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In Devarim 26 and tractate Bikkurim it describes the bikkurim ritual including the fact that the kohen would place his hands under the hands of the person bringing the bikkurim during the waving of the basket part of the ceremony. Mishna Bikkurim 1:5 indicates that women are obligated to bring bikkurim. I would like to know if when a woman brings bikkurim the kohen would place his hands under hers, thus touching her, during the ceremony.

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    tosfot Sota 19a ירושלמי וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה ואין הדבר כיעור מניח מפה ואינו חוצץ מביא כהן זקן ואפילו תימא כהן ילד שאין יצר הרע מצויה לשעה
    – kouty
    Feb 7, 2022 at 3:16
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    The answer is yes, it's a Mishna sotah 3:1. Is that all you want to know?
    – Double AA
    Feb 7, 2022 at 3:52
  • Rashi Succah. 47b תחת יד הבעלים . בעלים אוחזים בשפת הטנא וכהן מניח ידיו תחת שוליו וכן מפרש במסכת ביכורים (פ''ג מ''ו): they don't touch the same part of the basket.
    – kouty
    Feb 7, 2022 at 11:58
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    Does a woman wave bikkurim at all? Kiddushin 1:8
    – Heshy
    Feb 7, 2022 at 14:50
  • @Heshy - I was wondering the same thing. I haven't found many sources about this, other than Or Sameach (amended in my answer). The question still stands by Sotah, however. wiki.jewishbooks.org.il/mediawiki/wiki/…
    – chortkov2
    Feb 7, 2022 at 19:01

1 Answer 1

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There is a dispute among the Rishonim exactly how tenufah was performed. Some understand that the owner placed their hands under the basket and the kohen placed his hands beneath; others understand that the kohen held the underside of the basket and the owner would grip the top of the basket.

Tosfos (Kiddushin 36b) discusses why the hands of the owner do not constitute a hefsek between the hands of the Kohen and the Bikkurim. The question assumes that the hands of the Kohen and owner are touching. Tosfos in one answer posits that they hold the Bikkurim in two different places:

וי"ל דלא דמי דהכא היינו טעמא דלא הוי חציצה בכה"ג לפי שהוא גזירת הכתוב דבעינן כהן ובעלים אבל התם גבי שני שותפין חשיב כה"ג חציצה אם אחד מהם מניח ידו תחת יד חבירו לפי שאינה גזירת הכתוב שיהיו שניהן מניפים עוד י"ל דה"נ לא מיירי שהכהן מניח את ידו תחת יד הבעלים ממש דבכה"ג הוי חציצה אלא ר"ל שאוחז הכלי למטה והבעלים אוחזין למעלה והשתא ליכא חציצה כלל דה"נ אשכחן גבי ביכורים שהכהן היה אוחז בשפתיו כלומר בשפת הכלי למעלה והבעלים למטה ה"נ גבי מנחות איפכא שיד הבעלים תהיה למעלה ויד הכהן למטה:

[It's noteworthy that Tosfos differentiate between the positioning of their hands during Bikkurim and other tenufos - whether the Kohen's hands are underneath and the owner on top, or vice versa. See also Tosfos and Tosfos Shantz (Sotah 19a) and Rashi Sukka 47b (quoted by @kouty in comments).]

Whether the Kohen touched the hands of the woman during tenufah* depends on the above. According to the positions that the Kohen's hands were placed under the owner, this would involved touching.

In light of this, the Yerushalmi (quoted by Tosfos Sotah 19a) suggests that they would choose an elderly Kohen, who is less likely to have improper thoughts while engaging with her; the Yerushalmi seems to conclude that for such a temporary touching we allow even a younger Kohen.

ירושלמי: וכהן מניח את ידו תחתיה ואין הדבר כיעור מניח מפה ואינו חוצץ מביא כהן זקן ואפילו תימא כהן ילד שאין יצר הרע מצויה לשעה


*According to the Mishna (Kiddushin 1:8), women do not perform tenufah. This is certainly the case by shelamim (See Menachos 61). However, by sotah she does perform tenufah (See Sotah 3:1). The questioner asks by bikkurim; according to the Or Sameach (Bikkurim Ch 4), a woman bringing bikkurim will not perform tenufah.

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