1

Not every entity that is not unacceptable may be brought [as a sacrifice] as an initial preference.1

What is implied? If one is obligated to bring a burnt offering, one should not bring a weak and unattractive sheep and [justify oneself saying]: "It does not have a blemish." Concerning this, can be applied [the words of censure, Malachi 1:14]: "Cursed be the deceiver... [who sacrifices a blemished animal to God]." Instead, anyone who brings a sacrifice should bring from the highest quality.2

א

לא כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ פָּסוּל מֵבִיא אוֹתוֹ לְכַתְּחִלָּה. כֵּיצַד. הָיָה חַיָּב עוֹלָה לֹא יָבִיא שֶׂה כָּחוּשׁ וְכָעוּר וְיֹאמַר הֲרֵי אֵין בּוֹ מוּם. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (מלאכי א-יד) "וְאָרוּר נוֹכֵל" וְגוֹ'. אֶלָּא כָּל שֶׁיָּבִיא לְקָרְבָּן יָבִיא מִן הַמֻּבְחָר:

2

This is the practice that was observed in the era of the Temple: They would bring rams from Moab, broad-backed sheep3 from Chebron, calves from Sharon, young doves from Har HaMelech, wine from Korchayin and Chalutin, flour from Michmash and Yochanah and oil from Tekoa.4

ב

וְכָךְ הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין בִּזְמַן הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. מְבִיאִין אֵילִים מִמּוֹאָב. וּמְבִיאִין כְּבָשִׂים שֶׁגַּבֵּיהֶן רְחָבִים מֵחֶבְרוֹן. וּמְבִיאִין עֲגָלִים מִן הַשָּׁרוֹן. וְגוֹזָלוֹת מֵהַר הַמֶּלֶךְ. וּמְבִיאִין יַיִן מִקַּרְחִיִּין וְהַלּוֹטִיִּין. וְסלֶת מִמִּכְמָשׁ וְיוֹחָנָה. וּמְבִיאִין שֶׁמֶן מִתְּקוֹעַ:

3

All virgin wood5 is acceptable for the altar. They would not bring wood from olive trees or grape vines [in consideration of] the settlement of Eretz [Yisrael].6 They would frequently use boughs of fig trees that grow in forests of unsettled areas,7 those of nut trees, and those of fast-burning8 trees. The logs that Moses made [for the altar in the Sanctuary] were a cubit long and a cubit wide.9 Their thickness was like that of the leveling rod for an overflowing se'ah. In future generations,10 [logs] of the same measurements were used.

ג

כָּל הָעֵצִים הַחֲדָשִׁים כְּשֵׁרִים לַמַּעֲרָכָה. וְלֹא הָיוּ מְבִיאִין מִשֶּׁל זַיִת וְלֹא מִשֶּׁל גֶּפֶן מִשּׁוּם יִשּׁוּב אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל. וּבְאֵלּוּ הָיוּ רְגִילִין בְּמֻרְבִּיּוֹת שֶׁל תְּאֵנָה שֶׁל חֲדָשִׁים שֶׁאֵינָן בַּיִּשּׁוּב. וּבְשֶׁל אֱגוֹז וּבְשֶׁל עֵץ שֶׁמֶן. וְהַגְּזָרִין שֶׁעָשָׂה משֶׁה אַמָּה אָרְכָּן וְאַמָּה רָחְבָּן וְעָבְיָן כְּמַחַק גָּדִישׁ שֶׁל סְאָה וּכְמוֹתָן עוֹשִׂין לְדוֹרוֹת:

4

What would they do when sowing wheat for meal offerings and accompanying offerings?11 They would leave half a field fallow in the first year12 and sow the other half.13 In the second year, he should leave the portion he sowed in the first year fallow and he should sow the second half seventy days before Peach.14 If the field had not been tilled, he should plow it twice and then sow it. He should choose the kernels of wheat carefully15 and then he should strike them16 and tread on them17 until their shells are removed.

ד

וְכֵיצַד הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין בִּזְרִיעַת חִטֵּי הַמְּנָחוֹת וְהַנְּסָכִים. נָר חֲצִי הַשָּׂדֶה בְּשָׁנָה רִאשׁוֹנָה וְזָרַע חֶצְיָהּ. וּבְשָׁנָה שְׁנִיָּה נָר הַחֵצִי שֶׁזָּרַע בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה וְזָרַע הַחֵצִי הָאַחֵר קֹדֶם לַפֶּסַח שִׁבְעִים יוֹם. וְאִם לֹא הָיְתָה הַשָּׂדֶה עֲבוּדָּה חוֹרֵשׁ וְשׁוֹנֶה וְאַחַר כָּךְ זוֹרֵעַ. וּבוֹרֵר הַחִטִּים יָפֶה יָפֶה וְאַחַר כָּךְ שָׁף אֶת הַחִטִּים וּבוֹעֵט בָּהֶן הַרְבֵּה עַד שֶׁיִּתְקַלְּפוּ:

5

All of the wheat used for the meal offerings must receive 300 blows and be tread on 500 times. He should give [the kernels] one blow and then tread on them twice; give them two blows and tread on them three times. Thus they will have received three blows and will have been tread on five times. He should then repeat the pattern until he completes all 300 blows and 500 treadings so that much of the shells will have been removed. As a stringency, extending and drawing back his arm is considered as one blow. After this process, he should grind and sift the flour very thoroughly.

ה

כָּל הַחִטִּים שֶׁל מְנָחוֹת טְעוּנוֹת שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת שִׁיפָה וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת בְּעִיטָה. שָׁף אַחַת וּבוֹעֵט שְׁתַּיִם. שָׁף שְׁתַּיִם וּבוֹעֵט שָׁלֹשׁ. נִמְצְאוּ שָׁלֹשׁ שִׁיפוֹת וַחֲמֵשׁ בְּעִיטוֹת. וְחוֹזֵר חֲלִילָה עַד שֶׁיִּגְמֹר שְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת שִׁיפָה וַחֲמֵשׁ מֵאוֹת בְּעִיטָה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְקַלְּפוּ הַרְבֵּה. וְחוֹשֵׁב הַהוֹבָאָה וְהַהוֹלָכָה בְּשִׁיפָה אַחַת לְהַחְמִיר וְאַחַר כָּךְ טוֹחֵן וּמְרַקֵּד יָפֶה יָפֶה:

6

Wine [should be made by] bringing grapes from vines growing at foot level from vineyards that were tilled twice a year.18 He should crush the grapes and collect [their juice] in small jugs. They should not be stored individually or in pairs, but instead in groups of three.19 The jug should not be filled to its rim in order that its fragrance will be perceived.20 He should not bring [libations] from the wine near the rim, because of the specks resembling flour21 that rise to the surface of the wine, nor from the bottom, because of the dregs. Instead, he should take from the middle third and from its middle portion.

ו

הַיַּיִן. מֵבִיא עֲנָבִים מִן הָרַגְלִיּוֹת מִן הַכְּרָמִים הָעֲבוּדִּים פַּעֲמַיִם בְּשָׁנָה. וְדוֹרֵךְ וְכוֹנְסִין אוֹתוֹ בְּחָבִיּוֹת קְטַנּוֹת. וְאֵין מַנִּיחִין אוֹתָן אַחַת אַחַת וְלֹא שְׁתַּיִם שְׁתַּיִם אֶלָּא שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁלֹשׁ. וְאֵינוֹ מְמַלֵּא אֶת הֶחָבִית עַד פִּיהָ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה רֵיחוֹ נוֹדֵף. וְאֵינוֹ מֵבִיא לֹא מִפִּי הֶחָבִית מִפְּנֵי הַקְּמָחִין הָעוֹלֶה עַל פְּנֵי הַיַּיִן. וְלֹא מִשּׁוּלֶיהָ מִפְּנֵי הַשְּׁמָרִים. אֶלָּא מִשְּׁלִישָׁהּ וּמֵאֶמְצָעָהּ שֶׁל אֶמְצָעִית:

7

A treasurer would sit [and watch] as the wine flowed from a hole on the side of a jug [of wine]. If he sees dregs flow out, he stops [the flow of wine] and does not complete the purchase.

At what point [in the aging process of wine] should it be brought? From 40 days after the grapes were tread upon22 until after two years and even slightly longer than that. If one brings wine that is even older, it is acceptable, provided its flavor has not spoiled.23

ז

הָיָה הַגִּזְבָּר יוֹשֵׁב וְהַיַּיִן יוֹצֵא מִן הַנֶּקֶב שֶׁבְּצַד הֶחָבִית כֵּיוָן שֶׁיִּרְאֶה שִׁנּוּי הַשְּׁמָרִים מַתְחִיל לָצֵאת פּוֹסֵק וְאֵינוֹ לוֹקֵחַ. וּמֵאֵימָתַי מֵבִיא. מֵאַחַר אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם לִדְרִיכָתוֹ עַד שְׁתֵּי שָׁנִים אוֹ יֶתֶר מְעַט. וְאִם הֵבִיא יַיִן יָשָׁן מִכַּמָּה שָׁנִים הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִפָּסֵד טַעֲמוֹ:

8

There are nine categories of oil, depending on the process in which they were prepared. What is implied? When one picks olives at the top of an olive tree, selects them one by one,24 crushes them and puts them into a basket, the oil that flows from them is considered in the first category. If, afterwards, he loads a beam upon them [to press them],25 the oil which flows from them is of the second category. If he loads [a beam upon them] a second time,26 the oil which flows from them is of the third category.

When he picked olives in a mixture,27 brought them to the roof, selected them one by one, crushed them, and placed them into a basket, the oil which flows from them is of the fourth category. If, afterwards, he loads a beam upon them [to press them], the oil which flows from them is of the fifth category. If he loads [a beam upon them] a second time, the oil which flows from them is of the sixth category.

When he picks olives28 and loads them in the vat until they begin to decompose, he then takes them up [to the roof], dries them, and places them in a basket.29 The oil which flows from them is of the seventh category. If, afterwards, he loads a beam upon them [to press them], the oil which flows from them is of the eighth category. If he loads [a beam upon them] a second time, the oil which flows from them is of the ninth category.

ח

תִּשְׁעָה מִינִין בְּשֶׁמֶן מִפְּנֵי שִׁנּוּי מַעֲשָׂיו. כֵּיצַד. זַיִת שֶׁגִּרְגְּרוֹ בְּרֹאשׁ הַזַּיִת וּבֵרְרוֹ אַחַת אַחַת וּכְתָשׁוֹ וּנְתָנוֹ לְסַל הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ הוּא הָרִאשׁוֹן. חָזַר אַחַר כָּךְ וּטְעָנוֹ בְּקוֹרָה הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ הוּא הַשֵּׁנִי. וְאִם חָזַר אַחַר שֶׁטְּעָנוֹ וּטְחָנוֹ וּטְעָנוֹ שְׁנִיָּה הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ הוּא הַשְּׁלִישִׁי. זֵיתִים שֶׁמְּסָקָן כֻּלָּן בְּעִרְבּוּבְיָא וְהֶעֱלָן לַגַּג וְחָזַר וּבֵרֵר גַּרְגֵּר גַּרְגֵּר וּכְתָשָׁן וּנְתָנָן לְסַל הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא מִמֶּנּוּ הוּא הָרְבִיעִי. וְאִם טְעָנוֹ בְּקוֹרָה אַחַר כָּךְ הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא הוּא הַחֲמִישִׁי. וְחָזַר וְטָחַן וְטָעַן פַּעַם שְׁנִיָּה הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא הוּא הַשִּׁשִּׁי. זֵיתִים שֶׁמְּסָקָן וּטְעָנָן בְּתוֹךְ הַבַּיִת עַד שֶׁיִּלְקוּ וְהֶעֱלָן וּנִגְּבָן וְאַחַר כָּךְ כָּתַשׁ וְנָתַן לְסַל הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא הוּא הַשְּׁבִיעִי. חָזַר וְטָעַן בַּקּוֹרָה הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא הוּא הַשְּׁמִינִי. חָזַר וְטָחַן וְטָעַן פַּעַם שְׁנִיָּה הַשֶּׁמֶן שֶׁיֵּצֵא הוּא הַתְּשִׁיעִי:

9

Even though they are all acceptable [to be brought] with the meal offerings,30 there is nothing that surpasses the first category.31 Afterwards, the second and the fourth are of equal quality.32 After them, the third, fifth, and seventh are of equal quality.33 After them, the sixth and the eighth are of equal quality.34 There is nothing inferior to the ninth.35

ט

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכֻּלָּן כְּשֵׁרִין לִמְנָחוֹת. הָרִאשׁוֹן אֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ. וְאַחֲרָיו הַשֵּׁנִי וְהָרְבִיעִי וּשְׁנֵיהֶן שָׁוִין. וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם הַשְּׁלִישִׁי וְהַחֲמִישִׁי וְהַשְּׁבִיעִי וּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן שָׁוִין. וְאַחֲרֵיהֶם הַשִּׁשִּׁי וְהַשְּׁמִינִי וּשְׁנֵיהֶם שָׁוִין. וְהַתְּשִׁיעִי אֵין לְמַטָּה מִמֶּנּוּ:

10

Only the first, fourth, and seventh categories are acceptable for the Menorah, for [Exodus 27:20] states: "crushed for the light," i.e., for the Menorah,36 only that which flows after [the olives] are crushed alone37 are acceptable. They are all acceptable for meal offerings.38

י

אֵין כָּשֵׁר לַמְּנוֹרָה אֶלָּא רִאשׁוֹן וּרְבִיעִי וּשְׁבִיעִי בִּלְבַד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כז-כ) (ויקרא כז-כ) "כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר", אֵין כָּשֵׁר לַמְּנוֹרָה אֶלָּא הַיּוֹצֵא מִן הַכָּתוּשׁ בִּלְבַד. אֲבָל לַמְּנָחוֹת כֻּלָּן כְּשֵׁרִין:

11

Since all of these categories of oil are acceptable, why were they listed as separate categories? So that one would know the superior category that nothing surpasses, those which are equal, and those which are inferior. In this way, one who desires to gain merit for himself, subjugate his evil inclination, and amplify his generosity should bring his sacrifice from the most desirable and superior type of the item he is bringing.39 For it is written in the Torah [Genesis 4:4]: "And Evel brought from his chosen flocks and from the superior ones and God turned to Evel and his offering."

The same applies to everything given for the sake of the Almighty who is good. It should be of the most attractive and highest quality. If one builds a house of prayer, it should be more attractive than his own dwelling. If he feeds a hungry person, he should feed him from the best and most tasty foods of his table. If he clothes one who is naked, he should clothe him with his attractive garments. If he consecrates something, he should consecrate the best of his possession. And so [Leviticus 3:16] states: "All of the superior quality should be given to God."40

יא

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁכֻּלָּן כְּשֵׁרִין לַמְּנָחוֹת לָמָּה נִמְנוּ. כְּדֵי לֵידַע יָפֶה שֶׁאֵין לְמַעְלָה מִמֶּנּוּ וְהַשָּׁוֶה וְהַפָּחוֹת שֶׁהָרוֹצֶה לִזְכּוֹת עַצְמוֹ יָכֹף יִצְרוֹ הָרַע וְיַרְחִיב יָדוֹ וְיָבִיא קָרְבָּנוֹ מִן הַיָּפֶה הַמְּשֻׁבָּח בְּיוֹתֵר שֶׁבְּאוֹתוֹ הַמִּין שֶׁיָּבִיא מִמֶּנּוּ. הֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (בראשית ד-ד) "וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן וַיִּשַׁע ה' אֶל הֶבֶל וְאֶל מִנְחָתוֹ". וְהוּא הַדִּין בְּכָל דָּבָר שֶׁהוּא לְשֵׁם הָאֵל הַטּוֹב שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מִן הַנָּאֶה וְהַטּוֹב. אִם בָּנָה בֵּית תְּפִלָּה יִהְיֶה נָאֶה מִבֵּית יְשִׁיבָתוֹ. הֶאֱכִיל רָעֵב יַאֲכִיל מִן הַטּוֹב וְהַמָּתוֹק שֶׁבְּשֻׁלְחָנוֹ. כִּסָּה עָרֹם יְכַסֶּה מִן הַיָּפֶה שֶׁבִּכְסוּתוֹ. הִקְדִּישׁ דָּבָר יַקְדִּישׁ מִן הַיָּפֶה שֶׁבִּנְכָסָיו וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא ג-טז) "כָּל חֵלֶב לַה'" וְגוֹ':