Pesachim 90-92 The אונן, Korban Pesach, and mourning laws on Purim

The Mishna at the bottom of daf 90b lists a number of people who despite currently being unfit to eat the קרבן פסח may still be included in a group that the קרבן  is slaughtered for, seeing as they will be fit to eat it in the evening.

This list includes, amongst others, one who is an אונן and a prisoner who has been promised that he will be freed by evening.

Although they may be included in a group, the קרבן  may not be slaughtered for them alone, in case they do not become fit to eat it and the entire קרבן  becomes invalid.

Although the term אונן  is generally used to refer to someone who has lost a relative and still has not buried him, the usage of this term does seem to vary from place to place, and the reference to one over these 3 daf presents an opportunity to begin clarifying the scope, status, and laws of an אונן  as opposed to an אבל  and a regular person.

The term אונן/אנינות  is found in the Chumash itself in  the ודוי מעשרות, the declaration made in the third and sixth year before Pesach verifying that one has separated all his tithes and treated them according to halacha.

One of the phrases in this declaration is “לא אכלתי באוני ממנה” (I never ate from it while I was in my אנינות  –  Devarim 26/14.)

The implication is that it is forbidden to eat one’s Maaser Sheini while one is an אונן (the other tithes are not eaten by the original owner but by the Levi ,the poor, or the Kohain)

What precisely “באוני”  means is not evident from the פסוק,but the Ibn Ezra sees it as synonymous with “אבלי” (my mourning) and connects it to the naming of Binyamin as “בן אוני” (Bereishis 35/18.) and “לחם אונים “ (Hoshea 9/4).

Although the actual word is not used, reference to the day one lost a relative can also be found regarding sacrifices, where Aharon explains  that the reason he did not eat from the inaugural sacrifices we because he had lost his 2 sons that day (Vayikra 10/19)

The Targum Yonatan explains that Aharon made a “kal vachomer” argument to Moshe- If an אונן  is not permitted to eat מעשר שני, how much more so a קרבן חטאת  which has a much greater sanctity.

By making this link, the Targum seems to have made it clear that Aharon had the same status of the אונן  mentioned regarding מעשר שני and that this phrase refers to the day of death, leading us to conclude that אנינות דאורייתא  refers to the day of death, at least prior to the burial, and possibly also afterwards.

In truth, the Gemara (Zevachim 100b) brings a Beraisa which records a debate between Rebbe and Chachamim as to how long אנינות  continues, at least on a rabbinical level/

Rebbe is of the view that it is only until the burial whereas the Chachamim hold that it is the entire day.

The Gemara discusses which day they are talking about, whether it is the day of death or the day of burial, in a case where the two do not coincide.

It argues that it is impossible that Rebbe holds that אנינות  on the day of death ends after the burial even before the day is over, seeing as everyone agrees that the entire day of death is subject to the laws of אנינות  based on the passuk “ואחריתה כיום מר”  (after it is like a bitter day-  Amos 8/10   ) and everyone also holds that the night after the day of death is rabbinically subject to the laws of אנינות.

רב ששית  It then suggests that the dispute is referring to the day of burial and a long discussion ensues.

The Gemara concludes that according to Rebbe, the whole of the day of death is subject to אנינות דאורייתא and the night after, as well as the day and night after burial are subject to אנינות דרבנן.

Returning to our sugya, Rashi explains that the אונן  mentioned in our Mishna who may be included in the group for a קרבן פסח seeing as he will be fit to eat it as night, is referring to one who has not yet buried his death, bringing support from the Gemara in Zevachim.

The Gemara (Pesachim 92b) explains that seeing as אנינות at night (even on the day of death) is only דרבנן, Chazal did not apply their own restrictions in a way that would cause the אונן to miss out on a מצות עשה  whose neglect incurs the penalty of כרת.

In contrast, other קרבנות  may not be eaten at night during אנינות דרבנן as Chazal upheld their restrictions even in cases where the אונן  would miss out on a regular מצות עשה , so long as its neglect  does not incur the penalty of כרת .

This requires further explanation- After all, the Gemara (Moed Katan 14b)  rules that אבלות  does not apply on Chol haMoed seeing as the עשה דרבים  (public positive mitzva) of שמחת יום טוב  pushes aside the עשה דיחיד  of אבלות.

The usage of the term עשה indicates that this is referring to אבלות דאורייתא, in other words, אנינות on the first day.

If a public positive mitzva of rejoicing on chol hamoed pushes aside אבילות דאורייתא , why shouldn’t the mitzva of eating any קרבן, particularly public ones, push aside אנינות דרבנן?

Furthermore, surely the rule of עשה דוחה לא תעשה  should allow the mitzva of eating a korban to push aside even a biblical prohibition of אנינות ?

The solution to the later question seems rather straight-forward:

When one action consists of 2 independent results, one a mitzva and one an aveira, the above rule might tell us that the action is defined as a mitzva and not an aveira.

However in the case of the prohibition of eating מעשר שני  or קדשים  during אנינות, the very essence of the prohibition forbids performing the עשה.

From the fact that the Torah forbids eating קדשים    during אנינות , it is clear that the rule of עשה דוחה לא תעשה  cannot apply here anymore than it would apply to any of the other prohibitions regarding eating them, such as doing so when impure.

It could  follow that when Chazal extend such prohibitions, they do so under the same parameters as the original biblical prohibition and unless they specifically say otherwise, the fact that their decree is stopping the fulfillment of an עשה דאורייתא  is irrelevant- that is the essence of the גזירה  , just like it is with גזירה דרבה  which stops us from fulfilling the מצוות עשה  of shofar and lulav and the מצוה מדברי סופרים  of קריאת המגילה  on shabbos, by way of Chazal’s authority to require one to be שב ואל תעשה  (passive) rather than perform a מצוה עשה under circumstances that concern them.

In contrast, when it comes to the laws of אבילות other than those relating to מעשר שני  and קדשים, there is no specific עשה  or גזירה דרבנן  to mourn on Yom-Tov.

The requirement is to mourn during the specified mourning period, and it conflicts with another requirement to rejoice on the festivals – as such, the public requirement to rejoice on the festivals overrides the private requirement to mourn.

Similarly, there is no specific prohibition to eat the קרבן פסח  while one is an אונן- the prohibition only follows from the general prohibition of eating קדשים, and whereas on the day of death when this prohibition is דאורייתא , the fact that eating it is an עשה שיש בו כרת  might not be sufficient to override the prohibition, it is enough for Chazal to choose not to extend this prohibition if it will stop one performing such a serious mitzva.

We should also note that the 2 sources in the Torah for the laws of אנינות  are limited not only to the day of death, but also to a prohibition against eating מעשר שני  and קדשים.

A different area of the laws of אנינות  relates to exemption from performing מצות, but other than not wearing Tefillin which might be a law of mourning itself, this seems to be dependant on whether one is in fact busy with the burial arrangements, and the main sugya on this can be found at the beginning of the third chapter of Brachos (18a.)

A third area relates to the various laws practiced as an expression of mourning, at least on the day of death. These  might be an extension of the prohibition of eating מעשר שני  or קדשים  , either on a  biblical or rabbinical level, but might also be completely non-related, on either level.

This could have major ramifications for whether the law of אבלות  , particularly on the day of death, apply on Purim or not.

If we follow the ruling of the Rambam )Aveil 1/1) who holds that the requirement to keep certain signs of mourning on the day of death is indeed part of the law of אנינות דאורייתא, then it is unlikely that מצוה מדברי סופרים such as rejoicing on Purim, will override this .

On the other hand, if we follow other Rishonim who hold that the laws of aveilus are only rabbinical in status, it is more likely that the higher status of Simchas Purim as a מצוה מדי סופרים  AND a מצוה דרבים  will override them.

The resolution of this question is way beyond the scope of this post, but it is indeed a matter of debate between the Mechaber and the Rema in Orach Chaim whether public mourning applies on Purim or not! (O.C. 696/4 but compare Y.D. 401/7 where the Mechaber seems to agree with the Rema that it does not.)- Perhaps the law of הלכה כדברי המיקל בערוב  should apply?!

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.

Shabbos 104 the limits of Prophetic authority

On our daf, we are told an incredible idea about the letters in the aleph bet (alphabet)
The 5 letters that change form at the end of a word (מנפצך) were not always like that!
The open form of the letters used at the beginning and in the middle of words were actually a newer innovation of the נביאים prophets! (Rashi points out that in a parallel sugya (Megillah 2b), the claim is that the closed form at the end of the word was the later addition- see there for how he resolves this.)
It is the closed form of the letters that we only use at the end which were actually the original, and the prophets for some reason introduced the open form everywhere except at the end of the word!
The Gemara takes major issue with this statement, calling on the passuk ” אלה המצוות” (“THESE are the laws” – Devarim 36/13 )which teaches us that only the commandments given to Moshe at Sinai were valid and from then on, no prophet could innovate anything else- אין הנביא רשאי לחדש דבר .
The Gemara replies that both forms actually existed already, the prophets simply decided which form to use at the end of the word and which form to use in the rest of the world.
That too is rejected, seeing as even such a decision would be considered an innovation, which prophets may not make.
The Gemara finally concludes that both forms of the letter as well as where they were to be used were indeed given over to Moshe, but they were forgotten, and the Nevi’im (prophets) reestablished them.
In a different sugya, even the reading of the Megila , a Mitzva instituted by the prophets Mordechai and Esther, was subject to scrutiny by Chazal (Megila 14a) , and they pointed out that none of the Nevi’im added to anything in the Torah except in this case, due to a קל וחומר (fortiori logical argument) that they found.
From our daf, however, we see that this rule doesn’t only apply to introducing new Mitzvos, but also applies to changing the form of the Hebrew letters, or even deciding when each form should be used!
As similar concept is found in the beginning of Bava Kama (2b) , where the Gemara tries to derive that נגיחה (goring) must be done with the horns of an ox to be considered נגיחה , from a Passuk in Navi (Melachim I 22/11.)
The wicked king of Israel, Achav, has convinced the righteous king of Yehuda, Yehoshafat, to go to war with Aram to claim back Ramot Gilad, which they had occupied.
All the false and/or idolatrous prophets tell Achav exactly what he wants to hear, namely that he will succeed, but Yehoshafat insists that he look for a surviving true prophet of Hashem from whom to seek council.
Meanwhile, one of these “yes men”, Tzidkiya ben Kenaanah, takes two large metal horns and told Achav and the people that they would use these horns to “gore” the enemy into submission
The true navi, Michayahu, in contrast, predicts that the war will be a disaster and advice them to stay home.
For this, he is imprisoned by Achav’s men, and the two kings lead their troops into battle together.
(We see similar treatment of our great prophets who refuse to give people the false sense of comfort that they want and speak truth to power, in many places in Tanach, one of the most famous being the horrendous incarceration of Yirmiyah but the last king of Yehuda, Tzidkiya, for similarly breaking ranks with all the false prophets and advising surrender to the approaching Babylonians.)
Back to the horns of Tzidkiya, Chazal derive from here that the word יגח ( yigach), refers to injuring with the horns.
However, another source from the Chumash is also given for this, and the Gemara explains that this is because one might counter that דברי תורה מדברי קבלה לא ילפינן – one may not derive words of the Torah from the words of Kabbalah (the term used by Chazal for prophecy, but that’s another discussion!)
In the end, the Gemara still accepts this proof, seeing as we are not deriving any laws per se, but simple learning the meaning of a word (גלוי מלתא) which is acceptable.
Here, we were not attempting to derive new mitzvas from the Neviim, but simply some details of the laws mentioned in the Torah through a גזירה שוה ( Masoretic comparison based on similar language) – namely that the damages that the Torah is referring to need to be by the horns of the ox ,in order for the relevant laws to apply.
Yet even this is not considered valid, and the only thing that we can actually apply from the words of the Nevi’im to Torah matters is shedding light on the meaning of words used in the Torah- this is not through a גזירה שוה but simply a גלוי מילתא.
However, it does not take much to see that this cannot be so straight forward as it looks.
So many new laws of Shabbos, including the mitzvas of honoring and enjoying shabbos (כבוד ועונג שבת ) as well as the prohibition of עובדין דחול ( weekday activities that are not melacha but inappropriate for shabbos) are derived from the famous speech of Yeshayahu, which we read as the haftarah from Yom Kippur (Yeshayahu 58/13.)
In addition, Chazal tell us )Shabbos 24b) that Shlomo haMelech instituted נטילת ידים (washing hand before eating bread)and Eruvin, mentions many decrees made by various biblical figures, and of course, made so made so many decrees of their own!
Even the Mitzva of Chanukah, instituted by Chazal long after the period of prophecy, is accepted, due to the biblical injunction to follow the Torah leadership and prohibition against going against it (Shabbos 23a).
Why could the same not apply to a relatively simple matter of the shape of the letters, or learning how נגיחה is done?
Perhaps the key lies in the famous words of the Rambam (Mamrim 2/9), where he asks how it is possible for Chazal to make decrees against things the Torah does not forbid, when there is a prohibition to add or subtract from the Torah.
He notes that the prohibition of adding to the Torah applies to making new laws and making out as if they are biblical laws.
However, so long as they are clear that they are rabbinical laws, there is no issue, and on the contrary, it is part of their mandate (probably from the passuk לא תסור and ושמרתם את משמרתי.)
The same argument might be applicable not only to the decrees the Rambam mentions, but also to entirely new rabbinical mitzvas, though one would want to explain why the Rambam fails to mention this.
The case we see on our daf is not a new rabbinical mitzva or decree, but an actual change in the biblical laws as to how to write a sefer-Torah and other holy scrolls.
Similarly, the case in Bava Kama is not a new rabbinical form of liability for damages, but a derivation by גזירה שוה of the details of biblical laws, from verses in the prophets.
In truth though, even without having thoroughly examined each sugya where the idea of אין נביא רשאי לחדש דבר is mentione, I see a major issue with using this approach- the case of Megillah has no pretensions of being a biblical Mitzva, but is a מצוה מדברי סופרים ( a commandment initiated by the prophets or sages.)
If so, why was a קל וחומר argument needed in order for Mordechai and Esther to initiate it?
Surely it should have been permitted without such an argument for the same reason as Chanukah was!