Shiur 03: 114a - Gemara

  • Rav Ezra Bick


            Last week, we read the first two lines of the second mishna on 114a. Before we continue, you should review those two lines, with Rashi and the Rashbam.




            A word on the instructions that are included in these shiurim (together with that annoying dotted line). If the purpose of the shiur was to convey the information in the gemara, it would be a lot shorter and cover much more ground. The purpose of the shiur, however, is to try, within the limitations of distance learning, to teach how to learn text. Reading these pages is not going to do that at all if you are not following the instructions and doing the recommended exercises. If this were a real classroom, I would not continue in the mishna without asking one of the students to read the first part of the mishna, with the Rashi and Rashbam, and explain it. So that is what I am doing now, though I am unable to listen in to see if you are doing it right. But please, stop reading and really do it. Do not worry - I shall patiently wait for you.




The accompanying material on the web is found at:



and includes the following:


1. A scan of 114a

2. A scan of 114b

3. The Artscroll version of the gemara on 114b



A. Finishing the Mishna


            First, we shall finish the mishna on 114a. The first line of the mishna describes the seder phase we call "karpas." Vegetables (lettuce in the mishna) are dipped. The next stage is introduced by the same phrase, "heivi'u lifanav" (they brought before him), and inter alia lists all the other foods eaten during the seder.


They brought before him matza, lettuce, charoset, and two cooked foods; even though charoset is not a mitzva. R. Elazar b. Tzadok says: It is a mitzva. And in (the times of) the Temple, they would bring before him the body of the pesach (sacrifice).


            This is fairly straightforward. Let us look at Rashi. (I have numbered the comments of Rashi simply so that I can later refer to them).


1.Hevei'u lifanav (They brought before him) - after that dipping.


2.Matza, maror, charoset and two cooked foods; even though charoset is not a mitzva - Later it asks, if it is not a mitzva, why is it brought?


The first comment of Rashi simply indicates that the statements of the mishna are sequential. First vegetables are brought for dipping, then these foods are brought.


The second Rashi is more interesting. First, read carefully the "sub verbo," the opening reference of this comment. Is it, in fact, identical to the words of the mishna? There is one word that is different - find it.




            Where the mishna had the word "chazeret" (lettuce), Rashi has the word "maror" (bitter herbs). Maror is a generic, of which lettuce is one specific example (the preferred one, as the gemara will eventually state, but not the only one). If this is not a mistake in the scribal transmission of Rashi, then Rashi had a different version of the mishna than that printed in our texts. Textual versions are called "girsaot" in Hebrew (singular, "girsa"), so it appears that Rashi had a different girsa of the mishna.


            I am not going to check the sources for this girsa, if any, with you now. I just want to point out that this particular change has importance. Last week, when we were discussing the Rashbam's claim that the dipping of karpas is NOT in charoset, we saw his proof - the charoset is only brought to the table in the following stage. Tosafot pointed out that according to the mishna, the lettuce (chazeret) is also brought to the table in the following stage, although it explicitly states that karpas is with lettuce. Therefore, Tosafot rejects the proof of the Rashbam. But now, according to the girsa we have in Rashi, it turns out that the mishna does not state that lettuce is brought in the second stage, but rather that maror is brought. Accordingly, Tosafot's counterproof to the Rashbam is eliminated.


            Inconveniently, Rashi himself does not benefit from this elimination of the Tosafot's counterproof to the Rashbam. Why not? Review last week's discussion of in what karpas is dipped, specifically Rashi's opinion (or just reread Rashi s.v. "mitabel"), and you will understand.




            The actual comment of Rashi (no. 2) contains a frequent feature. Rashi tells you that a certain problem will be addressed in the gemara, without further details. On the one hand, he recognizes that there is a difficulty in reading and comprehending the mishna; on the other hand, he chooses not to give you the explanation, preferring that you read it in the gemara when you get there. In effect, Rashi is giving you a "calm down and be patient" warning, telling you to shelve your question until the matter is addressed in the gemara.



B. The Gemara


            Now we are ready to begin the gemara on this mishna. We have fifteen lines of text to learn now. We turn the page, and, following the bold gimmel-resh (short for "gemara"), read. (Hebrew is on the webpage).


Resh Lakish (R"L) said: This tells us (that) mitzvot require intent.

Since he is eating it not at the time of the obligation of maror (bitter herbs), he eats it with "borei pri ha-adama," and it is possible that he eats it without intent for (the mitzva of) maror. Therefore, he has to return and dip with intent for maror. But if you hold that mitzvot do not require intent, why does he need two dippings; he has already dipped it once.


            Resh Lakish is raising a basic question concerning the performance of mitzvot. God commanded that one eat matza and maror on Pesach night. One who eats maror, but did not intend to fulfill the mitzva by doing so, has he fulfilled his obligation? In other words, do mitzvot need to be performed specifically in order to fulfill an obligation, or is the physical performance sufficient, even if it was performed for other reasons?


            Resh Lakish infers from our mishna that mitzvot DO require intent. The mishna refers to a case where lettuce is used for karpas. Lettuce is also used for maror. If mitzvot do not require intent, then even though when he ate the karpas he was not intending to fulfill the mitzva of maror, he nonetheless has fulfilled his obligation. Why then does he need to eat lettuce a second time, what purpose does this second eating ("dipping" - remember the Rashi last week who explained that the talmudic term "dipping" is synonymous with eating) serve? The conclusion is that mitzvot require intent and hence, he has not fulfilled the mitzva of maror even though he has eaten maror, since when he ate it he was not intending it as fulfillment of maror but only for the purpose of karpas.


            Now read Rashi and the Rashbam (s.v. "zot"), and then answer the following questions:



Zot omeret - This is the reason two dippings are required, for perhaps he did not have intent in the first one for maror, since he made the blessing "borei pri ha-adama" like on other vegetables in general, as the time for the eating of the mitzva of maror with the blessing "al achilat maror" is only after the eating of matza.


1. Why do we assume that the first eating of lettuce was performed without intent for maror?

2. When does one fulfill the mitzva of maror? (Review Rashbam 114a s.v. "ad"; we read it last week).

3. Is it possible to fulfill the mitzva of maror by eating bitter herbs immediately after kiddush?

4. What is the function of "borei pri ha-adama" in Resh Lakish' argument?


            As usual, I will wait for your answers.




            Neither the berakha (blessing) of "al akhilat maror," which is a "birkat ha-mitzva" (a berakha is made before the performance of a mitzva), nor the berakha of "borei pri ha-adama," which is a "birkat ha-nehenin" (a berakha is made before consuming foods), is necessary in order to fulfill the mitzva of maror. Both need to be made, but the mitzva is fulfilled even if the berakhot have been omitted. So what is the function of the different berakhot in Resh Lakish's argument. The answer is in the area of psychology. The proper time for the mitzva of maror is after the matza, as the Rashbam (114a s.v. "ad") states, based on the phrase in the Torah, "eat it (the korbam pesach) on matzot and merorim." Therefore, in the hagadda, that is where the formal eating of maror takes place. However, the mitzva of maror is that it be eaten on Pesach night, and one fulfills the mitzva even if one does not eat matza at all. In halakhic terms, it should be eaten "likhatchila" after the matza; one fulfills the mitzva "bediavad" (after the fact) whenever it is eaten during the evening. Normally, one uses some other vegetable for karpas, and lettuce or another bitter herb for maror. Hence, in the regular order of things, the berakha "al akhilat maror" appears in the haggada after the matza. If one wanted to fulfill the mitzva of maror earlier, for whatever reason, he would make the berakha before he ate the lettuce, but generally speaking that does not happen. Hence, where someone has only lettuce and is therefore using it for karpas (since it is also a vegetable), he will probably follow the usual procedure and only make a "borei pri ha-adama." Psychologically, it is likely that since he is not saying "al akhilat maror," simply because it is not in the regular order of things, and, in modern terms, it was not written in his haggada, it is likely that he did not have a specific intention for the mitzva of maror. Hence, if mitzvot require intention, he has not fulfilled his obligation. But if mitzvot do not require intention, then he will have fulfilled his obligation of maror together with the performance of karpas, and there should be no need to repeat the eating of maror afterwards.


            In other words, the usual position of the berakhot (based on the case where he uses other vegetables for karpas, serves as a framework to produce an assumption about the psychological state of one who happens to be using lettuce for karpas. If that is the case in the mishna, then the mishna makes sense only on the assumption that mitzvot require intent.


            Make sure you see where and how this is stated in the gemara. Then we can continue.


            The gemara rejects this proof of Resh Lakish.



Why? Perhaps we hold that mitzvot do not require intent. And as to your question, " why does he need two dippings," (the answer is) in order that there be a distinction for the children.


            Although the eating of lettuce in the place of karpas would suffice to fulfill the obligation to eat maror (even without specific intent), the Sages required you to eat lettuce again, " in order that there be a recognition for the children." What is "distinction for the children" (hekeira l'tinokot)?


            By now you know that the first step in answering this question is to look in Rashi (and/or the Rashbam). Unfortunately, there is a small problem in finding the Rashi in this case. This is a rare problem, which, in defiance of statistical probability, has arisen for us on the third day of our learning. The Rashi we are looking for has an opening line that is not found in the gemara; in other words, Rashi here has a slightly different girsa (text version) than we do.


            The Rashi we are looking for begins with the words "Dilma ha kamashma lan." (The Rashbam is the same, though with the added difficulty that the words "ka mashma lan" are abbreviated as kuf-mem-lamed.) Rashi states:


Dilma ha kamashma lan

Perhaps it informs us that two dippings are necessary - for the sake of the children, so that they should ask, and we perform numerous distinctions.


            I have translated the word "hekeira" as distinction. The root means "to recognize." Since the gemara is using it as a noun meaning the things we do in order that the children "recognize;" i.e., pay attention and notice, I translated it as "distinction." The meaning, I hope, is clear.


            The gemara is suggesting a principle which Rashi claims applies to numerous features of the seder night. Some things are done purely to attract attention by being unusual, the aim being to arouse the children to ask questions. In our case, that applies to two dippings. Although the obligations of karpas and maror can both be performed with lettuce, there is an additional aspect of having two distinct dippings. Hence, if you wish to use lettuce to fulfill both obligations, you still have to do it twice.


            The gemara continues:



And if you will say, if so, it should have told us other vegetables.


If it had told us other vegetables, I would have thought you need two dippings only where there are other vegetables, but if he only has lettuce, two dippings are not necessary. Now it informs us that even lettuce necessitates two dippings, in order that there be recognition for the children.


            The gemara suggests an attempted defense for Resh Lakish. If mitzvot do not require intent, then why does the mishna present karpas as being done with lettuce? It should have suggested using other vegetables for karpas and lettuce for maror (whereas according to Resh Lakish, the mishna specifically chose to use lettuce for karpas IN ORDER to inform us that one does not fulfill the mitzva of maror in this manner, as mitzvot DO require intent). The gemara answers that the mishna specifically wants us to know that two dippings, in order to arouse the interest of the children, are necessary even if one has only lettuce as a vegetable and one will end up dipping the lettuce twice. It seems redundant, since, given the assumption that mitzvot DO NOT require intent, one has already fulfilled the mitzva of maror, but nonetheless, the goal of hekeira l'tonikot is so important that one is instructed to dip the lettuce twice in order to fulfill that goal.


            Please review the entire section of gemara we have read, which consists basically of two statements, Resh Lakish's position, and the gemara's  extended argument of rejection. You should be able to read it as one long paragraph. Make sure you can.


            In this gemara, we have been introduced to two concepts. One is a general one, applying to all mitzvot (or so it seems) - do mitzvot require intent in performance. The second is a seder Pesach concept, hekeira l'tinokot, which is used to explain a particular feature of the seder, the two dippings.