|יא כָּל-הַמִּנְחָה אֲשֶׁר תַּקְרִיבוּ לַה’ לֹא תֵעָשֶׂה, חָמֵץ כִּי כָל שְׂאֹר וְכָל דְּבַשׁ, לֹא תַקְטִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַי-ה-וָ-ה
|11 No meal-offering, which you shall bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven; for you shall make no leaven nor any honey, smoke as an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
|יב קָרְבַּן רֵאשִׁית תַּקְרִיבוּ אֹתָם לַה’ וְאֶל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא יַעֲלוּ לְרֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ
|12 As an offering of first-fruits you may bring them unto the Lord; but they shall not come up for a sweet savor on the altar.
The Torah tells us that the Mincha offerings may not be made from leaven or from honey. The Kli Yakar, quoting Rashi, explains that the bread referred to in the above psukim is the Two Bread offering of Shavuot (found in Parshat Emor), and the honey refers to the first-fruits / Bikkurim (– anything sweet which comes from fruit is referred to as “honey”. This is not bee’s honey). What offering is permitted to be brought with bread and honey? Only the offering of Bikkurim (which utilize the flour from the new crop and first fruits of figs and dates, from which honey can be derived).
The Kli Yakar explains a deeper message contained within these psukim. He writes that we all desire foods that are sweet. Chocolate tastes good. A little bit is good, but too much can be damaging. He analogizes this to the pleasures of this world, which we are supposed to use and enjoy to en extent.
The bread referred to is analogized to the Yetzer Hara (see Gemara Brachos 17a – teffila of Rebbe Alexsandery: “retzoneinu la’asos retzoncha, elah se’or sheh’be’isah me’akeiv”). Desires are not bad; they are a necessary and result-producing force in life. Without “honey”, he says, we would wither away; without food, our bodies wouldn’t be strong and healthy to be able to perform mitzvot. And without a Yetzer Hara and passion, humans would have no desire to get married, have children, build houses and cities; the world would be a desolate wasteland. Man’s desire to create, innovate and conquer are essential for survival and advancement.
The Kli Yakar goes on to say that these forces even need to precede deep involvement in Torah and mitzvot – im ein kemach, ein torah. Kemach must come first. The key, however, is that Torah is first in our minds and priorities. The leaven and the honey are a means, not an ends. They need to exist and be utilized within a framework. They have no proper function standing alone. Hence, the passuk says that they cannot be sacrificed alone as a רֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ to Hashem. The leaven and honey are a vehicle to attain shleimut, only when they are properly paired with Torah, and only then can they be brought as a korban.
And so, the Torah says ‘קָרְבַּן רֵאשִׁית תַּקְרִיבוּ אֹתָם לַה — they should be brought as a first-fruit offering; to show that the leaven and honey are the necessary beginnings of how we attain shleimut. But this offering is specifically brought on Shavuot – Zman Matan Torateinu, which couples these foods with the Torah and the celebration of the gift we received on Har Sinai.
We see, therefore, how the Yetzer Hara and earthy desires are properly channeled:
With regard to the Yetzer Hara, the Gemara in Kiddushin 30b says “Barasi Yetzer Hara, barasi Torah tavlin” = I created the Yetzer Hara and I created the Torah as a remedy to it”. The Torah guides us for where we should be directing our desires and how to properly use and curb them.
And with regard to the pleasures derived from the honey of the fruits, when we give our first fruits of the harvest to Hashem and make them hekdeish – postponing our own desire to eat from the first harvest – then we are able to enjoy all the subsequent fruit as a product of having made the first fruits kodesh. We sanctify the first honey for Hashem, which allows us to partake in the honey (in moderation) for the rest of the year (“chulin sheh’naasu al taharas kodesh”). By putting aside our first fruits, we demonstrate that we had this pursuit of shleimus in mind from the beginning.