• Rav Zev Jacobson
            In order to aid students with less background in Talmud, this year we will be offering weekly shiur supplements in addition to our regular Pesachim shiurim.  The regular shiur, like those last year on Kiddushin, is akin to a shiur kelali - an in-depth presentation of an entire subject, even if the gemara's discussion of this subject is spread over many pages in different locations.  The shiur supplement, on the other hand, is designed to facilitate understanding the gemara on a peshat level (the simple meaning), as well as occasional difficult Rashis and Tosafots.
            We strongly encourage you to send us your questions on Pesachim, whether they be on the shiur, the supplement, or simply questions arising from your personal study.  We would like the Pesachim shiur to be as interactive as possible.  Zev Jacobson, a senior student at the yeshiva, will be writing the weekly peshat supplement and will handle all correspondence.  We hope to hear from you!
SHIUR SUPPLEMENT #1: Pages 2a-2b
A. The mishna discusses two issues:
1. when one is obligated to do bedika [check for chametz] - both the date and the time; and
2. which areas need to be checked.
B.  The mishna denotes the time of bedika as "or" [light].  This is a strange and somewhat ambiguous term in our context as it could refer either to the evening of the 14th of Nissan or to the next morning.  The gemara at first understands this to be an argument between Rav Huna and Rav Yehuda and proceeds to examine other places where the term "or" is used in order to establish what the correct time to do bedika is, evening or morning.  On daf 3a, however, the gemara concludes that there is no argument - everyone  agrees that bedika must be done in the evening.
C.  "Le-olam yikanes adam be-khi tov" [lines 14-15].  A traveler should always be sure to enter and exit the city while it is still light.  (In Bereishit 1:4 light is referred to as "tov.")
            According to Rashi, this is because it is dangerous to travel in the dark - one takes the risk of being attacked by wild animals or robbers.
D.  "Ha-noder min ha-or" [line 33].  A person can make a neder [vow] not to receive any benefit from something or someone (see Bamidbar 30:3).  In our case, if one made a neder not to benefit from light, then he may not even use the light of the stars.
E.  Rashi s.v. Hakhi ka-amar - It is permitted to kill someone who directly poses a potential threat to your life.  The classic example of this is mentioned in Shemot 22:1 and is termed "ha-ba be-makhteret" (one who stealthily slips into a house through a tunnel).  A person who sees an intruder in a house may kill him, as it can be assumed that the intruder would not hesitate to take the life of the owner should there be a confrontation between them.  If, however, it is as "clear as daylight" that the intruder would not harm the owner, then it is forbidden to kill him, as this does not constitute an act of self-defense.  An example of this is when a father comes to rob his son; unless we know otherwise, we assume that he would not harm his son and, therefore, it is forbidden to kill him.
F.  "Le-mazalei" [line 9].  Iyov was cursing the constellation or force that controlled his destiny.
G.  "Ein masi'in masu'ot" [line 43].  In the times of the Sanhedrin, Rosh Chodesh was proclaimed based on the sighting of the new moon by two witnesses.  This could take place either on the 30th or the 31st day of the old month, which would then become the first day of the new month.  According to the mishna in Rosh Hashana, the Beit Din would inform the Jewish people who lived far away of the date of Rosh Chodesh by lighting a bonfire on the mountaintop.  Upon seeing this signal, another fire would be lit on a mountaintop a few miles away.  This would be repeated until the message reached the Jews who were in Bavel.  These fires would be lit only if Rosh Chodesh fell on the 30th day [i.e., after a month of only 29 days].  If, however, Rosh Chodesh fell out only on the 31st day [i.e., after a month of 30 days], then no bonfire would be lit and the people would automatically know when Rosh Chodesh was.
             The Saducees caused problems by lighting bonfires on the wrong nights and so, eventually, the Beit Din had to rely on sending out messengers to inform everyone of the correct date of Rosh Chodesh.  This was of utmost importance, as the dates of the festivals are all calculated from Rosh Chodesh.