Pesachim 93 The Status of Pesach Sheini- A Chag in its own right?

The Mishna on 92b tells us that not only one who was impure or far away on Pesach, as per the biblical imperative (Bamidbar 9/9-13  ) but also one who was  שוגג ( unknowing) or אונס  (prevented from bringing it by reasons beyond his control) may and must bring his קרבן  a month later on פסח שני.

There is a significant debate between רבי  and רבי נתן  as to the nature of this day.

According to רבי, it is considered a  רגל בפני עצמו  (festival in its own right) whereas according to רבי נתן, it is merely תשלומין   (a “make-up” opportunity) for the mitzva missed on Pesach .

It seems that according to רבי, פסח שני  brings with it a default obligation to bring a קרבן פסח  but includes an exemption for those who have already brought one on Pesach itself.

In contrast, according to רבי נתן, there is no default obligation to bring a קרבן פסח  that comes with פסח שני, but just an inherited one from Pesach if it has not already been carried out. (to phrase it in “Lomdishe” terminology, According to רבי, the מחיב  is actually  פסח שני  with פסח  being a פטור  for those who brought their קרבן  already on it. In contrast, according to רבי נתן, the מחייב  is actually Pesach itself, with פסח שני  merely being תשלומין  if it was missed.)

A major נפקא מינה (practical ramification) of this debate regards someone who converted between Pesach and Pesach Sheini, or a child who became Bar/bat-Mitzva during this period.

Should we say that פסח שני  is a festival in its own right, then it follows that they should bring a קרבן  on פסח שני.  On the other hand, should we say that it is merely a תשלומין  for the missed mitzva on Pesach, then seeing as they were never obligated by פסח ראשון, there is no missed mitzva for them to make up!

Another נפקא מינה  relates to when the punishment of כרת  is applicable.

Rebbe holds that one can get כרת  for intentionally missing the קרבן פסח on either date, and the Gemara understands that this is consistent with his view that פסח שני  is its own independent festival.

Though, as Rashi points out, one person cannot get כרת  twice, this does mean that a person who knowingly missed either date and unknowingly missed the other, will be liable to כרת, and that in the above-mentioned case of the convert, knowingly missing פסח שני  will result in כרת. (interestingly enough Rashi mentions the case of the convert and not the case of the child regarding כרת – perhaps this is because he holds like the views in Chazal that אין בית דין של מעלה עונשין עד גיל עשרים , a topic requiring analysis of its own– see Shabbos 89b and my Hebrew analysis on this subject. Yet see Pesachim 91b and תוס’ ד”ה “איש ולא קטן”)

In contrast, רבי נתן  holds that one can only get כרת  for knowingly missing פסח ראשון , the primary מחיב , in which case פסח שני does not exempt him from the כרת  . If one unknowingly missed פסח ראשון  or missed it for legitimate reasons, he never incurred the כרת  in the first place and whereas פסח שני  gives him a chance to make up for the lost mitzva, it does not have  the independent status to create its own כרת  if missed.

A third view in this regard is that of רבי חנניא בן עקביא who agrees with רבי נתן  that פסח שני  is not an independent festival but holds that it is not only a תשלומין  (chance to make up the lost mitzva) but also a תקנתא  (remedy) for the כרת  incurred by knowingly missing פסח ראשון . As such, one would only be liable toכרת  if he knowingly missed both opportunities!

Another possible נ”מ , though not mentioned in the Gemara, could be whether Pesach Sheini is to be treated as a low-level festival in other ways too, perhaps even for those who have brought the קרבן פסח  and for all of us today who cannot do so? This could involve avoiding fasts, eulogies, saying Tachanun etc.

A more complex question that might be dependent on this debate but would also be affected by other considerations  would be whether we will be liable to keep Pesach Sheini if the conditions that obligate us to bring the קרבן פסח  were to return during the period between Pesach and 14 Iyar!   

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There is a general rule of פסק  (halachik rulings) that הלכה כרבי מחברו  (the halacha follows Rebbe in a dispute with any of his colleagues-see Eruvin 46b) -AT first glance, one might think that this would indicate that we should rule like רבי  that פסח שני  is a רגל בפני עצמו.

Yet, in various places (for example Pesachim 27b, Kesubos 21a   ) it is made clear that this rule usually only applies מחבירו  (against one of his colleagues )  and not מחביריו  (against more than one colleague)- In the latter case, the general rule of הלכה כרבים  (follow the majority) still applies.

As such, seeing as bothרבי נתן  and רבי חנניא בן עקביא  hold that Pesach Sheini is NOT a festival in its own right, the view of the two of them should override that of רבי, and we should rule that it is NOT a festival in its own right.

Yet, the Rambam (Korban Pesach 5/7) rules that a convert who converted between the two Pesach’s, as well as a child who reached the age of majority during that period, MUST bring a קרבן פסח  on פסח שני . his ruling regarding כרת  (K.P. 5/2) is also consistent with the view of Rebbe, a point not lost on the Raavad!

Even more in need of analysis is the ruling of the Meiri (Pesachim 93a), who holds that the convert referred to above does NOT bring a קרבן פסח  DESPITE the fact that we hold that פסח שני  is a רגל בפני עצמו  regarding כרת, a ruling that seems to contradict the link made between the two rulings by the Gemara!

The key to understanding the Rambam might lie in a different sugya (B.B 124b) where some views are brought that we follow רבי  even against more than one of his colleagues, or that one is permitted to do so if one agrees with the logic in his arguments?

Perhaps the Rambam follows this view and uses this discretion to rule like Rebbe even against more than one of his colleagues- (this would admittedly go against the consensus of the Rishonim in Bava Basra who rule either like Rava or Rav Papa but so long as it is consistent in the Rambam’s psak in general, something we would need to test, it would not be illegal.)

And perhaps the Meiri goes a step further and uses this discretion to rule like Rebbe regarding treating פסח שני  as an independent חג  on the one hand but not like Rebbe regarding the convert or the child. Understanding that although the Gemara connects the two rulings, the logic is not precisely the same and it is possible to agree with Rebbe’s logic in one place and not in another?

Alternatively , it could be that the main debate is regarding the convert and the child, and there are only two views there, that of רבי and that of רבי נתן  – it is just regarding the connected dispute regarding כרת  where there are two views against Rebbe, and perhaps in a case where the main debate contains only one opposing view, the rule that we follow Rebbe still applies- This explanation might explain the Kesef Mishna (K.P. 5/7) who ironically explains that the Rambam rules like Rebbe specifically because of the rule of הלכה כרבי מחבירו  against רבי נתן, seemingly ignoring the parallel dispute regarding כרת.

In truth, the Raavad raises this difficulty earlier on in the perek (K.P. 5/2) and the Kesef Mishna bring Rabbeinu Avraham son of the Rambam who explains that seeing as we are dealing with a 3-way dispute (whether פסח שני  is its own festival, תשלומין דראשון , or תקנתא דראשון) , Rebbe is weighted against each of his colleagues separately, not together, and the rule of הלכה כרבי מחבירו  still applies.

This explanation initially bothered me because at the end of the day, the Gemara did seem to indicate that the נקודת המחלוקת  (point of contention) as about whether Pesach Sheini is an independent festival or not, and on that, Rebbe is clearly in the majority.

It seems that the way Rabbeinu Avraham understands his father, this is not quite precise, and seeing as  רבי נתן   and רבי חנניה בן עקביא  derive their views from different readings of the verses, each one’s understanding of   אינה רגל בפני עצמו  is so different that they are seen as completely different views- This if course requires further analysis but might shed further light on the rather different  ruling of the Meiri as well.

Much more to investigate, and we would need to test whatever explanation we choose against the Rambam’s other relevant rulings and the other relevant sugyos to see if it holds any water.

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Be that as it may, given that the Rambam has ruled conclusively that פסח שני  is its own independent festival, does this have any significance for us in our day where no-one is able to perform Pesach Rishon?

Simply speaking, it seems not. Even according to Rebbe who holds that Pesach Sheini is an independent festival, this is most likely only for those whose obligation was pushed over to Pesach Sheini, not for those who obligation was fulfilled on Pesach Rishon or who despite not having fulfilled their obligation on Pesach Rishon do not have their obligation pushed over to Pesach Sheini.

Given that we have learnt explicitly )Pesachim 66b)  that only individuals and NOT the entire community, (or even the majority thereof) have their obligation pushed over to Pesach Sheini, this independent festival simply does not apply in a case where the whole Jewish people were unable to bring the Korban Pesach, despite the rule of טומאה הותרה בצבור, for other reasons beyond their control.

Yet there does appear to be a “taste” of this festival for everyone in that many have the custom not to say Tachanun on Pesach Sheini ( interestingly based on the Megilas Taanis which lists it as a day when fasting and saying eulogies are not allowed-whether this should apply after Megilas Taanis ceased to be authoritative  [see Rosh haShana 19b] is a question in its own right) ) and some even eat Matza!

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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