Pesachim 69-70 The Pesach night Chagiga and the egg on the seder plate

The Mishna on 70b tells us that the  קרבן חגיגה   (festive sacrifice) brought together with the קרבן פסח  was not subject to many of the rules that the קרבן פסח itself was subject to:

Unlike the קרבן פסח  which could only be a male goat or lamb, under two years of age, the חגיגה  could come from cattle as well, and be female or male, younger or older than two years.

Furthermore, unlike the קרבן פסח  which only had one day and one night after its slaughter to be eaten, the חגיגה  may be eaten within two days and one night.

However, unlike the קרבן פסח which was always brought, the חגיגה  was neither brought on Shabbos, nor if most of the community was impure, nor if the group associated with the קרבן פסח  was small enough to be satisfied by the קרבן פסח   itself.

The Gemara deduces from this that the author of the Mishna holds that the חגיגה  is not obligatory- After all, if it was obligatory, it should be offered on shabbos like all obligatory sacrifices with a fixed time.

We should note that the Gemara uses the language “לאו חובה היא”  (is not obligatory) to describe the special chagiga of Pesach night.

The simple meaning of this means that although it could be דאורייתא (biblical in nature,) it is a voluntary mitzva and not an obligatory one.

Yet it is not the norm for the Torah to give us voluntary mitzvot without specifically saying so, and we also do not usually  דורש טעמא דקרא (expound the verse’s reasons, a topic for another post, but see meanwhile Sanhedrin 21a ) and conclude that a mitzva in the Torah does not apply when the reason does not seem to apply.

It is thus not surprising that the Tosfos understand that the Gemara means to say that it is only  דרבנן (a rabbinical command.) and that this is why it cannot push aside the prohibition of melacha on shabbos.

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The Gemara proceeds to bring a Beraisa that explains that the חגיגה  is eaten first in order that the קרבן פסח  can be eaten על השובע  (while satisfied.)

Rashi understands that the reason the קרבן פסח  in turn needs to be eaten על השובע  is ” שיהו נהנין באכילתו ותיחשב להם” (so that they should get pleasure from eating it and it should be significant to them.)

He seems  to understand the phrase על השובע  not literally as “while fully satisfied” but rather as while not very hungry, or partly satisfied.

The חגיגה  thus plays the roll as a filler in order that the relatively small amount of meat that each member of a large group gets from the קרבן פסח will be eaten after one has already satisfied his hunger and be able to relax and enjoy it- after all, even though it is clearly not healthy, one who is very hungry often tends to eat quickly in order to satisfy his hunger and doesn’t take the time to enjoy his food properly.

In contrast, the Tosfos quotes the ריב”א  based on the Yerushalmi as explaining that this requirement is a גזירה דרבנן  (rabbinical decree) to prevent one from rushing to eat it in his hunger and while doing so, transgressing the prohibition of שבירת עצם (breaking a  bone of the קרבן פסח.)

Whereas it is אפשר  (possible), though not  מוכרח  (a foregone conclusion)  that Rashi views על השובע to be an intrinsic element in the mitzva of קרבן פסח, without which one might not fulfil one’s obligation, the approach brought by Tosfos clearly sees it as a side- requirement on a rabbinical level, which probably, though not certainly, would not מעכב (hold back) one’s fulfillment of the mitzva.

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Back to the Beraisa quoted by our Gemara, we should note that it does not bring the requirement that the קרבן פסח  be eaten על השובע as the reason that the חגיגה is brought in the first place but only as the reason why it is eaten before the קרבן פסח – it is the Gemara that seems to goes further and take this as the reason for bringing the חגיגה , and thus the reason why the חגיגה  is not brought by small groups.

We should note that all the above applies to the special חגיגה  brought on erev Pesach and eaten on the night of Pesach, and not to the regular obligatory חגיגה  brought on the first day of Pesach and other festivals.

Whereas it is not yet clear whether  the regular חגיגה can be brought by an impure community, it seems implicit at this stage that being דאורייתא ,it is brought on shabbos, and certainly isnt dependant on the number of people eating it.

 However, on the next amud, Rav Ashi derives from a passuk that the regular chagiga is also not brought on shabbos. This seems to clash with our Gemara’s deduction from the fact that the חגיגה  brought with the פסח is not offered on Shabbos, that it is not obligatory- after all, the regular חגיגה  is certainly obligatory yet it is also not brought on shabbos!

Tosfos suggests that even if the חגיגה  brought with the פסח  is דאורייתא, it cannot be compared to the regular חגיגה which does not have a strictly fixed time and unlike it can be offered on all 7 days if missed on the first day!

As such, it  is only regarding the חגיגה  brought with the פסח that the Gemara claims a causal link between biblical level obligation and the ability to overide the prohibition of מלאכה  on shabbos!

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The Gemara continues to note the dissenting view of בן תימא who holds that the  חגיגה  that comes with the קרבן פסח  is subject to the same time restrictions that apply to the קרבן פסח , and only the regular חגיגה brought on Pesach day enjoys a  less restrictive time-period for it to be eaten.

In support for his view, the passuk “ולא ילין לבקר זבח חג הפסח”  is brought, where the word “זבח” is taken to refer to the חגיגה and “פסח”  to refer to the קרבן פסח.

The implication, as noted by Tosfos, is that בן תימא  considers the חגיגה to be דאורייתא whereas the חכמים  of the Mishna who disagree with him, consider it to be דרבנן.

After much discussion, the Gemara  also concludes that according to בן תימא, all or most of the other restrictions pertaining to the קרבן פסח also apply to that חגיגה.

Tosfos points out that later (Pesachim 71a) the Gemara brings a פסוק  to prove that the חגיגה may be eaten for 2 days and one night, unlike the קרבן פסח which clearly seems to support בן תימא  against our Mishna as saying that the חגיגה  is דאורייתא  and thus offered on shabbos as well!

He also notes that there is a view elsewhere (Chagiga ) that implies that the  חגיגה   of ערב פסח  is indeed דרבנן, and we are left with aמחלוקת תנאים  regarding whether

  1.  the חגיגה  on ערב פסח  has the same biblical status as the regular חגיגה  AND is offered on pesach as well

 OR

 whether it is simply a מצוה דרבנן  designed to ensure that the rule that the קרבן פסח  is eaten while partially satisfied is upheld AND is thus NOT offered on shabbos.

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Although we do not merit to bring either the קרבן חגיגה  or the קרבן פסח in our time, there are a number of possible practical ramifications of the above analysis, one of which I wish to bring up briefly:

The egg which is traditionally placed on the Seder plate is done so  זכר לחגיגה (see Orach Chaim 473/4 based on Tur O.C. 473 but see also other views brought, all based on Pesachim 114b.)

It seems that according to the view that חגיגה  on Pesach night is only דרבנן and not brought on shabbos , when Pesach falls on Shabbos, the egg should not be placed.

Although some Rishonim do indeed rule this way, the halachik consensus seems to be that being just a זכר  and also due to other reasons given for using the egg, we do so anywhere (see above sources for more details.)

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

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