, מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. שֶׁבַע הַזָּיוֹת שֶׁבַּפָּרָה מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ. שֶׁבַע הַזָּיוֹת שֶׁל בֵּין הַבַּדִּים, וְשֶׁעַל הַפָּרֹכֶת, וְשֶׁעַל מִזְבַּח הַזָּהָב, מְעַכְּבוֹת זוֹ אֶת זוֹ:

(6) Regarding the two goats of Yom Hakippurim, the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the two lambs of Shavuot, the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the two loaves [that accompany the lambs] the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the two rows [of the showbread] the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the two dishes [of frankincense] the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the rows and the dishes the [absence of] one invalidates the other. Regarding the: two kinds [of cakes] used in the offering of the nazirite, the three kinds used for the red cow, the four kinds [of cakes] used in the todah, the four kinds [of species] used for the lulav, and the four kinds used for the [purification of the] leper, the [absence of] one invalidates the others. Regarding the seven sprinklings [of the blood] of the red cow the [absence of] one invalidates the others. Regarding the seven sprinklings between the staves of the ark, and of those towards the veil and upon the golden altar, the [absence of] one invalidates the others.

(ג) הַפָּר וְהָאֵילִים וְהַכְּבָשִׂים וְהַשָּׂעִיר אֵינָן מְעַכְּבִין אֶת הַלֶּחֶם, וְלֹא הַלֶּחֶם מְעַכְּבָן. הַלֶּחֶם מְעַכֵּב אֶת הַכְּבָשִׂים, וְהַכְּבָשִׂים אֵינָן מְעַכְּבִין אֶת הַלֶּחֶם, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא. אָמַר שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן נַנָּס, לֹא כִי, אֶלָּא הַכְּבָשִׂים מְעַכְּבִין אֶת הַלֶּחֶם, וְהַלֶּחֶם אֵינוֹ מְעַכֵּב אֶת הַכְּבָשִׂים, שֶׁכֵּן מָצִינוּ, כְּשֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה, קָרְבוּ כְבָשִׂים בְּלֹא לֶחֶם, אַף כָּאן יִקְרְבוּ כְבָשִׂים בְּלֹא לָחֶם. אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, הֲלָכָה כְּדִבְרֵי בֶן נַנָּס, אֲבָל אֵין הַטַּעַם כִּדְבָרָיו, שֶׁכָּל הָאָמוּר בְּחֻמַּשׁ הַפְּקוּדִים, קָרַב בַּמִּדְבָּר. וְכָל הָאָמוּר בְּתוֹרַת כֹּהֲנִים, לֹא קָרַב בַּמִּדְבָּר. מִשֶּׁבָּאוּ לָאָרֶץ, קָרְבוּ אֵלּוּ וָאֵלּוּ. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה אֲנִי אוֹמֵר יִקְרְבוּ כְבָשִׂים בְּלֹא לֶחֶם, שֶׁהַכְּבָשִׂים מַתִּירִין אֶת עַצְמָן בְּלֹא לֶחֶם. לֶחֶם בְּלֹא כְבָשִׂים, אֵין לִי מִי יַתִּירֶנּוּ:

(3) The [absence of the] bull, or the rams, or the lambs or the goat does not invalidate the bread, neither does the [absence of the] bread invalidate them. The [absence of the] bread invalidates the lambs, but the [absence of the] lambs does not invalidate the bread, the words of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Shimon b. Nanas said: it is not so, but rather the [absence of the] lambs invalidates the bread, while the [absence of the] bread does not invalidate the lambs; for so we find that when the Israelites were in the wilderness for forty years they offered the lambs without the bread, therefore now too they may offer the lambs without the bread. Rabbi Shimon said: the halakhah is according to the words of Ben Nanas but not for the reason he stated; for every offering stated in the Book of Numbers was offered in the wilderness, but not every offering stated in the book of Leviticus was offered in the wilderness; however, when they came into the land of Israel they offered both kinds. Why then do I say that the lambs may be offered without the bread? Because the lambs render themselves permissible without the bread, whereas bread without lambs, there is nothing that renders it permissible.

שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, מוֹעֲלִין בָּהֶן מִשֶּׁהֻקְדְּשׁוּ. קָרְמוּ בַתַּנּוּר, הֻכְשְׁרוּ לְהִפָּסֵל בִּטְבוּל יוֹם וּבִמְחֻסַּר כִּפּוּרִים וְלִשְׁחֹט עֲלֵיהֶם אֶת הַזָּבַח. נִזְרַק דָּמָן שֶׁל כְּבָשִׂים, חַיָּבִין עֲלֵיהֶן מִשּׁוּם פִּגּוּל, נוֹתָר וְטָמֵא, וְאֵין בָּהֶן מְעִילָה:
The law of sacrilege applies to the two loaves of bread from the moment of their dedication. Once they have formed a crust in the oven they become susceptible to be disqualified through contact with a tevul yom or one who still requires atonement, and the [festival] offerings can then be slaughtered. Once the blood of the lambs has been sprinkled they [the loaves] are subject to [the laws of] piggul, notar and defilement, and the law of sacrilege no longer applies to them.

(ב) שָׁחַט שְׁנֵי כְבָשִׂים לֶאֱכֹל אַחַת מִן הַחַלּוֹת לְמָחָר, הִקְטִיר שְׁנֵי בְזִיכִין לֶאֱכֹל אַחַד מִן הַסְּדָרִים לְמָחָר, רַבִּי יוֹסֵי אוֹמֵר, אוֹתָהּ הַחַלָּה וְאוֹתוֹ הַסֵּדֶר שֶׁחִשַּׁב עָלָיו, פִּגּוּל וְחַיָּבִין עָלָיו כָּרֵת, וְהַשֵּׁנִי פָּסוּל וְאֵין בּוֹ כָרֵת. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, זֶה וָזֶה פִּגּוּל וְחַיָּבִין עָלָיו כָּרֵת. נִטְמֵאת אַחַת מִן הַחַלּוֹת אוֹ אַחַד מִן הַסְּדָרִים, רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר, שְׁנֵיהֶם יֵצְאוּ לְבֵית הַשְּׂרֵפָה, שֶׁאֵין קָרְבַּן צִבּוּר חָלוּק. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, הַטָּמֵא בְטֻמְאָתוֹ, וְהַטָּהוֹר יֵאָכֵל:

(2) If he slaughtered the two lambs [intending] to eat one of the [two] loaves the next day, or if he burned the two dishes [of the frankincense intending] to eat one of the [two] rows of the showbread the next day: Rabbi Yose says: that loaf or that row about which he expressed the intention is piggul and he is liable for karet for it, while the other is invalid but he is not liable for karet for it. But the sages say, both are piggul and he is liable for karet for both of them. If one of the [two] loaves or one of the [two] rows [of the showbread] became unclean: Rabbi Judah says: both must be taken out to the place of burning, for the offering of the congregation may not be divided. But the sages say, the unclean [is treated] as unclean, but the clean may be eaten.

(ה) פִּגֵּל בַּקֹּמֶץ וְלֹא בַלְּבוֹנָה, בַּלְּבוֹנָה וְלֹא בַקֹּמֶץ, רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, פִּגּוּל וְחַיָּבִין עָלָיו כָּרֵת. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵין בּוֹ כָרֵת, עַד שֶׁיְּפַגֵּל אֶת כָּל הַמַּתִּיר. מוֹדִים חֲכָמִים לְרַבִּי מֵאִיר בְּמִנְחַת חוֹטֵא וּבְמִנְחַת קְנָאוֹת, שֶׁאִם פִּגֵּל בַּקֹּמֶץ, שֶׁהוּא פִגּוּל וְחַיָּבִין עָלָיו כָּרֵת, שֶׁהַקֹּמֶץ הוּא הַמַּתִּיר. שָׁחַט אַחַד מִן הַכְּבָשִׂים לֶאֱכֹל שְׁתֵּי חַלּוֹת לְמָחָר, הִקְטִיר אַחַד מִן הַבְּזִיכִים לֶאֱכֹל שְׁנֵי סְדָרִים לְמָחָר, רַבִּי מֵאִיר אוֹמֵר, פִּגּוּל וְחַיָּבִים עָלָיו כָּרֵת. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵין פִּגּוּל, עַד שֶׁיְּפַגֵּל אֶת כָּל הַמַּתִּיר. שָׁחַט אַחַד מִן הַכְּבָשִׂים לֶאֱכֹל מִמֶּנּוּ לְמָחָר, הוּא פִגּוּל, וַחֲבֵרוֹ כָשֵׁר. לֶאֱכֹל מֵחֲבֵרוֹ לְמָחָר, שְׁנֵיהֶם כְּשֵׁרִים:

(5) If he had an intention which makes piggul [with regard to the remainder of the minhah] during the [burning of the] handful and not during the [burning of the] frankincense, or during the [burning of the] frankincense and not during the [burning of the] incense: Rabbi Meir says: it is piggul and he is liable for karet for it; But the sages say: there is no karet unless he had an intention that makes piggul during the service of the whole of the mattir. The sages agree with Rabbi Meir with regard to a sinner’s minhah or a minhah of jealousy, that if he had an intention which makes piggul during the [burning of the] handful, [the remainder] is piggul and he is liable for karet for it, since the handful is the entire mattir. If he slaughtered one of the lambs intending to eat the two loaves the next day, or if he burned one of the dishes of frankincense intending to eat the two rows [of the showbread] on the next day: Rabbi Meir says: it is piggul and he is liable for karet for it; But the sages say: it is not piggul, unless he had an intention that makes piggul during the service of the whole of the mattir. If he slaughtered one of the lambs intending to eat part of it the next day, that [lamb] is piggul but the other [lamb] is valid. If he intended to eat the other [lamb] the next day, both are valid.

Consuming the Shtei HaLechem

Introduction to Menachos 11:4, Arachin 2:2 and Sukkah 5:7

Once safely past the bringing of the Kisvei Atzeres, the Kohanim turn their attention to eating the Shtei HaLechem.

As noted above, the baking of the Shtei HaLechem and Lechem HaPanim do not push aside either Shabbos or Yom Tov.* Although cooking and baking are generally permitted on Yom Tov, the Gemara learns that when the Torah permits cooking, it is only for the individual and not for the Beis HaMikdash, "לכם ולא לגבוה".

Based on these restrictions, the following Mishnah describes the minimum and maximum number of days that may pass from the time the Shtei HaLechem were baked until they were consumed.** For the Shtei HaLechem it was either the second day (i.e., in a normal year they were baked on the eve of Yom Tov) or, if Shavuous fell on Sunday, they would be eaten on the "third" day; since they had to be baked before Shabbos (i.e., on Friday).*** The Mishnah in Arachin, simply repeats the rules from our Mishnah. It is part of a grouping of Mishnayos that describe a series of maximums and minimums in Halacha.

Finally, I note that there is a Mishnah in Sukkah 5:7 which, while not directly mentioning the Shtei HaLechem, mentions its consumption by the Kohanim. When Shabbos and Shavuous coincide, the Kohanim would be entitled to a small piece of both the Lechem HaPanim and the Shtei HaLechem. The Mishnah relates that the Kohein doling out the breads would say**** to each recipient, "here is your Matzoh, here is your Chametz." The later being a reference to the Shtei HaLechem.*****

* This is unlike the Korban Omer which does push aside Shabbos. Menachos 10:9. There is another Tana that does rule that these Korbonos push aside Shabbos and Yom Tov.

**In Halacha, especially as it relates to Korbonos, the day on which the Korban was brought, or the Shtei HaLechem was baked, is considered the first day. The following day, even if twenty four hours have not yet passed, is the "second" day.

*** See Chagigah 2:4 where the Mishnah discusses another Shavuous ceremony that is effected by the day on which the holiday falls.

****As understood by Rashi and the R”AV, the officiating Kohein’s statement was meant to ensure that the recipient received a piece of each Korban, based on the principle that when distributing Korbonos, one may not swap one Korban for another (לפי שאין חולקים קרבן כנגד קרבן). See, however, R’ Chaim Elazar Shapiro, SH”UT Michas Elazar, Vol. 5 Siman 31, where he proposes an alternative explanation, that the Kohein was admonishing the recipients not to eat the Lechem HaPanim and Shtei HaLechem simultaneously, lest he convert the former into Chametz—violating the prohibition on causing the leftovers of a Korban Mincha (Shiyarei MIncha) to become Chametz.

******The Gemara in Sukkah discusses the order of the distribution in the context of the famous dictum, " תדיר ושאינו תדיר תדיר קודם ". See R' Moshe Shternbuch, Moadim U'Zmanim, Vol. 4 Siman 331 for a discussion of this principal in the context of the Shtei HaLechem.

שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם נֶאֱכָלוֹת אֵין פָּחוֹת מִשְּׁנַיִם, וְלֹא יָתֵר עַל שְׁלשָׁה. כֵּיצַד. נֶאֱפוֹת מֵעֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב וְנֶאֱכָלוֹת בְּיוֹם טוֹב, לִשְׁנָיִם. חָל יוֹם טוֹב לִהְיוֹת אַחַר הַשַּׁבָּת, נֶאֱכָלוֹת לִשְׁלשָׁה. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים נֶאֱכָל אֵין פָּחוֹת מִתִּשְׁעָה, וְלֹא יָתֵר עַל אַחַד עָשָׂר. כֵּיצַד. נֶאֱפֶה בְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת וְנֶאֱכָל בְּשַׁבָּת, לְתִשְׁעָה. חָל יוֹם טוֹב לִהְיוֹת עֶרֶב שַׁבָּת, נֶאֱכָל לַעֲשָׂרָה. שְׁנֵי יָמִים טוֹבִים שֶׁל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, נֶאֱכָל לְאַחַד עָשָׂר. וְאֵינוֹ דוֹחֶה לֹא אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת וְלֹא אֶת יוֹם טוֹב. רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר מִשּׁוּם רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן הַסְּגָן, דּוֹחֶה אֶת יוֹם טוֹב וְאֵינוֹ דוֹחֶה אֶת יוֹם צוֹם:
The two loaves were eaten never earlier than on the second day and never later than on the third day. How so? [Normally] they were baked on the day before the festival and eaten on the festival, that is, on the second day. If the festival fell on the day after Shabbat, they would be eaten on the third day. The showbread was eaten never earlier than on the ninth day and never later than on the eleventh day. How so? [Normally] it was baked on the day before Shabbat and eaten on Shabbat [of the following week], that is on the ninth day. If a festival fell on the day before Shabbat, it would be eaten on the tenth day. If the two days of Rosh Hashanah [fell before Shabbat], it would then be eaten on the eleventh day. [Baking] overrides neither Shabbat nor the festival. Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel says in the name of Rabbi Shimon, son of the deputy [high priest]: it overrides the festival but not the fast day (Yom Kippur).
אֵין פּוֹחֲתִין מֵאַרְבָּעָה חֲדָשִׁים הַמְעֻבָּרִים בְּשָׁנָה, וְלֹא נִרְאֶה יָתֵר עַל שְׁמֹנָה. שְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם נֶאֱכָלוֹת אֵין פָּחוּת מִשְּׁנַיִם וְלֹא יָתֵר עַל שְׁלשָׁה. לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים נֶאֱכָל אֵין פָּחוּת מִתִּשְׁעָה וְלֹא יָתֵר עַל אַחַד עָשָׂר. קָטָן נִמּוֹל אֵין פָּחוּת מִשְּׁמֹנָה וְלֹא יָתֵר עַל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר:
There are never less than four full months in the year, nor did it seem right to have more than eight. Two loaves were eaten, never earlier than the second day, nor later than the third day. The shewbread was eaten never earlier than the ninth day, nor later than the eleventh day. An infant may never be circumcised earlier than the eighth nor later than the twelfth day.

(ז) בִּשְׁלשָׁה פְרָקִים בַּשָּׁנָה הָיוּ כָּל מִשְׁמָרוֹת שָׁווֹת בְּאֵמוּרֵי הָרְגָלִים וּבְחִלּוּק לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים. בַּעֲצֶרֶת אוֹמְרִים לוֹ, הֵילָךְ מַצָּה הֵילָךְ חָמֵץ. מִשְׁמָר שֶׁזְּמַנּוֹ קָבוּעַ, הוּא מַקְרִיב תְּמִידִין, נְדָרִים וּנְדָבוֹת וּשְׁאָר קָרְבְּנוֹת צִבּוּר, וּמַקְרִיב אֶת הַכֹּל. יוֹם טוֹב הַסָּמוּךְ לְשַׁבָּת, בֵּין מִלְּפָנֶיהָ בֵּין מִלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ, הָיוּ כָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת שָׁווֹת בְּחִלּוּק לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים:

(7) At three periods in the year all the priestly watches shared equally in the festival sacrifices and in the division of the showbread. On Shavuot they used to say to the priest, “Here is matzah for you, here is chametz for you.” A watch whose period of service was fixed [for that festival week] offered the tamid, vow-offerings and freewill-offerings and all other public offerings; and it offered them all. A festival which fell next to Shabbat, either before or after it, all the watches shared equally in the distribution of the showbread.

The Shtei HaLechem and the New Grain

Introduction to Mishna 10:6

Our final Mishnah will discuss the practical effects the bringing of the Shtei HaLechem had on the Nation.

Both the Korban Omer and the Shtei HaLechem had dual purposes. On the one hand, they are Korbonos and bringing them fulfills a biblical command. On the other, the act of bringing these Korbonos acted as a catalyst, directly impacting both the nation and the Temple.

Specifically, the bringing of the Korban Omer triggers the permissibility to both harvest and consume the new grain. Importantly, this was limited to the general population. For purposes of the Beis HaMikdash (i.e., for Korbonos), the new grain was only permitted to be used only after the "Shtei HaLechem," the two leavened loafs, were brought at the end of the counting of the Sefirah (i.e., Shavuous). Nevertheless, if the grain was used between the Omer and the Shtei HaLechem, the Korban was valid. If, however, the new grain was used prior to the Omer, than the Korban is invalid.

The bringing of the Shtei HaLechem also triggered the start of the Bikkurim season. See Bikkurim 1:3 and 1:10.

הָעֹמֶר הָיָה מַתִּיר בַּמְּדִינָה, וּשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. אֵין מְבִיאִין מְנָחוֹת וּבִכּוּרִים וּמִנְחַת בְּהֵמָה קֹדֶם לָעֹמֶר. וְאִם הֵבִיא, פָּסוּל. קֹדֶם לִשְׁתֵּי הַלֶּחֶם, לֹא יָבִיא. וְאִם הֵבִיא, כָּשֵׁר:
The omer permits [the new grain] throughout the land, and the two loaves permit it in the Temple. One may not offer minhahs, first-fruits, or minhahs that accompany animal offerings, before the omer. And if one did so, it is invalid. Nor may one offer these before the two loaves. But if one did so it was valid.

Section IV

Questions to Consider:

  1. This section laid out a myriad of technical details relating to the harvesting, processing, sacrificing and eating of the Korban Omer. Strict processes are important and so is attention to detail. We inject religious meaning into each of these steps and feel distraught when they are not followed. Some of us excel at focusing on the minutia and finding comfort in the prescribed actions; others find the details overwhelming and look for a broader, less organized approach. Which do you prefer? Why?