Making the meal offerings come alive
A few months ago, I had the honor of being part of a workshop run by Matan and led by Rabbanit Shani Taragin at Meshek 48 in Rosh Tzurim. The goal of the workshop was to make Menachot (meal offerings) similar to the ones offered in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).
What exactly does that entail?
We learn about the Menachot in Parhsat Vayikra in the first ten verses of Chapter 2:
The Torah lists five types of meal offerings. They are all made of the same ingredients.
The first type, Minchat Solet- Fine flour meal offering (Vayikra 2:1-3) is a simple offering which is not cooked or baked:
When a person brings a meal-offering to God, his offering shall be of fine flour; he shall pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it. He shall bring it to the sons of Aharon, the Kohanim; from there a Kohen takes a fistful- from its flour and oil- with all its frankincense. The Kohen shall burn its memorial portion on the altar, a fire offering of pleasing fragrance to God. Whatever is left of the meal-offering belongs to Aharon and his sons; It is holy of holies of the fire-offerings of God.
At the workshop, we divided up into four groups in order to prepare the four different baked/cooked/fried offerings. We took fine flour, oil and a little bit of water as needed and mixed them together in large bowls.
The following are the Menachot that we prepared:
The second and third types of menachot are in the category of Maafe Tanur- Baked in the Oven:
The maafe tanur can either be unleavened loaves (challot matzot) mixed with oil or unleavened wafers (rekikei matzot) smeared with oil. As we see in Vayikra 2:4:
When you offer a meal offering that is baked in an oven, it shall be of fine flour: unleavened loaves mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers smeared with oil.
Rashi quotes the Talmud, Menachot 76a: All the meal offerings which are baked before the fistful is taken, and their fistful is taken by breaking the loaves of wafer into pieces- all of them come in groups of ten loaves, and those which it is said wafers come in groups of ten wafers.
When the Maafe Tanur that we prepared came out of the oven, our challot matzot came out like pita bread while the rekikei matzot came out like matzah.
The fourth type is Mincha al Machvat, Pan-baked offering (Vayikra 2:5-6):
If your offering is a meal offering on the pan, it shall be of fine flour mixed with oil, it shall be unleavened. You shall break it into pieces and pour oil upon it- it is a meal offering.
Rashi comments that the pan was a vessel used in the Temple, in which they would bake the meal offering in oil on the fire; the vessel was not deep but flat. And the resulting meal-offering made in it was hard, since it was flat, the fire burnt the oil.
These came out like pancakes.
The fifth kind was Minchat Marcheshet- Deep-pan meal offering (Vayikra 2:7):
If your offering is a meal offering in a deep pan, it should be made of fine flour with oil.
Rashi explains that the pan was deep. Its oil was gathered at the bottom and the fire did not burn it. The meal offering looked like it was creeping (rochashin). Everything soft because of the liquid contained in it appears as though it is creeping and moving. Therefore it is called marcheshet.
These were deep fried. They came out like oily matzah balls!
Since this was just a workshop and because the Beit HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt, we did not have to give our Menachot to a Kohen. Rather, we separated challah in the same way that challah is taken when baking any type of bread and when the Menachot were ready, we were able to eat them.
I personally liked the Mincha al Machvat, the pan baked offering the best!
I highly recommend this type of workshop for anyone who wants to understand what the vegetarian sacrifices were all about.