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Double Trouble?
‘Two Handfuls’
(Menachos 11b)

 

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During World War II, a letter was sent by Rabbi Zev Landerer, a prominent Krakow personality, who was then in exile in Siberia, to the gaon of Tchebin, who was then in Buchara. The exiles in Siberia had only one sefer Torah with them, and in it Hashem’s name appeared twice – one after the other – in two places. The Tchebiner Rav penned a reply based on our sugya on the kemitzah of menachos (Responsa Dovev Meisharim 3:63).

 

An Extra Word Disqualifies, A Duplicate Word Does Not

According to the Avnei Nezer (Responsa, Yoreh De’ah 2:301), the Rambam and Raavad disagree on the disqualifying nature of additional words in a Sefer Torah (see Rambam, Hilchos Mezuzah, 5:3-4; Magen Avraham, 33:32, who cites the Raavad; Noda B’Yehuda, Yoreh De’ah 74; and Pri Megadim, Orach Chayim, end of 143 in Mishbetzos Zahav).

The Tchebiner cites his father, the author of Kochav Mi’Yaakov (122), who disagreed and claimed that everyone agrees that extra words disqualify. Duplicate words, though, do not. Why not?

 

The answer lies in our sugya. The mishnah (11a) says that the amount of levonah (frankincense) needed for a korban mincha is enough to fill a kohen’s hand (a kometz). If one offers less, the mincha is disqualified. The Gemara adds that offering too much also disqualifies it.

Rami b. Chama says that if a person set aside two handfuls and lost one before taking the flour, the offering remains valid. Tosafos (s.v. Kegon) explains that although adding half a kometz disqualifies a mincha, adding an entire kometz does not disqualify it. Since each kometz is kosher, there is no reason to disqualify it, even if it was not lost before taking the flour.

We thus see that doubling something does not create a new entity. Therefore, a Sefer Torah with a word that appears twice – one right after the other – is kosher. But he concludes that Hashem’s name is an exception to this rule since the appearance of Hashem’s name written twice, one after the other, gives the impression that we believe in two deities (see Tractate Sofrim, ch. 5).

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.