Pesahim 85a-b – Standing in the doorway
We have already learned that a korban Pesah that was taken out of the precincts of Jerusalem becomes invalid. This is also true for the meat of the Passover sacrifice (see Shmot 12:46). The Mishnah on our daf (page) teaches that if one of the limbs of the animal leaves the city it must be cut off and discarded, although the rest of the sacrifice is still kosher. In defining what is considered the boundary of the city, the Mishnah deals with the agaf – the width of the entranceway itself. According to the Mishnah, from the agaf and inwards is considered the inside of the city; from the agaf and outwards is considered outside the city.
The Gemara questions the mishna: This matter itself is difficult; the mishna itself contains an internal contradiction. At first you said that the space from the doorway inward is considered as though it is inside, which indicates that the space of the doorway itself is like the outside. Now you say the latter clause of the mishna’s ruling, which states that from the doorway outward is considered as though it is outside, which indicates that the doorway itself is considered as though it is inside.
The Gemara answers: It is not difficult, as one can explain that these two statements are referring to different situations: Here, in the first clause of the mishna’s ruling, it is referring to the gates of the Temple courtyard, where the inside of the doorways were considered as though they were inside the courtyard and had the sanctity of the courtyard itself. There, in the latter clause, it is discussing the gates of Jerusalem, where the insides of the gates were considered like the outside and did not have the sanctity of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Shmuel bar Rav Yitzhak explains that the gates of the city were not given the kedushah – the holiness – of the city, out of concern for the metzora'im, the lepers, who make use of the doorways for protection against the elements.
We have already learned that people suffering from tzara'at – what is usually translated as leprosy – were obligated to remain outside the three encampments when the Jewish people were in the desert, and correspondingly outside of the city of Jerusalem (and, according to some opinions, all walled cities in Israel), until they are healed. Such a person standing outside of the city in the rain or on a hot, sunny day would be unable to find any protection from the elements if he could not duck into the doorway of the city. Out of consideration to these people the Sages chose not to give kedushah to the agaf of the city.
Pesahim 86a-b – Turning away from the group
As we have learned before, in preparation for the korban Pesah individuals or families needed to join together in groups to bring and subsequently eat the sacrifice. Once established, two groups are not allowed to join together, nor can an individual switch from one group to another.
Mishna: Two groups that were eating one Paschal lamb in one house need not be concerned that they will appear to be one group. Rather, these turn their faces this way and eat, and these turn their faces that way and eat…And the bride, who is embarrassed to eat in the presence of men she does not know, turns her face away from her group and eats, although this may make it seem as though she is part of a different group.
With that halakhah as a springboard, the Gemara tells a story about Rav Huna the son of Rav Natan who visited Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak and behaved in what appeared to be an uncouth manner –
He agreed to sit immediately without first offering a polite refusal
He accepted a cup of wine, again without an initial polite refusal
He drank it in just two sips
He looked directly at his hosts without diverting his gaze.
When asked how he could behave so poorly, and still call himself a Rabbi, he explained each of his actions based on a statement from the Talmud.
The Sages teach:
You should do whatever the host tells you to do, unless he commands you tzei (leave).
While it is appropriate to decline an offer made by someone of little stature, you should accept what someone of high stature offers you.
Someone who drinks a cup in one gulp is a guzzler; it is appropriate to drink in two swallows; three sips shows that you are haughty.
A bride turns away from the other guests; others do not.
The first comment, that you should listen to what your host commands, ends with an odd statement "unless he commands you – tzei," to the extent that the Meiri argues that they do not belong in the Gemara and should be removed.
Most commentaries do find explanations, however.
The Perisha argues that this means that if the host asks you to leave, you are not obligated to do so right away if it will be embarrassing to you.
The Magen Avraham explains that you are supposed to listen to your host unless he asks you to do something that would necessitate leaving the house.
According to the Maharsha, once the host asks you to leave, you are no longer his guest and do not need to listen to him any longer.
Some see the word tzei as an abbreviation. The letters tzadi – alef might stand for:
Tzad issur – unless you are asked to do something that might be forbidden.
Tzeduki-Apikores – unless the host is someone who denies the Torah
Tzarhei Ishto – unless you are asked to involve yourself in matters pertaining to the wife of your host.
Pesahim 87a-b – Jews in the Diaspora
As was noted at the end of the last perek (chapter), the korban Pesah needs to be eaten by a group of people who joined together before the holiday for the purpose of participating in the sacrifice as a group (see Shmot 12:3-5). Perek ha-Isha, the eighth chapter of Massekhet Pesahim focuses on this group. How and when is it established? Who can participate and who cannot? Under what circumstances can an individual choose to leave one group and join another? Questions such as these are the major concern of this perek.
It is not uncommon for the Gemara to segue into a discussion of aggadata after quoting passages that help clarify a topic of halakhah. On our daf (page), after quoting pesukim (verses) from Sefer Hoshea as a proof-text for a rule in the Mishnah, the Gemara brings other pesukim from that book, which leads to a discussion about the place of the Jewish people in the Diaspora.
One of the comments is made by Rabbi Oshaya, who teaches that God was being generous with the Jewish people when he dispersed them among the nations of the world, since their distribution around the world guarantees that they cannot all be threatened together.
The Gemara relates that a non-believer told Rabbi Hanina that the non-Jews were better than the Jews, since the navi tells the story of Yo'av leading the Jewish people in a six-month battle against the Edomites until they were wiped out (I Melakhim 11:16), yet the non-Jews had not destroyed the Jewish people who had been living in their midst for years. Rabbi Oshaya, who was assigned to discuss the matter with him, argued that there was nothing they could do against the Jews. Those who were not in the country were out of their reach, and they could not destroy the Jews who lived amongst them, since then they would develop a reputation of killing their own citizens. The non-believer responded by swearing gappa d'Romai, that Rabbi Oshaya was correct.
Many of the commentaries weigh in on the question of defining the oath gappa d'Romai. Some say that it means a fortress and refers to the capital city of Rome. Others say that the word gappa is similar to the Hebrew kanaf - wings - and the reference is to a winged idol that "defends the city with its wings." Another suggestion is that it is a deliberate mispronunciation of the name of the central god of the Roman pantheon - Jupiter.
Pesahim 88a-b – When a servant slaughters the Paschal offering
Based on the passage in Shmot 12:4, the animal brought as the korban Pesah can be either a goat or a lamb.
Mishna: In the case of one who says to his slave: Go and slaughter the Paschal offering on my behalf, but does not specify which type of animal to slaughter, the halakha is as follows: If the slave slaughtered a kid, his master may eat it; if he slaughtered a lamb, his master may eat it. If the slave slaughtered both a kid and a lamb, his master should eat from the first one that was slaughtered; the second is invalid and should be burned.
The Gemara notes that the first rule in the Mishnah (when the master does not specify which type of animal to bring) must refer to a case where the servant chose the animal not usually favored by his master. The Mishnah teaches that, nevertheless, we assume that the master gave free reign to the servant in choosing which type of animal to prepare.
With regard to the second rule, the Gemara asks how the first one can count, when we know that a person cannot be counted on two sacrifices, and yet the servant had slaughtered both on his master's behalf!? The Gemara answers that the Mishnah must be talking about a very specific case: the case of a king and queen. To support this contention, the Gemara tells a story about a king and queen who ordered their servant to prepare a korban Pesah. The servant slaughtered two animals. The king deferred to the queen, who deferred to Rabban Gamliel. Rabban Gamliel ruled that although the law usually is that, in such a case, neither animal can be used as the Pesah, in the case of the king and queen who aren't so concerned about an animal going to waste, the first one would be used for the sacrifice.
Maimonides explains that this unique ruling for royalty is based on the concept of shalom malkhut - seeking peace with the monarchy - which is explained either as a concern lest the king and queen become angry with the Sages, or that they become angry with their servant, leading to a severe punishment and even death. The Tosafot Yom Tov explains that this story is brought as an example of how the king and queen relied totally on the rulings of the Sages, therefore the Sages could make a decision on their behalf and they would not be considered signed up for two korbanot.
The story in the Gemara seems to be referring to the period of Rabban Gamliel ha-zaken, the grandson of Hillel, making the king Agrippas I. This is one of many stories that appear in the Gemara extolling King Agrippas' respect for the words of the Sages.
Pesahim 89a-b – When one with fine hands is in your group
The Mishnah on our daf (page) teaches that there are occasions when someone can be asked to take his portion of the korban Pesah and eat elsewhere. The case in the Mishnah is when one of the participants in the group had invited others to join without getting the approval of the rest of the group. In such a case, if the other members want to, they can tell him to take his portion and eat with his friends, while they eat in a separate group.
Gemara: A dilemma was raised before the Sages: If there is among the members of a group one of them who has fine hands, a euphemism for one who always hastens to take a large quantity of food, what is the halakha concerning whether they can say to him: Take your allotted portion to eat and leave; and don’t take any more from the other members’ portions?
In our case, having "fine hands" means that he has the ability and reputation of taking more than his share. The Tosefta uses a slightly different term, calling the person in question "someone with soft hands." Similarly, an istenis - someone who is overly fastidious in his manner and dress - is called mi she-da’ato yafeh – "someone who thinks nicely."
We find that the Talmud often uses euphemisms in expressing an unpleasant situation, as the Gemara pointed out earlier (see Pesahim 3a) when the choice was made to use the word ohr - "light" - to open the massekhet, instead of the more standard term - leil - "the evening of."
Regarding the Gemara's question, the Rambam follows our Gemara in ruling that the other participants can tell such a person that he should take his portion and eat on his own. Nevertheless it should be noted that the Jerusalem Talmud rules that if the other members of the group were aware of this person's reputation as something of a glutton when they first agreed to allow him to join their group, then they are not allowed to ask him to leave, since they accepted him as he is.
Pesahim 90a-b – Using Passover registration money for one’s needs
The passage in the Torah that is the source for people joining together into groups in order to bring the korban Pesah says that if a house is too small for an animal, he should take it together with his neighbor, according to the number of people in each family (see Shmot 12:4). This pasuk (verse) is understood by our Gemara to teach other halakhot, as well.
As it was taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next to his house take one” (Exodus 12:4). The phrase “if the household be too little” is taken to mean the household cannot afford the basic necessities of the Festival. Continuing this interpretation, the phrase “for a lamb [miheyot miseh]” is then taken to mean: sustain him [hahayeihu] from the lamb, i.e., he may use the Paschal lamb as a means of supporting himself. He takes money from his neighbor in return for registering his neighbor for a portion of his Paschal lamb and then uses that money to purchase his needs. However, this applies only if one lacks sufficient means to purchase food to eat, but not if he lacks only sufficient means to purchase other items.
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi [Rabbi] says: It applies even if one lacks sufficient means to purchase other necessary items, for if he does not have sufficient funds he may register another person with him for his Paschal lamb and for his Festival peace-offering. And the money in his hand that he receives for registering that person is non-sacred, for it is on this condition that the Jewish people consecrate their Paschal lambs.
The discussion in the Gemara is: what else is considered an inherent part of the sacrifice that the money can go toward it?
- Will the purchase of wood for roasting the sacrifice be appropriate use of the korban Pesah money?
In this case, everyone agrees that the korban Pesah needs to be roasted and that the wood is an integral part of the sacrifice.
- Will the purchase of matza and maror be permitted with this money?
According to one opinion, the passage (Shmot 12:8) which connects the eating of the sacrifice with matza and maror proves that they are considered as one, and can therefore be purchased with money that was set aside for the korban Pesah.
- How about the purchase of clothing that would be appropriate for the holiday?
In this case the Hakhamim argue that clothing is totally separate from the korban and cannot be purchased. Rabbi, however, points to the expression mi-heyot miseh (see Shmot 12:4), which, relying on a switch of pronunciation from a letter heh to a het, he understands to mean that a person is permitted to support himself, to give himself life from the korban, and even for this use it would be permitted.
Pesahim 91a-b – Where the sacrifice can and cannot be brought
The Torah (Devarim 16:5-6) teaches that one cannot bring the korban Pesah "in any one of your gates" - that is to say, in one of the communities outside of the Temple; rather it must be sacrificed in the place chosen by God. This passage is understood by the Sages to teach a number of halakhot connected with the sacrifice.
On its simplest level, that pasuk (verse) teaches that the korban Pesah must be brought in the Temple. Rabbi Shimon understands this to mean that someone who brings the sacrifice on a bamat yahid - a private altar - will be held liable for transgressing a negative commandment. This only holds true, however, when private altars are forbidden, when the Jews all "enter through the same gate," i.e. when the Temple is standing. During a time when private altars are permitted, the korban Pesah can be brought as a private sacrifice.
Prior to the erection of the Temple, there were times when an individual was allowed to build a bamat yahid where he could bring sacrifices, even if he was not a kohen. Generally speaking, the sacrifices that were brought on a bamat yahid were voluntary ones (olot and shelamim); communal sacrifices were brought only on the bamah gedolah - the public altar in Nov or Giv'on. Once the Temple was built, all private altars became forbidden, although a perusal of the stories in Sefer Melakhim makes it clear that people continued bringing sacrifices to God on bamot yahid, activities fought by the prophets.
Rabbi Yehuda teaches that the pasuk can be understood to mean that you cannot bring the korban Pesah "in any one" (leaving off the last clause of the passage). According to this reading, a korban Pesah must be brought as a group effort; it cannot be brought by an individual, even if that individual could eat the sacrifice on his own. Rabbenu Yehonatan explains that Rabbi Yehuda believes that the word ehad - one - is extra, as the Torah could have said that you cannot sacrifice the korban Pesah within your gates, without saying "any one of your gates." Therefore he understands that the pasuk is teaching us to broaden the context of the korban Pesah to a group setting