Pesahim 92a-b - Mourning and korbanot
The Mishnah (91b-92a) on our daf (page) discusses a number of cases where someone cannot participate in Temple activities because of his involvement in mourning practices. In a case where this limitation is only of Rabbinic nature, the Sages did not insist that their enactment be kept in the face of the mitzvah of korban Pesah.
There are two cases discussed in the Mishnah:
1. An onen - someone who lost a close relative that day
2. A melaket atzamot - someone who was involved in gathering the bones of a relative for final burial.
With regard to the onen, the halakha is that he has a unique status that forbids his participation in eating korbanot the first day on which a close relative died. This law is learned from the story of Aharon ha-kohen whose oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu were killed on the first day of the consecration of the mishkan, the Tabernacle (see Vayikra 10:19). By that night the Torah would permit him to eat korbanot, but the Rabbis forbade him from doing so. This rule applies to all sacrifices, except for the korban Pesah, since skipping the korban Pesah is not merely missing out on the fulfillment of a positive commandment, but potentially involves a serious punishment – karet (excision).
A melaket atzamot is someone who collects the bones of his relatives for final burial. During the Second Temple period - and for hundreds of years after that - there was a unique tradition with regard to burial. People were buried in the ground in plots that were designated as temporary resting places. After a number of years, when the flesh had decomposed and only the bones remained, they would be gathered and placed in an ossuary, a stone box, which would be interred in the family burial cave.
Although the gathering of the bones took place well after the death of the deceased, the day on which it took place was considered a day of mourning. The Gemara points out that we must be talking about a case where someone else did the actual gathering, since the person who did so would not be able to participate in the korban Pesah for a different reason - because he is tameh (ritually defiled).
Pesahim 93a-b - When on a distant journey
Much of the ninth perek (chapter), which began on the last daf (page) (92b), focuses on the laws of Pesah sheni, and who has the opportunity to bring a korban Pesah in the month of Iyyar in the event that they could not bring it on time in Nisan. According to the Torah (Bamidbar 9:10-14) there are two circumstances that would allow someone to bring a Pesah sheni: either if the person was tameh - ritually defiled - or if he was be-derekh rehokah - far from the Temple grounds when the sacrifice had to be brought.
Mishna: What is the definition of a distant journey that exempts one from observing the first Pesah? Anywhere from the city of Modi'im and beyond, and from anywhere located an equal distance from Jerusalem and beyond in every direction; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer says: From the threshold of the Temple courtyard and beyond is considered a distant journey; therefore anyone located outside the courtyard at the time that the Paschal lamb is slaughtered is exempt from observing the first Pesah. Rabbi Yosei said to him: Therefore, the word is dotted over the letter heh in the word "distant [rehoka]" to say that the meaning of the word should be qualified: It should be understood that it is not because he is really distant; rather, it includes anyone located from the threshold of the Temple courtyard and beyond.
We find, on occasion, that tradition has the scribe writing dots that are placed on top of - or even within - words in the Torah. Generally speaking these dots are understood to mean that the word or letter has some question about it and that it should, therefore, be viewed with caution. The Jerusalem Talmud distinguishes between situations when there are more letters with dots than without them when we include the dotted letters and exclude the ones without, and cases where the majority of the letters are without dots, when we exclude the dotted letters.
In our case, the Jerusalem Talmud explains that the single letter with the dot should be left out, so the pasuk (verse) reads be-derekh rehok, referring not to the travel distance but to the person himself. If he is outside the Temple precincts he is not included in the korban.
The Bartenura explains that the dot on the heh should be understood to mean that if someone is five (the numerical value of the letter heh) amot from the Temple courtyard he will bring a Pesah sheni instead of the regular sacrifice, which, according to the Rashash was the depth of the wall. Thus, anyone beyond the entrance of the courtyard was considered be-derekh rehokah.
Pesahim 94a-b - The crossing of the sun
A large part of this daf (page) is devoted to discussions between the Sages about time and distance, and their relationship with the length of day and night.
According to the description in the Gemara, the way the sun appears crossing the sky during the day is due to a physical pathway that exists across the sky. The raki'a – the sky, or "firmament" (see Bereshit 1:6-8) is a half circle above the ground reaching into the sky. The sun travels at the height of the raki'a or below it from east to west (from A to B in the linked diagram). Darkness takes place when the sun enters a halon – a "window" in the raki'a, where it cannot be seen until it comes out of the halon the next morning. The Gemara attempts to establish the "size" of the world based on an estimation of the distance a person can walk in a single day and a comparison between that and the distance the sun travels during daylight hours.
Already in the period of the Ge'onim (prior to the tenth century CE) the commentaries taught that these discussions in the Gemara are neither halakha, nor are they essential Jewish belief, as they are based on a particular perspective on the natural world that was considered scientific knowledge at that time. The Ge'onim further note, that since Jewish scholars have embraced the positions of the scientific world with regard to these types of questions, the discussion and descriptions that appear in our Gemara are not to be understood as literal truth.
It is important to note that at least some of the discussion here does not really relate to the physical world in which we live; rather it refers to a spiritual and perhaps mystical world. As such it should be noted that the Sages of the Talmud talk about gan eden – the Garden of Eden – and gehenom – Hell – as if they should be measured within the precincts of our physical world, even as it is clear that they exist in a different realm of reality.
Pesahim 95a-b - Reciting Hallel on Pesah sheni
The Torah teaches (see Bamidbar 9:10-14) that someone who was unable to sacrifice the korban Pesah at the proper time because he was ritually defiled or because he was far from Jerusalem, is obligated to come to the Temple one month later, on the 14th of Iyyar and bring a Pesah sheni – a "second Pesah." One of the basic questions associated with this sacrifice is whether it is merely a replacement for the first, or if Pesah sheni is a separate holiday, albeit one that is only obligatory on those people who did not succeed in bringing the sacrifice the first time.
The Mishnah on our daf (page) teaches that for all that the Torah commands that the same rules apply to the Pesah sheni that applied to the first Pesah, nevertheless there are significant differences between the two. For example, the commandment to rid oneself of hametz before the sacrifice is brought only applies on the regular Pesah, and not on Pesah sheni. Similarly, Hallel is recited while eating the sacrifice on Pesah rishon (first), but not on Pesah sheni. The Mishnah mentions other laws that apply to both, like the recitation of Hallel while the korban is being sacrificed, that the meat is eaten roasted together with matza and marror, and that both "push aside" Shabbat should the day that the sacrifice needs to be brought fall on Shabbat.
Tosafot point out that the Mishnah is only giving examples, and that there are other laws that are unique to Pesah rishon. As a case in point, the Jerusalem Talmud notes that the korban Pesah is accompanied by a korban hagigah (see Pesahim daf 70) only on Pesah rishon and not on Pesah sheni.
The Gemara asks: What is the reason that hallel must be recited while one prepares the Paschal lamb on the second Pesah? The Gemara answers...if you wish, say that this halakha simply makes logical sense: Is it possible that the Jewish people are slaughtering their Paschal lambs or taking their lulavim on Sukkot and not reciting hallel? It is inconceivable that they would not be reciting hallel and there is no need for an explicit biblical source for this halakha.
This argument, which can be applied to every one of the Jewish holidays, indicates that the tradition of reciting Hallel is an ancient one. Nevertheless, once we establish the centrality of the recitation of Hallel to the celebration of the holidays, why is it not said while the korban Pesah is eaten on Pesah sheni? One answer that is suggested points to the fact that Hallel is usually recited only during the day, and we need a special pasuk (verse) to introduce the idea of reciting it at night on Pesah. The passage brought by the Gemara to suggest saying Hallel at night appears in Yeshayahu (30:29) "the song should be for you as the night of the celebration of the holiday" which is understood to teach that a song – the Hallel – is appropriate only when there is a holiday being celebrated. For all the importance of Pesah sheni, it is not a Yom Tov, as work is permitted, etc.
Pesahim 96a-b - The replacements
The Torah (Vayikra 27:10) teaches the rule of temurah – switching animals that are set aside for sacrifices. It is forbidden to switch one animal for another, and if someone does so both animals will become subject to the laws of sacrifices.
In the Mishnah on our daf (page), Rabbi Yehoshua reports that he has a tradition that sometimes the temurah of a korban Pesah is sacrificed and sometimes it is not, but that he cannot understand the ruling. Rabbi Akiva explains it by comparing it to a korban Pesah that was misplaced and was replaced by another animal. In such a case we distinguish between two cases.
1. When the animal was found before the sacrifice was brought, we perceive the animal as having been actively "pushed aside." At the moment when it could have been sacrificed we chose to sacrifice another instead of it. Therefore it cannot be brought as a Pesah, nor as a Shelamim (we have already learned that a korban Pesah that is not sacrificed can be brought as a Shelamim). We therefore allow it to graze until it develops a physical blemish that will make it unfit for a sacrifice. At that time it can be sold, and the proceeds will be used to purchase a korban Shelamim.
2. When the animal was found after the sacrifice was slaughtered, it can simply be brought as a Shelamim, since we do not see it as being "pushed aside" – it simply was not available for use when the korban Pesah was brought.
The same rules would apply to temurah. If the second animal was introduced as a replacement before the korban Pesah was slaughtered, both of them were available at the key moment and the one that was not sacrificed as a korban cannot be brought as a Shelamim, either. It will have to be sold (after it develops a blemish) and a different animal purchased with the proceeds. If the second animal was introduced later, it will be brought as a Shelamim.
The laws of temurah have an entire tractate devoted to them – Massekhet Temurah. As noted above, creating a temurah is forbidden, yet doing so will create a kedushah on the replacement animal parallel to that of the original korban. In cases where the sacrifice is a nedavah – a voluntary offering – this does not present a problem, as both will be brought as sacrifices. In cases such as ours, or, for example, a sin-offering that cannot be brought twice, the only option is to wait until it becomes unfit to bring as a korban, when it can be sold and exchanged for another animal that will be given to the Temple.
Pesahim 97a-b - When the lamb does not meet the criteria
The Torah gives clear parameters for the animal that is to be brought as the korban Pesah. It must be a male that is one year old (see Shmot 12:5). What if an animal is set aside as a korban Pesah and it does not meet those basic criteria?
Mishna: In the case of one who separates a female animal for his Paschal lamb although the Torah requires a male, or a male that is in its second year although a Paschal lamb must be an animal that is in its first year, the animal is left to graze until it develops a blemish and becomes unfit, and it is then sold and its money is used for free-will offerings or peace-offerings.
What is left unclear in the Mishnah is what is to be done with the proceeds. The Mishnah appears to offer two contradictory rulings. According to the standard text the money should be used for a nedavah (a voluntary offering), a Shelamim. Actually there are variant readings of the Mishnah. The Jerusalem Talmud reads that the money should be used as a nedavah. Many other sources say that the money should be used for a Shelamim, the standard use of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed.
In his commentary to the Mishnah, the Rambam explains – like the Yerushalmi – that a korban nedevah should be brought with the money. According to Rashi's reading of the Mishnah, the money should be used for a Shelamim. The Rambam in his Mishneh Torah agrees with that ruling, but only under certain circumstances. According to the Rambam, once we realize that this animal cannot be brought as a korban Pesah, we set it out to pasture, hoping that it will develop a mum – a physical blemish that will make it unfit for sacrifice. At that time it can be sold and with the proceeds an animal appropriate for a korban Pesah can be brought. If, however, the animal does not develop a blemish until after that time, a different animal will have to be purchased with other monies, and when this animal develops a blemish a korban Shelamim will be bought with the proceeds.
Pesahim 98a-b - Groups that have intermingled
The Mishnah on our daf (page) discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was misplaced, and while one member of the group goes out and finds it, the rest of the group purchases a replacement.
As a follow-up to this discussion our Gemara talks about two or more groups whose sacrifices become intermingled to the extent that they do not know which animal belongs to whom. The suggestion of the Gemara is to have one person from each group announce his intention to leave the group and join another. Once each of them has agreed to join the other group, both groups makes the following conditional statement to the new member of the group:
If this Paschal lamb that is now in our possession is ours, you are withdrawn from the Paschal lamb that was yours, and your are registered for our Paschal lamb and you may eat from it. And if this Paschal lamb is yours, meaning that it actually belongs to the other group, including this individual, we are hereby withdrawn from ours and we are registered for your Paschal lamb, which you agree to share with us.
By doing this, the people of both groups succeed in arranging to sacrifice the animal belonging to the group that they had joined.
The Tosafot Ri"d points out that this is not the usual procedure when two sacrifices get mixed up. If two similar korbanot are confused, we usually rule that both should be brought normally and that each one will fulfill the role that it needs to, even if we do not know which korban belongs to which person. The situation is different with a korban Pesah. As noted before, a person must join a group in order to participate in the Passover sacrifice. The korban that will be brought must belong to that group, or else the korban is invalid. It is therefore essential that we ascertain who the animal belongs to. When it is impossible to sort it out we solve the problem by recommending that the exchange described above takes place in order to ensure that the sacrifice is eaten by the group to which it truly belongs.