Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. -Emily Post
Once upon a time there was a concept called “etiquette” which one was expected to demonstrate, beyond the politeness of “please” and “thank you,” particularly in dining situations. One learned how to sit and how not to sit, how to handle cutlery, how to eat, how to drink, how to excuse oneself, and much more.
One of those rules of etiquette was the idea of waiting to eat, even if the food was on the plate in front of you, until the host started eating. An exception to that, however, was if the food being served was soup. By the time everyone would have been served their soup, the first person’s soup would be at best lukewarm or cold. Therefore, etiquette dictates that you may have your soup as soon as it is served.
The Bechor Shor on the Torah reading of Tzav comes to a similar conclusion regarding the etiquette of the Kohens who partook of the sacrificial meals at the Temple.
The descendants of Aaron, the High Priest, were tasked with the eternal responsibility of serving as priests (Kohens) in the Tabernacle, and thereafter in the Temple. Part of that service included the sharing of sacrificial meals. During Temple times the Kohens served in rotations that were apportioned to a roster of Kohanic families. Each Kohanic family would serve together in the Temple, performing the various ritual duties required in the Temple.
The Bechor Shor on Exodus 7:10 explains the different etiquette that accompanied different types of sacrificial meals or foods. In particular, he focuses on two types of grain “Mincha” offerings. One was a simple, uncooked, grain and oil mixture. For this offering, the Kohens needed to wait for the entire family to come together and eat it at the same time. However, the baked offerings were eaten primarily by the Kohens who were responsible and present for the preparation and baking of that particular offering, without having to wait for the entire family to assemble. They were allowed to eat it while it was still hot and not miss out on the pleasure of the hot food by waiting for everyone else to show up.
May we always be considerate of others, and may we not demand consideration from others when it needlessly harms or detracts from their experiences.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher Ve’sameach,
To the Suez Canal.