For the week ending 13 July 2013 / 5 Av 5773

Pesachim 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Things forbidden to eat but benefit can be derived from them
  • Two approaches to the exception made by Torah for the cheilev fats of an animal that died not through halachic slaughtering
  • In search of a source for the ban on deriving benefit from chametz
  • Which forbidden things must be burned and where
  • Forbidden matters eaten or benefited from in an abnormal way
  • Healing with forbidden matters and the requirements of martyrdom
  • When enjoyment of a forbidden matter comes against one’s will
  • Benefiting from sound, sight or smell of Sanctuary property
  • What was done with the Kohen Gadol’s Yom Kippur garments
  • Heating an oven by burning chametz or other forbidden matter
  • How chametz can be destroyed
  • Status after Pesach of chametz in possession of a Jew during Pesach
  • When the ban on chametz begins today and how long it lasted the first Pesach
  • Chametz of a non-Jew or property of Sanctuary
  • The rule of bitul – a forbidden fragment changing its status when it is indiscernible in a mixture with permitted matter

Why We Eat Matzah Today

Every student of Torah knows that there is a mitzvah to eat matzah on the first night of Pesach, while during the rest of the holiday we are only enjoined from eating chametz. But there is some mystery as to what the source is for this mitzvah in our day. After all, the original command (Shmot 12:8) to eat matzah on that night was to do so together with the korban pesach – the flesh of the sacrifice offered in the Beit Hamikdash on the afternoon preceding the holiday. How do we know that the mitzvah remains in force even when there is no Beit Hamikdash and no korban?

Two different sources are presented in our gemara. Rabbi Yehuda cites the passage (Devarim 16:3), which mentions the ban on eating chametz and the command to eat matzah. The message communicated by mentioning them together is that so long as there is a ban on eating chametz – a prohibition not tied to the korban pesach – there is a mitzvah to eat matzah.

Rabbi Shimon finds the source for eating matzah today in the very same Torah chapter where the command to eat matzah with the korban is mentioned. Ten passages after this command the Torah repeats “In the evening you will eat matzah” (Shmot 12:18). This seemingly superfluous repetition is seen as a command to eat matzah on the night of Pesach even when there is no korban to accompany it.

Although there are other passages in the Torah (Shmot 12:15 and 12:18) that mention the idea of eating matzah for seven days, Rashi explains this as not a mitzvah to eat matzah but rather to avoid eating chametz the entire Pesach. A Jew can fulfill this command by eating everything but chametz. The positive mitzvah of eating matzah is only the first night.

Tosefot notes that in Mesechta Kiddushin the gemara cites yet another source for matzah today. “In all your dwelling places shall you eat matzah” (Shmot 12:20) is interpreted as a signal that the mitzvah of matzah is not limited to any time or place.

What the Sages Say

“Let yourself be slain rather than slay someone else. Why do you consider your blood redder than his – perhaps his blood is redder than yours?”

  • The Sage Rava’s ruling for a Jew who was ordered by the local despot to either kill another or be killed - Pesachim 25b

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