Arvei Pesachim #35: 120a

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion





by Rav Yair Kahn





U-Vizman De-leka Pesach Leka Maror


Everyone agrees that the biblical obligation of maror is dependent upon the korban pesach. Therefore, this obligation only applied when there was a possibility of sacrificing the korban pesach in the Bet Hamikdash (Temple). Nowadays, however, when we unfortunately cannot sacrifice the korban pesach, the maror obligation is only rabbinic.


According to the Rambam, the maror obligation is not even enumerated independently among the "taryag" (613) mitzvot. Instead, it is included within the context of the mitzva to eat the korban pesach, whereby one is commanded to eat the korban together with matza and maror (see Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:12). It is self-evident that according to this formulation, there is no possibility of the mitzva of maror unless one actually has a korban pesach to eat as well.


The Semak (220) on the other hand, did enumerate the mitzva of maror independently. At first glance, his opinion is incompatible with our gemara, which explicitly connects the mitzva of maror with the korban. However, the Semak was careful to note that the mitzva of maror applies only when the korban pesach is in practice. Therefore, although maror is counted as a separate mitzva, it is nonetheless dependent upon the korban pesach. Consequently, when there is no korban pesach, even the Semak will concede that the Torah does not demand the eating of maror.


According to the formulation of the Semak, it stands to reason that a complete kezayit of maror is required in order to fulfill the mitzva, as is true for all mitzvot of "eating." The Rambam's opinion, on the other hand, may suffice with less than a kezayit, since there is no obligation to eat maror as an independent entity. Nevertheless, we find that even the Rambam concedes that one is required to eat a full kezayit of maror. Although there is no independent mitzva of Torah origin, maror was instituted as a separate mitzva on the rabbinic level, thus demanding a kezayit (see Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:13).


However, in a previous shiur #26 we noted the opinion of the Rosh, that a kezayit is not necessary for the mitzva performance per se, even at the rabbinic level. (The Rosh agrees that a kezayit IS required, but only in order to justify reciting the berakha - "al AKHILAT maror.") Apparently, he argued that the rabbinic innovation regarding maror merely reinstated the biblical requirement without the korban pesach. Therefore, the mitzva of maror on the rabbinic level is parallel to the biblical mitzva, insofar as neither requires a full kezayit (according to the Rambam). Although the original reason that no kezayit is necessary is because marror is merely ancillary to the korban pesach, and not eaten in its own right, this remains true even when an obligation to eat marror by itself is instituted, since in any event this eating is inplace of the original obligation.



Matza Bi-zman Ha-zeh De'oraita


According to Rava, the verse "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" mandates an independent obligation to eat matza. Therefore, one is biblically required to eat matza even in times when there is no korban pesach. Based on this, matza has a dual role. It is both part of the mitzva of the korban, similar to the maror, as well as an independent mitzva. Accordingly, the Rambam mentions matza twice in the Sefer Ha-mitzvot. He first includes matza together with maror in mitzva 56, within the context of the mitzva to eat the korban pesach. In addition, he counts matza independently in mitzva 158.



Miba'i Lei Le-tamei


Rav Acha bar Ya'akov seems to agree with Rava's dualistic formulation of the mitzva of matza. He concedes that matza can be eaten without the korban pesach. However, he limits the independent aspect of matza to the specific case of tamei (one who is ritually impure), who cannot eat the korban pesach, but is still obligated to eat matza. The obvious question is: If matza is indeed an independent mitzva, why should it not apply as a biblical mitzva today as well?


Apparently, Rav Acha bar Ya'akov, was of the opinion that the separate mitzva of matza, derived from "ba-erev tokhlu matzot", is nevertheless connected with the korban pesach. The case of tamei (from which we derived matza's independent status) describes a situation where an individual is PERSONALLY exempted from the korban pesach. This scenario could only occur during the time when the korban pesach is practiced. Today, however, when there is no korban pesach and the laws of tum'a (impurity) don't apply, there is also no mitzva, on the biblical level, to eat matza. (This explanation of Rav Acha bar Yaakov is parallel to the Semak's understanding of maror.)


De-lo Gar'i Me'arel U-ven Nekhar


Rava basically accepts Rav Acha bar Ya'akov's distinction between a tamei, who is only exempt from the korban pesach as an individual, and the situation nowadays, when the korban pesach is not practiced at all. In other words, although "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" indicates that matza is a separate mitzva, it may nonetheless be connected with the korban pesach. However, Rava notes that this interpretation of the mitzva of matza can be derived from "arel" (someone who is uncircumcised and therefore cannot eat the korban pesach) and "ben nekhar" (a disbelieving Jew). In both of these cases, only the korban pesach is not eaten, yet there is still an obligation to eat matza. In other words, despite the personal exemption regarding the korban pesach, the obligation of matza remains intact. Therefore, Rava claims that the additional verse "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" must attest to a more general application of the mitzva of matza. Hence, he concluded that this pasuk indicates absolute independence of the mitzva of matza, which applies even today.


The gemara explains Rav Acha bar Ya'akov's counter-position with the vague remark "u-tzrikhi" - both are necessary. In other words, although the Torah explicitly obligates an arel and ben nekhar to eat matza even though they do not bring the korban, the additional pasuk "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" is nonetheless needed to teach us that one who is tamei is likewise obligated to eat matza. The Rashbam (s.v. Ktiv) explains that a tamei, unlike an arel or ben nechar, has the option of making up for his missed opportunity. He can fulfill the mitzva completely (korban pesach together with matza and maror) on Pesach Sheni [All those who were unable to bring the korban on pesach itself, because they were tamei, or too distanced to make it in time, may do so a month later]. Therefore, it is possible that he would not be required to eat matza alone, during Pesach Rishon, which is only an incomplete form of the mitzvot of the seder night. An arel and ben nekhar, however, do not have the option of Pesach Sheni, and are therefore required to do whatever is possible, albeit incomplete, on Pesach Rishon. Therefore, the extra pasuk is needed to instruct us that despite the option of Pesach Sheni, a tamei must nevertheless eat matza during Pesach Rishon.


There is an additional interpretation of Rav Acha bar Ya'akov's opinion. Tosafot (s.v. Kol) note that a ben nekhar is basically obligated to bring a korban pesach; however he refuses to fulfill this obligation. Therefore, since a ben nekhar is a "bar chiyuva" (one who has incurred the obligation of korban pesach), he is included in the obligation to eat matza as well. Similarly, an arel is technically included in the obligation of korban pesach, but he excludes himself by refusing to be circumcised. Therefore, as a bar chiyuva, he is also obligated to eat matza. However, one who was ritually impure (or at a great distance from the temple) at the time of the mitzva, is not considered a bar chiyuva who, due to extenuating circumstances, cannot fulfill the mitzva. Such a person never incurred the obligation of korban pesach at all (see Hilkhot Korban Pesach 5:1-4 and the comments of the Ra'avad). Consequently, lacking any additional source, one may claim that such a person is also excluded from the obligation of matza. Therefore, the verse "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" is necessary to obligate a tamei, during the time of the temple, to eat matza, even though he is totally excluded from the chiyuv of the korban pesach. This leaves no source for totally separating the mitzva of matza from the korban pesach, in order to biblically obligate matza nowadays.

There is another possible explanation for the necessity of both derashot according to Rav Acha bar Ya'akov. The Rambam (Hilchot Korban Pesach 9:8) interprets the derasha which relates to arel as a concession which PERMITS the eating of matza and maror, not as a reflection of the independence of the mitzva of matza. In other words, although the korban pesach is PROHIBITED to an arel, matza and maror are permitted. However, there is no implication that there is an independent mitzva of matza for an arel. Therefore, it is impossible to derive from this the independent obligation of matza regarding a tamei. Hence, the derasha "ba-erev tokhlu matzot" is required to support the independent matza obligation of a tamei, and cannot be extended beyond the times of the Temple.


This interpretation of the derasha regarding arel is based on the assumption that there is a special prohibition which forbids an arel from eating the korban pesach. If we were to assume that korban pesach is merely included in the general ban on an arel, which applies equally to all sacrifices, then there would be no need for a separate pasuk to permit matza and maror (which are not sacrifices). However, if there is a prohibition specifically relating to the korban pesach, unrelated to its status as kodshim, then without a pasuk, one might extend this ban to matza and maror as well. Consequently, a separate pasuk is needed to allow an arel to eat matza and maror.



Af Sheshet Yamim Reshut


The term "reshut" seems to indicate the voluntary nature of matza during the last six days of Pesach. In other words, not only is there no "chiyuv" (obligation), but there is also no "kiyum" (fulfillment of a mitzva). Eating matza would be considered the same as eating meat, fish or fruit (see Rashi s.v. Ma). Of course, if one would wish to have a full-fledged se'uda (and on Shabbat chol hamoed and the seventh day this is required), he would be forced to eat matza, as the only form of bread which is kosher for Pesach.


This interpretation of reshut is not universally accepted. For instance, the Ba'al Ha-ma'or asks why we only recite a special berakha before eating matza on the first night. Why not recite this berakha all seven days, as we do before eating in the sukka? This question clearly indicates that there is a kiyum ha-mitzva in eating matza for seven days. Only the chiyuv ha-mitzva is limited to the first night. (Apparently, he held a similar view regarding the mitzva of sukka.)


In his commentary on the Torah (Shemot 12:15), the Ibn Ezra is unequivocal in awarding mitzva status to matza for the entire seven-day period. This opinion is commonly ascribed to the Vilna Gaon (Gra). In Ma'aseh Rav, a collection of minhagim of the Gra, this interpretation of reshut is explicit. Moreover, there is a description of the personal zeal practiced by of the Gra regarding eating matza for all seven days.



Sources and questions for next week's shiur



  1. 120a Mishna, 120b Gemara until "lo yokhlu".
  2. Rashbam 120a s.v. yashnu, 86a mishna, gemara until "bivayit echad".
  3. Tosafot 119b s.v. amar, Ba'al HaMa'or [26b in the pages of the Rif] "aval ha ditnan … v'lo binirdam", Hasagot HaRa'avad (siman 3).
  4. Ramban hilkhot chametz u'matza 8:14, Hasagot HaRa'avad.



  1. What is the reason for the halakha stated in our mishna?
  2. Does this halakha apply today as well?
  3. Is R. Yossi's poition more stringent or more lenient than that of the Tana Kama?
  4. What was the context of the exchange between Abaye and Raba?






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