Sunday, 11 November 2018

Menachot 93: Women Laying of Hands on Animal Sacrifices

A new Mishna teaches us a number of things, including the requirement that two hands are used when doing semicha, laying on hands.  We also learn that one always places hands on his animal offering except:

  • an 'imbecile'
  • a person who is 'deaf-mute'
  • a minor
  • a woman
  • a Canaanite slave
  • the agent of the offering's owner
One of the questions asked in the Gemara is about the exclusion of women.  Because of the placement of this restriction (near the Canaanite slave and the agent of the owner), the rabbis consider the woman to be the owner's wife. As his wife, why would she not be permitted to lay hands?  This is a positive, time-bound commandment and such are not required to be performed by women.  There are a number of other thoughts regarding the exclusion of women when doing semicha.

Tosafot: semicha is like shechita, slaughtering the sacrifice are similar and thus because shechita is permitted by a woman, semicha must be done by women as well.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger: semicha is performed during the day but is not necessarily time-bound.  Shechita is performed during the day, and because it is performed immediately after semicha, it is only a technicality that forces semicha to be done during the day.

The Sefat Emet: sacrifices are time-bound but women offer sacrifices just like men do.  Thus women are not released from the obligations to perform positive, time-bound commandments are not applied to sacrifices.

Rabbi Avraham Moshe Salmon (in Netivot HaKodesh): semicha is not the obligation of the one performing the sacrifice.  Instead, semicha is an obligation regarding the sacrifice itself.  Thus everyone, including women, are obligated to lay hands on animal sacrifices.