epar62106.doc Son said "HaShem, our G-d". The Wise Son clearly accepts that
בס"דHaShem is his G-d. The Wicked Son, on the other hand, leaves G-d
PARASHAT HASHAVUA out of his discussion. Another interpretation, perhaps, lies in not only
how the question is asked but also when the question is asked.
It is the Wise Son who inquires into the nature of the various
commandments. The Wise Son participates in the Pesach Seder. He
has joined in the eating of Matzoh and Maror. He was part of the
discussion of the Hagada and the miracles that occurred to the
PARASHA : PESSACH I Jewish People. His inquiry into the reasons of the Commandments
follows his involvement- "when your son asks you on the morrow..."
Date : 15 Nissan 5762, 28/3/2002 Please explain to me that which we have already performed. The
“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list Wise Son believes in the Torah and our traditions. The Wise Son's
subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for lack of understanding does not prevent him from his performance of
members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden) the Mitzvot. The Wicked Son, on the other hand, poses his challenge
Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori to "this service" before the Pesach Seder has even begun. To the
Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l Wicked Son, our traditions are foreign unless he fully understands
Please respect the Holiness of these pages and agrees with their importance and relevance to his lifestyle. For
These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word the Wicked Son, there is no acceptance or trust; to him the Torah
format. Anyone interested in receiving them, please feel feee to responds "had he been in Egypt he would not have been redeemed".
contact me at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org - In Judaism, we are taught to question and challenge- but only
Arieh. once we have accepted the premise. We say at the end of davening
every Shabbos and Yom Tov, "Ain Kelokainu, ain Kadoneinu"- there
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NCYI Weekly Divrei Torah, From:Kenneth Block (email@example.com)
is none like our G-d, there is none like our Master. It would be more
logical to first ask "Me KeloKainu, me Kadoneinu"- who is like our
Rabbi Pesach Lerner Executive Vice President, NCYI G-d? Who is like our Master?- and then respond. However, in
This Dvar Torah is reprinted from "Words of Torah"- a collection Judaism, we must first accept G-d's sovereignty as our foundation
of Divrei Torah written by Young Israel Rabbis. To purchase this and then, as the Wise Son did, ask all our questions.
book, please call: 212-929-1525.
FOUR CUPS OF WINE
The Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 91A) relates that when
2 -PROJECT GENESIS
The Jewish Learning Network Email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: http://www.torah.org/
Alexander the Great conquered the land of Israel, the Egyptians RAV FRAND:
came to Alexander and lodged a long standing complaint against the NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM - IF: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE
Jews. "It is written in the Torah," they declared, "that when the "TWO DIPPINGS"
Israelites left Egypt they borrowed gold and silver vessels from our Every Passover Seder begins with a plea: "This year we are
ancestors; so far these items have not been returned. We now here; next year (may we be) in the Land of Israel. This year we are
demand that this debt be repaid." slaves; next year (may we be) free!" Every Seder that we have ever
One of the Sages of Israel, Gabiha ben Pessissa, undertook the experienced is just a shadow of the ideal Pesach Seder. A proper
defense of its countrymen before Alexander the Great. "It is true," he Pesach Seder should include the Paschal and Festival offerings. But
said, "that this debt is still outstanding but we have a counter claim. "this year" it is not that way.
The Torah says `and the sojourn of the Jewish people in Egypt lasted The truth of the matter is that the Pesach Seder also ends with
430 years (Exodus 12:40-41).' 600,000 Jews worked for the this same theme. "Next year in Jerusalem." The reason why our
Egyptians for 430 years and received no wages. Settle this account," Pesach Seder will not include a Paschal offering this year is because
said Gabiha ben Pessissa, "and we will return the gold and silver our the Bais HaMikdash [Temple] was destroyed. Our Sages teach us
ancestors borrowed." The enormous sum demanded by the Jews that the Second Temple was destroyed because of 'Gratuitous
deterred the Egyptians from pressing their claim (in fact, the Talmud Hatred' (Sinas Chinam). We are taught that the Bais HaMikdash will
explains that, due to the counter-claim, the Egyptians fled their not be rebuilt until we somehow correct the defect of Sinas Chinam
homes and left their full fields and vineyards to their Jewish and divisiveness.
neighbors). If that is the case, why are we not prompted somewhere during
In connection with this episode discussed in the Talmud, Rabbi the Pesach Seder to address this sin of Sinas Chinam? If the Seder
Shmuel Ideles (often referred to as the MaHarsha) poses a difficult in fact includes the request that next year we should be in the Land of
question. How could Gabiha ben Pessissa suggest that the Jewish Israel and in Jerusalem, why are we not told exactly how to take
People were entitled to the wages of 600,000 workers for a period of corrective action to make that happen? We should be explicitly taught
430 years? In truth, the Jews did not remain in Egypt for more than to remedy our behavior of Gratuitous Hatred.
210 years and the actual period of slave labor was only for 86 years. The Ben Ish Chai states that there is such a notion in the
Was Gabiha ben Pessissa not concerned to be challenged and have Hagaddah. He says that this is alluded to by the question - "Why is it
his counter-claim dismissed? that on all other nights we do not even dip once, and on this night we
Rabbi Dr. Marcus Lehmann of Mainz, Germany (circa 1850) dip twice?"
answers the MaHarsha's question as follows: The Torah tells us The Ben Ish Chai suggests that the first dipping on the night of
(Exodus 13:18), "and the Children of Israel went up `Chamushim'- the Seder (into the salt water) reminds us of the first place that
armed- out of the land of Egypt." The great commentator, Rashi, "dipping" is mentioned in Jewish History: "And they dipped
provides another explanation to the word `Chamushim'- a fifth. Only (Yoseph's) coat into blood" [Bereshis 37:31]. This is the prototype of
a fifth, 20%, of the Jewish people left Egypt whereas four-fifth of them the sin of Gratuitous Hatred, which has plagued us throughout the
died and were buried, in Egypt, during the three days of darkness. generations.
Therefore, since the number of the Jewish people that left Egypt The second dipping at the Seder (into the Charoses) corresponds
included 600,000 working males, there must have been five times to a second dipping that we find mentioned in the Chumash: "And
that amount- 3 million- during the years of Egyptian bondage. Thus 3 you shall take the bundle of hyssop and dip it into the blood" [Shmos
million Jewish male workers served the Egyptian nation for the 86 12:22]. This pasuk [verse] refers to the dipping into the blood of the
years of actual servitude. It all equals out; whether 600,000 worked Paschal offering. That dipping was the first step of painting the door
for 430 years or 3 million worked for 86 years, Gabiha ben Pessissa posts and lintels of their homes with the sign of blood -- in order to
had no reason to fear a challenge by the Egyptians. Had they save them from the Plague of the First Born on the night of their
countered his claim by contending that the Jews had labored for only deliverance from Egypt.
86 years, his reply would have been obvious. It is no coincidence, says the Ben Ish Chai, that the Torah uses
Rabbi Dr. Lehmann adds a beautiful addition to his answer of the the language of Agudah [bundle (of hyssop)] regarding the second
MaHarsha's question. The custom, at the Pesach Seder, is to drink dipping. The word Agudah comes from the root word Igud, which
four cups of wine in commemoration of the four expressions of means unity. Thus, the dipping of unity, which took place at the end
freedom and deliverance the Jewish nation experienced, "and I will of the Jewish Nation's stay in Egypt, was a remedy for the dipping of
bring you out... and I will deliver you... and I will redeem you... and I Gratuitous Hatred, which had triggered their descent into Egypt.
will take you to Me as a people..."(Exodus 6:6-7). Another reason This concept symbolizes that we too will emerge from our current
for four cups of wine, explains Rabbi Dr. Lehmann, is as follows: The exile -- which was also triggered by Gratuitous Hatred -- with unity
servitude of the Jewish people was originally intended to last 430 and harmony amongst ourselves.
years, five times the actual 86 years. There were four periods of 86 Rav Elchanan Wasserman expressed amazement that of all the
years that we did not work. We raise our cups of wine once for each slanders that the anti-Semites have used against the Jews over the
one of those periods of 86 years. We praise the Al-Mighty for His centuries, one of the most recurrent lies has been the 'Blood Libel'.
deliverance of four sets of 86 years each time with a "Kos", a cup of This is a claim that is not only patently false, but that makes
wine. The Gematria, the numerical value of the word "Kos" is 86. absolutely no sense as well.
With our Kos of 86 we thank Hashem for His deliverance of an 86 The last thing a Jew would ever eat is blood. The Torah has
year period. numerous prohibitions distancing a Jew from blood or anything that is
Not Just How, But When mixed with blood. How could it be that we have always been accused
The Wise Son- what does he say? "When your son asks you on of this specific charge?
the morrow, saying, what are the testimonies, statutes and Rav Elchanan Wasserman suggests that this is a Divine
ordinances that HaShem, our G-d, has commanded you." punishment that corresponds to the sin of "they dipped (Yoseph's)
(Deuteronomy 6:20) coat into blood". When the brothers dipped Yoseph's coat into blood,
The Wicked Son- what does he say? "What is this service for that did something to the system of Heavenly Justice which caused
you? (Exodus 12:26) What is the difference between the Wise Son Jews in future generations to be susceptible to the slanderous libel
and the Wicked Son? Both address the question- what are the that we bake our Matzahs with the blood of Gentile children.
testimonies, this service- using the second person pronoun "you", Unfortunately, Pesach has many reminders of Gratuitous Hatred.
seemingly excluding themselves. Rav Mattisyahu Solomon points out the irony that the Blood Libel
The answer commonly given is that the difference is not indicated always emerged before Pesach. (The libel claimed that the Matzahs
by the second person pronoun but by the fact that the Wise were baked with blood; the 4 cups of wine actually contained
blood, etc.) Why specifically Pesach? Why did they not say that we studying topics regarding Megillat Ester will lead us to carry the scroll
dip our Lulavim (palm branches, used on Sukkos) in blood? outside.
The answer is because Pesach is the Festival of Redemption. It Tosafot (s.v. Mai Irya) explain by drawing a distinction
is the holiday of "In Nissan they were redeemed and in Nissan they between Purim and other festivals. All others carry both an
are destined to be redeemed" [Rosh Hashanna 11a]. As long as we obligation to study their laws a month prior to the day, as we have
have not rectified the original sin that led to the slavery -- Yosef's seen in our gemara in Pesachim, and a requirement to study their
brothers Gratuitous Hatred, which caused them to dip his coat in laws on the day itself, as we have seen in masekhet Megilla.
blood, the blood libel rears its ugly head around the time of Pesach. Purim, by contrast, carries only the obligation on the day itself. (It
In fact, the first night of Pesach always falls on the same day of should be noted, however, that Purim itself still carries a dual
the week as the night of the following Tisha B'Av. The Ramo"h in obligation, as it marks the beginning of the month of Pesach-law
Shulchan Aruch traces the custom of dipping an egg in salt water on study, since it always falls out exactly thirty days before Pesach.)
the night of the Seder to this phenomenon of the calendar. We dip an Rav Achai Gaon (She'iltot Tzav 78) seems to imply likewise, as he
egg -- which is sign of mourning -- at the Seder to commemorate states simply that there is an obligation to study thirty days before
Tisha B'Av and the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash. Why is this Pesach, suggesting an obligation unique to Pesach. (We will return
theme linked to Pesach? to this further on in relation to the Bi'ur Halakha's view.)
The answer is that if 5 months from now we will commemorate III. This approach is expanded by the Beit Yosef (OC 429), as
another Tisha B'Av, it is because we did not properly learn the lesson well as by the Magen Avraham and the Machatzit Ha-shekel (ibid).
of Pesach. We forget the lesson of the "two dippings". We can only They distinguish between the different categories of required
remedy the sin of Gratuitous Hatred, symbolized by the dipping in salt learning material: thirty days before the festival, there is an
water, through the unity symbolized by the bundle of hyssop. obligation to learn that holiday's practical laws, while on the day
There are many reminders of the connection between itself the underlying reasons are analyzed (as well as the laws
Destruction and Redemption. The way that we can emerge from the applying to all festivals -- Beit Yosef), accompanied by a publicizing
Destruction that we are experiencing, and merit the Redemption that of the day's miracle (Magen Avraham).
we so desperately need, is by once and for all remedying "dipping IV. The Bach (ibid.) provides a different answer. According to
(Yoseph's coat) into blood" by creating its antidote of "dipping with him, the phrase (in Masekhet Megilla "the laws of Pesach 'be-
the bundle of hyssop - through one common bundle of unity." Pesach'" does not mean "on Pesach," but rather "around Pesach."
How far back is considered "around Pesach"? As the gemara in
Pesachim explains, thirty days before, on Purim, the Pesach season
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of study begins.
Home Page: http://www.virtual.co.il/education/yhe V. The Beit Yosef adds one final answer, drawing a distinction
A) THE DUAL OBLIGATION OF "SHO'ALIN VE- between the laws of the paschal sacrifice and other laws. The
DORESHIN" sacrifice has many halakhot, occupying half of the masekhet
By Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon Pesachim, and it is appropriate to inspect the animal to make
certain that it is free of blemish, etc. This is to what the gemara in
The gemara relates (Pesachim 6a-b): Pesachim refers when requiring a month-long preparation period.
We inquire about and investigate (sho'alin ve- doreshin) the
laws of Pesach [beginning] thirty days prior. Rabban Shimon Once this decree was instituted, the Beit Yosef writes, we maintain
it even today, when the Pesach is not sacrificed.
ben Gamliel says, "two weeks. What is the reasoning of the first THE OPINION OF THE RIF
view? Since Moshe stood up on Pesach and instructed
concerning the Pesach Sheni [which occurs thirty days later], The Rif quotes the gemara in Pesachim with one small alteration:
"We inquire (sho'alin) about the laws of Pesach thirty days before
as it says: "The Israelites shall perform the paschal sacrifice in it." His specific use of the term "sho'alin (inquire) while omitting
its set time" (Bemidbar 9:2) and then it says [introducing the
concept of Pesach Sheni], "There were people who were impure "doreshin" (investigate), implies that he holds like I. Above.
Meaning our gemara deals with the pragmatic queries that
by reason of a corpse" (Bemidbar 9:6)... individuals might have, and indeed, according to this view, this is
The gemara derives from this halakha that one who "leaves
with a caravan," i.e. within thirty days of Pesach must perform the the appropriate time for Pesach-related questions. The Rashba
(Megilla 4a, and 30a and Ritva (ibid) understand the concept in the
search for chametz. However, a competing source provides us with same way. They add that, conversely, the version in Megilla
a similar but different law. At the end of masekhet Megilla (32a), the
gemara notes: "Moshe instituted for Yisra'el that they study the laws (according to their text) is "investigate (doreshin)," with no mention
of "sho'alin" (inquiry).
of Pesach on Pesach, those of Atzeret (Shavuot) on Atzeret, and THE OPINION OF THE RAMBAM
those of Chag (Sukkot) on Chag." The inevitable question arises:
are we supposed to study the laws of each holiday a month before The Rambam omits the law of "inquiry and investigation"
thirty days before Pesach and thus clearly does not support
its advent, or rather specifically on the holiday itself? approaches II, III, or IV. He does however, mention other laws:
I. The Ran to Pesachim 6 explains that the two gemarot are
dealing with two different issues. There is a halakha, certified by 1) The Rambam mentions the obligation of "the festival's
laws on the festival" in Hilkhot Tefila (13:8).
the Rambam (Hilkhot Talmud Torah 2:8), concerning two students 2) The Rambam cites the law of the two students, namely that the
who come simultaneously to ask their rabbi a question - whom must
he answer first? "Two who ask, one on-topic and one off-topic, we on-topic questioner has precedence (Hilkhot Talmud Torah 2:8).
3) The Rambam rules that one who leaves town within thirty days
deal [first] with the pertinent question." Accordingly, the Ran of Pesach is obligated to inspect the house for chametz under any
explains that the halakhic obligation to learn the laws of Pesach
exists only on the holiday itself. Our gemara in Pesachim comes to circumstances. Apparently, the Rambam understands this law as
having a much wider scope. Rashba (Responsa 1:140) writes:
inform us that thirty days before a given holiday is the appropriate Thirty days before a festival one begins to gather and
time to clarify all the holiday's various laws. Therefore, one who
inquires at that time is considered an "on-topic inquirer," and accumulate items for festival but not earlier. Thus, thirty
days before a festival is already considered within the
thus has precedence over the one asking about a tangential or festival season, as we were taught, "We inquire about and
The Ritva (Megilla 4a) provides support for this approach from investigate the laws of Pesach thirty days before Pesach"...
similarly as regards the chametz inspection... and one who
the Yerushalmi (Pesachim 1:1), which notes that although we study leaves with a caravan...
Pesach's laws on Pesach, in a public forum, the study begins thirty
days prior to the holiday. In other words, on Pesach itself In other words, all holiday preparations begin a month before the
actual day. The Me'iri (Avoda Zara 5b) writes similarly, that "it is
everyone learns the laws of the festival, while prior to that, appropriate to begin involving oneself in festival needs thirty
inquirers would come to ask in the "public forum" (a study hall
dedicated to practical halakhic questions). The Ritva adds that he days before the festival." Presumably, the source for this is the
simple reading of our passage. After all, the gemara derives from
heard this from his master (presumably the Rashba, who in this law that one who leaves town within a month of Pesach must
fact explains the discrepancy thus in his own commentary) who in
turn heard it from "our great teacher," the Ramban. The Me'iri inspect his or her house for chametz, -- implying, that is, that
Pesach preparations are to begin thirty days prior. It would seem
(s.v. Ha-mefaresh, "Ha lamadta" ff.) understands this in a similar that all authorities agree to this principle, but argue concerning
vein, as does the Maharam Chalawa.
An additional application of this approach is brought in the its application: Tosafot believe that this preparation implies an
obligation to study, while the Ran feels that it merely redners this
Shulchan Arukh (Choshen Mishpat 346:13). If the lender of a given period appropriate for pragmatic inquiries, etc.
object is, in any way, obliged to the borrower at the time of the loan,
the object is considered to have the status of "be'alav imo," under According to this, since the Rambam rules that thirty days
before Pesach there is already an obligation to conduct a
the owner's supervision, and the borrower is no longer liable for any chametz-inspection (for one who leaves town even with no
accident befalling the object. The author of the Shulchan Arukh
writes that normally students are considered to be obligated to intention of returning during Pesach), he thereby demonstrates his
opinion that this time is appropriate for Pesach preparations.
their teacher, as the instructor may decide to teach whichever Indeed, the Rambam does not certify the obligation to study the
subject seems most intriguing at the time. However, thirty days
before the holiday, the teacher is obligated to the students, as they laws of Pesach, and thus we may reasonably assume that he did not
follow the approach of II.
can compel their instructor (if they so desire) to deal only with festival By process of elimination, then, the Rambam seems to hold
related topics. Therefore, if at that point they borrow an item from the
teacher, it falls under the be'alav imo principle. like I. He rules that thirty days before Pesach begins "the Pesach
season." If we add to this his rulings in Hilkhot Talmud Torah, that
II. The gemara (Megilla 4a) states that when Purim coincides the on-topic inquirer must be addressed first, it therefore emerges
with Shabbat, Megillat Ester is not read because of Rabba's
decree (that seasonal mitzva-objects not be handled on Shabbat that whoever asks within a month of Pesach concerning the
holiday takes precedence, as he becomes an on-topic inquirer.
lest they be carried in a public domain). Nevertheless, Purim- This may help explain an apparent difficulty within the Rema's
related topics should be discussed and studied on this Shabbat.
The gemara asks: what is taught by this statement? The law of ruling. In Orach Chaim 429, he sees fit to juxtapose the "inquiry
and investigation" law with the custom of "kimcha de-pischa," the
studying each festival's laws on its day exists by all holidays; why communal appeal for the poor's Pesach needs. What do these two
should Purim be any different? The gemara replies that the
innovation lies in the fact that we are not worried that halakhot have to do with one another? Based on the above, we
2 may posit that the Rema understands both issues as
applications of a broader principle: all Pesach matters should stages: what to look for when purchasing the four species, how
begin concerning us thirty days prior to the festival. Therefore, to build a sukka, how to make a kitchen usable for Pesach, what
he writes that kimcha de-pischa should be a concern from this level of cleanliness is expected, etc. Thus, Sukkot and Pesach may
point (since one may leave and not return, etc.). For an have a unique status in this respect.
additional explanation of the Rema's ruling, see below. CONCLUSION
A PROOF TO VIEW I The contradiction between the two gemarot (Pesachim 6a-b and
An interesting proof to approach I is brought by the Turei Even Megilla 32a) can thus be resolved in the following ways:
(author of the halakhic masterwork, "Sha'agat Aryei") in his OPINIONS:
comments at the end of masekhet Megilla: why does the Torah Ran, Rashba, Ritva, Me'iri, Maharam Chalawa (explicit); Rambam,
mention that Moshe taught the laws of Pesach Sheni thirty days Rif, Shulchan Arukh (implicit in mention of "inquiry" only);
prior, while concerning Pesach itself, it is written (in accordance with Yerushalmi (implicit in "public forum" limitation):
the dissenting opinion of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel) that he began THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Appropriate to ask, considered on- topic
only on the first of the month? ("This month shall be for you..." inquirer. Proof: Moshe did not teach about Pesach itself thirty days
[Shemot 12:2], stated on 1 Nissan, introduces the laws of the in advance, since he was not asked. Application to ba'alav imo ON
festival to be observed two weeks hence.) Apparently, one must THE HOLIDAY: Study even without questions.
investigate the Pesach laws only when relevant questions are Tosafot:
explicitly posited. Therefore, since it was only regarding Pesach THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Study even without questions; ON THE
Sheni that a question was asked thirty days earlier (by those who HOLIDAY: Review earlier material
had become ritually impure), only there did Moshe expend the effort Beit Yosef, Magen Avraham:
to deal with its laws a month prior to the festival. THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Study laws of the holiday ON THE
Tosafot, who follow approach II, would provide a simple answer HOLIDAY: Study philosophy of the holiday, publicize miracle
(as they write on Pesachim 6b), mentioned by other commentators Beit Yosef:
(even those who, like the Ran, follow approach I). Moshe could THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Study laws of the paschal sacrifice ON
have answered the question presented to him briefly and concisely. THE HOLIDAY: Study other laws
The fact that he elaborated implies that he felt the need to teach Bach:
them the laws themselves, even those about which no question was THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Study even without questions ON THE
posed. HOLIDAY: "On"= Near, i.e. thirty days before
(As an additional answer for view II, one may argue that it is Shulchan Arukh:(new explanation)
impossible to bring a proof from the aforementioned verse, THIRTY DAYS BEFORE: Obligation to resolve halakhic
since it was stated before the giving of the Torah.) questions and doubts ON THE HOLIDAY: Study even without
THE HALAKHIC RULING questions
The Shulchan Arukh (OC 429:1) writes: "We inquire about the B) FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, AND FROM
Pesach laws thirty days prior to Pesach." The Bi'ur Halakha derives SLAVERY TO SLAVERY
from this that the Shulchan Arukh holds like the opinion of the Ran
and the Rashba, that there is no obligation to INVESTIGATE the By Rav Yaakov Medan
The purpose of this shiur is to provide a new answer to a
Pesach laws at that point; only the INQUIRY element begins a question which, although addressed by many commentators, has
On the other hand, the Bi'ur Halakha cites the Ba'al Ha- itur, Or disturbed me for many years. The question is as follows:
Everyone agrees that the story of the exodus is a great and
Zaru'a, and She'iltot, in whose words he sees implicit approach II. impressive one, containing a plethora of inspiring themes:
They use the term "investigation" as well, implying that they see an
obligation to delve into investigation, not just inquiry, a month liberation from slavery, the end of terrible suffering, the appearance
of Am Yisrael on the stage of history, the giving of the Torah, and
before Pesach. Eretz Yisrael as the destination. As God says to Moshe in Egypt,
A NEW EXPLANATION OF THE SHULCHAN ARUKH
On the one hand, the Shulchan Arukh does use the term I shall take you out from under the suffering of Egypt and I
shall save you from their slavery... and I shall bring you to the
"inquiry," seemingly corresponding to approach I. On the other land which I promised... (Shemot 6:6)
hand, he has already noted in Hilkhot Talmud Torah the
precedence of the on-topic inquirer. Therefore, if the only The entire course of history shifts; our counting of time starts from a
new beginning ("This month shall be for you the first of the months").
halakha thirty days before Pesach is the preference given to However, this Divine promise diminishes greatly when it reaches
questions regarding Pesach, then the Shulchan Arukh should have
omitted the law here (as the Rambam does). The fact that he does the ears of Pharaoh:
And they said: The God of the Hebrews has called upon us;
not omit it implies that he wants to teach us something in additin to let us go on a journey of three days in the desert and we shall
Pesach laws' being considered relevant, on topic issues
It appears that the Shulchan Arukh here advocates a new sacrifice to the Lord our God. (ibid. 5:3)
Pharaoh's response accordingly addresses only this limited
approach. There is no obligation to sit down and learn all of the request:
Pesach laws, but one is required to ask about and clarify unresolved
issues before the festival's arrival. In other words, the Shulchan They are idle, therefore they cry, saying, "Let us go and sacrifice
to our God." (5:8)
Arukh maintains that "we inquire." Not only is a question about Likewise throughout the argument and throughout the duration of
hilkhot Peasach considered an on-topic inquirer, but he is in fact
obligated to ask. (The Rif can be explained in the same way.) the ten plagues. Let us examine only the most outstanding examples.
Following the plague of wild beasts (arov), Pharaoh's will breaks
The Bi'ur Halakha considers the view of the Rashba and the and he agrees to them sacrificing, but only in Egypt: "Go and
Ran the minority opinion and therefore leans toward the obligation
to study -- via both inquiry and investigation -- thirty days prior to sacrifice to your God in the land" (8:21). Later on: "I shall send you
and you shall sacrifice to the Lord your God in the desert, only do
the festival. However, as we have seen, other Rishonim support not walk too far." Clearly, Pharaoh is concerned that they will
their approach: the Meiri, the Ritva quoting "our great rabbi" (see
above), and the Maharam Chalawa. Furthermore, it is logical to escape and not return. But instead of Moshe addressing this
concern with clear and upright determination - "Indeed, our wish is
assume that even the Rambam and the Rif, and perhaps even the to leave Egypt and to go to the land of our forefathers" - as we
Shulchan Arukh (as the Bi'ur Halakha explicates his approach),
support this idea. would expect, he continues to quibble with Pharaoh about the place
where the sacrifice will take place and the nature of the three-day
The Bi'ur Halakha's halakhic decision is that one should begin journey.
studying the laws of the festival a month prior. It seems appropriate
to add a number of points to this ruling: Similarly, after the plague of locusts, Pharaoh - fearful of a large-
scale escape - agrees to send the men while retaining the elderly,
1) Yeshiva students and the like, who are frequently asked the women and the children as hostages. Again Moshe answers
regarding the laws of the festivals, certainly have an obligation to
learn thirty days prior, according to all opinions. If these thirty days that they, too, are needed for the celebration and the sacrifice.
The same phenomenon repeats itself after the plague of darkness,
are the time to inquire regarding the laws of the festival, then where the argument concerns the sheep and cattle.
Yeshiva students must be able to provide answers! (See also
Kiddushin 30a, which requires that Torah matters must be What is the reason for this evasiveness? What glory and honor
does such deception add to the greatness of the "strong hand and
"sharpened in your mouth, so that if anyone asks you something, outstretched arm"? Would it not have been more appropriate for
you will not stammer, but rather reply immediately.")
2) According to our explanation of the Shulchan Arukh, it is logical Moshe to present the revelation at the burning bush in its entirety?
At the burning bush, God had revealed His true plan:
to assume that each person must clarify, before the festival comes, I have surely seen the affliction of My nation which is in Egypt,
any point which he or she finds unclear.
3) It is also logical to assume, especially in light of the above, that and I have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I
know their pain. And I have come down to save them from the
there is a distinction between the various holidays. Indeed, the Beit hand of Egypt and to bring them up from that land to a good and
Yosef writes, that only Pesach has the thirty-day requirement since it
has many laws, but the other holidays, which do not have nearly as spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Shemot 3:7-
many laws, need not be studied too long before the holiday itself. Lest we claim that Pharaoh would not agree to this (as the end
However, Rashi (Berakhot 30a, Sukka 9a, Bava Kama 113a,
Sanhedrin 7a, and Bi'ur Ha-gra ad loc.), who seems to imply that of the story proves: "And it was told to the king of Egypt that the
nation had escaped... and he pursued after the children of Israel"
Sukkot's laws, too should be studied thirty days prior. (It is logical to [ibid. 14]), we must ask: Is there anything stopping God from
assume that this extends only to Pesach and Sukkot, as the latter
also has a wealth of laws compared to other holidays, including the continuing to strike Egypt with plagues until he would capitulate? Is
there some limit to God's "strong hand and outstretched arm,"
laws of the four species, the laws of sukka construction, and the laws such that Pharaoh had to be approached in such a roundabout
of sukka residence.)
We should also add that as regards Pesach and Sukkot, a manner?
My aim is not to provide a direct answer to the question, but
person is more involved with dealing with the special objects of the rather to demonstrate that the assumptions upon which it rests are
holiday (sukka, the four species, chametz, matza) and thus has less
free time prior to the holiday; consequen the holiday study must mistaken. Let us retrace our steps, back to the burning bush:
It happened in those many days that the king of Egypt died.
begin even earlier. Similarly, one must learn before these holidays The children of Israel sighed from the labor and cried out,
in order to have the know-how to apply at the preparatory 3
and their plea reached God from their labor. God heard their who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt... they are [the same] Moshe
weeping, and God remembered His covenant with Avraham, and Aharon."
with Yitzchak and with Yaakov. (2:23-24) Bnei Yisrael are not a party to this battle, and the focus of the
These verses describe the suffering of Bnei Yisrael, but we are battle is not God's promises to the forefathers or the suffering of
not told that the Holy One came to redeem them out of mercy. their descendants; nor is its purpose the inheritance of Eretz Yisrael.
Rather, He redeemed them because of His covenant with the In this battle two sides face each other: two kings, two masters, two
forefathers: claimants. This is a battle of "two who grasp a single garment,"
In order that the righteous one (Avraham) would not say, "You each claiming that it is his alone, and the wishes and intentions of
fulfilled the promise that 'They shall enslave them and afflict the garment itself have nothing to do with the claim. On one side is
them,' but You did not fulfill the promise that 'Afterwards they the King and Savior of Israel ("represented," as it were, by Moshe,
shall go out with great wealth.'" (Shemot Rabba 11:5) and his continuation - Aharon), who claims that Am Yisrael "are
The slavery and affliction are only one side of the contract that My servants... they shall not be sold as slaves" (Vayikra 25:42).
was sealed at the berit bein ha-betarim (covenant between the Against Him stands the king of Egypt, who has stolen God's slave,
pieces, Bereishit 15). God hears the cry of Bnei Yisrael, sees that or son, and retains him as his private property.
the first part of the contract has indeed been fulfilled, and knows that To recapitulate, the first mission is contained in the verse, "And
the time has come for the fulfillment of the second part - "And the now behold, the cry of Bnei Yisrael has come before Me." The
fourth generation shall return to here" (Bereishit 15:16). When second appears following it: "And now go, and I shall send you to
God reveals Himself to Moshe at the burning bush, He appears Pharaoh, and take My nation" (3:10-11).
with this name: "And He said, I am the God of your father, the God Moshe is hesitant concerning both missions. What will he say to
of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, the God of Yaakov" (3:6). Because Pharaoh, who wants to continue holding on to Bnei Yisrael? How
of the covenant with the forefathers - will he lead the nation and elevate them from the impurity of Egypt?
I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, Will they follow him? How will they rise to his level of leadership? As
and I have heard their cry... And I have come down to save Moshe claims later on, "Behold, they will not believe in me and will
them from Egypt and to bring them up from that land, to a not listen to my voice" (4:1).
good and spacious land... (3:7-8) God provides two answers (here again our interpretation
These, then, are the three foundations of the redemption from does not correlate with that of Rashi, but the verse is open to many
Egypt: 1) the remembrance of the covenant with the forefathers; interpretations, "as the anvil shatters the rock"). God's answers
2) the fact that its first half has already been realized - "And they shall appear not in the order of Moshe's questions but rather following
enslave them and afflict them;" the order of God's words throughout (see above 3:10-11, 16-18; 4:5,
3) the need to fulfill the second half - the inheritance of Eretz 21-22; 6:6, 11, 26-27; the scope of this shiur does not allow for
Yisrael, in answer to Avraham's question, "By what shall I know that I further elaboration).
shall inherit it?" Concerning Moshe's question as to how he will lead Bnei Yisrael,
At this stage we shall skip over a number of verses and move on. "Behold, they will not believe in me," God answers: "For I shall be
Moshe asks what name of God he should relate to Bnei Yisrael, and with you, and this will be the sign for you that I have sent you"
receives two answers. For himself: "I am what I am" (which is God's (3:12). God keeps His promise at Sinai:
Name - see Shevuot 35a); for Bnei Yisrael: "The Lord, the God of And God said to Moshe, Behold, I come to you in a thick cloud
your forefathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak and the in order that the nation will hear when I speak to you, and
God of Yaakov, has sent me to you" (3:15). The same name is THEY WILL BELIEVE IN YOU ALSO forever." (19:9)
related to Bnei Yisrael a number of times, as we shall discuss Concerning Moshe's question as to the nature of his mission to
further on. Pharaoh, God answers (3:12): "When you bring the nation out of
However, all of this represents only one side of the redemption. Egypt they shall serve God upon this mountain." This answer, too, is
When God sends Moshe from the burning bush to Egypt, He tells connected to the burning bush and to Sinai: Your demand from
him: "And now go, and I shall send you to Pharaoh, and (you, Pharaoh is not an exodus from slavery to freedom but rather
Moshe, shall) take My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" from one slavery to another. God's claim to Bnei Yisrael precedes
(3:10). Although the content of this verse may be understood as a that of Pharaoh. They must be brought out of the slavery of Egypt to
single unit, as the Rashbam explains (namely, God is sending the service of God.
Moshe to Pharaoh in order to take Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt), [Thus, those who proclaim, "Let My people go," are missing the
Chazal and Rashi understand it as two separate units (pay careful point - the phrase always appears in the Torah as, "Let My people
attention to Rashi on verses 10-12). This division becomes go that THEY MAY SERVE ME." We are not talking about an
clearer if we include verse 9 in God's demand: exodus from slavery to freedom, but from slavery (to man) to slavery
A) And now behold, the cry of Bnei Yisrael has come to Me. (to God).]
B) And now go and I shall send you to Pharaoh, and take My Moshe still is not satisfied; he asks what God's name is, and
people... receives two answers. One - "I am what I am" - is a name that is
Moshe himself resists both missions (verse 11): "Who am I that I connected with the selection of Am Yisrael to be God's portion. [See
should go to Pharaoh and that I should take Bnei Yisrael out of Ramban on Onkelos - "I shall be with whom I shall be." In other
Egypt?" words, I shall be with he who I choose. Compare God's revelation
God, in turn, gives two answers: First, "For I shall be with you, to Moshe in the crevice of the rock (33:19) - "I shall show grace to
and this is the sign for you that I have sent you." Second, "When whom I shall show it, and I shall have mercy upon whom I shall
you bring the nation out of Egypt you shall serve God upon this have mercy." I shall not elaborate further here.] The second
mountain." (I divide God's answer here in accordance with the answer, as stated above, is that He is "the God of the forefathers,"
Massoretic notes and the cantillatio and not as Rashi understands Who fulfills His promises to them.
it.) Again Moshe asks what God's name is, and receives - as stated Moshe again receives two instructions: first, "Go and gather the
above - two answers. elders of Israel," an instruction that includes His name as the God
These two missions become even more prominent at the of the forefathers, the suffering, and Eretz Yisrael (3:16-17).
beginning of parashat Vaera: "And God spoke to Moshe... Therefore Immediately thereafter, Moshe is told, "You shall come, you and the
say TO BNEI YISRAEL" (2:6). Immediately thereafter, "God elders of Israel, to the king of Egypt and you shall say to him: The
spoke to Moshe, saying, Come and speak TO PHARAOH king of Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has appeared to us. And now let us
Egypt" (6:10). Once again Moshe objects on both counts: "Behold, go on a journey of three days in the desert that we may sacrifice to
BNEI YISRAEL did not listen to me, how then will PHARAOH the Lord our God" (verse 18). The crux of the mission to Pharaoh is
listen to me..." Again the two missions are joined together: "He that Bnei Yisrael are not meant to be slaves of Pharaoh, but rather
commanded them [to go] to Bnei Yisrael and to Pharaoh, king of servants of God. And the heart of the service of God is sacrifice.
Egypt, to bring Bnei Yisrael out of the land of Egypt." A further proof, Here we come to the solution to our original question. "But I
which we will discuss below: "These are Moshe and Aharon whom know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go... and I shall
God told to bring Bnei Yisrael out of the land of Egypt by their send My hand and I shall strike Egypt... and thereafter he will send
hosts," "It was they who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to bring you" (verses 19-20). Thus we may deduce that THE PLAGUES
Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt - these are [the same] Moshe and ARE A PUNISHMENT NOT FOR ENSLAVEMENT AND
Aharon" (6:26-27). AFFLICTION, BUT RATHER FOR HAVING STOLEN THE
Thus we deduce that there were two missions, two aspects of SERVANTS OF GOD. Thus, "You shall say to Pharaoh: Israel is
the exodus, and two levels of redemption. My first-born son. And I said to you, Send My son that he may
We have already discussed the first - the mission to bring Bnei worship Me, and you refused to send him. Behold, I shall kill your
Yisrael out of Egypt, based on both the covenant and their first-born son" (4:22-23). This is not a matter of redemption of
excessive suffering. The purpose of this mission is, first, the Israel, but rather of the appropriation of God's son and servant. As a
cessation of the slavery and affliction, and, second, inheritance of punishment, measure for measure, the first- born sons of Egypt will
Eretz Yisrael. This redemption, at the center of which stands the die. The plagues in Egypt, culminating in the death of the first-
nation of Israel, the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and born, are not related to the redemption of Israel for their own sake.
Yaakov, requires an elevation from the depths of Egyptian slavery to Rather, they are the weapons in the battle of the kings.
the heights of freedom of Eretz Yisrael. For this reason the first Indeed, this is the content of the plagues. They appear not as a
appearance here is by Aharon - the lower personality, closer to punishment for the enslavement of Israel, but rather as a punishment
the nation, who loves everyone and brings them closer to Torah. It for defying the Holy One, as Pharaoh said, "I do not recognize God"
is he who has the power to elevate Bnei Yisrael. But Aharon draws (5:3). The plagues are a "lesson" in knowing God: "By this shall you
his power to elevate them from Moshe: "These are Moshe and know that I am God; behold I shall strike..." (7:17). Lest Pharaoh
Aharon whom God told to bring Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt." think that just as Egypt belongs to him, so Israel belongs to him -
Let us now try to examine the second mission. This is not the he receives his answer: "I shall place a division between My nation
mission to avenge the insult to Israel and the three forefathers, who and your nation" (8:19); "And God distinguishbetween the cattle of
are represented faithfully by Aharon who draws his strength from Israel and the cattle of Egypt" (9:4). Lest Pharaoh think that he can
Moshe, but rather the mission to avenge the insult to the Holy One, still force his will upon the God of Israel, he receives his answer: "In
as it were, represented by Moshe - the "man of God." Since Moshe order that you may know that there is none like Me in all the land"
is unable to bring God's word down to the depths of Egypt (at most (9:14). Therefore, the entire argument between Pharaoh and
he can bring it down to Mt. Sinai), Aharon has to help him to bring Moshe focuses only on the three-day journey and the acceptance of
his message down to the level of Pharaoh: "It was they 4 the service of God at the end of those three days.
Those three days are described in parashat Beshalach: God commanded Moshe to speak deceitfully to Pharaoh. Instead
"And Moshe and Israel traveled from Yam Suf, and they went out of asking Pharaoh to permit the Jews to celebrate a brief festival in
to the wilderness of Shur, and they walked for three days in the the desert, why did Moshe not simply demand their freedom from an
desert and found no water" (15:22). The Zohar explains: unjust state of slavery?
"Water" refers only to Torah, as it is written, "O all who are Nechama Leibowitz z"l (New Insights into Sefer Shemot,
thirsty, let them go to water." There, after three days, the nation Hebrew, pp. 73-75) examines and rejects a number of answers to
should have received the Torah. But they could not drink the this question before settling on the answer offered by both the
water of Mara because it was bitter. So "He (Moshe) cried out to Akedat Yitzchak and the Abarbanel. They claim that this was no
God, and God showed him a tree." deception but rather a genuine request, meant to serve as a test
The Zohar explains: "A tree" refers only to Torah, as it is for Pharaoh. If he would refuse even this minor request, his heard-
written, "It is a tree of life for those who grasp it." God showed him heartedness and stubbornness would be revealed to all. If,
how to sweeten the bitter water using the tree - which is Torah. however, he would have acceded to this request, the Jews would
Because of their complaint, the revelation was not entirely indeed have returned to Egypt after several days, and Moshe would
complete; it was postponed by a few weeks, during which time then continue to negotiate slowly for their freedom.
Amalek arrived and cooled the fiery flame in the midst of which Nechama Leibowitz also quotes the author of Ha-ketav Veha-
Torah was given. kabbala, who follows the approach of the commentators
But let us rather elaborate on that which WAS given at the end of quoted above, and adds an interesting point. Since Pharaoh had
those three days. After those three days, the nation accepted the failed the test, there was no further point in presenting him again
yoke of heaven (15:25): with the request for a short journey.
There He made for them a statute and a judgment, and there He God commanded that at first Moshe should request something
tested them. And He said: If you will listen to the voice of the small, such as to go on a three-day journey, in order to
Lord your God... discern Pharaoh's stubbornness. Once he refused even this
What then would be their reward? small request, Moshe asked several times for complete and
All the disease that I brought upon Egypt, I shall not bring upon eternal freedom.
you. Where does Moshe request "complete and eternal freedom?" Ha-
From this negative formulation we may deduce the positive: ketav Veha-kabbala (4:23) ingeniously attempts to prove that the
If they would not accept the yoke of God's kingship, they would be words, "Send My people and they will serve Me" can be interpreted
struck with the plagues of Egypt. For, after all, the entire significance as, "Free them permanently so that they may be servants unto Me."
of the plagues was a punishment for stealing God's servants. If, He distinguishes between the "kal" and the "pi'el" forms of the verb
following the exodus from the slavery of Egypt, the nation would sh-l-ch, indicating that the latter means to send out permanently.
refuse to assume His yoke, then this is precisely the punishment Unfortunately, however, this explanation does not stand up to
that would be due them. But since they assume the yoke of God's a careful examination of the text. The distinction between the "kal"
service, He promises: "All the disease that I brought upon Egypt, I and "pi'el" forms of this verb has nothing to do with whether the
shall not bring upon you." sending is done with the intention of return or if it refers to complete
There are two levels of redemption: from slavery to freedom, as and permanent freedom. The distinction between them lies in the
promised to the forefathers, and from slavery to slavery, which is the strength of the action of the one who is sent: in the "pi'el" formit refers
sole business of the Master of the Universe, Who selected Israel as to a strong movement of sending (either as a result of banishing him
His portion. I could elaborate further and demonstrate that, or as a result of removing a barrier which had previously
corresponding to these two purposes, there were two actions of prevented him from breaking loose). Following such a "freeing,"
coming out of Egypt, which in turn correspond to the two laws of nothing prevents the one who was freed from returning to the one
Pesach - matza and maror. (This answers the famous question who freed him. (See, for example, Bereishit 28:6, Shemot 22:4,
of how the matza is meant to remind us of that the dough of Bnei Shemuel I 2:20.) In fact, the opposite is true: a person can "send" in
Yisrael had no time to rise, if they were commanded to eat matza the "kal" form without the one who is sent returning to him (e.g.
already in the context of the pesach sacrifice in Egypt - 12:8.) Bereishit 45:5, Shemot 9:14).
They likewise correspond to the First and Second Temple, as well A DECEPTION FROM BEGINNING TO END
as several other phenomena. The above explanations demonstrate the danger of getting
In the Haggada, we "begin with denigration and conclude with carried away with apologetics. The story is presented to us over a
praise." The gemara disputes the meaning of this: course of four parshiot (Shemot – Beshalach), and nowhere
Rav said, This refers to the historical process whereby "At throughout this narrative do we read even once of any request for
first our forefathers were idolaters, and now God has brought "outright freedom." From Moshe's first appearance before Pharaoh
us close to His service." Shemuel said, [It refers to,] "We were (chapter 5) until after the slaying of the firstborn (chapter 12), the
slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God brought us out of there." request under discussion remains only a journey to the desert to
(Pesachim 116a) serve God, and thereafter a return. (See e.g. 5:1, 5:3, 7:16, 7:26,
Jewish ethics teaches that the two redemptions are, in fact, one. 8:4, 10:8-11, 10:24-26, 12:31- 32.)
The only person who is free is he who accepts upon himself the Let us examine, for example, the dialogue between Moshe and
service of God. The corollary is also true: in order to accept the Pharaoh preceding the plague of kinnim (gnats). Moshe is
service of God, a person must be free. This is what Rav Kook commanded to tell Pharaoh (8:16): "Send out My nation that they
taught (Orot Ha-kodesh, 3, p. 35): "This is the supreme freedom... may serve Me." And Pharaoh, temporarily capitulating, agrees
which is itself expressed in the Divine servitude to the Lord, God of (8:21): "Go and OFFER SACRIFICES TO YOUR GOD in the land."
Israel." By the word "ba-aretz" (in the land), he means "in the land of
C) WHY DID MOSHE MISLEAD PHARAOH? Egypt" and not "in the desert," as they had first requested (even
Rav Elchanan Samet though they do not mention the desert here). But Moshe insists
THREE INSTANCES OF DECEPTION specifically on going to the desert, saying (8:23): "A JOURNEY OF
The specter of apologetics has haunted biblical exegesis since THREE DAYS we shall go in the desert, and we shall offer
its inception. The temptation to make the Torah conform to the sacrifices to the Lord our God as He told us." Pharaoh concedes
values of one's surrounding society has on many occasions led to this too (8:24): "I shall send you and you will sacrifice to the Lord
exegetes to distort the meaning of the text. The opening parshiot of your God in the desert, ONLY DO NOT GO TOO FAR," and Moshe
Sefer Shemot (from Shemot until Beshalach) present classic agrees to this (!), adding (8:25): "Only let Pharaoh no more deal
instances of this phenomenon, for they contain three instances of falsely in not sending out the nation to sacrifice to God."
Israel deceiving the Egyptians. Moreover, each case of deception is Could there be any clearer proof of the continued deception of
mandated by God! Pharaoh than this debate?
The first instance is to be found in Moshe and Aharon's When Pharaoh finally capitulates, following the final plague, he
repeated request of Pharaoh: agrees to let them take their children and flocks "as you have
Let us go on a journey of three days in the desert that we may spoken" (12:32). At no point did it enter the thoughts of Bnei
offer sacrifice to the Lord our God. (5:3) Yisrael to return to Egyptian slavery at the end of the agreed time,
This deceptive request follows God's command to Moshe at the and Moshe never imagined that his negotiations with Pharaoh would
burning bush: continue. What in fact happened was:
And you and the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt And it was told to the king of Egypt that THE NATION HAD
and you shall say to him: The Lord God of the Hebrews ESCAPED, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants turned
appeared to us; now let us go on a journey of three days in the towards the nation, and they said: What is this that we have
desert that we may offer sacrifices to the Lord our God. (3:18) done? For we have sent Israel out of our service! (14:5)
The second deception is the Jews' "borrowing" of the Egyptians' To Pharaoh it finally became clear, with complete certainty, that
vessels as they leave Egypt (12:35-36). Moshe had previously been the entire negotiation process had been based on deception.
commanded in this regard (11:2); at the burning bush, too, God had The continuation of the "negotiations" between him and Moshe
told Moshe that this would happen (3:21-22). and Bnei Yisrael took place, as we know, at the Red Sea.
The third deception occurs after the nation departs from Egypt. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE THREE INCIDENTS OF
God commands Moshe: DECEIT
Speak to Bnei Yisrael and let them return and encamp before Pi Now that we have freed ourselves of the apologetic explanations
Ha-chirot... And Pharaoh will say of Bnei Yisrael, "They are lost that deny the facts of the story, let us return to the question of the
in the land; the desert has closed upon them." And I will harden deceit (whose scope has become clear to us), and let us try to
the heart of Pharaoh, that he will pursue them. (14:2-4) understand not its justification but rather is simple motive. What
In other words, they are intentionally tricking Pharaoh into chasing function did it serve in the negotiations?
them. Immediately thereafter (end of verse 4) we read, "And they did The Ibn Ezra answers this question (Perush Katzar 11:4; see
thus." also Perush Arokh 10:10):
Although the borrowing of the vessels has especially occupied Know that this was a great thing, and Bnei Yisrael were
apologetic commentary, I would like to focus here on the first completely righteous in that they did not reveal the secret
deception. (that they would not return). Pharaoh believed Moshe's words,
WAS ANY REAL DECEPTION INVOLVED HERE? "a journey of three days," to mean that they would go and then
Both R. Yitzchak Arama (Akedat Yitzchak, sha'ar 35) and return to Egypt. Heaven forfend that [we say that] the prophet
the Abarbanel (ch. 3, question 16) pose the question of why 5 spoke a lie, for he never explicitly said, "We shall return."
God's wisdom is beyond our understanding. It would appear to his own self-interest required this deceit.
me, though, that this [deception] was performed for two Despite the fact that Pharaoh was Israel's enemy, and "all is
reasons: firstly, in order that they would give them vessels of fair in war" (as we may conclude from the commentary quoted
gold and silver - for had they known that they would not return, above), we may also say the opposite: the stage which preceded
they would not have given them. And secondly, in order that the war (the battle itself having taken place only at the Red Sea)
Pharaoh and his army would drown. For had they left with his was the stage of diplomatic relations, and in diplomacy one must
permission, and had he not believed that they would return, he act diplomatically. This is how Rashi interprets the verse (6:13),
would not have pursued after them. And the proof [of this "And He gave them a charge for Bnei Yisrael and for Pharaoh in
explanation] is (14:5), "And it was told to the king of Egypt that Egypt." According to the Midrash (Tanchuma, Shemot 2): "'Gave
the nation had escaped." them a charge for Pharaoh' means that they were charged to give
The Ibn Ezra's explanation is impressively developed by the Ran him honor through words." For this very reason Moshe was
(Rabbeinu Nissim ben Reuven) in his Derashot (end of #11). The commanded not to tell him the truth.
Abarbanel, though, rejects his words: God does not demand of His creatures things that are clear in
His explanation is insufficient, for it would not have been difficult advance as being beyond their abilities. The abyss separating the
for God to harden Pharaoh's heart in order that he pursue them, true purpose of Moshe's mission from what could have been told
without any need for deception. to Pharaoh is clearly illustrated in what God says at the burning
However, an examination of what the Ran says shows that he bush, where these two are juxtaposed (3:16-18):
answers this claim: Go and collect the elders of Israel and tell them... I have
The way God acts is to bring "counsel from afar" to make His remembered you... I shall lift you up from the suffering of
enemies fall into our hands and to avenge Himself of them ... Egypt to the land of the Canaanite... And you shall come... to
He wished to punish all the Egyptians by the means they had the king of Egypt and you shall say to him... Let us go on a
used to commit evil against Israel (i.e. since they drowned journey of three days in the desert that we may offer sacrifices
the Israelite boys in the water, they too were drowned in the to the Lord our God.
water) ... and He wished to bring about a situation where they Could Pharaoh have been made party to the true purpose of
themselves, OF THEIR OWN CHOICE, would enter the water the Jews' journey from Egypt? He could not have agreed to freeing
and die there. Had Moshe informed Pharaoh from the them under any circumstances, for two reasons:
beginning that their time had come to be redeemed, he would 1. The demand to free Israel from their slavery in Egypt implied a
certainly have agreed [to their demand] because of the questioning of the legality of this slavery. Perhaps this question
plagues, and would not have pursued them thereafter, for why would not have been perceived by Pharaoh and his nation as a
would he pursue them after having willingly let them go when legitimate and justified one, in light of the accepted norms of their
they were still under his rule? Therefore God did not want society (compare Melakhim I 9:20-22).
Moshe to tell Pharaoh exactly what was happening, but rather 2. Historians who have studied this period conclude that the land of
to say that they were going to offer sacrifices on a three-day Canaan was at that time under Egyptian rule. (A clear hint at the
journey, such that when they would tell Pharaoh thereafter Egyptian control of Canaan is to be found in the Torah itself, in the
"that the nation had escaped," he would think ... that story of Yosef where three successive verses [Bereishit 47:13-15]
everything Moshe had done had not come from God but rather mention Egypt and Canaan together as a single political-economic
had been done deceitfully and fraudulently. For had it not been unit.) A demand to free Israel from Egypt could obviously not hide
thus, why would Moshe have fooled him by saying that they their desired destination – Canaan. Pharaoh could not agree to
were going only to offer sacrifices? For this very reason He freeing a nationalistic element whose proclaimed aim was to dilute
commanded, "Let each man ask his neighbor [for vessels of Egyptian rule in its long- held colony. The Egyptian nation would
silver and gold];" even though the money rightfully belonged to also have refused to accept this.
the Jews and they could have taken it openly, God In order to facilitate the very existence of the negotiations with
nevertheless told them to dissemble ... so that when it was told Pharaoh, and in order to provide Pharaoh with an honorable
to the king of Egypt and his nation that Bnei Yisrael were way in which to allow the requests made of him, such that his
escaping, there is no doubt that they regarded them as bandits ministers and his nation would not resent him, it was essential that
and swindlers... and this, without doubt, brought them to pursue the smallest possible demand be presented: to go on a three- day
them... The intention behind all of this was hidden from Israel, journey to offer sacrifices in the desert.
and perhaps even from Moshe(!). But this does not mean that Pharaoh did not suspect Bnei
According to the Ibn Ezra and the Ran, there is a direct link Yisrael's true intention: starting at least at the time of the plague of
connecting the three acts of deception, and all were directed toward gnats his suspicion is aroused, and he demonstrates readiness to
attaining revenge on Pharaoh and all his army. The negotiations accede to their request only in such a way as would ensure Israel's
conducted between Moshe and Pharaoh were not of the type that return (by leaving their children or livestock in Egypt or by sacrificing
follow regular diplomatic rules. Rather, the negotiations were in Egypt itself). Prior to the plague of locusts, he gives clear
merely one aspect of the war between them, and in a war expression to his suspicion: "See that evil will confront you" (see
deception is permissible, since its purpose is to bring about the Rashi, Ibn Ezra and Ramban, 10:10). Nevertheless he wordlessly
enemy's downfall. I found a wonderfully simple expression of this "asks" them to continue in their deception. It was only on the
view in a commentary whose author I do not know; it it quoted in the basis of this continued bilateral pretense that the negotiations could
Chumash Rav Peninim (Levin- Epstein, Jerusalem 5726) on 3:18: proceed and ultimately achieve a willing capitulation (albeit as a
"And now let us go on a journey of three days..." Abarbanel result of circumstances which forced it) by Pharaoh and the Egyptian
found a difficulty... and the author of D.R. (?) wrote that he read nation.
in a certain book that this presents no difficulty at all: for IN A D) HOW MUCH MATZA MUST WE EAT AT THE
WAR IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO ENGAGE IN EVERY TYPE OF SEDER?
DECEIT AND WILINESS AGAINST THE ENEMY, even to lie By Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
to him explicitly with words. We found this in the case of
Yehoshua in his war against Ai, where God commanded him I. THE MITZVA TO EAT MATZA NOWADAYS
The Gemara (Pesachim 120a) notes that the Torah's
(Yehoshua 8:3), "Make you an ambush for the city behind it" – in requirement that the korban Pesach (Paschal offering) be eaten
order to mislead the enemy. There is not the slightest
prohibition involved, for this falls under the category of "If "with matzot and marror" appears to suggest that this obligation
relates to the mitzva of korban Pesach. One would perhaps
someone comes to kill you, get up and kill him first." Anything conclude, then, that in the absence of the Mikdash (Temple), when
is justified in order to kill him. Here, likewise, there was great
benefit to be gained from misleading Pharaoh such that he the Paschal sacrifice is not offered, no Biblical requirement to eat
matza and marror exists. The Gemara notes, however, that
would believe that they only wanted to go on a journey of three although this conclusion is correct insofar as marror is concerned, it
days, in order that consequently he would pursue them to the
sea and be drowned in it, just as they drowned Bnei Yisrael in is untrue regarding matza, for the word "matza" is repeated - "In
the evening you shall eat matza." This additional verse obligates the
the water. Thereforit was completely permissible to deceive consumption of matza "in the evening" of Pesach, regardless of the
him... This also answers the question of what He said at the
burning bush, "Each woman will ask of her neighbor [vessels of offering of the korban Pesach. Therefore, the Gemara in several
places posits that the obligation to eat matza on the first night of
silver and gold]" – why is this written here, for this happened Pesach constitutes a Biblical mitzva, even in the post-Temple
at the end of the plagues? The purpose was to explain to Israel
that for this reason they should speak falsely, that they should period.
The Chatam Sofer writes (Responsa, CM 196,
ask only to go for three days, for thereby they would be able to "hashmatot"):
ask the Egyptians for vessels of silver and gold, because they
told them that they were going only for three days. The lending of The positive requirement to eat "matza shemura" on Pesach
night is the only remaining mitzva requiring eating! We have no
the vessels was also the cause of their drowning in the sea, for Pesach, sacrifices, teruma or ma'aser sheni - only one mitzva
they desired the silver and gold that Israel had taken from them,
and therefore they pursued them into the sea and drowned. [of eating] that applies annually. And if even this one is not
fulfilled completely... will this be pleasing in God's eyes,
ALL OF THIS WAS PERMISSIBLE FOR ISRAEL TO DO TO Heaven forbid?
THESE WICKED PEOPLE WHO HAD EMBITTERED THEIR
LIVES WITH FORCED HARD LABOR FOR NO REASON, AND In other words, the mitzva of eating matza is the only mitzva
involving eating that remains obligatory on the Biblical level
HAD DROWNED THEIR CHILDREN IN THE RIVER. nowadays, and as such one must be particularly scrupulous in its
To bring this home to the contemporary reader, substitute the
word "Nazis" for "Egyptians" and you will see why any means were observance.
II. THE AMOUNT OF MATZA REQUIRED FOR THE MITZVA
legitimate in order to wreak God's vengeance upon the cruel The Rosh writes:
FALSE PRETENSES AS A BASIS FOR THE NEGOTIATIONS One places the broken piece [of matza] between the two whole
pieces. He recites the blessing of "ha- motzi" on the whole
Let us return to examine the deceit in the negotiations in piece and breaks it; then he recites "al akhilat matza" over the
isolation from the other two incidents of deceit. Can it be explained in
terms of the requirements of the negotiations themselves? Was there broken piece and breaks it, and then he eats from both of them, a
ke- zayit (olive-sized portion) of each. One who wishes to fulfill
any need for it or benefit to be gained from it in the negotiations? I all opinions recites "ha-motzi" and "al akhilat matza" and
propose the following positive answer: Pharaoh's honor and 6
then breaks both of them...  We now turn our attention the size of a ke- beitza itself.
The Rosh maintains that after reciting "ha-motzi" and "al akhilat B) The Measurement of a "Ke-beitza"
matza," one should eat an amount of two "ke-zeitim" - one ke-zayit Two basic questions surround the measurement of a "ke-beitza"
from the whole matza, and another ke-zayit from the broken piece. - whether or not to include the shell in the measurement, and the
This view is codified by the Tur (475) and Shulkhan Arukh precise measurement of an average- sized egg with its shell.
(475:1). What is the reason behind this halakha? Why must one eat 1) Whether to Include the Shell in the Measurement of a Ke-beitza
two "ke-zeitim"? The Noda Bi-Yehuda (mahadura kama, O.C. 38) claims that
The Bach answers that all year round one must optimally eat this depends upon the aforementioned dispute regarding the
a ke-zayit of bread after reciting "ha- motzi." Therefore, on Pesach relationship between a ke-zayit and a ke- beitza. According to the
night one must eat twice this amount - one ke-zayit for the view that a ke-zayit amounts to half a beitza, a beitza is determined
recitation of "ha- motzi," and another for the special mitzva of without taking the shell into account. If, however, a ke-zayit is only
eating matza. But the Acharonim questioned this explanation in light one- third a ke-beitza, then the shell must be included when
of the fact that we never find any obligation to eat a ke-zayit after calculating the size of a ke-beitza. Why? As we saw in the previous
reciting "ha-motzi." In defense of the Bach, the Perisha answers section, the position that a ke-zayit is half a ke-beitza is derived
that in fact one is not required to eat a ke-zayit from the matza upon from the Gemara's comments regarding the quantity of food that can
which he recited "ha-motzi," but only from the matza upon which he be contained in the human mouth at one moment. Clearly, this
recited "al akhilat matza" (which is the matza through which he calculation does not take the shell into account, as it considers the
fulfills the special mitzva of eating matza on Pesach night). case of a person eating an egg. The dissenting view, by contrast,
However, we are unsure whether the berakha "al akhilat matza" emerges from the discussion in Eruvin regarding certain
applies to the whole matza or the broken matza. Therefore, one measurements that depend upon the Biblical standard of a "kav."
must eat a ke-zayit from each piece. A "kav" is determined with eggs still in their shells.
This answer also raises considerable difficulty. Firstly, the The Mishna Berura (486:1), however, disagrees, contending
overwhelming majority of Rishonim rule conclusively that the that according to all views a ke-beitza is determined by the
berakha "al akhilat matza" refers to the broken piece. measurement of an egg with its shell. The Chazon Ish takes
Furthermore, as the Biur Halakha (475:1) asks, once the berakha is strong issue with the Mishna Berura's ruling in this regard (Kuntras
recited on both pieces of matza, then it applies to both; as such, Ha-Shi'urim, O.C. 39:17). Indeed, many Acharonim - including the
only one ke- zayit from both pieces of matza should be required. Vilna Gaon (486) - seem to understand differently than the Mishna
In any event, the Shulkhan Arukh (475:1) rules, in accordance Berura.
with the Rosh's view, that one must eat two "ke-zeitim." Despite his 2) The Measurement of an Average-Sized Egg
questioning of this ruling in Biur Halakha (as cited), the Mishna The Rambam writes in several places  that he measured as
Berura also concludes that one should preferably follow this view. precisely as he could and found that a revi'it mentioned throughout
He adds, however, that if one ate only one ke-zayit, he has the Torah amounts to 26 Arab drams (silver coins) of wine and 27
certainly fulfilled his obligation. We will return to the practical drams of water. Therefore, since a revi'it equals a beitza and a half,
ramifications of this issue after we first clarify the precise a ke-beitza amounts to two-thirds of 27 drams (=18). Based on this
measurement of a ke-zayit. calculation, Rav Chayim Na'eh proceeded to measure a dram at
III. THE MEASUREMENT OF A KE-ZAYIT 3.2 grams, and thus concluded that the volume of a ke-beitza is
There are several different aspects to this issue; we will deal with 57.6 cubic centimeters. The problem is that Rav Chayim Na'eh
them one at a time. measured according to the Turkish dram of recent times, while the
A) The Relationship Between a "Ke-zayit" and a "Ke- beitza" dram at the Rambam's time was most likely a smaller measurement,
An apparent contradiction within the Gemara seems to emerge 2.83 grams. (See Midot Ve-shi'urei Torah, 13:7 and 30:6.)
regarding the size of a ke-zayit in proportion to a ke-beitza (size of According to this standard, a beitza amounts to 50 cubic
an egg). The Gemara in Yoma (80a) establishes that the human centimeters.
throat cannot swallow more than a single egg of a hen, and the C) Are Modern Eggs Smaller?
Gemara in Keritut (14a) states that the human throat cannot Generally speaking, the Torah's standards of measurement
contain more than two olives. The implication is, therefore, that a of length are determined by the length of human body parts
ke-beitza is twice the size of a ke-zayit. Other Gemarot, (amma, tefach, agudal, etzba) while volume measurements are
however, indicate otherwise. The Gemara in Eruvin (82b) determined by the volume of various foods (se'a, beitza, gerogeret,
concludes that the size of two average "meals" amounts to zayit, etc.). In certain instances, however, Chazal defined
eighteen gerogerot (dates). From the mishna there in Eruvin it measurements according to the size of a food and a body part.
emerges that two average "meals" contain five and one-third ke- The measurement of a revi'it is such an instance. It has been
beitzim. Thus, we must conclude that five and one-third eggs defined as both one and one-half beitza, as well as 2x2x2.7 etzba
contain eighteen dates, and therefore one date equals .296 of an (see Pesachim 109a-109b). Over the course of the generations,
egg, or a little less than a third. however, the poskim have noted the discrepancy between these two
Herein lies the problem. The Gemara in Shabbat (91a) measurements.
records that Rava asked Rav Nachman, "What is the law if one The first among the Ashkenazic authors to address this issue
threw an olive-sized piece of teruma into a house that was impure?" was the Noda Bi-Yehuda (in his commentary, Tzelach, to Pesachim
He replied: "[The law in regard] to what? If in regard to Shabbat, [a 116). He writes that we have no choice but to conclude that either
minimum of] the size of a date is required." The implication here is people's body parts became larger, or the eggs and fruits of
that a ke-zayit is smaller than a gerogeret. Thus, if a date is around contemporary times are smaller than those of the Talmudic sages.
one-third of an egg, then an olive must be even smaller than that! He concludes,
In other words, while this calculation renders a ke- zayit less than It is well known that the generations continue to grow smaller,
a third of a ke-beitza, the conclusion we reached based on the and it is [therefore] inconceivable that our thumbs are larger
Gemarot in Yoma and Keritut is that a ke-zayit equals one-half a ke- than the thumbs during the times of the Talmudic sages. We
beitza. have no choice, then, other than concluding that the eggs in
The Halakhic Ruling our times have become smaller.
One view in the Rishonim is that of Rabbenu Tam (Tosafot in Based on this analysis, he rules that a ke-zayit, which equals
Eruvin 80b, Yoma 80a, and Chullin 103b), the Ra'avya (Pesachim half a ke-beitza, is equivalent to an entire modern-sized egg. He
525), Terumat Ha-deshen (1:139), Maharil ("Seder Ha-haggada") adds that he himself follows this measurement of a ke-zayit
and others. They maintain that a ke-zayit is half a ke-beitza, regarding all relevant halakhic issues, such as consumption of matza
and the aforementioned Gemara in Eruvin dealt with a different, and marror.
smaller type of date (such as one without a pit). In other words, in the view of the Noda Bi-Yehuda, we must
The second opinion is that of the Rambam, who indicates that double all measurements dependent upon foods. This position was
a ke-zayit equals around a third of a ke- beitza (see Hilkhot Eruvin adopted - albeit with some modification - by the Vilna Gaon
1:9), as understood by several Acharonim (Magen Avraham 486:1, (Ma'aseh Rav 105), Rabbi Akiva Eger (Shut Ha-chadashot 39) and
Peri Chadash). To resolve the aforementioned Gemara in Keritut the Chatam Sofer (Responsa, O.C. 127 & 181).
according to this view, the Gra (O.C. 486) suggests that the Rav Chayim Na'eh composed a work entitled "Shi'urei Torah" in
Gemara there refers to eggs without the shells, while the which he seeks to disprove this stringency of the Noda Bi-Yehuda.
Yeshuot Yaakov (O.C. 301) explains simply that the Gemara in Among his proofs is his calculation according to the dram
Keritut disagrees with the Gemara in Eruvin. measurement of the Rambam that concludes that a ke-beitza
The Shulchan Arukh (486) states, "The measurement of a ke- amounts to a modern-sized egg, not more. He adds that this has
zayit - some say that it equals half a beitza." At first glance, it been the common practice throughout the generations.
appears that the Shulchan Arukh rejects the Rambam's view. It may The Chazon Ish, however, wrote a pamphlet called "Kuntras
be, however, that he actually viewed the Rambam's position - that a Ha-shi'urin" to dispute the view of Rav Chayim Na'eh. He writes
ke-zayit equals less than a third of ke-beitza - as the most that since the measurement is determined by the sages of
instinctively obvious opinion, since this amount corresponded each generation and a contradiction exists between the two
with the size of olives in his day. He therefore felt the need to cite standards, we must assume the larger measurement. He adds
the dissenting view, that empirical evidence notwithstanding, a ke- that once the Noda Bi-Yehuda arrived at this ruling, which then
zayit equals one- half a ke-beitza. became widespread and accepted, it assumes the status of a
The Mishna Berura (486:1, 190:10, 456:2) rules that regarding decree issued by a Bet Din for the entire nation. However, he
Torah obligations one should follow the more stringent view and continues, these larger measurements may be employed only as a
eat the size of half a ke-beitza, while for issues involving stringency - not as a leniency. Thus, an ill patient on Yom Kippur,
rabbinically ordained requirements one may be lenient and use only for example, who may eat less than a minimum amount of food at
a third of a beitza. One should recite a berakha acharona only on the certain intervals, should follow the smaller - in this case more
consumption of half a beitza, since we never recite a berakhawhen stringent - measurement.
its obligation is in doubt. Likewise, since a berakha must be recited The Mishna Berura (486:1 and Biur Halakha 271:13) addresses
on the mitzva of marror, we should avoid a doubtful situation the question of whether or not to double the Talmudic
and follow the stringent view (despite the fact that the obligation of measurements, and poses a serious challenge to the position of the
maror nowadays is rabbinic), unless one is ill and finds it difficult to Noda Bi-Yehuda. As we have seen, the Gemara posits that the
eat a half-beitza of marror. human throat can contain a full ke- beitza, and the Gemara also
All this regards the proportion of a ke-zayit to a ke-beitza. 7 comments (Yoma 80) that both cheeks can simultaneously
contain more than a revi'it. If we double the measurements, and a 3) The lowest amount: one-third of a ke-beitza according to the
halakhic ke-beitza amounts to two of our eggs, then this is position of Rav Chayim Na'eh - one-third of a matza.
realistically impossible! His challenge notwithstanding, the Mishna Now let's go one by one through the various points at the seder
Berura rules that one should follow the stringent view of the Noda Bi- when matza must be eaten, and see how much matza must be
Yehuda regarding mitzvot of Biblical origin, such as the consumed each time:
consumption of matza and kiddush Friday night. THE FIRST KE-ZAYIT: This consumption of matza fulfills the
INTERIM SUMMARY: Torah obligation of eating matza on Pesach night. Therefore, it is
Even nowadays, in the absence of the Bet Ha-mikdash, there proper to follow the stringent view and eat three-quarters (or at least
exists a Biblical obligation to eat matza at the seder. The accepted a half) of a matza.
- albeit puzzling - ruling is that of the Rosh, that one must eat two One should bear in mind that this first ke-zayit must be eaten
ke- zeitim of matza, but the consumption of the second ke- zayit is within a time frame called "kedei akhilat peras" from the moment he
on a lower level of obligation. We then proceeded to examine recites the berakha. Although there is much discussion surrounding
the measurement of "ke-zayit," and we found a difference of the definition of this time frame, the most accepted view is four
opinions on various levels: whether a ke-zayit is a half or a third of minutes. It would seem, however, that this discussion is
a ke-beitza, whether the size of a ke-beitza in this regard is irrelevant for practical purposes, so long as one eats at his normal
determined with or without the eggshell, and whether or not we rate of consumption without any interruptions, bearing in mind that
assume that our eggs and olives are half the size of those used in the one "goal" before him at this moment is the consumption of a
Talmudic times. If we are to adopt this assumption, as the Noda Bi- ke-zayit of matza.
Yehuda contends, then for practical purposes we must double THE SECOND KE-ZAYIT (eaten together with the first): As we saw
all halakhic measurements. Now we will translate this discussion earlier, this second ke-zayit is eaten only as an added stringency,
into practical terms, in an attempt to determine how much matza and its level of obligation is therefore even less than that of a
one must eat at the seder. rabbinic enactment. As such, we may be lenient with regard to its
IV. THE MEASUREMENTS ACCORDING TO MODERN-DAY size, and eat only one-third of a matza. We may add a further
STANDARDS leniency, to view the three-quarters of a matza eaten for the first ke-
A) Ke-beitza (with its shell) zayit as consisting of two ke-zeitim (one- third of a matza each), and
According to Rav Chayim Na'eh, a ke-beitza amounts to 57.6 thus eat three-quarters of a piece of matza for both ke-zeitim. This
cubic cm (according to the Rambam's calculation of a ke-beitza, but view is cited in the name of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Nissim Karelitz
based on the Turkish dram), while according to the Chazon Ish it (Siddur Pesach Ke-hilkhato, chapter 8, note 24).
equals 100 cubic cm (for, as we noted, one egg equals 50 cubic KOREKH: This obligation is mi-derabbanan (of rabbinic origin),
cm, and the Chazon Ish maintains that the measurements must be and is designed to commemorate the manner in which the korban
doubled). Pesach was eaten in the Mikdash. Therefore, we may adopt the
B) Ke-zayit middle position (which assumes that the measurements have not
As we have seen, the Rishonim dispute whether a ke- zayit is a decreased in size) and eat half a matza. One for whom even this
half a ke-beitza (Tosafot) or only a third (Rambam). We also saw involves difficulty may eat one-third (see Mishna Berura 486:1).
that if a ke-zayit is a full half of a ke- then we do not include the AFIKOMAN: Although, strictly speaking, even one ke-zayit suffices
egg's shell - which is estimated as 1/20 of the egg's entire volume - for eating the afikoman (Shulchan Arukh 477:1), one should
for the purposes of this calculation. Thus, it turns out that optimally eat two ke-zeitim (Mishna Berura ad loc.). Therefore,
according to Rav Chayim Na'eh an egg without its shell equals 54 what we said earlier regarding the second ke-zayit applies here, as
cubic cm, and thus a ke-zayit - according to Tosafot's opinion that a well. Namely, one may eat three-fourths (or at least two-thirds) of a
ke-zayit is half a ke-beitza - is 27 cubic cm. According to the Chazon matza and view it as consisting of two ke-zeitim. If, however, one
Ish, however, an egg without its shell amounts to 95 cubic cm, and feels that such an amount would constitute excessive eating
thus Tosafot's ke-zayit would equal 47.5 cubic cm. ("akhila gassa"), he may eat half a matza, or at least one-third of a
Within the Rambam's view, that a ke-zayit is only one-third of a matza (see Mishna Berura 486:1).
ke-beitza, the shell must be considered when figuring a ke-beitza. FOOTNOTES
Thus, for Rav Chayim Na'eh, who calculates the egg's volume with  Other derivations of this obligation appear in Pesachim 28b and Kiddushin 37b. Tosafot in Kiddushin and
Maharam Challawa in Pesachim 28b address the issue of why the Gemara needs multiple sources for this single
its shell at 57.6 cc, the Rambam's ke-zayit is one-third of that, or halakha.
 Rosh, Hilkhot Pesachim, printed at the end of Masekhet Pesachim, towards the bottom of 135 in the Vilna edition;
19.2 cubic cm. In actuality, however, Rav Chayim Na'eh was even also in Responsa of the Rosh, 14.
more lenient and estimated a ke-zayit as 17.3. Recall that the  These Rishonim include Rashi, Tosafot, Rabbenu Chananel, Rambam, Ran, Maharam Challawa, Rabbenu David,
the Chinukh, Ramban, Rashba and Ba'al Ha-maor, among others.
position that maintains that a ke-zayit is one-third of a ke-beitza  Other answers have been offered, as well. A particularly intriguing view is that of the Rashba (Mishmeret
argues its case based on the Gemara's assessment of a gerogeret as Ha-bayit 96a), who maintains that a ke-zayit is even smaller - less than a quarter of a ke-beitza!
 See Rav Chayim Na'eh, Shi'urin Shel Torah, p. 190, note 24.
one-third of a ke- beitza, and a gerogeret is somewhat larger than  Commentary to the Mishna, Eduyot 1:2 and Keilim 2:2, and introduction to Menachot.
 One particularly early mention of this problem appears in the Tashbetz (3:33).
a ke- zayit. Therefore, a ke-zayit is even less than one-third of a  Editor's note: Here is a fascinating solution to the six hundred year old riddle of 2x2x2.7 etzba vs. 1.5 beitza. If
ke-beitza. According to the Chazon Ish, who maintains that an you place your thumb on a ruler, it will indeed measure 2.3~2.5cm in width. This corresponds to the measurement of
the Tashbetz, and all those Acharonim (Noda Bi-Yehuda, Chatam Sofer and Chazon Ish, to name a few) who doubled
egg with its shell amounts to 100 cubic cm, the Rambam's ke-zayit the shiur of an egg on this basis - a revi'it thus being approximately 150 cc.
equals 33.3 cubic cm. However, it was once pointed out to me that artisans of old, when wishing to measure quickly, and without a ruler,
would use their thumbs, by placing one next to another and then alternatively lifting the far thumb and placing it next to
C) Volume or Weight? the near one. They thus "inched" their thumbs along the surface while counting, much as one would do today with his
feet when lacking a tape measure.
The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 5:12) defines "shi'ur Try this at home along a centimeter ruler and you will find that because of the flexibility of the fleshy sides of your
challa" (the minimum amount of dough that requires the thumbs, they become compressed slightly and thus 10 thumbs = 20 cm or 1 thumb = 2 cm. 4x 4 x 5.4 = 86.4 cc, or
Rav Chayim Na'eh's and the Rambam's calculation based on 1.5 modern eggs!
separation of a portion called challa) as approximately 43.5 eggs, Another point: The Noda Bi-Yehuda's assumption that "the generations continue to get smaller" MIGHT have been
and he adds, "like the body of an average egg - not its weight." As true from the biblical period until the time of the mishna. However, hundreds of sets of Roman armor that have
survived until today testify to the fact that, if anything, we are presently considerably larger than the people at that time.
the Maggid Mishneh explains, the Rambam here establishes that We must bear in mind, however, the Chazon Ish's point that once the Noda Bi-Yehuda's view became
widespread, it took on the status of a decree of Beit Din. - Rav Mordechai Friedman, ed.
these measurements are determined by volume, not weight, a
principle that seems to emerge as well from the mishnayot (Keilim E) EATING THE KORBAN PESACH
17:6 and elsewhere) and many other sources. This is also the view By Rav Moshe Taragin
of the Mishna Berura (486:3). However, the Kaf Ha-chayim (168:46) Many Rishonim who compiled lists of the 613 mitzvot allot two
observes that common practice was to calculate according to separate mitzvot for the korban Pesach. They primarily distinguish
weight, seemingly against the straightforward reading of all the between the mitzva of sacrificing the animal and the mitzva of eating
poskim. We may perhaps attribute this practice to the difficulty it. This does not concur with the standard counting system applied
involved in constantly measuring volume. to other sacrifices. In all other cases, a sacrifice is counted as ONE
Today, Ashkenazim calculate volume, in accordance with the of the 613 mitzvot. That mitzva encompasses the ritual service as
aforementioned ruling of the Mishna Berura, and this is also the well as the subsequent eating (when applicable). Yet, in the case
oft-cited view of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv. The Sefardic of korban Pesach, eating the animal is listed as a separate mitzva.
authorities dispute the issue: Rav Ovadya Yosef (Yechaveh Da'at This article will explore the difference between the eating of korban
1:16) writes that the weight measurement should be used, while Pesach and the eating of a standard korban.
Rav Shalom Messas (Tevu'ot Shemesh) maintains that we The Beit Ha-levi addresses this issue on two occasions. In
determine measurements based on volume. the first instance (I:2), he differentiates between the amount of
If we measure based on volume, a question arises regarding meat one is required to consume of each korban. When it comes to
the empty spaces in the matza. Generally speaking, when a standard korban, even less than a ke-zayit may be eaten, while
measuring the volume of a hollow mass for halakhic purposes, the in the case of korban Pesach each person must eat at least a ke-
empty space is not taken into account. When there is swelling in zayit. According to the Beit Ha-levi, each Jew is personally
the given item, the empty space of the swelling is the subject of obligated to consume a ke-zayit of korban Pesach since, generally,
a controversy surrounding the mishna in Uktzin 2:8. The Mishna halakhic eating demands a minimum ingestion of ke-zayit. In the
Berura (486:5) rules that regarding natural swelling, one can be case of a standard korban, however, there is no personal obligation
lenient and include in his measurement even the empty air- to eat the meat; rather, part of the sacrificial process demands that
pockets. the meat BE EATEN and not discarded. Even if I relegate the
V. THE BOTTOM LINE - THE MEASUREMENT OF "KE-ZAYIT" eating to someone else, my korban is complete, since I have
FOR MATZA AT THE SEDER assured that the meat will be eaten. Hence, no individual is
A machine matza generally weighs 30 grams, and its volume is required to consume a ke- zayit.
60 cubic cm, meaning, its specific weight is 0.5 (Midot Ve-shi'urei The Beit Ha-levi contends that this disparity might also explain
Torah, chapter 17, p. 277). Many people eat specifically hand-made the extra mitzva allotted to eating the korban Pesach within the list
matza (at least for the first ke-zayit), whose weight differs of 613. Eating any other korban is not a separate mitzva, but part of
substantially from machine matza. Its specific weight, however, is the entire process; hence, it doesn't warrant its own mitzva.
similar to that of machine matza, and thus one may calculate the Eating the Pesach, however, transcends the standard role of eating
required amount based on the measurements of machine matza. korbanot and hence is counted as a separate mitzva.
Based on our discussion, there emerge three possible amounts The Beit Ha-levi (III:51, part 4) applies this principle in
for a ke-zayit of matza: another context. He cites a gemara in Menachot (99) which
1) The largest amount: half a ke-beitza according to the position of allows eating meat from a korban which is still raw. Raw meat is
the Chazon Ish - three-quarters of a matza. generally considered eino ra'ui la-akhila (inedible) and does not
2) The medium amount: half a ke-beitza according the position of classify as a halakhically valid eating. For example, if one were to
Rav Chayim Na'eh - half a matza. 8 eat raw meat of neveila (unslaughtered carcass), he would not
receive a punishment since this is a non-standard form of eating. addressed by the Yere'im, mitzva 405.
 For further elaboration of this point, see Rav Mordechai Breuer, Pirkei Mo'adot, vol. I, pp. 165-170.
Yet in the case of a korban, this form of eating appears to be valid.
The Beit Ha-levi uses this gemara to confirm his point that with
regard to a standard korban, the eating is not an obligatory act for 8 BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY
A project of Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Jewish Studies, Paul and Helene hulman Basic Jewish Studies Center, and the
any specific person; the meat of the korban merely has to be Office of the Campus Rabbi. Sponsored by Dr. Ruth Borchard of the Shoresh Charitable Fund (SCF). Published with
devoured. Just as each person may eat less than a ke- zayit, so too assistance of the President's Fund for Torah and Science.Web Site: http://www.biu.ac.il/JH/Parasha
the meat may be eaten raw. These same laws would not apply to A) PASSOVER IN THE YEMENITE TRADITION
korban Pesach, which demands a ma'aseh akhila - a halakhic act of Dr. Moshe Gavra Naftal-Yaffe Dept. of Talmud
eating, considered as a separate mitzva. The Yemenite Jewish community, one of the oldest Jewish
It is possible that the Beit Ha-levi's statement is reflected in the communities to be established in the Exile, has preserved many
location of the korban Pesach laws in the Torah. The main ancient traditions. The tendency has been to integrate new customs
segment describing these laws is found in parashat Bo – before the that reached Yemen with older practices. Jewish practice throughout
concepts of mishkan and korbanot in general were conceived. It Yemen has not always been uniform; over the past two centuries two
would appear that the korban Pesach in general, and specifically the or three main schools of practice began to emerge with regard to
eating thereof, can be understood independently of the standard halakhah and customs practiced among Yemenite Jewry. These
korban model. Indeed, the Torah repeats the laws of korban streams are to be found among Jews of Yemenite origin living in
Pesach in parashat Re'eh (Devarim 16), but noticeably omits Israel today.
korban Pesach from the list of korbanot in Sefer Vayikra. The Baladi Community
In addition, we might assent to the Beit Ha-levi's position Founded by Mori (Rabbi) Yihye Salah-Maharitz (18th century).
regarding a mitzva of akhila independent of the mitzva of shechita His approach was to preserve ancient Yemenite tradition while
(slaughtering) based upon the distinct time frames allotted for each selectively adopting customs and practices that harmonized with this
mitzva. The shechita of the korban Pesach must occur during the tradition. Mostly he followed Maimonides in his halakhic rulings,
afternoon of the 14th, but not during the evening. By stark contrast, and edited a prayer book, Etz Hayyim. In the early twentieth century
the eating CAN ONLY BEGIN after sunset. In general, the eating R. Yihye Kapah, the Hakham Bashi (representative of the community
of a korban can commence immediately after the sacrifice. Of to the Moslem authorities) began to reduce the influence of Kabbalah
course, it may continue during the ensuing evening, but it does not and with regard to several practices led a return to the more ancient
have to be delayed until then. Yemenite custom. This community, known as the Darda'i, generally
In fact, the gemara in Berakhot (9a) cites a dispute between R. followed similar practices to the Baladi Jews.
Eliezer and R. Yehoshua over whether the Pesach may be eaten The Shami community
until sunrise (like a standard korban) or must be consumed by In large areas of Yemen's Shar'ab province the Jews adopted all
midnight. Clearly, R. Eliezer's position, which limits the eating the practices of the Sephardic kabbalists, retaining very little of
until midnight, further indicates the gap which exists between eating ancient Yemenite tradition. In central Yemen as well prayers followed
a regular korban and eating the Pesach. the Shami tradition, although strong ties were maintained to Baladi
Another factor which might highlight the differences between the tradition.
two eatings is the punishment of karet (excision) for not eating the This article sets forth the unique customs observed by Yemenite
Pesach. It is well known that korban Pesach is one of only two Jews on Passover, customs that prevailed over the past two
positive commandments whose lack of observance entails karet (the centuries in the Baladi and some of the Shami communities.
other is circumcision). It is unclear from the gemara whether karet Preparing for Passover
applies only to someone who does not sacrifice a Pesach, or even The wheat to be used on Passover was kept under surveillance
to someone who sacrifices but doesn't eat. Rashi (Zevachim 100b) from the moment of harvesting. The wheat set aside for Passover
seems to indicate that karet applies even if one did not eat the use, including shemura matzah, was buried amidst a weed called
Pesach. Again, the unique punishment might confirm the harmel, as is described in the Jerusalem Talmud.
independent role which eating the Pesach plays, unlike the Shabbat Ha-Gadol, the Sabbath before Passover
secondary one which eating plays in general korbanot. Ancient Yemenite Jewish literature makes no mention of a
Though he distinguishes between Pesach and general korbanot, special haftarah for the Sabbath before Passover, rather, the usual
the Beit Ha-levi admits that the Pesach, alongside its unique weekly haftarah was recited. Only recently have Yemenite Jews
akhila, still retains the general kodashim element of eating. begun to read the haftarah selection from Malachi, ch. 3, which we
Basically, there are two different facets to eating the Pesach - customarily associate with Shabbat Ha-Gadol.
the general obligation to assure that the meat of a korban is The Evening before the Festival
consumed, and the special Pesach mitzva that each person should In the search for leaven on the eve of the 14th of Nisan, the
eat a ke-zayit of meat. evening before the Seder, Yemenite Jews would look for hametz --
Support for this view might be generated from a gemara in leaven -- by the light of a candle, but would not scatter pieces of
Zevachim (77), which discusses the rule of "asei docheh lo hametz around the house, nor did they use a feather. Firstborns
ta'aseh." In general, if a person can fulfill an obligation only by did not generally fast on the day preceding the festival, since that day
violating a prohibition, we rule that he nevertheless must fulfill the was considered a festive day on which the pascal offering was
obligation (assuming there is no way to fulfill without violating). The sacrificed in the Temple, although the sanctity of that day was
gemara in Zevachim questions whether this rule applies in the considered somewhat less than the intermediate days of the
Mikdash as well. Using a rule governing korban Pesach, the gemara festival.
attempts to prove that it does not. One is not allowed to break any The custom of selling hametz was not observed in Yemen. The
bones of the Pesach (see Shemot 12:46). The gemara rules that Yemenite Jews would regulate their purchases of hametz for a
this applies to all bones – even those which contain edible marrow. reasonable period prior to the festival and would finish eating all their
Evidently, the gemara continues, the mitzva of eating the Pesach hametz by the morning of the first eve of the holiday. Anyone who
does not take precedence over the prohibition of breaking bones. had a considerable quantity of dough left over, would sell it outright to
From this fact, the gemara deduces that, regarding Mikdash laws, a gentile (i.e. not with the intent of buying it back).
positive commandments (eating korban Pesach) do not take The Seder
precedence over prohibitions (breaking bones). Several quite ancient customs, originating in the Second Temple
From this gemara we might conclude that not only must a ke- period and mentioned in the Mishnah and the Jerusalem Talmud,
zayit of meat be eaten, but that ALL EDIBLE MEAT must be survived. For example, calling haroset by the name of dukha, reciting
consumed. If eating one ke-zayit would suffice, the scenario of Hallel in responsive reading and splitting it into sections, and using
obligation vs. prohibition (eating bone marrow vs. not breaking the formulation "go'el Yisrael' at the end of the Blessing of
bones) would never arise; why not fulfill the mitzva of eating by Redemption, contrary to the Babylonian Talmud which requires
consuming the meat itself, without getting involved with the bones? ga'al.
Evidently, not only must a ke-zayit be eaten, but, at a certain level, Those practices indicative of the influence of Rabbi Saadiah
there exists a mitzva to consume all edible flesh. Regarding this Gaon and Rabbi Alfasi, which had been widespread in Yemen, have
mitzva, the gemara probes the issue of breaking bones. This mitzva all but disappeared in recent centuries. Most of the current Seder
of eating ALL flesh does seem to reflect the stanmitzva of customs follow Maimonides.
korbanot. Evidently, Pesach has two facets: a special mitzva for The Yemenites do not prepare a special Seder Plate. Some had
each person to eat a ke-zayit, and the general mitzva of assuring a tradition of drinking five cups of wine for the five verbs of
that korban meat is consumed. redemption in Exodus 6:6-8. Two cooked items on the platter
Though it makes sense to view Pesach as encompassing the (actually three, two varieties of meat, one roasted and one cooked,
laws of a standard korban and subject to the same guidelines, the and an egg added from Kabbalistic sources) would be eaten as part
text does not necessarily support this position. As mentioned of the feast.
earlier, the laws of korban Pesach described in parashat Bo are Only two matzahs would be used, one of them to be broken in
clearly stated in a vacuum, since other korbanot were not yet half prior to the blessings and not at the beginning of the Seder ritual.
prescribed. Indeed, the Torah repeats the laws in parashat Re'eh According to Maimonides it is not obligatory to put aside the half
after korbanot were mandated. Yet, we still might question the matzah for the afikoman, although this is customary. "Stealing" or
omission of korban Pesach from Sefer Vayikra, in which the hiding the afikoman was not customary, although, we admit, such a
korbanot are listed. This question - the relationship between korban custom is useful in keeping the children awake.
Pesach and the general world of kodashim - has ramifications The festival itself
beyond the definition of eating. This broader issue, however, lies In Yemen and among the Yemenite Jews in Israel it was
beyond the scope of this article. customary to slaughter fowl on the holiday, and certainly on the
FOOTNOTES intermediate days of the festival. I recall my father of blessed
 See, for example, the Rambam's Sefer Ha-mitzvot (aseh 55 and 56), the Semag (223 and 225), the Chinukh (5 and 6),
and the Yerei'im (90 and 405). memory, about thirty years ago, sending me to have a chicken
 See Pesachim 3b, where a kohen mentioned that he received a portion of lechem ha-panim the size of a bean.
 The same distinction between eating a korban Pesach and eating standard korbanot was drawn by the Or
slaughtered by the local shohet in Shikun Heh of Bnai Berak on the
Same'ach, Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 6:1. first day of the holiday (yom tov). Today slaughtering on the holiday
 Based on the Beit Ha-levi's approach, we might view the korban Pesach as a model for all halakhic acts of eating. has essentially ceased because of a change in circumstance, insofar
Anything which is valid for Pesach purposes would be defined as akhila. For example, the gemara in Pesachim (82b)
suggests that one may fulfill the mitzva of eating the korban Pesach by eating the nerves of the animal rather than the as slaughtering is not done daily, but not because slaughtering on the
meat itself. Evidently, the gemara considers eating nerves as equivalent to eating meat. This would appear slightly
contradictory to the gemara in Chullin (117b) which maintains that nerves do not contain the tum'a usually associated holiday is intrinsically forbidden.
with neveila. Evidently, we must assume from the gemara in Pesachim that nerves are considered meat, but for some
reason do not confer this form of tum'a.
However, if the chicken was not "fresh-fresh", the matza certainly
 This distinction, which reflects the difference between Pesach and korbanot in general, was first 9 was. It was customary to bake matzah throughout the festival,
as attested by a responsum from the rabbis of San'a, sent in 1910 to was of the opinion that it is customary for an important woman to
the Yemenite Jews living in Jerusalem. By then the Yemenite recline since she has no husband, or because her husband is not
community in Jerusalem had grown and separated itself from the strict about her reclining in his presence due to her wealth or high
Sephardic kolel. The Yemenite Jews wished to preserve their own place. Indeed, Rabbi Eliezer b. R. Judah (Sefer ha-Rokeah, p. 152,
traditions in Jerusalem as well and to celebrate the festival by eating par. 283) interpreted as follows: "In her husband's house a woman
fresh food including fresh, soft matzah, and not "hard boards." Hence need not recline, but if she is an important woman and her husband
they turned to the rabbis of San'a with their query. is not strict with her, she must recline." According to the interpretation
A widespread practice is to make the blessing over bread over a that exempts women because they are busy with the meal, an
matzah and a half throughout the entire festival, in accordance with important woman would not be occupied with such things. Finally,
the Talmudic explanation (Berakhot 39b): "All admit that on Passover according to the view that exempts women because it is not
a piece is placed on (or in) a whole one, and then blessed and eaten. customary for them to serve wine, it was customary for an important
What is the reason for this? Because it is called 'bread of affliction.'" woman to recline.
Passover was taken to mean all the days of the festival, and not only In this regard, the remarks of M. Ish-Shalom should be noted:
the Seder eve. "Indeed, it was the custom of the Romans as well to eat reclining; but
The Yemenites eat all varieties of legumes (kitniyot) as well as the women did not eat reclining for reasons of modesty, except for
rice throughout the festival, and nowhere did the practice of important women whose clothing covered their legs entirely."
abstaining from eating legumes take hold in Yemen. However, all Presumably over the years, since the time this halakhah was
beans and peas would be meticulously checked before the festival to established in the Talmud, women did not recline, except for a
make sure there were no grains mixed in with them . minority who were considered "important women" by one or another
 It has been generally known and agreed of late, so claims Rabbi Isaac Ratzhabi, that Maharitz ruled according to definition of the term.
Maimonides only when the latter's practice accorded with his own, but in other instances ruled according to the Shulhan
Arukh. For a detailed discussion of this point see M. Gavra, Hakhmei Yisrael she-be-Teiman-- Maharitz (Benei Berak A turning point in the entire subject of women reclining at the
1994), pp. 159-165.  This article does not aim to list the Yemenites' customs in full detail, rather to note certain customs
unique to Yemen by way of comparison with other communities.  Maharitz, Resp. Pe'ulat Tzaddik, II.135.  Pesahim, Seder took place in Franco-Germany during the time of the Tosafists.
Ch. 3, at the end of halakhah 1, from R. J. Kapah, Halikhot Teiman, pp. 15-16.  R. Isaac Ratzhabi, Shulhan Arukh ha-
Mekutzar, Moadim, Part 3, p. 2.  R. J. Kapah, in his edition of Maimonides, Hilkhot Hametz u-Matzah, 3.1; also R. I.
We read in the Tosafists that "all our women are important and are
Ratzhabi, loc. sit., pp. 7-8.  R. J. Kapah, loc. sit., p. 389, and Hilkhot Yom Tov, p. 198.  R. J. Kapah, loc. sit., p. 261; obliged to recline." This appears to have been quite a revolutionary
Harav Shlomo Korah, Arikhat ha-Shulhan, Part 1, pp. 44-45.  M. Gavra, Mehkarim be-Siddurei Teiman, Part 1: The view on the question of whether a woman must recline. In contrast to
Passover Haggadah, pp. 2-4, 146-153.  Gavra, loc. sit., pp. 139-141; R. J. Kapah, loc. sit., 421.  Maritz, Siddur Etz
Hayyim, II, p. 24b; R. Sh. Korah, loc. sit., p. 98.  R. J. Kapah, Halikhot Teiman, p. 22, writes that this is forbidden the Talmud, which only permitted an important woman to recline
even for the sake of performing a commandment. The following anecdote illustrates this tradition: Around twenty years
ago the grandchildren of M. Hayyim Yemini of blessed memory (my wife's grandfather) hid the afikoman. When he asked, while all others were exempt from reclining, in Franco-Germany for
"Where is the afikoman?" the grandchildren answered that they would not tell him until he promised them a present. He
answered that in Yemen it was not customary to give out presents, and when they did not give him back the afikoman,
some reason all the women were considered "important."
despite all his begging, M. Hayyim used a different matzah from the table, and proceeded with the Seder, performing the The sources are not explicit and do not suggest a reason for this
ritual washing of the hands and reciting the grace after meals.  Yehudah Levi Nahum, Tzohar le-Hasifat Ginzei change, so we must look for the historical and sociological
Teiman, pp. 273-277.  R. J. Kapah, Maimonides, pp. 412-420; R. Sh. Korah, loc. sit., p. 99; Tikhlal Etz Hayyim ha-
Shalem, II, p. 72-74; R. J. Ratzhabi, loc. sit., p. 60. circumstances that can account for this particular attitude towards
B) MUST WOMEN RECLINE AT THE SEDER? women. Several scholars have investigated the change in the status
Dr. Yaakov Gartner The Naftal-Yaffe Dept. of Talmud of women in early Franco-Germany. For example, the Mishnah in
A strikingly unique feature of the Seder is the practice of reclining Ketubot 5.5 says: "These are the tasks that a wife performs for her
while eating the matzah and drinking the four cups of wine. The origin husband: she does the grinding, baking and laundering, she cooks,
of this obligation lies in Tractate Pesahim of the Mishnah: "Even a and nurses her children." In contrast, later R. Barukh ruled as follows:
poor person in Israel may not eat until he reclines" (10.1). The "Now it is not customary for our women to do the grinding and
rationale for this requirement is given in the Jerusalem Talmud laundering, for they are not forced to." This ruling reflects the
(Pesahim 10.1; 37b): "Rabbi Levi said: Since it is the way of slaves to reality of their lives - a society in which gentile servants did the
eat standing, here we eat reclining to show that we were released housework under the direction of the mistress of the house.
from bondage and are free." In other words, the Sages wanted the Various sources from the same period indicate that women were
participants at the Seder to demonstrate their freedom by eating in a also engaged in negotiating, agriculture, crafts, trade, lending and tax
reclining position. assessing. This represents a departure from the custom of earlier
In what way does reclining express freedom as opposed to generations in which women's activities were limited in scope. A
bondage? Various scholars have observed that eating while reclining factor contributing to this development was the desire of many
was not unique to the Seder meal. In the time of the Mishnah it was women to assume the burden of supporting the family in order to
customary for Jews and non-Jews alike to partake of their festive allow their husbands to devote themselves exclusively to studying
meals reclining, in accordance with Greco-Roman custom, Torah. If the reason for a woman not to recline at the Seder was
whereas slaves did not, as is explained in the Jerusalem Talmud, subordination to her husband, as interpreted by Rashbam, then
"Since it is the way of slaves to eat standing." Therefore eating in this thanks to the distinguished status of women in Ashkenazi society in
position expressed freedom. that era their husbands no longer minded if their wives reclined.
Must women, too, recline at the Seder table? An explicit answer This change in the status of women at the Seder apparently did
to this question is given in the Talmud (Pesahim 108a): "A woman (at not take place throughout the entire Ashkenazi Jewish community,
her husband's table) need not recline; but if she is an important but was limited to the region of the Tosafists, who considered all their
woman, she must recline." Thus the question whether or not a women "important" and hence obliged to recline. We do not know
woman must eat reclining depended on her status. Apparently most precisely which Tosafists were involved or where they lived. The
women did not eat reclining, but a woman who was considered Rosh (R. Asher ben Jehiel) and his son, R. Jacob ben Asher ("Baal
important did. ha-Turim," 14th century) did not mention this opinion, nor was it cited
Let us try to understand the rationale behind this halakhah. Since in Sefer ha-Agur (15th century). It was in fact the Sephardic rabbi, R.
women are obliged to drink four cups of wine, "for they, too, were Joseph Caro, who noted the Tosafists' opinion, in Beit Yosef, his
present at this miraculous event" (Pes. 108b), why exempt them from commentary on the Tur (Orah Hayyim 472, s.v. ishah hashuvah), in
reclining? Three explanations have been offered: accord with the writings of the Mordechai and Rabbenu Yeruham. But
1) "For she is in awe of her husband, to whom she is in the Shulhan Arukh, where R. Caro ruled on this halakhah, he did
subordinate" (Rashbam on Tractate Pesahim, loc. sit.). not mention their opinion.
2) "Since it is not customary for women to serve wine" (She'iltot It was R. Moses Isserles (Rema) who referred to the ruling of the
de Rav Aha Gaon, no. 77). Tosafists in his glosses on the Shulhan Arukh (272.4), writing as
3) "She is not obliged to recline since she is busy preparing and follows: "All our women are considered important, but it is not their
serving the food" (Rabbenu Manoah, in his commentary on custom to recline because they follow Raavyah who said that in
Maimonides, Hilkhot Hametz u-Matzah 7.8). our time one does not recline." To understand the background of
According to Rashbam, women do not recline because eating Rema's remark we must look at Darkhei Moshe, his commentary on
that way is not appropriate in terms of the accepted behavior of the Tur, where he related to what had been said by Beit Yosef,
women in front of their husbands. Rav Aha exempted women from commenting as follows: "Indeed, at the present time I have not seen
reclining because eating in that manner was not customary, the that women recline; perhaps they were inclined to take a lenient
reason apparently being that it did not behoove a wife to do so. And approach in accordance with Raavyah, who wrote that these days
while the explanation given by Rabbenu Manoah pertains to married one does not recline."
women, his interpretation does not associate this halakhah with the This remark sheds light on the problem as perceived by Rema.
proper behavior of a wife towards her husband; rather, he views it as On the one hand he was aware of the opinion of the Tosafists, that all
a practical matter; the housewife is occupied with the food for the their women were considered important and obliged to recline at the
feast, and therefore she was exempted by the Sages from reclining. Seder. On the other hand, the women in Poland, where Rema lived,
The differences between these interpretations have practical did not generally recline, as noted above, that not all the Ashkenazi
ramifications. According to the first and the third interpretations, a Jews accepted the ruling of the Tosafists. Rema resolved this
woman who is not married or not busy with serving the food must difficulty by assuming that the women relied on the view of Raavyah,
recline. According to the second interpretation, women in general do who held that at the present time, when it is not customary to eat
not recline because such behavior is considered unbecoming to reclining throughout the year, there is no obligation even on men to
them. recline on the night of the Seder. The interesting point in Rema's
We must also clarify who was considered an "important woman" gloss on the Shulhan Arukh is that this assumption of accepting the
and why such a woman is obligated to recline. In their commentaries Raavyah's reasoning now became a fact to explain the reason for the
on Tractate Pesahim, Rashi and Rashbam did not remark on this women's practice.
halakhah, but Rabbenu Manoah, loc. sit., gave the following At this point in the evolution of the practice we witness an
definitions: 1) "A woman who has no husband and is the woman of edifying development. The Ashkenazi Jews continued their practice
the house," in other words, a widow who manages the affairs of the of women not reclining, following the ruling of Rema, whereas the
house in the absence of a male head of household. 2) "A woman who ruling of the Tosafists was adopted precisely in the Sephardic
is important for her handiwork," in other words, a wealthy woman communities. R. Hayyim Benvenisti, rabbi of Izmir, who was active
successful in her business endeavors. 3) "A pious woman, daughter approximately two generations after R. Joseph Caro, wrote in his
of a great leader of the times," in other words, a woman who is commentary on the Passover Haggadah, Pesah Me'ubin (Lakewood,
admired because of her upstanding moral and religious personality 1997, p. 116): "Important women must recline; and Rabbi Yeroham
and her distinguished lineage. has written that all our women are important and must recline;
Rabbenu Manoah, who interpreted in line with Rashbam, "A likewise in the Mordechai, and this is the practice among Sephardim."
woman need not recline, for since she is subordinate to her husband, Here we see an interesting development. The Sephardim
he casts his awe over her, and it is not her custom to recline," 1 adopted the view of the Tosafists, and also related to their wives
as important women; but they did not accept the view of Rema, that If, b'diavad, one could not or did not take care of these matters
women rely on the opinion of Raavyah as justification not to recline. before midday, some of them may still be done while others may not:
This line of thought was continued by important Sephardic sewing or completing the sewing of new clothes may not be done at
posekim through the generations. all; a haircut and shave may be taken only at a non-Jewish barber;
In the light of our discussion we can now understand the context laundry may be done only by a non-Jewish maid or dry cleaner.(12)
in which Ha-Seder ha-Arukh (Jerusalem 1991, p. 226), a popular Other chores, such as ironing clothes,(13) polishing shoes, cutting
work on the laws and customs pertaining to the Seder, ruled: nails, sewing buttons and other minor mending,(14) may be done
"Actually we have two different customs: among the Sephardic Jews, with no restrictions.
women recline; and among the Ashkenazi Jews women do not." QUESTION: May one use other beverages - besides wine- to
 See R. Pelaslier, Hayei Yom be-Yavan be-Tekufat Pericles, Tel Aviv 1967, p. 132; F. R. Cowell, Everyday Life in fulfill the mitzvah of drinking the four cups?
Ancient Rome, London 1961, pp. 25, 79; M. Ish-Shalom, Meir Ayin al Seder ve-Haggadah shel Pesah, Vienna 1895, pp.
16-17; D. Goldsmith, Seder Haggadah shel Pesah al pi Minhag Ashkenaz u-Sefarad, Jerusalem - Tel Aviv 1948, p. 6; Y. DISCUSSION: The poskim agree that anyone who can, should
Tavori, Pesah Dorot, Tel Aviv 1996, pp. 61-62; Ts. Peleg, Ofi ha-Seuda ha-Yehudit u-Minhageha be-Tekufat ha-Mishnah
ve-ha-Talmud, Doctoral Dissertation, Bar Ilan University 1996, pp. 42-47.  Presented as a parenthetical remark, even use only wine(15) for fulfilling this mitzvah. This is because the four
though these words appear in printed editions, because they are omitted in the manuscripts and the Rishonim. Cf. Dikdukei
Soferim, Pesahim, p. 164, n. 1.  Rashi, on Avodah Zarah 25b, s.v. ikka beynayhu, interpreted this as meaning "close to
cups on Seder night are supposed to be drunk derech cheirus - in the
the royalty."  It is worth noting the interesting remark made by R. Moshe Feinstein in Igrot Moshe, Orah Hayyim 5.20: manner of a man just freed from long captivity- which means drinking
The Bayit Haddash [a commentary on the Tur; Y.G.] challenges Rashbam regarding the interpretation itself that it is for an alcoholic beverage.(16) Indeed, some poskim go so far as to allow
reason of fear of her husband, for, asks the BaH, even an important woman should be in fear of her husband. His question
is not comprehensible; for is it a commandment and the will of the Sages that her husband cast fear upon her regarding wine only, even if one dislikes wine or if the wine will give the drinker
things that do not concern him, especially if this fear prevents fullfilment of a mitzva? Nor is it a good thing for a husband
to be strict with his wife, for as we see it has been several centuries since husbands have been strict with their wives."  a temporary headache, etc.(17)
See reference in Note 1 above, p. 17.  Cf. Mordechai, Pesahim 37d; Rabbenu Yeroham, 42d. This view does not appear
in the Tosafot printed in the Talmud.  Mordechai, Ketubot 182. The reference is apparently to Rabbi Barukh b. R.
But many other poskim hold that if one dislikes wine, or if wine
Samuel of Mainz, one of the great posekim of his time, active in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.  Z. Falk, makes him dizzy or ill etc., one is not required to drink it.(18) Indeed,
"Ma'amad ha-Ishah be-Kehilot Ashkenaz ve-Tsarfat be-Yemei ha-Beinayim," Sinai, 49 (1961), pp. 361-367. L. some poskim are of the opinion that such people should not force
Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages, New York 1964, pp. 277-279; also cf. I. Agus, The Heroic Age
of Franco-German Jewry, New York 1969, pp. 294-305.  Cf. the remarks by Rokeah, cited above, shortly before note 4. themselves to drink wine, since for them it is not derech cheirus to
One of the great posekim of our time gave an interesting explanation of why the Tosafists ruled that "our women are
important." R. Moshe Feinstein (n. 4, above) wrote: "It is not to the point to understand this as meaning that all their drink something that they dislike or that makes them ill.(19) This
women actually became important, so that their husbands had to honor them because of the ways of the world. Rather, it
must have been due to their having recognized in the course of time that men have no reason to feel superior to their
applies especially to women and children under bar/bas mitzvah, who
women; and the women recognized that their husbands had great need of them. The small number of important women are not accustomed to drink wine in such volume.
that existed in all generations were those who recognized that their husbands had need of them, just as they had need of In order of preference, this is what should be done:
their husbands, and also realized that their husbands were aware of this."  R. Eliezer b. R. Joel ha-Levy, one of the
great Ashkenazi rabbis of the 12th century.  See R. Mordechai Yoffe, Levush ha-Hur, 372.4; R. Moses of Premishl, 1. Mix grape juice(20) together with the wine. As long as some
Matteh Moshe, end of par. 520; R. Solomon Ganzfried, Kitzur Shulhan Arukh, 119.2; R. Israel Meir Cohen, Mishnah
Berurah, 372.12: "She need not recline, for ordinarily women never recline." The approach taken by R. Yehiel Michael taste of wine remains in the mixture [depending on the type of wine
Epstein is interesting in several respects. In Arukh ha-Shulhan (372.6) he wrote: "In my humble opinion, it is hard to
concur (with Rema); for if so, why did the men not cite Raavyah in order to refrain from reclining? Moreover, it is the
used], it is considered drinking derech cheirus.(21)
opinion of only one rabbi. Rather, it appears that they relied on the queries and R. Alfasi according to their approach [that 2. Drink only grape juice. Under extenuating circumstances one
it is not customary for women to recline - Y. G.]; and important women are not numerous, and even if a women is can fulfill his obligation by drinking any chamar medinah,(22) which is
important, she does not insist on being treated as such."  R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai (Hida), Birkhei Yosef,
372.3; R. Hayyim Yaakov Sofer, Kaf Hayyim, 372.26; R. Hayyim David ha-Levy (Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv), Mekor a type of beverage served to important guests.(23) Since there are
Hayyim, IV, p. 95, par. 8. In note 14 he remarks, "As the rabbis said, 'An important woman must recline,' and as Rema
said, 'All our women are important.'" R. Ovadiah Yosef, Hazon Ovadiah, II, p. 120: "It is customary among in this regard." various views as to what exactly constitutes chamar medinah, a rabbi
 See reference in Note 1 above, p. 17.  Cf. Mordechai, Pesahim 37d; Rabbenu Yeroham, 42d. This view does not
appear in the Tosafot printed in the Talmud.  Mordechai, Ketubot 182. The reference is apparently to Rabbi Barukh b.
should be consulted.
R. Samuel of Mainz, one of the great posekim of his time, active in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.  Z. Falk, QUESTION: At many Seders the recital of the Hagadah takes a
"Ma'amad ha-Ishah be-Kehilot Ashkenaz ve-Tsarfat be-Yemei ha-Beinayim," Sinai, 49 (1961), pp. 361-367. L. long time. Is it permitted to drink during that time?
Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages, New York 1964, pp. 277-279; also cf. I. Agus, The Heroic Age
of Franco-German Jewry, New York 1969, pp. 294-305.  Cf. the remarks by Rokeah, cited above, shortly before note DISCUSSION: It is permitted to drink water or soda between the
4. One of the great posekim of our time gave an interesting explanation of why the Tosafists ruled that "our women are
important." R. Moshe Feinstein (n. 4, above) wrote: "It is not to the point to understand this as meaning that all their first and second cups.(24) A shehakol is recited over the water,
women actually became important, so that their husbands had to honor them because of the ways of the world. Rather, it
must have been due to their having recognized in the course of time that men have no reason to feel superior to their
unless the water was on the table during Kiddush, or if one intended
women; and the women recognized that their husbands had great need of them. The small number of important women during Kiddush to drink water or soda during the recital of the
that existed in all generations were those who recognized that their husbands had need of them, just as they had need of Hagadah.(25)
their husbands, and also realized that their husbands were aware of this."  R. Eliezer b. R. Joel ha-Levy, one of the
great Ashkenazi rabbis of the 12th century.  See R. Mordechai Yafe, Levush ha-Hur, 372.4; R. Moses, Matteh Moshe, Coffee, tea, milk, or fruit juices may also be drunk between the
end of par. 520; R. Solomon Ganzfried, Kitzur Shulhan Arukh, 119.2; R. Israel Meir Cohen, Mishnah Berurah, 372.12:
"She need not recline, for plain women never recline." The approach taken be R. Yehiel Michael Epstein is interesting in first and second cups,(26) but only if they will not require their own
several respects. In Arukh ha-Shulhan (372.6) he wrote: "In my humble opinion, it is hard to concur (with Rema); for if so,
why did the men not cite Ravyah? Moreover, it is the opinion of only one rabbi. Rather, it appears that they relied on the
berachah. In order for them to be covered by the ha-gafen recited
She'iltot and R. Alfasi according to the reading they had [that women do not recline - Y. G.]; and important women are not over the first cup, they would have to have been on the table during
numerous, and even if a women is important, she does not necessarily insist on being treated as such."  R. Hayyim Kiddush or one would have had to intend to drink them while reciting
Joseph David Azulai (Hida), Birkhei Yosef, 372.3; R. Hayyim Yaakov Sofer, Kaf Hayyim, 372.26; R. Hayyim David ha-
Levy (Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv), Mekor Hayyim, IV, p. 95, par. 8. In note 14 he remarks, "As R. Joseph Caro said, 'An Kiddush. Since these beverages are considered chamar medinah,
important woman must recline,' and as Rema said, 'All our women are important.'" R. Ovadiah Yosef, Hazon Ovadiah, II,
p. 120: "It is customary among the Sephardic Jews for women to recline, because it is not the way of the men to be strict." reciting a separate berachah and drinking them would make it appear
as if one is adding an additional cup to the four prescribed ones.(27)
Wine and other intoxicating beverages should be completely
4- HALACHA (Gross)
Selected Halachos Relating To Parshat HaShevua By Rabbi Doniel NeustadtDustributed by The Harbotzas Torah Division
avoided between the drinking of the first two cups. It is permitted,
of Congregation Shomre Shabbos however to drink wine and all other beverages after the second cup is
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON HILCHOS PESACH drunk and throughout Shulchan Orech when the meal is served.
QUESTION: How extensive does the search for chametz have to FOOTNOTES:
1 O.C. 333:3. 2 Several gedolim, among them the Gaon of Vilna, the Chasam Sofer and the Brisker Rav, were reported to
be? How is it possible to thoroughly search a whole house in a short have spent a good part of the night searching their houses for chametz. 3 Sha'arei Teshuvah 433:2; Da'as Torah 433:2;
period of time? Chochmas Shelomo 433:1; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Mevakshei Torah Ohr Efrayim, pg. 532); Kinyan Torah 2:122;
The basic idea is quoted by Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 432:12. 4 Siddur Pesach K'hilchaso 13:1. 5 See Pnei Yehoshua
DISCUSSION: Halachically speaking, an extensive and thorough (Pesachim 50a) for a third reason for this prohibition. 6 Mishnah Berurah 468:1. According to this reason, even when
search is required in any place where chametz may have been erev Pesach falls on Shabbos it is forbidden to do work on Friday. 7 Beiur Halachah 468:1. 8 Mishnah Berurah
468:5. 9 Rama O.C. 468:2. 10 Mishnah Berurah 468:7. 11 Mishnah Berurah 468:5. Some mention that it is proper to
brought during the past year.(1) Since it is almost impossible to shower/bathe and polish shoes before chatzos as well, but this is not mentioned by the poskim. 12 Mishnah Berurah
468:7. Towels and children's clothing which became dirty (or were discovered to be dirty) after chatzos and are going to be
properly check an entire house in a short period of time, some people needed during Yom Tov may be machine-washed even by a Jew. 13 Orchos Rabbeinu 2, pg. 56, quoting an oral
actually spend many hours checking and searching their houses on ruling by the Chazon Ish. 14 Rama O.C. 468:2 and Mishnah Berurah 8. Lengthening and shortening a hem is also
permitted. 15 The wine of choice is one that is favored by the drinker. If he has no preference, then any red wine
the night of bedikas chametz, often devoting a good part of the night (including Tokay wine) may be used; O.C. 472:11. One who mixes two wines in order to produce a red color should
to the bedikah.(2) But most people cannot- or do not -spend so much preferably pour the white wine into the red and not vice versa; based on Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 318:65. 16 Some poskim hold
that in addition to derech cheirus, the drinking must also be derech simchah, and only wine meets that criterion; see Pri
time searching their homes for chametz. How, then, do they fulfill this Megadim, Mishbetzos 472; Chok Yaakov 472:25; Mikraei Kodesh 35. 17 Harav M. Feinstein (Kol Dodi 3:8); Harav Y.S.
Elyashiv (Halailah Hazeh, pg. 9). 18 See Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:243, who reports that the Brisker Rav and the
obligation? Tchebiner Rav used grape juice for the four cups; Harav C. Kanievsky (quoted in Siddur Pesach K'hilchaso 2:3, note 25)
Several poskim find justification (limud zechus) for the laxer reports the same about the Chazon Ish; Harav Y.Y. Fisher (Halailah Hazeh, pg. 9); Chazon Ovadiah, pg. 125.
She'arim Metzuyanim b'Halachah 118:1, based on the wording of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch Harav 272:17 that the
version of bedikas chametz, as the house has undergone many drinking of the four cups must be "pleasant". 20 Preferably, one should not use reconstituted grape juice, since many
weeks of meticulous pre-Pesach cleaning and scrubbing and there is poskim hold that ha-gafen is no longer recited on it; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Minchas Shelomo 1:4); Harav Y.S. Elyashiv
(Vezos ha-Berachah, pg. 116). 21 Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Mevakshei Torah Ohr Efrayim, pgs. 445 and 571); Harav
no vestige of chametz around. Once the rooms of the house have Y.S. Elyashiv (Halailah Hazeh, pg. 9). 22 Mishnah Berurah 472:37. 23 Igros Moshe O.C. 2:75. 24 Mishnah
Berurah 473:16. 25 O.C. 174:2. 26 While this is permitted, it is not appropriate to take "coffee breaks" while the
been cleaned, they may be halachically considered as "a place into Hagadah is being recited. 27 Shulchan Aruch Harav 473:13. See Mishnah Berurah 473:16.
which no chametz has been brought." While checking and searching
is still required in order to ascertain that no spot in the house was
overlooked, the search need not be as thorough and exacting as if no
cleaning had been done.(3)
A better suggestion - for those who do not do a meticulous
search on the night before Pesach - is to do partial searches earlier.
As soon as a certain area in the house is cleaned, the area should be
carefully checked for chametz - either at night using a flashlight or in
the daytime by natural light. The wife or an older child can be
entrusted with this search. If the house is checked in stages, then an
exhaustive search need not be repeated on the night before Pesach
in the areas that were already checked, provided that it is certain that
no new chametz was carried into those areas.(4)
QUESTION: Is it permitted to get a haircut or do laundry on erev
Pesach after midday (chatzos)?
DISCUSSION: It is Rabbinically forbidden to do melachah,
"work," even if it is needed for Yom Tov, on erev Pesach after
chatzos. Two(5) basic reasons are given for this prohibition: 1) When
the Beis ha-Mikdash stood, erev Pesach was considered a Yom Tov,
since the Korban Pesach was brought on that day. It retains the
status of Yom Tov today even though the Korban Pesach is no longer
offered.(6) 2) To give everyone a chance to properly prepare for the
Certain forms of personal grooming and certain households
chores that are halachically classified as "work" are forbidden to be
done on erev Pesach after chatzos. Thus it is forbidden to get a
haircut or a shave,(8) to sew new clothing(9) or to do laundry(10) on
erev Pesach after chatzos. One must arrange his schedule so that
these tasks are completed before midday. L'chatchilah, one should
even cut his nails before chatzos.(11)