Arvei Pesachim #25: 115a - 115b

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion







By Rav Yair Kahn


Cholkin Alav Chaveirav Al Hillel


A simple reading of the gemara suggests that only Hillel maintains that "ein mitzvot mevatlot zo et zo" (simultaneously eating the required foods of several mitzvot does not lead to them canceling each other out). Chakhamim argue with Hillel regarding this issue and claim that mitzvot "mevatlot zo et zo." Therefore, according to Hillel, it is possible to demand that matza and maror be eaten together - "korekh," while the Chakhamim totally reject this possibility.


However, this understanding becomes complicated by the ensuing gemara. According to Rav Ashi's interpretation of the beraita, Chakhamim appear to allow korekh. If so, Chakhamim must agree with Hillel that mitzvot do not cancel each other. The Ramban accepts this conclusion and claims that the initial assumption that Chakhamim argue with Hillel was overturned when Rav Ashi re-interpreted the beraita.


Tosafot (s.v. Ela Amar Rav Ashi) agree with the Ramban that Chakhamim allow for korekh. However, this possibility, according to Tosafot, is based on a specific verse which indicates that matza and maror can be merged - "al matzot u-merorim yokhluhu" (Bamidbar 9:11). Normally, in the absence of such an explicit verse, mitzvot do cancel each other. Therefore, the additional verse indicates a change of the norm and permits but does not obligate korekh. Hillel on the other hand, interpreted this verse as requiring korekh. The gemara explained that Hillel maintained that under normal conditions mitzvot do not cancel each other. Hence, the verse suggesting the merger of matza and maror was utilized by Hillel to REQUIRE korekh and not just to permit it.


Rav Zerachya Halevi (the Ba'al HaMaor), based on certain textual discrepancies, claims that according to Rav Ashi's interpretation that korekh is permitted, the beraita is referring to Hillel's opinion. Accordingly, Hillel doesn't demand korekh unequivocally, but merely prefers it. This is consistent with Hillel's position that mitzvot do not cancel each other. However, Chakhamim who argue that mitzvot do cancel each other, ban korekh totally.


The Rashbam (s.v. Matkif) solves this problem by claiming that there are three independent opinions. Hillel requires korekh and evidently does not think that mitzvot cancel each other. Chakhamim, quoted by R. Yochanan, demand separation, arguing that mitzvot cancel each other. The beraita, as interpreted by Rav Ashi, introduces an additional opinion, which permits, but does not require korekh. This opinion agrees with Hillel that "mitzvot ein mevatlot zo et zo," and can therefore entertain the possibility of merger.



Ve-hadar Akhil Matza U-maror Bihadei Hadadei


The gemara suggests that we should eat matza and maror separately, followed by korekh as a commemoration of Hillel. This is because eating them together would be problematic, since maror today is only a rabbinic obligation, while matza is from the Torah. Therefore, even Hillel, who maintains that TWO MITZVOT OF THE SAME LEVEL do not cancel each other, would concede that rabbinic-level maror would cancel biblical-level matza.


The gemara introduces this suggestion by noting that no halakhic decision was rendered between the conflicting opinions of Hillel and Chakhamim. However, this preface is puzzling, since this should be the proper course of action even were we to decide in favor of Hillel. After all, Hillel agrees that nowadays maror would cancel matza. Moreover, following the fulfillment of the matza obligation, additional matza, which is optional, would cancel the maror, which is a rabbinic obligation Therefore, according to Hillel, matza should be followed by maror, after which point korekh should be eaten.


In fact, it would appear from the Ramban that this preface only came to negate the position of Chakhamim, according to which korekh would not be necessary. However, Hillel would agree that matza must first be eaten separately so that the maror should not cancel it. Then maror should be eaten alone so that the subsequent optional matza does not cancel the maror, and only then korekh should be eaten.


Tosafot (s.v. Ela amar Rav Ashi), on the other hand, claim that maror must be eaten separately only according to Chakhamim, so that the matza which is optional not cancel the maror which is obligatory. However, had the position of Hillel been adopted, it would have been possible to fulfill the maror obligation together with matza. According to Hillel, the matza eaten with the maror is not considered optional (even though one has already eaten matza alone) but rather rabbinically mandated. Hence, it would not cancel the maror.


These different solutions offered respectively by the Ramban and Tosafot stem from variant definitions of the halakha of korekh. Tosafot consider korekh as a rabbinic obligation on par with maror. Therefore they conclude that the matza of korekh would not cancel the maror. The Ramban, on the other hand, distinguishes between the halakha of korekh and the rabbinic obligation of maror. Relative to maror, the Ramban views korekh as "reshut" - non-obligatory. Evidently, korekh according to the Ramban is not considered as a rabbinically mandated mitzva. Instead, he viewed it a mere commemoration of the practice customary at the time of the Mikdash.


These two approaches find expression regarding an additional issue. Rav Zerachya Halevi insisted that shmura matza [which is necessary for the fulfillment of the mitzva] is required for korekh. This strict approach to korekh is reminiscent of that of Tosafot. There is therefore a requirement for the rigorous parameters demanded by halakha. The Ran, on the other hand, suggested that any matza, even matza not acceptable for the mitzva, can be used, since korekh is only a commemorative act. [It is noteworthy that regarding this issue the Rambam sides with Rav Zerachya Halevi. Perhaps, shmura matza is necessary according to him as an accurate commemoration.]



Tosafot S.V. Kol


The opinion of Rashi, as quoted by Tosafot, compares the netilat yadayim required for "davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh" - an object dipped in liquid - with that necessary before eating bread. This position corresponds to that adopted by many poskim, which applies this halakha all year round. Furthermore, similar to bread, a birkat ha-mitzva (al netilat yadayim) should be recited.


Tosafot disagree with this understanding. They claim that this netilat yadayim is different from that of bread. Regarding bread, a special decree was enacted demanding netilat yadayim. This decree, although rooted in the laws of "tahara" - ritual purity - required for teruma, was extended to everyday eating of bread based on hygienic considerations. Because it is rooted in a rabbinic decree, a berakha is required as well. Davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh, however, is only based on tahara considerations, which are no longer applicable. Therefore, Tosafot charges that anyone who recites a berakha on this netila has violated the prohibition of a "berakha le-vatala" - an unnecessary berakha.


[Rabbeinu Yerucham arrived at a conclusion similar to Tosafot, namely a berakha is required only with respect to bread. However, his reasoning is opposite to that of Tosafot. He argues that the decree of netilat yadayim for bread is an extension of the laws of tahara. Since tahara is a halakhic category, a berakha is demanded. Netilat yadayim for a davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh, on the other hand, is for hygienic reasons. Although hygiene is important, it is nonetheless not a halakhic category. Therefore, one must wash his hands without a berakha.]


There are those who claim that the argument of Tosafot is only with respect to the berakha. However, they agree that netilat yadayim is required for a davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh even nowadays, all year round. Others argue that since lawsof tahara no longer apply to eating, this entire halakha no longer applies. Nevertheless, on the seder night, we continue this custom. The Netziv explained this practice in his introduction to his commentary on the hagadda. According to him, there are many aspects of the seder night which reflect the experience of the paschal service at the time of the temple. Netilat yadayim for a davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh as well, is reminiscent of the temple service.


These diverse opinions have practical halakhic significance. From the Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 6:1-2) it appears that one should wash his hands with a berakha for a davar she-tibulo be-mashkeh all year round. The Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 158:4), in deference to the dissenting view, rules that one should refrain from a berakha. Nevertheless, he agrees that netilat yadayim is required all year round. The Magen Avraham, however, defends the common custom not to wash hands, basing this position on Tosafot.





Dilma Asuchei Aschei Da'atei Vinaga


The gemara demanded netilat yadayim prior to the dipping of the karpas. Nevertheless, one is required to wash his hands again before eating the matza. The gemara explains the necessity of this second netilat yadayim based on the possible "hesech ha-da'at" - break of intention - in the interim period, when the hagadda and hallel are recited. At first glance, this gemara supports those opinions which considered the reading of the hagadda as a hefsek. In fact, the Mordechai quoted our sugya in his rejection of those opinions that claimed that the berakha rishona recited on the karpas covers the maror as well. Based upon our sugya, the Mordechai argued that since hagadda and hallel separate the karpas from the maror, the berakha rishona recited on the karpas cannot possibly cover the maror due to the intermittent hefsek.


The Rosh rejected this proof and claimed that our sugya has no relevance concerning hefsek with respect to berakhot. According to him, our gemara deals with a local netilat yadayim question: Is it possible that while reciting the hagadda and hallel, one inadvertently touched something which will obligate him to re-wash his hands. However, there is no discussion in our gemara regarding the question of broken intention which is critical regarding berakhot. Therefore, there is no contradiction between our sugya and the position of the Rashi and Rav Yosef Tov Elem, that the berakha recited on the karpas can cover the maror as well.


Tosafot s.v. Tzarikh


The gemara mentions the need to re-wash one's hands before the second "tibul" - dipping. According to the standard interpretation, this tibul refers to the maror which is dipped in charoset. Therefore, Tosafot question why the gemara refers to the maror, and not to the netilat yadayim required before eating the matza.


In response, Tosafot claim that the reference to the maror is in fact inaccurate. It was only mentioned in contrast to the netilat yadayim of the karpas, which is referred to as the first tibul. Alternate solutions to this problem were suggested by the various commentators.


Of specific interest is the fact that there are those that consider our gemara to be the source for a very interesting and novel opinion of the Rambam. The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:8) rules that matza should be dipped into charoset. According to him, the reference to the second tibul refers not to the maror, but to matza. Thus the entire problem of Tosafot disappears.

Sources for next week:

1. 115b "v'amar Rav Papa … nami lo yatza".

2. Brakhot 38b "darash Rav Nachman … v'leka".

3. Rashbam s.v. bala matza.

4. Rosh, 25: "tanya … b'pachot mikizayit".

5. Rashi s.v. karkhan, Rashbam s.v. bala maror, Lechem Mishna Hilchot Chametz U'Matza 6:2.


  1. The gemara in Brakhot (38a) indicates that the taste of matza is required. How can that sugya be alligned with our's?
  2. Is the mitzva of maror one of "te'ima" (tasting) or "akhila" (eating)?
  3. Why is "karkho b'siv" not considered akhila?





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