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Mishnah Pesachim, Chapter 10

Pesachim
 Chapter 10

פסחים
פרק י’

Commentary

Preparation Questions- Pesahim Chapter 10

Study the mishnayot of the chapter, in order to understand them on a basic level. Any commentary is acceptable. Then address the following questions.

  1. What is the function of mishnah 1 within the structure of our chapter?
    1. Explain the halakhic rationale for each of the 3 halakhot of mishnah 1.
      1. 1) first halakhah – see Rashi 99b sv lo yochal; gemara 107a-b; beginning of Yerushalmi to our mishnah (parallel to BT 99b-100a); Tosafot 99b sv ad (cited in Melekhet Shelomoh to mishnah here.
      2. 2) second halakhah – see Bertinoro and Tosafot Yom Tov, sv vaafilu ani
      3. 3) third halakhah – see BT 112a and Tosafot Yom Tov sv vaafilu min hatamhui
    2. Why do these three halakhot appear together in the first mishnah of our chapter?
  2. Is our chapter describing the seder of Second .Temple times or the seder of after the  hurban (or both)? How do you know?
  3. What is the role of the 4 kosot in the seder?
  4. Divide the chapter into sections. Justify your criteria for this division.

In order to understand the structure and meaning of this chapter, we will open with a discussion of the halakhot and the structure of the first mishnah and utilize this mishnah as a jumping off point for examining more general  themes within  Mishnah’s presentation of the seder. The first mishnah serves as a kind of general introduction to the seder. It is unclear, however, what the three halakhot mentioned in this mishnah – (a) not eating prior to nightfall, (b) to recline during the meal, (c) the 4 kosot of wine – have in common, and why they were selected to set the mood for the Mishnah’s seder. We may note that these three halakhot are connected by an interlocking “chain” structure, in which each sentence shares a point with the previous one. (a) and (b) are linked by the shared expression: lo yochal ad she… ; (b) and (c) both refer to the ani shebeyisrael. Clearly the mishnah has carefully selected and arranged these three halakhotto what purpose? The latter two halakhot seem to convey a clear message: the seder makes no allowances for poverty. All Jews, whatever their financial and social standing may be, participate equally in a meal which is marked by symbols of high social rank: reclining and liberal quantities of wine. Indeed these symbols are to be included in the meal, even though their fictitious nature is apparent: the poor man will recline, even though he does not possess the appropriate furniture (Tosafot Yom Tov, sv vaafilu ani); he will be provided  with 4 kosot or wine, even from funds of communal charity, normally not used for such seemingly frivolous purposes (see BT 112a and Tosafot Yom Tov sv vaafilu min hatamhui).

How does the first halakhah of this mishnah tie into this pattern? The gemara offers three explanations for the prohibition of eating between minhah and nightfall: (1) a general prohibition against having a meal on erev shabbat or erev hag in order not to spoil one’s appetite for the festive meal (in accordance with the view of R. Yehudah, against R. Yose, in Tosefta Berachot 5:1 – Yerushalmi and compare BT 99b-100a); (2) in order not to spoil one’s appetite for eating matzah at night (BT 107b and compare Rashi 99b sv lo yochal); (3) lest one become involved in eating and fail to bring the korban pesah (BT 107b). Following either of the first two explanations will enable us to connect this halakhah with the other two halakhot in the mishnah insofar as all three halakhot involve preparations for the meal. The first mishnah describes how a person is to gear up for the seder: he must insure that he will have an appetite, that his furniture (appropriate or inappropriate) be set up for reclining, and that he have sufficient wine. The third explanation, however, seems to separate this halakhah from the rest of the mishnah.

There is, however, a variation on the third explanation which opens up a new perspective on the structure of this mishnah and, in fact, is suggestive of an approach to understanding the conceptual structure of the entire chapter.  Melehket Shelomoh (citing Tosafot 99b sv ad) notes a reading of halakhah a which focuses not on a prohibition against eating in general but on the eating of the korban pesah: “it comes to teach us that, even though the slaughtering of the korban pesah is during the day, it is not eaten during the day as other sacrifices are.” The difference between korban pesah and other sacrifices may be conceptualized as follows: in most sacrifices, the focus is what is offered on the mizbeah (blood sprinkled and body parts burned); the eating of part of the sacrifice is an adjunct to the part offered on the mizbeah – this is implicit in the Talmudic dictum mishulhan gavoah ka-zakhu (BT Kiddushin 52b). The part of the sacrifice given for human consumption is, as it were, inviting man to partake, as a guest, of the “meal” celebrated at God’s “table”, the mizbeah, hence the time for eating the sacrifice commences immediately after the portion of the mizbah has been offered.  Regarding the korban pesah, however, the focus is reversed: the main purpose of this offering is to be eaten (see, for example, mishnah 7:5), and the eating is a mitzvah in its own right. Thus there is a separate time for sacrificing (14 Nissan) and for eating – the seder night.

The foregoing discussion has exposed us to some central issues within the Mishnah’s treatment of the seder. We may note, first, that the first mishnah focuses on eating and drinking – the seder is, first and foremost, a meal, not a beit midrash. This idea, we will soon see, is central to understanding the entire chapter. Second, the explanations of the first halakhah have centered on 3 different foci of the seder meal: the mitzvah of simhat haregel (a festive meal – compare Tosefta 10:4), the mitzvah of eating matzah, and the mitzvah of eating korban pesah. Third, the elements of the meal which our mishnah focuses on are (mostly or entirely, depending on the explanation chosen for (1)) not the central mitzvot required by the Torah, but rather rabbinic requirements – reclining, 4 kosot – which serve as a framework for the meal, rather than its focal point.

 In order to understand the significance of these points and their interrelationship within the Mishnah’s seder, let us address one of the central questions of our chapter: which seder is being described? Is the mishnah describing the seder of its own times or the seder of  Second Temple times? This question confronts us in the first two words of the chapter: arvei (or: erev) pesahim. Tosafot (99b sv erev pesahim) note the textual variant erevarvei, assuming that the reading arvei pesahim means “Passover evenings”, whereas erev pesahim would be rendered  “evenings of  Paschal offerings”. The erev pesahim reading is supported by solid textual evidence (manuscripts, Tosefta, Bavli and Yerushalmi readings of  mishnah), to which we may add the observation of modern linguistic scholars that the plural form pesahim in Talmudic sources always refers to the sacrifice rather than the festival. Hence the “title words” of the chapter already indicate that the seder about to be described is that of Temple times – the Mishnah seems not to be terribly interested in “updating” the seder.

Against this conclusion we may note the closing words of m. 3: “and in the mikdash they would (hayu) bring before him the body of  the paschal lamb” – indicating that the opening of  this mishnah refers to present times. However, here too the weight of  textual evidence supports the reading preserved in the Yerushalmi’s mishnah and in Tosefta 10:9, in which the word hayu is omitted, supporting R. Shaul Lieberman’s conclusion (Tosefta Kifshuta p. 654) that the mishnah is contrasting the seder inside and outside the mikdash, both taking place during a time when the Temple stood. Indeed there is only one point in the entire chapter which clearly refers to post-Temple times: Rabbi Akiva’s addition to the asher gealanu blessing (m. 6), which includes a prayer for the rebuilding of the Temple and the restoration of the sacrificial service.

Our conclusion, that the Mishnah’s focus is on the seder of Temple times, nudges us in the direction of accepting those understanding of  the first halakhah in mishnah 1 which tie the prohibition of eating to the korban pesah. Moreover, the above comments suggest an understanding as to how the different interpretations of this halakhah arose: some explanations focus on the prohibition against eating in its original context, that of korban pesah, while other explanations attempt to account for the prohibition in the context of the post-hurban seder.

The focus of Mishnah’s seder on the way in which it was celebrated during Second Temple times is reinforced by the structure of the chapter. The chapter divides neatly into three sections (kevatzim):

  1. I 1-3 Introduction + First kos
  2. II 4-6 Second kos
  3. III 7-9 Third and Fourth kosot + Conclusion

In each section the key components are the kosot, which open each section (in section I, the end of mishnah 1 introduces the theme of 4 kosot, concluding the introductory halakhot of this mishnah, and then mishnah 2 opens with the first kos): mazgu lo kos x, and the korban pesah, which closes each section. This structure underscores the focus that the Mishnah wants us to maintain. The kosot of wine serve as the main structural feature of  the seder. The korban pesah is the focal point of the meal. The Mishnah teaches us that the main mitzvah of the evening, the korban pesah, needs to be carried out within the framework of a rabbinic structure, the 4 kosot.

Indeed, the kosot serve as occasion for every stage of the seder. The first kos introduces the seder, as it ushers in every holy day (at the opening of the festive meal), with berakhah al hayom. The third kos closes the meal, as it closes every festive meal, with birkat hamazon (compare Berakhot Chapter 8, which opens with kiddush and closes with birkat hamazon). The other 2 kosot occasion the unique verbal content of the seder: both of them share recitation of the hallel. The second kos also serves as stimulus for the child’s question to his father: “here, upon pouring the second kos, the son asks his father, what is different about the current occasion, that we pour a second kos prior to eating” (Rashi to mishnah on BT 116a). Every festive meal opens and closes with one kos of wine; the seder opens and closes with 2 kosot of wine: 2 before the meal and 2 after the meal. The additional kos, both before and after the meal, underscore the special celebration associated with this meal and serve to coordinate the meal with the discussion, study, and song which accompany the meal. The centerpiece of the chapter – mishnah 5 (middle mishnah of the chapter’s 9 mishnayot) – is Rabban Gamaliel’s integration of  menu with framework of study: one must not only consume pesah, matzah, and marror, but elaborate their symbolic significance. Indeed, the original text of the mah nishtanah of mishnah 4, as preserved in Yerushalmi’s mishnah text as well as manuscript versions (see discussion in D. Goldschmidt’s Haggadah shel Pesah Vetoldoteha, pp. 10-13), contained three questions: 2 tibbulim (vegetables = marror); hametz umatzah; no roasted meat (=  korban pesah).

To sum up: the literary structure of  Pesahim chapter 10 serves to highlight  its conceptual structure – the seder focuses on the korban pesah, which serves as focal point both for the meal itself and for the discussion, whose main import is to explain the significance of the korban pesah and of its ancillary mitzvot, matzah and marror. The eating of the korban pesah meal is enhanced by Hazal’s placing it within the setting of the 4 kosot, which provide for the consumption of this meal a framework which integrates kedushat hayom, festive joy, study of the Exodus and explanation of the symbolic significance of the meal and its components, and hallel.

We may now return to the first mishnah and understand more fully the significance of its three provisions. The first halakhah not only ensures that the meal be consumed with hearty appetite, but also underscores the uniqueness of the korban pesah, whose consumption is the centerpiece of the seder of Second Temple times. Consumption of the korban pesah must take place at night because its function is to commemorate – in a way, to reenact – the korban pesah consumed during the final hours in Egypt preceding the Exodus and because its consumption needs to function as a festive meal both commemorating and celebrating the Exodus. The second halakhah, reclining, emphasizes the significance as well as the ambience of the meal: a meal whose consumption symbolizes the free-man status of each and every Jew requires of each Jew to set aside normal fetters of social hierarchies and distinctions and to eat the meal in a spirit and setting which emphasize his importance. The third halakhah continues the theme of social equality and adds the key structural feature of the seder: the 4 kosot. These three elements – korban pesah, spirit of freedom, and 4 kosot – set the stage for the seder, in which these themes are to be expressed and developed.

Study Questions

  1. The Mordekhai (Vilnah Shas p. 33b of Rif folio pages) brings in the name of the Maharam that at the time of the Second Temple the seder recitation would follow the eating of the korban pesah meal and that the meal was delayed until after the haggadah only after the hurban (see discussion in R. M. Breuer, Pirkei Moadot, pp. 182 ff). Is there any indication in our Mishnah when the meal was eaten? How might this question bear upon issues treated in our discussion?
    1. Some authorities suggest support for the Maharam’s claim from the Tosefta 2:22 (Lieberman edition, p. 150): “From when does one eat them? From nightfall. If one didn’t eat them at nightfall, he may eat them all night.” How? Do you agree and why?
    2. Can this Tosefta be cited in support of the reading of our mishnah (10:1) suggested in the name of the Melekhet Shelomoh? Explain your answer.
  2. The following two sources explain two mishnayot of our chapter:
    1. Tosefta 10:9 (p.198. Relating to dispute recorded in mishnah 6):
    2. Beit Shammai said to Beit Hillel: Did they indeed already depart (Egypt), such that the Exodus should be mentioned? Beit Hille said to them: Even if he waits until the cock crows, they did not depart until the sixth hour of the day – how can he talk of the redemption when they have not been redeemed?
    3. BT Pesahim 120b (explaining a halakhah in mishnah 8):
      1. “And they shall eat the meat on this night” (Shemot 12:8) – R. Elazar ben Azariah says: Here it says “on this night” and elsewhere it says “And I shall pass through the land of Egypt on this night” (Shemot 12:12) – just as elsewhere it means until midnight, so too here it means until midnight. R. Akiva said to him: But does it not say “haste” (Shemot 12:11) – until the time of “haste” (Rashi – when they rushed to leave, i.e. the morning).

    How do these two sources bear upon our understanding of the nighttime seder as a reenactment of the Exodus? Explain your answer.

  3. The number 3 plays a central role in our chapter. How?
    1. How is the double hallel recitation commemorated in our modern liturgy?
  4. What is the central symbol of our seder today, when we have no korban pesah? How is this reflected in our haggadah and in the structure of our seder?
  5. Compare the following two apocryphal sources with the seder tradition described in our mishnah:
    1. Book of Jubilees 49:6
      1. And [while the Egyptians were being smitten] all Israel were eating the Paschal meat and drinking wine and praising and blessing Hashem the God of their fathers and preparing to depart from beneath the yoke and bondage of Egypt.
    2. Philo, Special Laws 2:145-148
      1. On this very day every dwelling house is invested with the outward semblance and dignity of a temple… The guests assembled for the banquet   have been cleansed by preliminary lustrations, and are there not as in other festive gatherings, to indulge the belly with wine and viands, but to fulfill with prayers and hymns the custom handed down by their father.
    1. What does each of these have in common with our tradition as presented by the Mishnah? Where may you detect points which are added or subtracted by each of these sources, relative to the Mishnah?
    2. Modern scholars see the passage in Philo as a presentation of differences between the seder and the Hellenistic symposium (see B. Bokser, The Origins of the Seder, pp. 56 ff.). How may we detect a similar point is the mishnayot of our chapter? (See R. S. Lieberman’s Tosefta Kifshuta, p. 655 and/or Yerushalmi Kifshuto p. 521 for one example – you may found further examples.)

מסכת פסחים פרק י

י,א ערב פסחים סמוך למנחה, לא יאכל אדם עד שתחשך. אפילו עני שבישראל, לא יאכל עד שיסב; לא יפחתו לו מארבעה כוסות של יין, ואפילו מן התמחוי.

י,ב מזגו לו כוס ראשון–בית שמאי אומרין, מברך על היום, ואחר כך מברך על היין; בית הלל אומרין, מברך על היין, ואחר כך מברך על היום.

י,ג הביאו לפניו, מטבל בחזרת עד שהוא מגיע לפרפרת ולפת. הביאו לפניו מצה וחזרת וחרוסת, אף על פי שאין חרוסת מצוה; רבי אלעזר ברבי צדוק אומר, מצוה. ובמקדש, מביאין לפניו גופו של פסח.

י,ד מזגו לו כוס שני, וכאן הבן שואל. אם אין דעת בבן–אביו מלמדו, מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות: שבכל הלילות, אין אנו מטבלין אפילו פעם אחת; והלילה הזה, שתי פעמים. שבכל הלילות, אנו אוכלין חמץ ומצה; והלילה הזה, כולו מצה. שבכל הלילות, אנו אוכלין בשר צלי שלוק ומבושל; והלילה הזה, כולו צלי. לפי דעתו של בן, אביו מלמדו. מתחיל בגנות, ומסיים בשבח; ודורש מ”ארמי אובד אבי” (דברים כו,ה), עד שהוא גומר את כל הפרשה.

י,ה רבן גמליאל אומר, כל שלא אמר שלושה דברים אלו בפסח, לא יצא ידי חובתו; ואלו הן–פסח, מצה, ומרורים. פסח, על שם שפסח המקום על בתי אבותינו במצריים; מרורים, על שם שמיררו המצריים את חיי אבותינו במצריים; מצה, על שם שנגאלו. בכל דור ודור, חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצריים; לפיכך אנחנו חייבין להודות להלל לשבח לפאר להדר לרומם לגדל לנצח למי שעשה לנו את כל הניסים האלו, והוציאנו מעבדות לחירות. ונאמר לפניו, הללו יה.

י,ו עד איכן הוא אומר–בית שמאי אומרין, עד “אם הבנים, שמחה” (תהילים קיג,ט); בית הלל אומרין, עד “חלמיש, למעיינו מים” (תהילים קיד,ח). וחותם בגאולה. רבי טרפון אומר, אשר גאלנו וגאל את אבותינו ממצריים, והגיענו ללילה הזה לאכול בו מצה ומרור; ואינו חותם. רבי עקיבה מוסיף, כן ה’ אלוהינו ואלוהי אבותינו יגיענו לרגלים ולמועדים אחרים הבאים לקראתנו בשלום, שמחים בבניין עירך וששים בעבודתך, לאכול מן הזבחים ומן הפסחים שיגיע דמם על קיר מזבחך לרצון, ונודה לשמך שיר חדש על גאולתנו ועל פדות נפשנו; ברוך אתה ה’, גאל ישראל.

י,ז מזגו לו כוס שלישי, בירך על מזונו; רביעי, גומר עליו את הלל ואומר עליו ברכת השיר. בין הכוסות האלו–אם רצה לשתות, ישתה; בין שלישי לרביעי, לא ישתה.

י,ח אין מפטירין לאחר הפסח אפיקומון. ישנו מקצתן, יאכלו; וכולן, לא יאכלו. רבי יוסי אומר, נתנמנמו, יאכלו; נרדמו, לא יאכלו.

י,ט הפסח אחר חצות, מטמא את הידיים; הפיגול והנותר, מטמאין את הידיים. בירך ברכת הפסח, פטר את של זבח; ושל זבח, לא פטר את של פסח, דברי רבי ישמעאל. רבי עקיבה אומר, לא זו פוטרת את זו, ולא זו פוטרת את זו.