1) USING GREEK LETTERS IN THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
QUESTION: The Mishnah (74b) teaches that when the Kohen performs Meshichah with Rekikin, he smears the oil on the loaves (after they are baked) in the shape of a "Ki." The Gemara here quotes Rav Kahana who explains that this refers to the Greek letter, "Xi" (see TOSFOS DH k'Min Ki, for various opinions about the exact shape).
Why is the oil supposed to smeared on the Rekikin specifically in the shape of a Greek letter?
ANSWER: The Mishnah in Shekalim (8a) similarly says that the letters Alef, Beis, and Gimel were written on the three boxes used for the Terumas ha'Lishkah to denote which box was separated first. Rebbi Yishmael notes that the three letters on the boxes were written in Greek -- Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. The KORBAN HA'EDAH explains that the use of Greek letters on the boxes of the Terumas ha'Lishkah is based on the verse, "Yaft Elokim l'Yefes v'Yishkon b'Ohalei Shem" -- "Ascribe beauty to Yefes, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" (Bereishis 9:27). The beauty of Yefes in this verse refers to the script of Greek letters. (Greek, or "Yevanis," is the language of Yavan, the patriarch of Greece, who was one of the sons of Yefes.) The "tents of Shem" refers to the Beis ha'Mikdash (as the Gemara in Megilah (9b) says; based on this verse, the Gemara there permits a Sefer Torah to be written with Greek script).
On a deeper level, this may be understood as follows. Hash-m created many objects of physical beauty in the world. They were not created to serve man's indulgences and gratify his appetite for pleasure. Rather, they are meant to be used in the service of Hash-m by inspiring awe for His majesty. As the verse states, "Grace is falsehood, beauty is vain; the woman who fears Hash-m -- she will be praised" (Mishlei 31:30). Beauty is falsehood, unless it is used for the sake of Yir'as Hash-m, the fear of Hash-m. For this reason, the Midrash (Shemos Rabah 35) teaches that the world is not entitled to use such beautiful items as gold and the cedars of Levanon; those items were created only for use in the Beis ha'Mikdash and the Mishkan. Similarly, the Gemara in Kidushin (49b) says that when Hash-m put beauty into the world, He gave nine portions of beauty to Yerushalayim and one portion to the rest of the world. Yerushalayim is the place where beauty is utilized in the way it was intended to be used -- for the service of Hash-m.
The Greeks prided themselves in their ability to beautify their language and all of the objects of their creativity, which they channeled towards self-indulgence and hedonism. The use of the letters of the Greek alphabet in the Beis ha'Mikdash, where such beauty inspires awe for Hash-m's majesty, demonstrates that the proper purpose of physical beauty is for the sake of serving Hash-m.
This also explains a practice described by the Gemara in Horayos (12a). When the Kohen Gadol is anointed, oil is smeared on his head "in the shape of the Greek letter, Xi." When the Kohen Gadol performs the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash and wears his regal garments of "honor and glory" (Shemos 28:2), he is a living demonstration of how beauty is channeled towards Yir'as Shamayim. This is why oil is smeared on the Rekikin loaves of the Minchah offerings in the shape of the Greek letter, Xi (Menachos 74b). (See also Insights to Shekalim 8:1.)
2) HOW TO DO "MESHICHAH" ON "REKIKIN"
QUESTION: The Mishnah (74b) teaches that when the Kohen performs Meshichah with Rekikin, he smears the oil on the loaves (after they are baked) in the shape of the Greek letter, "Ki" ("Xi") (see previous Insight). After the Meshichah is completed, the remaining oil is given to the Kohanim for them to eat. The Gemara here quotes two Beraisos. One discusses a Minchah that is half Rekikin, and the other discusses a Minchah that is comprised entirely of Rekikin. The Beraisos, when explaining how to perform the Meshichah, record an argument between the Tana Kama and Rebbi Shimon ben Yehudah in the name of Rebbi Shimon. The Tana Kama says that the oil is smeared on the loaves repeatedly until it is used up. Rebbi Shimon ben Yehudah in the name of Rebbi Shimon says, like the Mishnah, that after Meshichah is done the remaining oil is eaten by the Kohanim.
The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 13:9) rules like the Tana Kama of the Beraisa and not like Rebbi Shimon of the Mishnah. The KESEF MISHNEH questions how the Rambam arrives at this conclusion. The Gemara in Yevamos (42b) says that when a Mishnah makes a statement as a matter of fact with no dispute concerning the matter, and a Beraisa records an argument concerning the matter ("Stam b'Mishnah u'Machlokes b'Beraisa"), the Halachah follows the Mishnah. Why does the Rambam ignore this principle and rule like the Beraisa?
(a) The MAHARI KURKUS explains that the Rambam understands from the Beraisos that the opinion expressed in the Mishnah is that of Rebbi Shimon, a minority opinion. In cases of dispute between the Tana Kama and Rebbi Shimon, the Halachah normally follows the view of the Tana Kama. Therefore, the Rambam rules like the Tana Kama. Moreover, the Mahari Kurkus explains that the primary reason for why the Gemara quotes these Beraisos is to teach that the Mishnah is a minority opinion. This is why the Rambam does not rule like the Mishnah.
The Mahari Kurkus points out that this explanation seems to conflict with the aforementioned principle in Yevamos (42b). However, he quotes the HALICHOS OLAM (Sha'ar 5:3) who says that the Gemara occasionally does not follow an established principle, such as this one, when it discovers that the opinion in the Mishnah is a minority one (see, for example, Sukah 19b). The Kesef Mishneh apparently does not agree with this, because in KELALEI HA'GEMARA, his commentary on the Halichos Olam, he writes that it is problematic to suggest that there can be exceptions to this principle (see also YAVIN SHEMU'AH). This explains why the Mahari Kurkus is satisfied with his answer, while the Kesef Mishneh remains with his question.
(b) The LECHEM MISHNEH cites the Sifra (end of ch. 11) which quotes Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov who expresses the same opinion as that of the Mishnah here. Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov derives his view from two seemingly extra phrases in the Torah which say, "ba'Shemen." In the Gemara earlier (63b), Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Shimon derive other laws from these verses. The Lechem Mishneh quotes the RE'EM who says that Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Shimon do not agree with Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov. Accordingly, there are two more Tana'im who disagree with the opinion expressed in the Mishnah, and also further reason for why the Rambam does not rule like the Mishnah. However, the Lechem Mishneh concludes that this answer is not viable, because Rebbi Shimon is the Tana quoted by the Beraisos who teaches the same Halachah as Rebbi Eliezer ben Yakov (and the Mishnah), and thus it cannot be that Rebbi Shimon argues with this Halachah.
(c) The KEREN ORAH gives a different answer. He explains that this opinion is quoted in the Mishnah in Zevachim (91a) in the name of Rebbi Shimon. The Mishnah there quotes Rebbi Shimon who says that when one sees oil being divided up among the Kohanim, there is no need to ask what oil it is. It certainly is the leftover oil from Rekikin brought by a Yisrael, or the Log of oil of a Metzora. RASHI there (DH Mosar Rekikei) explains that Rebbi Shimon there is consistent with his opinion here that the leftover oil is divided among the Kohanim (and is not used up). The fact that this opinion is mentioned in the Mishnah there as a minority opinion (and not as a "Stam Mishnah") shows that it does not have the strength of an ordinary "Stam Mishnah" even when it appears in the Mishnah here with no name. This is why the Rambam rules like the Tana Kama of the Beraisa. (Y. MONTROSE)
3) FOLDING THE LOAVES OF MENACHOS
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that a Minchah brought by a Yisrael is folded two times, first into two layers, and then into four, and then the layers are separated. The same is done to the Minchah of a Kohen, except that it is not separated.
What exactly is involved in the process of folding the Minchah offering?
(a) RASHI and RABEINU GERSHOM (DH Kofel) say that the loaves are folded, or doubled over, into two layers, and then into four little loaves. When the Mishnah says that a Minchas Yisrael is then separated, it means that the Menachos are then crushed into pieces.
(b) The RAMBAM in PERUSH HA'MISHNAYOS explains that the Mishnah does not refer to the original loaves of the Minchah. Rather, it refers to the loaves after they have been crushed into pieces. Each piece is folded into two and then into four, and then crushed again into smaller pieces. He infers this from the last statement of the Mishnah, "v'Chulan Posesan k'Zeisim" -- "and all of them are crushed as a k'Zayis," which he understands is not a statement of Rebbi Shimon, but a statement with which everyone agrees. (See RASHI KESAV YAD, DH v'Chulan, who says that this statement was said only by Rebbi Shimon.)
The CHOK NASAN and MELECHES SHLOMO have difficulty with the opinion of the Rambam. Rav Yosef proves that a Chavitzah that has pieces the size of a k'Zayis requires the blessing of "ha'Motzi" from the fact that the pieces of a Minchah require "ha'Motzi" only when they are the size of a k'Zayis, while if it does not have such large pieces it requires the blessing of "Borei Minei Mezonos." It is obvious that Rav Yosef maintains that a Minchah is supposed to be the size of a k'Zayis when eaten. According to Rashi and Rabeinu Gershom, the Mishnah is teaching that the pieces of the Minchah should not be less than a k'Zayis after they are crushed. However, according to the Rambam, the pieces must be much less than a k'Zayis, and, consequently, Rav Yosef has no proof! The TOSFOS CHADASHIM (on Mishnayos) says that the Rambam retracted his opinion. Indeed, the Rambam (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 13:10) writes that one folds the "Chalos," like the explanation of Rashi and Rabeinu Gershom.
The KEREN ORAH says that it is possible that the words of the Rambam there and his words in Perush ha'Mishnayos are not contradictory. The Rambam's statement in Perush ha'Mishnayos is, "And that Pesisah, which is a k'Zayis, is folded with four, and is not separated." The BARTENURA understands that the Rambam means, "That Pesisah, which is a k'Zayis, should be folded fourfold and not separated" (in the case of a Minchas Kohen). The Keren Orah, however, insists that the Rambam means, "And the Pesisah which is done to pieces which are a k'Zayis contains four pieces to be folded at one time, and they are not separated." (Y. MONTROSE)
4) WHEN DOES ONE BLESS "SHEHECHEYANU" WHEN OFFERING A KORBAN MINCHAH?
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that says that when a person brings a Minchah offering, he should recite the blessing of "Shehecheyanu." Under what circumstances does this apply?
(a) RASHI (DH Hayah Omed u'Makriv Menachos) explains that a Kohen who offers a Korban Minchah on the Mizbe'ach for the first time in his life recites the blessing of Shehecheyanu.
According to TOSFOS' text of Rashi, the words of Rashi read "for the first time this year."
(b) RASHI suggests another explanation. When a type of Minchah is brought for the first time (such as the Minchas ha'Omer, which is the first to be brought from the new year's produce), the Kohen recites Shehecheyanu.
(c) The ROSH and RABEINU YEHUDAH HA'CHASID in Berachos (37b) write that any time a Kohen offers a Korban Minchah on the Mizbe'ach, he recites Shehecheyanu.
(d) RASHI in Berachos (37b, DH Hayah, and DH Omer Baruch Shehecheyanu) and RABEINU SHEMAYAH (quoted by Rabeinu Yehudah ha'Chasid) say that any person, even a Yisrael, who brings a Minchah offering a protracted period from the last time he brought one recites Shehecheyanu. Rabeinu Shemayah adds that it is uncommon to bring a freewill Minchah offering, and therefore one recites Shehecheyanu every time he brings one.
TOSFOS in Berachos (DH Hayah) says that this explanation is problematic, because the Beraisa here clearly says, "Hayah Omed u'Makriv Menachos b'Yerushalayim, Omer..." -- "one who was standing and offering Menachos in Yerushalayim says...." This clearly indicates that the one who actually offers the Minchah is the one who says the blessing. This cannot refer to a Yisrael, who may not actually offer a Minchah on the Mizbe'ach.
Tosfos here (DH Hayah) also says that this explanation does not fit the Beraisa's statement that "he took them to eat them." A Yisrael is not allowed to eat a Minchah. How, then, can the Beraisa be discussing a Yisrael?
The YA'AVETZ in Berachos answers that Rashi was bothered by a different part of the text of the Beraisa. The Beraisa refers to a person who was "standing and offering Menachos in Yerushalayim." Why does the Beraisa add that he was in Yerushalayim? It is obvious that he was in Yerushalayim, since all Korbanos are brought only in the Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim!
Rashi understood from the words "in Yerushalayim" that the Beraisa is referring to all of Yerushalayim, and not merely to the specific area of the Beis ha'Mikdash. This is why Rashi understood that the Beraisa is referring to a Yisrael who is bringing a Minchah in Yerushalayim. The Yisrael is not actually offering it on the Mizbe'ach.
While the Ya'avetz does not address the question of Tosfos here in Menachos, we may suggest that Rashi understood that the text "he took them to eat them" is not referring to the Yisrael who brought the Minchah, but to a Halachah involving the Kohen.
(e) Another version of RASHI in Berachos (according to the reading of the TOSFOS HA'ROSH) explains that a Yisrael who offers a Minchah for the first time in his life recites Shehecheyanu.
(f) Tosfos in Berachos and Menachos says that the Kohen who brings the first Minchah of his Mishmar recites Shehecheyanu, because each Mishmar serves only once every half a year.
The Ya'avetz in Berachos comments that Tosfos' statement implies that one can say Shehecheyanu on events that occur biannually. The BEIS YOSEF (OC 225) discusses this point at length and is uncertain about whether one recites Shehecheyanu on events which occur annually or even on events that occur biannually. He discusses whether or not one should say Shehecheyanu every six months on a new fruit that grows during two seasons a year.
It is possible that Rashi did not give this explanation because he maintained that one cannot say Shehecheyanu on a biannual event.