Arvei Pesachim #36: 120a - 120b

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion





by Rav Yair Kahn






Mishna: Kulan Lo Yokhlu


The gemara doesn't explain why eating is prohibited after sleeping on the seder night. The Rishonim, therefore, suggest various possibilities. Rashi and the Rashbam connect our mishna with a halakha which is specific to the korban pesach. The mishna in the seventh perek (86a) rules that a member of one chabura (a group formed in order to eat the korban pesach) cannot join another chabura, even if the second chabura happens to be eating from the same korban pesach. Based on this, Rashi explains that once all the members of a chabura fall asleep, upon awaking they appear as a new chabura, and cannot continue to eat. The Rashbam comments that this is because sleeping constitutes a HESECH HA-DA'AT (break of intent), which ends the meal of the original chabura and defines subsequent eating as unconnected, and therefore a new beginning.


The Ra'avad (Hasagot on the Rambam Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:14, and Ba'al Ha-Ma'or), agrees with the Rashbam that the problem of sleeping is rooted in hesech ha-da'at. However, in contrast to the Rashbam, he does not connect this with the problem of chabura, limited to korban pesach. Instead, he considers hesech ha-da'at as an independent pesul (halakhic disqualification) with respect to korbanot. Accordingly, any break of intent, while eating korbanot, invalidates the korban.


An additional option is raised (and rejected) by the Rashbam. This approach connects our mishna with the previous mishna (119b) which prohibits eating after the korban pesach. One can continue to eat from the korban until the deadline (midnight or dawn, see 120b); however, once one stops, eating anything else is prohibited. Therefore, since sleeping constitutes a hesech ha-da'at, the prohibition of AFIKOMAN takes effect.



120b R. Yossi


R. Yossi, as opposed to the Tana Kama (the first, anonymous opinion in the mishna), introduces a distinction between "dozing" and "sleeping." However, it is not clear to which part of the Tana Kama's statement is R. Yossi referring. [The Tana Kama permits eating from the korban pesach if some members have remained awake; only when all have fallen asleep is eating forbidden.] Some commentators explain that R. Yossi is more lenient than the Tana Kama. The Tana Kama prohibits eating if all the members of the chabura fall asleep, without discriminating between sleeping and dozing. R. Yossi disagrees in the case of dozing and allows them to continue their meal. The Rashbam, on the other hand, explains that R. Yossi adopts a more stringent position then the Tana Kama. If only one member fell asleep, the Tana Kama allows him to continue. R. Yossi, on the other hand, distinguishes between dozing and sleeping, and permits continuing only if the individual was dozing. If he slept, then continued eating is prohibited, even if the rest of the chabura remained awake.



Gemara: Abaye Hava Yativ Kamei De-Raba


In order to illustrate the distinction forwarded by R. Yossi between sleeping and dozing, the gemara relates an exchange which took place between Raba and Abaye. Raba began to doze off, and Abaye asked him if he had fallen asleep. Raba responded that he was only napping lightly, and R. Yossi allows one who dozes to continue. The Rashbam assumed that this exchange took place on the seder night. This forced him to adopt a series of conclusions:


1. The Rashbam rejected the lenient interpretation of R. Yossi, since Raba applied the discrimination between dozing and sleeping, even though only one member of the chabura had drifted off. Apparently, Raba maintained the stringent conclusion that even if only one member of the chabura had fallen asleep, he could not continue.


2. Furthermore, although the reason one cannot eat after sleeping is specific to the korban pesach, the Rashbam extended this prohibition to the last kezayit of matza (afikoman), since it is eaten in commemoration of the korban pesach. His only source for this extension, is the exchange between Abaye and Raba recorded in our gemara, which took place hundreds of years after the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash, when there was no longer a korban pesach.


3. Moreover, the reason the Rashbam rejected the explanation that our mishna is based on the prohibition of afikoman (see above) is due to the fact that according to our gemara, Abaye and Raba were unequivocal regarding the application of the mishna to matza. However, with respect to afikoman, the gemara previously entertained the possibility that the prohibition is limited to the korban pesach.


Many Rishonim reject the premise of the Rashbam, that the exchange between Abaye and Raba occurred on the seder night. R. Zerachya Halevi (the Ba'al Ha-Ma'or) claimed that Abaye and Raba were engaged in a totally theoretical discussion, using a concrete example in order to identify the line separating sleeping from dozing. Other Rishonim, however, conceded that the exchange had direct halakhic significance. Therefore, they interpreted our gemara as referring to areas other than korban pesach where the distinction between sleeping and dozing is relevant.


Tosafot (119b s.v. Amar) for instance, claim that this incident occurred on the night before a ta'anit (fast day). Abaye was of the opinion that one must begin his fast at night. Nevertheless, he is permitted to complete his meal at night before beginning the ta'anit. (See Ta'anit 12a. The halakha is in accordance with the dissenting view of Rava, that one is permitted to eat until he goes to sleep, unless he specifically intends eating before dawn.) Therefore, upon falling asleep, Raba and Abaye discussed whether a hesech ha-da'at, denoting a completion of the meal, had occurred.


The Ra'avad (Hasagot on the Ba'al Ha-Ma'or) takes a similar approach. He claims that the incident occurred during an ordinary meal. The discussion between Abaye and Raba revolved around the question of netilat yadayim. If a hesech ha-da'at had occurred, Raba would have been required to wash his hands again (see 115b). In his hasagot (comments) on the Rambam, the Ra'avad adds that the issue of hesech ha-da'at would also be relevant regarding the requirement to repeat the introductory berakhot (see shiur #


Both Tosafot and the Ra'avad explained that the discussion between Abaye and Raba revolved around the issue of hesech ha-da'at. Abaye thought that Raba had fallen asleep, which constitutes hesech ha-da'at. Raba responded that he had merely dozed off, which should be differentiated from sleep. In order to prove this distinction, he quoted the opinion of R. Yossi. However, there is no indication from our sugya that the halakha of our mishna regarding sleep applies to the post-Temple era. Lacking any contradictory evidence, these Rishonim explicitly rejected the application of the mishna's halakha regarding matza.


The Rashbam, in contrast, considered this halakha relevant to the matza as well. However, even in his opinion we are basically dealing with a halakha peculiar to korban pesach. Therefore, he limited the application of this halakha to the matza at the end of the meal (afikoman), since it is eaten in commemoration of the korban pesach. This opinion was adopted by the Rema (O.C 478:2). However, the Mechaber (ibid), based on the Rambam (Hilchot Chametz U'matza 8:14), applies this halakha even in cases where the chabura was overcome by sleep in the middle of the meal, before eating the afikoman. At first glance, this extension seems incompatible with all the explanations suggested above.


The Maharil, like the Mechaber, applied this halakha to falling asleep in the middle of the meal, before the afikoman. He explained that today, since we don't have the korban pesach, the entire meal which we eat on the seder night is eaten in place of the korban. This is because the korban pesach functioned as the main part of tmenu for the se'uda eaten on the seder night, which served as the background for celebration and praise. In the post-mikdash era, the meal eaten during the seder substitutes for this aspect of the korban. Therefore it is reasonable that the laws which originated with the korban pesach are applied to the se'uda as well.


At this juncture, we must re-evaluate the significance of the se'uda eaten during the seder. According to the Maharil, the se'uda does not function merely as a se'udat Yom Tov, which is common to all holidays. It also plays a role specific to the seder night. As a substitute for the korban pesach, the meal is part of our celebration of redemption. Therefore, it is an integral part of the seder. Based on this idea, we can appreciate the fact that the se'uda is included in the "simanim" with which we begin the seder - "shulchan orekh." Furthermore, the se'uda as a background for praise is inherently connected with Hallel. From this perspective, we can attain a deeper understanding of why the se'uda was instituted in the middle of hallel (see shiur # 33). After all, according to this understanding, the se'uda is not an alien insertion, which may be considered a hefsek. Rather, the se'uda is the celebration, which is inherently connected to the shira of the hallel recited at the seder.




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