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Arvei Pesachim #28: 116a

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion




by Rav Yair Kahn




Af Kan Bi-perusa


Based upon this sugya, matza is identified as "poor man's bread." This designation refers not only to the unleavened state of matza, but signifies incompleteness, similar to the bread of an impoverished beggar who would normally eat leftover scraps rather than a complete loaf. It is for this reason that we divide the matza into two sections, thereby enabling the mitzva to be performed with a "perusa" - a broken piece of matza.


According to the Rambam, the matza is broken after reciting the hagadda, prior to the benedictions which precede the mitzva of eating the matza (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:6). However, our custom is to break the matza before reciting the hagadda. This minhag extends the halakha of perusa beyond the actual eating to include the reciting of the hagadda - "lechem she-onim alav devarim harbei" (see previous shiur). In other words, the two derashot on the single word "oni" are complementary; hence, "lechem ONI" (meaning perusa) is used for the purpose of "ONIM alav devarim harbei." Perhaps, the Rambam rejected this minhag because he thought that the two derashot were mutually exclusive. Since he ruled in accordance with the derasha of perusa, he ignored the requirement of reciting the hagadda over matza. (See Si'ach HaGrid pg. 26.)


Rashi s.v. Af


According to Rashi and the Rashbam, three matzot are needed on the seder night. Two full matzot are required for the general din of "lechem mishneh," ( the need to have two loaves on every Shabbat and festival) and an additional perusa is necessary for the unique halakha of "lechem oni." Therefore, they claim that the berakha of "ha-motzi" (typical of a normal festival) should be recited on the two whole matzot, while the berakha specific to the mitzva of matza, "al akhilat matza," should relate to the perusa. Although Tosafot (s.v. Ma) agree, they add that "ha-motzi" should include the perusa as well as the lechem mishneh. Apparently, they argue that the facet of "lechem oni" is not limited to the mitzva of matza. Rather, it effects the nature of the entire se'udat Yom Tov (festive meal) which should be eaten on the seder night and the whole meal is then considered a poor man's seudah. Therefore, the "ha-motzi," which is the berakha of the se'uda, should also be recited over a perusa.


This position however, is not universally accepted. In fact, the simple reading of the gemara in Berakhot (39b) seems to indicate that only one whole and one broken matza are needed. The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:6), for instance, required only two matzot, one whole and one broken, although he agreed that Yom Tov normally demands two whole loaves for lechem mishneh. Nevertheless, he claimed that the seder night is exceptional because of the categorization of matza as lechem oni.


The Rosh argued that the halakha of lechem oni should effect only the mitzva of EATING matza. Why, he asked, should the requirement for lechem mishneh be negatively affected by this din? Apparently, the Rosh agreed with Rashi's position that the halakha of lechem oni is limited to the mitzva of matza. However, if we adopt the alternate approach and maintain that lechem oni defines the nature of the se'udat Yom Tov, then we may claim that it is not sufficient to merely add a perusa for the ha-motzi (as suggested by Tosafot). Instead, one must detract from the lechem mishneh in order to emphasize the lechem oni requirement. By so doing, one initiates the se'udat Yom Tov with lechem oni.


Tosafot quote an opinion that rejected the requirement for three matzot for another reason. This dissenting view challenged the assumption that lechem mishneh is required on Yom Tov in general (not only on Pesach). The gemara in Shabbat (117b) bases the halakha of lechem mishneh on the double portion of manna that the children of Israel received on Friday, so that they would not have to collect manna from the fields on Shabbat. According to Tosafot and the Rif, the same occurred on erev Yom Tov. However, the dissenting opinion apparently maintained that only one portion was received on erev Yom Tov.


This argument depends on whether collecting manna from the fields, although prohibited on Shabbat, is permitted on Yom Tov. In other words, whether or not it is included in those melakhot categorized as "okhel nefesh" - the final stages of food preparation, which are permissible on Yom Tov. Clearly, if collecting manna is allowed on Yom Tov, there is no reason to assume that a double portion descended miraculously on erev Yom Tov. Hence, we can infer that those who demand lechem mishneh on Yom Tov do not catalogue collecting manna from the fields as okhel nefesh.


The Rambam accepted the opinion that lechem mishneh is normally required on Yom Tov. However, he does not appear to connect this with the issue of okhel nefesh. He formulates the halakha of lechem mishneh within the context of oneg shabbat (the pleasures of shabbat - Hilkhot Shabbat 30:9). He then applies all the laws of oneg Shabbat to Yom Tov (Hilkhot Yom Tov 6:16). Hence, lechem mishneh is required on Yom Tov as well.


According to the opinion quoted by Tosafot, that there is no halakha of lechem mishneh on Yom Tov, we are left to ponder why even two matzot are required. Why not recite both the ha-motzi and al akhilat matza on the single perusa? Tosafot in Berakhot (39b s.v. ha-kol) resolve this question based on the prohibition against coupling mitzvot - ein osin mitzvot chavilot (see shiur #7). Accordingly, one should not use one piece of matza both for the purpose of ha-motzi and for the mitzva of eating matza.


Tosafot rejected this application of "chavilot chavilot," since in reality only one MITZVA is being performed. The birkat ha-nehenin (in our case, birkat hamotzi) functions merely to enable this performance. Perhaps, we can explain this position if we define the act of eating, which immediately follows a birkat ha-nehenin, as a mitzva performance. There are a number of indications to support this theory; however, these will take us way beyond the scope of this shiur. [This questionable application of chavilot chavilot is also the reason that Rav Yosef Tov Elem insisted that karpas be used for the birkat ha-nehenin, and the maror for the mitzva. (See Tosafot 115a s.v. Ve-hadar.)]





The mishna (114a) quoted a Tannaitic debate whether or not charoset is a mitzva. According to the Tana Kama, that charoset is not a mitzva, it is nevertheless required in order to counteract "kapa." Rashi (115b s.v. Tzarikh) interprets kapa as the sharpness of the maror.


Tosafot (115b s.v. Kapa) quote the interpretation of the Rach, which identifies kapa as a type of worm which is killed by the charoset. The obvious question is, if there is a strong possibility that worms are found in the maror, it is insufficient to kill them; they must be removed, since the dead ones are not kosher. Tosafot explain that checking for worms is necessary only if there is a statistical indication (chazaka) which halakhically establishes the probability of their presence. However, these worms are unhealthy if eaten alive; and therefore one should insist on charoset to avoid illness, even if there is no HALAKHIC problem. This distinction is based on the principle, "chamira sakanta me-issura" - we are more concerned with physical danger than halakhic prohibition.



Hu Masik Ve-ishto Ofa


Rashi explains that the insistence on this husband-wife teamwork is to avoid the possibility of the matza becoming chametz. This seems to be redundant. Surely, since eating chametz is prohibited, one must ensure that the dough of the matza does not become chametz. Furthermore, it should be sufficient to test whether the dough became chametz. Therefore, even if one baked the matza alone, if he was quick and prevented the dough from rising, the matza should be perfectly k. Why, then, is an independent derasha required to inform us of such a trivial halakha?


Rav Soloveitchik zt"l suggested that similar to the first two derashot of "lechem oni," this is also a halakha specific to the seder night. Therefore, it is obvious that this din does not refer to a real halakhic possibility of chametz. Rather, with respect to the matza of mitzva, this halakha demands not only that the matza not be chametz, but that the process never even lend itself to the possibility of chimutz (becoming chametz). Therefore, the utmost speed, which is only attainable through teamwork, is required. (See Si'ach HaGrid pg. 73.)



Tosafot s.v. Tagrei


Tosafot rule in favor of the opinion of R. Eliezer be-R. Tzadok, based on the beraita which supports the position that charoset is a mitzva. This is also the psak of the Rambam in his code (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:11). However, in his commentary on the Mishna, he ruled that charoset is not a mitzva, against R. Eliezer be-R. Tzadok.


There is an additional discrepancy between the Rambam's commentary and his code. In explaining the mishna, the Rambam claims that R. Eliezer be-R. Tzadok, who maintains that charoset is a mitzva, requires an independent berakha - "al akhilat charoset." This implies that the mitzva of charoset would be viewed as a mitzvat akhila (fulfilled through eating the charoset). However, in his code, although ruling in accordance with R. Eliezer be-R. Tzadok, the Rambam makes no mention of a berakha requirement. Evidently, the Rambam retracted his original understanding of R. Eliezer be-R. Tzadok. [Editor's Note: The Rambam compiled his halakhic code many years after his commentary on the Mishna.] Instead of defining charoset as a mitzva which is fulfilled by the act of EATING, the term mitzva refers to the symbolic presence of charoset. Accordingly, charoset functions as one of the objects, along with matza and maror, through which the story of the enslavement and redemption is related. However, as opposed to matza and maror, there is no independent mitzva to eat charoset.


Sources for next week:

1. First mishna on 116a and the ensuing gemara.

2. Rashi s.v. ve'kan, Rambam Hilkhot Chametz u-matza 7:10.

3. Rambam first chapter of Hilkhot Avodat Ha-kokhavim.

4. Rashbam 116a s.v. patach, Tosafot 115b s.v.kedei.

5. Rambam Hilkhot Chamet u-matza 7:3, 8:2.


1. Why is the second cup filled before "ma nishtana?"

2. Would you interpret "matchil be-gnut" like Rav or Shmuel? Can you explain both opinions?

3. Is there any difference between the exemption from reciting "ma nishtana" referred to on 115b from that found on 116a?

4. What is the difference between "ma nishtana" as described by the Rambam in chapter 7, as opposed to the description in chapter 8?






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