TalmuDigest

For the week ending 15 April 2006 / 17 Nisan 5766

Pesachim 86 - 92

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Status of roofs and upper floors of Beit Hamikdash and houses in Yerushalayim
  • Eating the Pesach in two companies
  • Some rules of etiquette in eating and in being a good guest
  • The woman, orphan and slave for whom a Pesach sacrifice has been slaughtered
  • The lesson G-d taught the critical prophet
  • Why Jews were sent into exile and where
  • Three names for the Beit Hamikdash
  • The slave of two masters and the one who is half free
  • The slave sent to slaughter a Pesach sacrifice and the variations of his carrying out his mission
  • When one of five animals is discovered to have been unfit after they have all been slaughtered and it is not known which
  • A father’s strategy to train his children in hurrying to do a mitzvah
  • Subscribing to a company for Pesach sacrifice, withdrawing the subscription and dividing the flesh among the members
  • Selling one’s subscription and one’s sacrifice
  • For which ritually impure person can the Pesach sacrifice by slaughtered?
  • Slaughtering for a single owner and who can make up a company
  • The convert and his Pesach sacrifice
  • The sacrifice offered on behalf of one who is unable to because of distance but who can arrive in time to eat its flesh

What is a Jew Doing in Jail?

  • Pesachim 91a

Imprisonment is not legislated by the Torah as a punishment for violation of the law. Lashes, or capital punishment for more serious offenses, are the only penalties that serve as atonement for the sinner, and as a deterrent for others. It is therefore surprising to read in our gemara a reference to a Jew in a Jewish prison just before Pesach.

The mishna states that if a Jew has been promised a release from prison in time for Pesach we may include him in a group with others for whom a sacrifice will be slaughtered. We cannot, however, slaughter one for him alone, since the promise may not be kept, and the sacrifice will be disqualified for lack of someone to eat its flesh. Rabbi Yochanan distinguishes between a Jewish prison and a non-Jewish one. If it is Jews who have promised to release him we can slaughter the sacrifice for him alone because we can absolutely rely on the fulfillment of their promise in the spirit of what the Prophet states that “The remnant of Israel will not do injustice or speak lies.” (Tzefaniah 3:13).

But what is a Jew doing in a Jewish prison altogether?

Three possibilities are suggested by Rashi in his commentary:

1) The court has ordered a man to divorce the woman he has married against the law and he is imprisoned in order to coerce him into compliance.
2) The court has ordered him to fulfill a financial obligation and in certain cases has imprisoned him to induce compliance.
3) If a Jew seriously injures another during a fight, as described in Shmot 21:18-19, he is kept in prison until it is determined that the victim will not die from the wounds. Although there is no explicit mention of prison in the Torah, our Sages (Ketubot 33b) deduce this from the above-mentioned passages.

What the Sages Say

“The passage in Shir Hashirim 8:10 describes the security of Israel as founded on ‘I am a wall and my breasts are citadels’. Torah is the protective wall and Torah scholars are the breasts (which nurse others with knowledge – Rashi).

  • Rabbi Yochanan
    Pesachim 87a

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