1) THE SOURCE THAT A MINCHAH MUST BE MATZAH
QUESTION: Rebbi Preida asked Rebbi Ami what the source is that a Minchah offering must be brought as Matzah. Rebbi Ami rejects Rebbi Preida's question, pointing out that for most types of Minchah the Torah explicitly writes that it must be Matzah. For all other types of Minchah (for which the verse does not explicitly state that they must be Matzah), the verse states, "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" (Vayikra 6:10), which teaches that they must be Matzah, and if they are not Matzah they are Pasul.
Rav Chisda asks (in defense of Rebbi Preida's question) that perhaps the verse of "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" does not mean that the Minchah must be Matzah and not Chametz, but rather it means that the Minchah may be Si'ur (partially fermented dough), as long as it is not Chametz. Therefore, another source is needed to teach that the Minchah must be Matzah.
The Gemara explains that Rebbi Preida's question, with Rav Chisda's explanation, is valid only according to Rebbi Yehudah. Rebbi Yehudah maintains that Si'ur is not Chametz, and thus the verse may be teaching that the Minchah may be made as Si'ur, as long as it is not Chametz. (According to Rebbi Meir, who argues with Rebbi Yehudah and maintains that Si'ur has the status of Chametz, the verse of "Lo Se'afeh Chametz" cannot be teaching that the Minchah may be Si'ur.)
What evidence is there, however, that Rebbi Yehudah maintains that Si'ur does not have the status of Matzah? TOSFOS (53b, DH Ein Machmitzin) says that Rebbi Yehudah might maintain that, mid'Oraisa, one may eat Si'ur on Pesach, since it has the status of Matzah! According to Rebbi Yehudah, the beginning of the leavening process is not considered Chametz at all, and thus Si'ur still has the status of Matzah. (SEFAS EMES)
ANSWER: The SEFAS EMES answers that the source that Si'ur is not Matzah even according to Rebbi Yehudah is the Beraisa which says that one who eats Si'ur on Pesach is "Patur" from Malkus. If Si'ur would be considered Matzah, then the Beraisa would say that one may eat Si'ur, l'Chatchilah, on Pesach. It must be that it is not considered Matzah.
The Gemara in Pesachim (43a) supports this approach. The Mishnah there lists Chametz items that are not intended for eating, but rather for use as material by craftsmen (and thus are not completely fit for eating). Such items are called "Chametz Nuksheh." The Mishnah says that one who eats this type of Chametz is punished with Malkus. The Gemara there says that the Mishnah follows the view of Rebbi Meir, who maintains that one is punished with Malkus for eating Si'ur on Pesach. Since Rebbi Meir maintains that one receives Malkus for eating Si'ur even though it is not absolute Chametz, he also maintains that one receives Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh. (Chametz Nuksheh, according to Rebbi Meir, is actual Chametz ("Chametz Gamur"), and Si'ur is fit for eating ("Achilah Gemurah"). However, since both have an aspect of irregularity to them, eating them is not considered an act of eating real Chametz, and thus an extra verse, "Kol Machmetzes," is needed to teach that one who eats them is punished with Malkus. Since Rebbi Meir includes Si'ur in this extra verse, the Gemara understands that he also includes Chametz Nuksheh, because of the similar irregular quality that both have. See KEHILOS YAKOV, Pesachim #34.)
In contrast, according to Rebbi Yehudah, one does not receive Malkus for eating Si'ur on Pesach, because it is not absolute Chametz. Similarly, one does not receive Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh, since it is not completely fit for consumption.
It is clear from the Gemara there that Rebbi Yehudah agrees that Si'ur is not Matzah. If he would maintain that Si'ur is Matzah, then the Gemara would not be able to compare Si'ur with Chametz Nuksheh and say that since one does not receive Malkus for eating Si'ur, one does not receive Malkus for eating Chametz Nuksheh. It must be that Rebbi Yehudah agrees that Si'ur is not Matzah, but he does not learn the Derashah of Rebbi Meir that teaches that one receives Malkus for eating this type of Chametz. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
2) AGADAH: COMPARING A PERSON TO A MINCHAH
QUESTION: Rebbi Preida asked Rebbi Ami what the source is that every Minchah must be kneaded with warm water, and that it must be guarded from becoming Chametz. Rebbi Preida himself suggested that these Halachos are learned from the Halachos of Pesach. The verse commands us to guard the Matzos from becoming Chametz (Shemos 12:17). Rebbi Ami answered him that the verse written with regard to the Minchah offering itself teaches that it must be guarded from becoming Chametz. The verse says, "Matzah Tiheyeh" (Vayikra 2:5), which teaches that one must guard the Minchah to ensure that it remains Matzah.
The Gemara then relates that the Rabanan said to Rebbi Preida that Rebbi Ezra, the grandson of Rebbi Avtulas, who was the tenth generation descendant of Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, who was the tenth generation descendant of the prophet Ezra, was standing at the entrance to the study hall, waiting to be allowed to enter. Rebbi Preida asked why the Rabanan introduced Rebbi Ezra with a summary of his lineage. If he is a Talmid Chacham, then that is fine. If he is a Talmid Chacham and he has regal lineage, then that is fine. If, however, he has regal lineage but he is not a Talmid Chacham, then he should be consumed by fire. The Rabanan answered that he indeed is a Talmid Chacham.
What is the connection between the question about the source for kneading the Minchah offering with warm water and guarding it from becoming Chametz, and the incident involving Rebbi Ezra?
(a) The simple connection between the question about the source for kneading the Minchah offering with warm water and guarding it from becoming Chametz, and the incident involving Rebbi Ezra, is that both involved Rebbi Preida.
(b) The KEREN ORAH suggests a deeper, allegorical explanation for the Gemara. In Rebbi Preida's question about how to prepare the Korban Minchah, the Korban Minchah is a metaphor for a person. A person's acts of Torah and Mitzvos are similar to the part of the Minchah that is separated during the Kemitzah process, an act that sanctifies part of the Minchah to be offered directly on the Mizbe'ach. A person's mundane acts, on the other hand, are similar to the rest of the Minchah. The rest of the Minchah is eaten by Kohanim in order to give them strength to do the Avodah in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Similarly, a person's mundane acts sustain him in order to serve Hash-m.
Rebbi Preida asked, "How can a Minchah," referring to a person, "that is mixed with warm water," referring to the Yetzer ha'Ra inside of a person that always tries to "ferment" the person and cause him to sin (as the Gemara in Berachos (17a) compares the Yetzer ha'Ra to the fermenting agent in dough), "stay unleavened," without sinning?
Rebbi Preida suggested that perhaps the answer can be learned "from Pesach." That is, perhaps the only way a person can keep himself from sinning is by constantly bearing in mind the great miracles that his forefathers experienced at Yetzi'as Mitzrayim.
Rebbi Ami answered that the verse says, "Matzah Tiheyeh" -- one's faith in Hash-m should not be strengthened solely by the memory of the miracles that his forefathers experienced. Rather, one must delve into learning Torah to understand Hash-m and His wondrous ways, and this will give him the fortitude to resist the temptations of the Yetzer ha'Ra.
To demonstrate this lesson, the Gemara records the incident involving Rebbi Preida and Rebbi Ezra. "One who has regal lineage" is one who has a strong tradition and is strengthened in his service of Hash-m by the miracles that Hash-m wrought for his ancestors. "One who is a Talmid Chacham" is one who seeks knowledge in Torah and thereby strengthens his Avodas Hash-m. One who does not seek knowledge in Torah but remembers the miracles that occurred to his forefathers will not survive. Only one who himself learns Torah will find the strength to resist the Yetzer ha'Ra's lure. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
3) AGADAH: FOUR DEGREES OF SIN
The Gemara depicts four degrees of sin that the Jewish people committed, which culminated in the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The four degrees of sin are expressed in a verse in Yirmeyahu (11:15). The first degree of sin is expressed by the words, "She does her evil schemes," implying that they sinned intentionally. The second degree of sin is expressed by the next word in the verse, "ha'Rabim" -- "the many": it was not merely a small minority who sinned, but many people sinned. The third degree of sin was that they did not remember the sign of Bris Milah upon their bodies, as it says, "And the holy flesh they have passed from upon you." The fourth degree of sin was that they lost the opportunity to do Teshuvah, as it says, "For when you act with evil, that is when you rejoice."
The KEREN ORAH points out that in contrast to these four degrees of sin of the Jewish people, the preceding Gemara mentions four praiseworthy traits of the Jewish people. The Gemara refers to the Jewish people as "Adirim, "Yedidim," "Tovim," and "Zu." The Jewish people fell from their lofty status and lost each of these praiseworthy traits when they sinned.
The first trait is "Adirim." The MAHARSHA explains that this trait depicts the strength of the Jewish people in their Avodas Hash-m. The Jewish people lost this trait when they sinned intentionally (the first degree of sin).
The second trait is "Yedidim." The Maharsha explains that this trait depicts the closeness and love that Hash-m has for the Jewish people. When a minority of the Jewish people sin, while most of the people are Tzadikim, Hash-m continues to express His love for the entire nation. However, when most of the people sin, Hash-m does not express His love for the nation.
The third trait is "Tovim." The Maharsha explains that there are three types of things that people desire. The first is "Tov," that which is intrinsically good and beneficial. The second is "Arev," that which is sweet and pleasurable (but not necessarily beneficial for the person's wellbeing). The third is "Mo'il," that which is beneficial for the person's wellbeing (but not necessarily pleasurable). The Jewish people are imbued with true goodness, even when they are sinning and not acting in a sweet or productive way. Their essence is "Tov," good, as represented by the Mitzvah of Bris Milah which gives holiness to the physical form of the Jewish people, regardless of the sins that they do. However, in their third degree of sin, the Jewish people covered up their Milah. They sinned so terribly that they blocked their essential goodness from being expressed.
The fourth trait is "Zu." The Maharsha explains that the word "Zeh" or "Zu" refers to something set aside from others because it is special and unique. The Jewish nation is separated from all other nations due to its unique status as Hash-m's chosen nation. The Jewish nation remains Hash-m's special and unique nation regardless of its outward appearance. However, when the Jews reached the fourth level of sin, they covered up this unique trait as well. They became far from Teshuvah even in their hearts.
It was upon hearing about this fourth degree of sin that Avraham Avinu placed his hands on his head and cried, out of fear that perhaps the Jewish people will have no chance to rectify their waywardness. As the Gemara learns from the next verse in Yirmeyahu (11:16), Hash-m answered Avraham Avinu by comparing the Jewish people to the fruit of an olive tree. Just as the olive needs to be crushed in order to release its oil, so, too, the Jewish people will need to undergo Yisurin in order for their essential goodness to become manifest. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)