Arvei Pesachim #30: 116b

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion




by Rav Yair Kahn




Rabban Gamliel


According to the Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:5), the explanations of these three mitzvot, which are focal points of the seder night, comprise an integral part of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. It is not enough to simply RECOUNT THE STORIES of yetziat Mitzrayim and the related miracles; one must integrate a discussion of these MITZVOT as well.


The Ramban (Milchamot Hashem, beginning of Berakhot), on the other hand, explains that Rabban Gamliel's law is not a function of the mitzva of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, but rather of the mitzva of EATING the pesach, matza and maror. He interprets the phrase, "does not fulfill," to mean merely that the optimal mode of fulfillment is not achieved; and that therefore, if one forgets to mention these sentences, he does not have to repeat his EATING of pesach, matza, and maror. From this we can deduce that the Ramban viewed R. Gamliel's law as qualifying the mitzva of eating and not a fulfillment of "sippur." This interpretation assumes that the mitzva of eating pesach, matza and maror is not limited to the physical performance of eating, but includes understanding and appreciating these mitzvot (see shiur #26).


According to the Rambam, the primary mitzva is telling the story, and a discussion of the mitzvot are an important part of the content of the tale. However, the notion suggested by the Ramban, that pesach, matza, and maror require an appreciation of their meaning and not just physical acts of eating, leads us to another approach regarding the intrinsic connection between sippur yetziat Mitzrayim and pesach, matza, and maror. This view maintains that the primary mitzva is eating the matza; reciting the story of yetziat Mitzrayim is a secondary, complementary act. This also seems to be the position the Ramban takes in his comments on the Rambam's Sefer Ha-mitzvot. The Ramban asserts that the blessings on the Torah (birkat ha-Torah) should be counted as a separate mitzva to the requirement of actually learning Torah. He states: "It is clear from what I have said that this blessing is of biblical origin, and one should not count them (learning Torah, and reciting the blessing on Torah) as a single mitzva. So too, the bringing of the first fruits (bikkurim) is not counted as one mitzva along with the recital of mikra bikkurim; also retelling the story of yetziat Mitzrayim (should not be counted together) with the eating of the pesach sacrifice."


The Ramban claims that the relationship of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim to eating the pesach is analogous to the relationship of the blessing on the Torah to its actual learning, as well as the reciting of parshat bikkurim with the actual delivering of the first fruits to the Temple. It would seem from the Ramban's formulation that the principal mitzva is the action of eating the pesach, bringing the fruit and learning Torah, while the reciting of the story (similar to the blessings and parshat bikkurim) plays an ancillary, explanatory role.


There exist, then, two approaches in defining the relationship between the mitzva of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim and that of pesach, matza, and maror.

1. Part of reciting the story (perhaps its primary aspect) is to explain the mitzvot of the seder night and their objectives. Essentially, one is required to recall the story of yetziat Mitzrayim through the prism of the symbolism of pesach, matza, and maror. The fundamental component is the story, where the pesach, matza, and maror, play leading roles.


2. The principal mitzva is the eating of the pesach, matza, and maror, whereas the recital of the story of yetziat Mitzrayim plays a subordinate role. In order to fully appreciate the mitzvot of eating, one must understand their true significance.



Bekhol Dor Vador


If the story is the preeminent part of the seder, then it seems obvious that the main objective is the transmission of this information to others, to teach, and to impart the principles of faith. According to the Rambam's version (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:6), "In every generation one is required to SHOW (li-har'ot) himself as if he just left Egypt" - he must SHOW TO OTHERS. One must transmit this tradition not only through verbally retelling the story, but also through acting out the story via the pesach, matza and maror.


In other words, there is a singular obligation of talmud torah (teaching Torah) on the seder night. This is due to the centrality of the messages flowing from yetziat Mitzrayim. This centrality is described by the Ramban in a famous passage (Shemot 13:16): "... The great signs and miracles are a testament to belief in God and in the entire Torah. Since God will not perform this sign or miracle in every generation to refute the evil sinner or rebel, we are commanded to make a continuous remembrance and sign to that which our eyes have seen, and to impart it to our children and children's children ... to the last generation."


On the other hand, we mentioned the approach which emphasizes the mitzvot of eating. According to this notion, the idea of transmitting data to others is downplayed. This is supported by the statement in the hagadda, "Even if we are all wise... it is incumbent upon us to tell the story" - even when there is no additional information to relay. The emphasis, according to this approach, is on one's intimate personal experience. "LIR'OT et atzmo" - "One must SEE himself (as opposed to 'SHOW himself') as if he were leaving Egypt." Through our personal act of eating the maror, we re-experience the horror of the enslavement. By eating the matza we relive the suddenness and excitement of the redemption. With the pesach we re-experience the Divine revelation. In every generation, one must experience anew the idea of the redemption from Egypt. "Ve-otanu hotzi mi-sham" - "And He took us out from there (Egypt)" - one must internalize those experiences upon which the foundation of faith was built.





The term lefikakh (therefore), implies a causal relationship. Evidently, the obligation unique to the seder night, to view ourselves as if we were personally redeemed from Mitzrayim, generates the obligation to recite hallel. Clearly a person who was actually redeemed should sing praise to his savior (see Daru's statement - 116a). Hence, our re-experiencing of the redemption from Mitzrayim results in the obligation of hallel.


It is noteworthy, that the Rambam used this same term to explain the obligations of heseiba (leaning) and the 4 kosot. Both of these obligations are mentioned in passing, in the first mishna of this perek, without any explanation. The personal aspect of the seder night however, is not mentioned until our mishna. When the Rambam organized these halachot, he reversed the order. After establishing the requirement that we show ourselves as if we personally left Mitzrayim (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:6), the Rambam continues, "lefikakh" - therefore we must lean back and drink 4 kosot as an exhibition of freedom (see shiurim # 19 and 20).


The Rid (Piskei HaRid) suggests an alternate reason to recite hallel. According to him, the hallel was instituted as the praise which must conclude sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, based on the halakha of mesayem bi-shvach (one should conclude with praise - 116a). Apparently, the term lefikakh does not refer to the phrase which immediately precedes it ("be-khol dor va-dor"). Rather, it relates to the previous mishna which demands that we begin the hagadda in shame (bi-gnut) and end in praise (bi-shvach). Although the gemara is explicit regarding matchil bi-gnut (see previous shiur), it is silent with respect to mesayem bi-shvach. According to the Rid, the mishna is referring to this shvach wwhen it requires the recitation of the hallel.


This approach seems to categorize hallel as an integral part of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. However, our first suggestidelegates hallel to a secondary role, as a response to sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. It is an obligation that results from the personal quality of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. Nevertheless, it is not part of the sippur itself.


These alternatives find expression in the various formulations offered for the mitzva of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:1) defines sippur yetziat Mitzrayim as "recounting the miracles and wonders that were done to our ancestors in Mitzrayim on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan." The Sefer Ha-chinukh (mitzva 21) formulates the mitzva differently: "We are commanded to report about yetziat Mitzrayim ... and to praise and glorify Hashem for all the miracles done for us there". While the Rambam ignores hallel while formulating the actual mitzva of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, according to the Chinukh, hallel is part of the mitzva itself.


This question is not only one of classification, but has halakhic consequences as well. Although the halakha is not clear-cut, we try to fulfill the requirement of R. Elazar ben Azarya that the korban pesach should be eaten before midnight. Accordingly, the matza should also be eaten within this time frame (see 120b). There are those who extend this to include sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, whose timeframe is dependent on that of pesach, matza and maror. According to the Ran, this extension includes hallel as well - apparently as part of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim. However, Tosafot in Megilla (21a s.v. Le-ituyei) exclude hallel. This, of course, is consistent with the view that hallel results from sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, but is nonetheless not included within that category. (Tosafot in Megilla offer a different explanation.)



Tzarikh lehagbiya


According to Rashi, the matza has to be lifted only when reciting "matza zu she-anu okhlim ..." (this matza that we eat...). The purpose is to endear the matza in the eyes of the onlookers. In a previous shiur (# 27), we noted that the Rashbam mentions a prevalent custom of lifting the matza (and maror) throughout the entire hagadda based on the concept of "lechem she-onim alav devarim harbeh" - the requirement to recite the hagadda over, or in relation to, the matza. This idea becomes clear in light of the approach that views the role of the hagadda as an explanation of the mitzvot of pesach, matza and maror.


In practice, the Shibolei Haleket (siman 218) agrees with Rashi that the matza need be lifted only while reciting "matza zu." However, his explanation is that "matza zu" forms the central section of sippur yetziat Mitzraim, which must be recited over the matza and maror. Thus, the Shibolei Haleket is conceptually akin to the divergent opinion quoted by the Rashbam.





The option of fulfilling an obligation to recite a certain passage by listening (shome-ah ke-oneh), exists only if the level of obligation of the listener is not greater than that of the reciter. Therefore a suma (blind person) may recite the hagadda on behailf of others only if he is biblically obligated, or if the obligation of the listeners is rabbinic. According to our gemara, the possibility that the obligation of hagadda in general is rabbinic, is based upon the opinion that there is no biblical obligation of matza nowadays. Evidently, if matza in our time is a rabbinic mitzva, then sippur yetziat Mitzrayim is rabbinic as well. Thus, we may conclude that pesach, matza and maror are necessary conditions for the fulfillment of the mitzva of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, and without them one does not fulfill one's requirement. (See Tosafot Megilla 19b s.v. Ve-Rebbi.) This would present irrefutable proof as to the relationship between sippur yetziat Mitzrayim and pesach, matza and maror. (See shiur # 27.)


However, we can interpret our sugya in another fashion. Perhaps there IS a biblical obligation of sippur yetziat Mitzrayim, although there is no biblical requirement for matza. Nevertheless, a suma is capable of reciting the hagadda for others. This is possible if we explain that a suma is not totally exempt from sippur on the biblical level. Rather, he is merely incapable of fulfilling the requirement implied by "zeh" (this), of relating the sippur to the matza. This requirement exists only when the matza obligation is biblical. However, if matza were not biblically required, the obligation of "zeh" would likewise be inapplicable. Therefore, a suma could legitimately recite the hagadda for others, and enable them to fulfill their biblical requirement.


Sources for next week's shiur:

1. Gemara 117a until "al gi'ulatan."

2. Ta'anit 28b "Shmoneh asar... minhag avoteihem bi'deihem."

3. Eirukhin 10a "Shmoneh asar...l'heteiran rishon."

4. Me'iri s.v. kol; Maggid Mishna Hilkhot Chanuka 3:6.

5. Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot, First Shoresh "v'histakel...Moshe;" Hasagot haRamban "v'hapliya...klal."


1. What occasions obligate hallel?

2. Why is there no obligation of hallel after the first day of Pesach?

3. On what basis does the Rambam attack the BeHaG with respect to hallel? How does the Ramban defend the position of the BeHaG?





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