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.

Pesachim 67-68 טומאה הותרה בצבור , bringing sacrifices in our day, and visiting Har habayit

One of the main (though not the only) halachik impediments to visiting the Temple Mount as well as offering up the קרבן פסח  in our day is the fact that in the absence of a פרה אדומה (red heifer), whose ashes are biblically  required for purifying a טמא מת , we generally assume that we have this status and are thus not permitted to enter or offer or eat  the קרבן פסח  and risk the severe penalty of כרת  for doing so.

It should be noted that it is clear from the discussion on daf 68 that a טמא מת is not prohibited from entering the entire הר הבית, which has the halachik status of the מחנה לויה  (Levite camp), but only from entering the area of the עזרה  (Temple courtyard) itself, which has the halachik status of the holier מחנה כהונה (Priests camp.)

This contrasts with a זב  who is forbidden to enter the מחנה לויה  and a מצורע (leper) who is forbidden to the enter the entire camp of Israel.

Although the status of זב is not applied in our time, the related albeit less severe type of impurity known as טומאת קרי (impurity due to a seminal emission) also disqualifies one from entering the מחנה לויה  and thus the entire הר הבית  but can be removed by going to Mikva according to halacha before entering.

This is the practise of those who permit visits to the parts of הר הבית  known to have been outside the עזרה  itself, while the plurality of poskim who forbid or at least caution against doing so base their view mainly on the lack of certainty as to the precise place of the עזרה  and בית המקדש itself, a topic I hope to address in the future.

I would like to focus on a different but related question, that being whether it is permitted to offer up a קרבן פסח in our times, something which might theoretically require neither a rebuilt     בית המקדש  (see Zevachim 107b) nor a פרה אדומה, as we shall see.

It goes without saying that this would be provided all other halachik issues have been resolved , such as the status of today’s kohanim, the possible requirement for a kohain gadol, the need for the special garments to be worn, etc. (for a detailed discussion on the topic, see the article by  מורי וידידי haGaon haRav Gavriel Saraf   שליט”א on https://www.kby.org/hebrew/torat-yavneh/view.asp?id=7234

It also assumes that this is physically and legally possible, without endangering lives, as however seriously this קרבן  is taken in halacha, it does not override the laws of פקוח נפש  (the question of שעת הגזירה and whether this applies to our situation is beyond the scope of our discussion.)

Having shown that the תמיד  (daily communal burnt offering) and קרבן פסח  (Passover offering) are both performed on shabbos, overriding the prohibition of melacha, the Gemara turns to another powerful property of these sacrifices, namely their ability to override the rule of טומאה  (impurity) provided that  the majority of the community is impure.

Usually speaking, a person who is טמא מת (impure due to contact with a corpse) is not permitted to bring the קרבן פסח, just like other קרבנות, and rather brings his קרבן  one month later  on פסח שני  when his טומאה  has passed.

However, the Mishna (Pesachim 76b) tells us that the קרבן פסח  may both be brought and eaten in impurity if the majority of the community is impure, and of course entering the עזרה  while impure in order to perform the offering must thus also be permitted for the kohanim.

As such, the fact that we are all assumed to be טמא מת  and unable to leave that status due to the lack of a פרה אדומה should theoretically not stand in the way of bringing a קרבן פסח  in our time!

On daf 66b,the Gemara derives via the same גזירה שוה that Hillel used regarding shabbos, that the תמיד  may also be brought under those conditions, though being an עולה, it obviously is not eaten (see Tosfos 66a ד”ה “מה” who discusses other possible sources for this.)

On daf 67a, The Gemara concludes that the source that theקרבן פסח   itself may be offered while impure if the majority of the community are impure comes from the law of פסח שני  itself.

Regarding פסח שני, the פסוק  ( Bamidbar 9/10) states “איש איש כי יהיה טמא לנפש ”  – (any man who will be impure from a life .)

From the phrase “איש איש”  , we derive that only an individual who is impure needs to put off his קרבן  till פסח שני  but if the community in whole or majority is impure, the קרבן פסח  is offered as usual on Pesach itself!

From the word לנפש, it derives that this concession applies only to טומאת מת  and not to other forms of impurity.

Although there are other forms of impurity that affect many or most of us today, the most common being טומאת קרי (impurity due to a seminal emission), these impurities can be resolved through mikva without the red heifer’s ashes and need not stand in the way of קרבן פסח.

As such, should all the other issues be resolved, neither the lack of a Beis haMikdash, nor the issue of impurity seem to stand in the way of bringing a קרבן פסח  today, and given the severe penalty for not doing so, it seems at first glance that we should obligated to do whatever we can do make this possible.

Many of us feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of returning to what might seem like a primitive and barbaric form of worship, and there might even Torah sources that seem to back up such discomfort, a topic for another occasion.

Yet, as Moreinu haGaon Rav Asher Weiss שליט”א  once said to me over a barbecue in Africa while we were discussing this subject, its is rather hypocritical to sit eating a steak and criticize sacrificial worship- after all if one is comfortable with slaughtering an animal for one’s own pleasure, why would one be uncomfortable with doing so as part of the Torah mandated divine worship?

Of course, one could argue that whereas human beings NEED sustenance, and meat  has been viewed through most of history as an important form of sustenance, Hashem certainly does NOT need it, and there should be better ways to show our dedication to him than killing his creatures and offering them to him.

Yet it is axiomatic that Torah practices tend to be very symbolic and use methods of divine service which people can relate too-The fact that Hashem has no need for anything does not stop us from showing our appreciation of him by offering up that which is valuable to us and seeing as meat is  a major source of sustenance and pleasure for most of us, the above argument is rather mute.

When it comes to the קרבן פסח, this argument falls away completely , seeing as this unique korban is primarily about us eating it .

Almost all of us enjoy our lavish meat meals on Seder night, so why would we be opposed to first dedicating the very meat we are about to eat to Hashem?

Those people who are “religiously” vegetarian and are against killing animals at all even for food, or claim that meat is no longer needed for sustenance might indeed hold the moral high ground needed to at least start this discussion, but it seems like the rest of us should really grow up and prepare for the time when we will at least be able to fully dedicate our lust for meat to Hashem before eating it, a time which might virtually be here already, at least once a year!

יהי רצון מלפניך שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו ותן חלקינו בתורותיך ושם נעבדך ביראה כמי עולם וכשנים קדמוניות. “וערבה לה’ נמחת יהודה וירושליים כימי עולם וכשנים קדמוניות.”

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.