Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Parshat Ki Tisa. The Anointing Oil Revisited.

Parshat Ki Tisa. The Anointing Oil Revisited.
 By Chaim Sunitsky

In this parsha we have the instructions of how to make anointing oil:

וְאַתָּה קַח לְךָ בְּשָׂמִים רֹאשׁ מָר דְּרוֹר חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת וְקִנְּמָן בֶּשֶׂם מַחֲצִיתוֹ חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם וּקְנֵה בֹשֶׂם חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם וְקִדָּה חֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְשֶׁמֶן זַיִת הִין

All the proportions of the ingredients are clearly explained except the second. Moshe had to take 500 (shekalim[1]) of Mar Dror. Kinamon (probably cinnamon) “its half, 250”, K’ne – 250 and Kida – 500. The peculiar expression “its half, 250” is explained in the Talmud (Kritot 5a) to mean that 250 shekalim is taken twice. According to this the expression “its half” is explaining the half of the weight of Kinamon and that it is “gezeriat hakatuv” that this spice is not taken at once but rather as two halves, 250 shekalim each. The total weight of the spices is then 500+250*2+250+500=1750.
Needless to say this explanation does not seem to be the straightforward meaning of the verse. It is a lot simpler to consider that mahatzito (its half) is explaining the previous weight: while Mar Dror is 500, Kinamon is only half of that - 250. Still practically all the commentators follow the view of our Talmud and even Rashbam who usually explains according to what he believes to be the pshat. The words of Rabeinu Bahya (30:23) are that this explanation is the kabala of Hazal (presumably from Sinai) and that we already knew that half of 500 is 250, so if we explain the Torah according to the simple meaning, these words are redundant. However it was noticed already in Biur of Mendelssohn[2] that our taamim don’t support this explanation, as they should have used a mesharet to connect “mahatzito” to the next words[3]. He leaves this as a question of why Baal Hataamim didn’t follow Hazal[4].

However Shadal in his Chumash commentary brings from Yerushalmi Shekalim[5] (6:1) that the total weight of the 4 spices was 1500. This implies that the weight of Kinamon was only 250 as is the straightforward meaning of the verse[6]. We thus find support for our Mesorah that followed a different tradition and there was no clear “Mesorah from Sinai” that this verse should be read as the Bavli suggests[7] but rather this was one of possible interpretations in out Gemora.

[1] All the weights are in shekalim although in some sources (Yerushlami Shekalim 6:1) the weights seem to be in “mane” and not shekalim, it is probably based on a scribal error
[2] See also “Vikuach” of Shadal (page 96) where he tries to prove from here that the tradition of taamim is not from Ezra otherwise our Mesorah would not contradict this.
[3] Instead we have a “tipcha” that connects this word to the previous phrase.
[4] In general the Tosafot on Shabbat 55b already noticed that our Mesorah sometimes doesn’t follow the Talmud. We usually follow the Mesorah in regards to the laws of writing of the Torah. Moreover, the opinion of Masoretic scholars may have influence on other laws like writing a “get” (see Bet Shmuel at the end of the laws of writing names of men and women printed after siman 129 of Even Haezer; see also GR”A, Even Haezer 129:51).
[5] Another interesting contradiction between Bavli and this perek of Shekalim is the number of tables in the Second Temple. The Mishna in Shekalim seems to imply that there was only one table in the Heichal (and therefore presumably one Menorah), but Talmud Bavli (Yoma 51b) implies that the Second Temple had 11 tables and 11 Menorot just like the First Temple (see Tosafot Rid ad loc who notices this contradiction). Maybe at the time after the victory of Hanukkah when the Jewish people were poor, there was only one Menorah and one table, and at some later time more were made.
[6]Most commentaries to Yerushalmi say this except for R. Shlomo Sirilio who changes the girsa in Yerushalmi so as not to contradict the Bavli.
[7] While we are at it, I’d like to add that regarding Ketoret, where the Torah mentions only 4 species, and Hazal add 7 more, that maybe the remaining 7 spices are not a Sinaic tradition, see Shir Hashirim Rabbah 3:7 and Ramban (30:34). This would explain why R. Natan could add Kipat Hayarden and not break the prohibition of “Bal Tosif”. Maybe the Torah allows taking small quantities of various other spices as long as the main ingredients were the 4 enumerated in the Torah in equal proportion.  

No comments:

Print post

You might also like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...