Discover more from Rationalist Judaism
Are Your Hands Big Enough?
(Or: How To Make The Gemara Reasonable)
Daf Yomi this week was learning Menachos 26b, which discusses the laws of kometz (the slightly-less-than-a-fistful of flour that the kohen takes). The halacha is that a kometz must contain the volume of two kezaysim, and a kohen whose hand is not big enough to encompass two kezaysim cannot perform kemitzah (and according to some views is disqualified from all Temple service).
ArtScroll notes that this raises a problem: How is it possible to grasp two kezaysim of flour in one's hand, if a kezayis is two-thirds the size of an egg?
In response, ArtScroll quotes the Steipler Gaon, who says that Kohanim used to be much bigger, and thus had much bigger hands. And that perhaps there are indeed some people today with really enormous hands, and hopefully when the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt, there will be more such giants.
Of course, there is a much simpler answer which avoids the whole problem in the first place.
A kezayis is not the two-thirds the size of an egg. It is ten times smaller. It is the size of... an olive!