The Flourless Minchah by Jeremy Jaffe


Many days after Adam HaRishon is exiled from Gan Eden, his sons Kayin and Hevel bring sacrifices to Hashem.  Hevel’s offering is recorded in Parshat Bereishit (4:4), where the Torah states that Hevel brought a Korban Mincha (meal-offering) from his flock of sheep.  The problem with this is that in Parshat Vayikra (2:1), the Torah describes a meal-offering as being made from fine flour and oil.  Why, then, is Hevel’s offering of sheep given this title?  A similar question could also be asked about Kayin’s offering, which is also called a Korban Minchah (meal-offering).  The Torah does say that he brings it “from the fruit of the ground” (4:3), a phrase that could include flour (which is originally from the ground).  However, the Gur Aryeh points out that the Torah states only that Kayin brings it “from the fruit of the ground.”  Kayin does not bring the actual fruits, but rather something else that comes from the fruits.  If the “fruit” in question is wheat, then it would seem that what he sacrifices is probably the husks, while keeping the keeping the kernels for himself.  If this the case, Kayin’s offering also does not fit Parshat Vayikra’s description of a meal-offering, since flour made from the husks would not be considered “fine.”

Rashbam to Bereishit 4:3 offers one possible answer to this question.  He believes that the word Minchah in the context of Kayin’s offering means “gift.”  This word could therefore really be used to describe any offerring in addition to the formal “Korban Minchah.”  In fact, Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch points out that in Malachi, the word Minchah is indeed used to describe any type of Korban, not only those made from fine flour.  Any Korban that someone chooses to offer can thus be treated as a “Minchah,” a gift to Hashem.

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