First of all, I miss you all very much and have such fond memories of my time with the Kollel. The Kollel's Siyum Hashas at Binyanei Hauma inspired my boss to organize a Daf Yomi shiur in the middle of the day. At least 8 of us drop what we're doing and spend 45 minutes learning the Daf in a conference room. Thank you for being such an inspiration and a resource for Klal Yisrael.
Back to my question: Each spice in the Ketores is either part of the Mitzvah or is used for one of the main spices. The Gemara gives an explanation for each thing except Melach Sedomis and Kipas Hayarden. I have found many explanations for Melach Sedomis but none for why Rebbi Nasan requires adding Kipas Hayarden. Can you enlighted me?
BJ Mermelstein, Bet Shemesh, Israel
BJ! It is great to hear from you!
1. Tosfos (6a, DH Melach) writes that according to Rebbi Nasan, the Kipas ha'Yarden is needed in order to soak the Tziporen in it. The Minchas Chinuch (103:4) writes that according to Tosfos, the purpose of the Kirpas ha'Yarden is to make the Tziporen better but it does not do anything in its own right.
2. The Minchas Chinuch adds that according to the Rambam (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 2:3), the Kipas ha'Yarden is necessary in its own right as part of the Ketores. He does not explain why the Kipas ha'Yarden is needed in the Ketores.
3. However, the Ralbag (Rav Levi ben Gershom) -- in his commentary to Shemos 30:37 (cited by the Mesivta edition of the Gemara, page 152, DH ha'Ralbag) -- writes that the Kipas ha'Yarden is added in order to help the smoke of the Ketores to rise.
4. The Mesivta edition also cites the Shiltei Giborim (page 151, DH b'Shiltei) who appears to explain that the purpose of the Kipas ha'Yarden is in order that the other ingredients of the Ketores should not become stuck on the sides of the utensils in which they are ground. It seems that it was a sort of greasing agent which was mixed in to the other ingredients.
5. The Machzor Vitri (#77) and Sidur Rashi (#433) write that the reason why Kipas ha'Yarden is included is that it gives a good scent to the Ketores.
6. The Griz (Menachos 57b, DH Achen Nir'eh) writes that the reason why Kipas ha'Yarden is required is in order to fulfil the Din of "Ma'aseh Roke'ach" (see Shemos 30:35) -- "the work of the incense maker." Since it is usual for people who manufacture spices to add Kipas ha'Yarden, it follows that to comply with the Din of "Ma'aseh Roke'ach" one must make it in the same way that the professionals do.
BJ, I have happy memories of discussing questions in Safrus together and of you helping me grapple with computer technology!