Pesachim 83-84 בסיס לדבר האסור בנותר and עשה דוחה לא תעשה

I would like to have a brief look at some general principles in halacha which are referenced over these two dapim.

One of them is  a principle we generally see in the laws of מוקצה  on shabbos, but which has a surprising application in the laws of the קרבן פסח, possibly opening the door to a broader application of this rule.

The Mishna on daf 83a tells us that the bones, sinews, and נוצר  (leftover meat) of the קרבן פסח  need to be burnt on the 16 of Nissan, the first day of Chol Hamoed, unless the 16’th falls on Shabbos in which case they are burnt on the 17, seeing as we do not burn קדשים  on Yom-Tov or Shabbos.

The Gemara on this Mishna opens by quoting a ruling of רב מרי בר אבוה  in the name of רבי יצחק .

It is forbidden to leave over the meat of the קרבן פסח (or other sacrifices)  until morning, a prohibition known as נותר.

If one transgresses and does so, one needs to burn it on the 16 Nissan, as per the above Mishna.

However this only applies to the meat, not the leftover bones, which usually do not usually require burning.

The חדוש  of רבי יצחק is that if the bones supported leftover meat, they are also forbidden as נותר  and need to be burnt.

The example Rashi gives, based on the continuation of the Gemara, is bones containing marrow.

Seeing as the bones contain or support the marrow which is considered edible meat and subject to the laws of נותר, the bones are considered a בסיס לדבר האסור  (“base for something forbidden”) and also forbidden as נותר  and subject to burning!

It is interesting to analyze whether this law is an extension of the same principle in the laws of shabbos, where a normally non-Muktza item that forms the base or support for a muktza item takes on the forbidden muktza status of the muktza item it is supporting.  (See Shabbos  47a)

Alternatively, it could be that this a different rule sharing only the name, with different mechanics and parameters.

After all, while this rule is generally accepted in hilchos shabbos, the Gemara makes various attempts to prove or disprove it in our context regarding the קרבן פסח but makes no attempt to bring the fact that it applies by הלכות שבת as a support for רבי יצחק.

Furthermore, when it comes to הלכות שבת, the laws of בסיס לדבר האסור  apply also to an item on top of which muktza is placed.

If this was simply an extension of that law, why would Rashi (and the Gemara) bring an example from bones containing marrow- surely bones without marrow but which still have meat connected to them should also have this status? (see Rabbeinu Chananel who indeed explains the Gemara as discussing bones with meat on them!)

If this is indeed an extension of this principle’s application in the laws of shabbos, we also need to investigate whether this is a general rule which extends to other areas of halacha as well.

For example, usually the bones of a non-kosher animal or נבילה being considered inedible are not treated with the same stringency as the meat itself when it comes to the laws of כשרות and might even combine with the kosher meat in  mixture to nullify the non-kosher meat בשישים  (in sixty times the amount-see Y.D. 99/1)

Should this principle be extended to all areas of halacha by default, perhaps when bones contain marrow, (or according to Rabbeinu Chananel if meat is still attached to them) they should be treated with the same stringency as the forbidden meat itself?

In order to answer these questions sufficiently, it is necessary to understand the source, whether פסוקים , מסורת, or סברא   (logic/lomdus) for this rule both regarding shabbos and קדשים and assess whether the source is the same in both cases and whether it also applies to other cases or not.

As muktza is a דין דרבנן  and נותר  is a דין דאורייתא (though the rule of עצמות ששמשו נותר  which designates it as a בסיס  is likely דרבנן ), the first two might be problematic but a common סברא, so long as not contradicted by any counter-examples in the primary sources, might do the trick.

One possible conceptualization of this rule could be that when an item of neutral status supports an item of forbidden status, it loses its independent identity and takes on the nature of the forbidden item it supports, at least on a rabbinical level.

An analogy could be one who supports people’s sinful actions, מסייעין ידי עובדי עבירה, who to a certain extent, and on a rabbinical level only, are also considered sinners. Yet they do not take on the same status as the sinner himself, but only the status of one who transgresses the rabbinical prohibition of assisting sinners.

Yet in both our cases, the item supporting the forbidden item does not just become forbidden but takes on the status of the forbidden item.

This is not necessarily a contradiction as it is possible that a person, being a complex being with his own free choice and דעת  while partly liable for other people’s sins that he enables, does not completely lose his independent status either.

In contrast, an inanimate object which lacks such דעת, has a far weaker level of independence, which is easily completely overridden  by a forbidden object it supports.

 If this is indeed the lomdus, it would not surprise us if this principle applies in other areas of halacha.

However, it is also possible that this principle is only applied by Chazal is certain specific cases and that in other cases, even if the logical principle they based this rule on applies conceptually, they chose for other reasons not to apply it there.

Much more to go into it, but as usual, just raising issues!

Another well known principle referred to at the bottom of 83b and beginning of 84a is the rule of  עשה דוחה לא תעשה  – a positive mitzva pushes aside a negative mitzva. (see my recent post on Pesachim  58-59  )

In our case, we learnt in the Mishna that one may not burn נותר  on Yom Tov and waits till chol hamoed to do so.

The Gemara asks why the mitzva of burning the נותר  does not push aside the prohibition of doing melacha on Yom-Tov based on this principle.

Various answers are given, but the final word goes to Rav Ashi, who explains that in addition to the prohibition of performing melacha on Yom-Tov, there is also a positive mitzva to rest on Yom-Tov, based on it being described as a שבתון (day of rest.)

Similar to shabbos, when one does melacha on Yom-Tov, one not only transgresses a negative commandment but also the positive command of resting.

Although a positive command pushes aside a negative command, it does not push aside a negative command and a positive command.

As such, the rule of עשה דוחה לא תעשה  can never apply to melacha on Yom-Tov, just as it cannot apply on shabbos.

A broader study of the rule of עשה דוחה לא תעשה  , particularly the long sugya in Yevamos, will reveal that one of the potential sources for this rule is the fact that a ברית מילה can be performed on shabbos- despite the fact that performing melacha on Shabbos involves both a positive and negative mitzva.

If this is the case, how does Rav Ashi say with such confidence that an עשה  cannot push aside both a לא תעשה  AND  an עשה ?

Food for thought for next time we encounter this rule!

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.