Rav Moshe Twersky Hy”d on the Parshah


By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים    יב:ב

The Medrash says that Klal Yisrael has the ability to impart kedusha onto each month because Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu imparted kedusha to us.  The example for this, the Medrash continues, is klei shareis (the vessels of the Beis Ha’Mikdash): how does the flour and oil of a korban mincha become kadosh?  By putting it into akli shareis.  Because the kli shareis is kadosh, it can sanctify other things.  Likewise, if you have a vessel which is chullin and you want to make it into a kli shareis, that can be accomplished by placing into it a korban mincha which is already kadosh.  Alternatively, a kohein can simply begin using it for avodah and that makes itkadosh.  How much more so, then, Klal Yisrael; that they can be mekadeish people, time, and objects.

The fundamental concept here is that something which is kadosh can pass that kedusha on further.  The Beis Ha’Levi explains that geirus works akin to a korban mincha becoming kadosh inside of a kli shareis.  The Beis Din of three is like a kli into which the ger is received and they impart their kedusha onto him, and he thus becomes a Jew.

Our kedusha doesn’t begin from us, though; it is what was infused into us by Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.

In kedusha there is a dichotomy.  On the one hand, it is inherent in us, as we see from the Medrash.  On the other hand, kedoshim tihiyu is a missive.  It is the overarching goal towards which each individual needs to always be working and striving to cultivate and preserve.  To make himself kadosh, to live a life of kedusha. When he does that, he is able to be mekadeish, as it were, Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu.  That is how the Medrashends off: Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu says, “they are mekadeish Me”.  This is in two ways.  One is through the formal recital of kedusha, which according to some shitos is d’Oraysah, and in general to be mekadeish Sheim Shamayim.

Our kedusha is inherent.  It is something which was put into us.  But we develop it.  That is the purpose of a Jew: to be kadosh and to put forth kedusha.  And to what extent can we develop it?  To the extent that we can bounce it back to Shamayim, as it were.  Kavayachol, we increase the kedusha of Ha’Kadosh Baruch Hu. This is an amazing and deep concept.

The Rashba (Bava Basra 121a) quotes Rabbeinu Chananel that when Moshe Rabbeinu was mekadeish Rosh Chodesh Nissan in advent of Yetzias Mitzrayim, it wasn’t only for that time alone.  Rather, what Moshe andAharon (and the anonymous third, since a Beis Din cannot be an even number) did then, took effect for all time.  All kedusha of zmanim comes from the kedusha of Moshe Rabbeinu.  Why that is needs elaboration.

(Audio recording available here)


ואכלו את הבשר  יב:ח

The Rambam holds that the korban pesach was consumed both at the beginning and at the end of the meal (Hilchos Chametz u’Matzah 8:7,9).  It is clear from his words that the primary consumption for the fulfillment of the mitzvah is that which was eaten at the beginning of the meal.  That which was eaten at the end of the meal was just to fulfill the requirement that there remain in one’s mouth the taste of the korban pesach.

We see from this that the Rambam’s definition of eating the korban pesach al ha’sovah is different fromRashiRashi holds that the korban pesach is eaten last and serves as that which tops off his feeling of fullness.  The source for this, Rashi explains, is the general obligation that all korbanos have to be eaten in a manner of kingliness and prestige, which the Gemara in Chullin (132b) derives from the word l’mashcha(Pesachim 86a).  The Rambam, though, explains the Brisker Rav, holds differently.  He holds that the general obligation that korbanos have to be eaten in a manner of l’mashcha u’gedulah is only for kohanim.  Indeed, it is in the parsha of matnos kehuna that the word l’mashcha appears (Korach 18:8).  As such, the obligation ofal ha’sovah when eating the korban pesach – which is eaten by everyone, not just kohanim – is separate and independent of the general obligation of korbanos needing to be eaten al ha’sovah.  The Rambam’s expression is lisboah mimenu (Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3).  What this mean is that the korban pesach must be that which breaks his hunger and provides his primary satiation.  In a situation where there is not enoughkorban pesach to go around for everyone, the chagigah is consumed first to serve as a preliminary filler that will make it that the subsequent consumption of the korban pesach will make him feel like he is not in need of eating more.  He may eat more because he wants to eat more, but he already feels basically satiated.

A support to this assertion that the requirement of al ha’sovah of korban pesach is different from that ofkorbanos in general is the Mechilta that the Kesef Mishnah quotes.  The Mechilta says that only korban pesach has to be eaten al ha’sovah but not matzah and maror.  If the requirement of al ha’sovah of korban pesach was the same as that of all other korbanos, then there would have been no need to point out thatmatzah and maror have no such requirement.  They are not korbanos.  But if korban pesach has its own requirement of al ha’sovah that is not related to the general, korbanos halacha of l’mashcha v’gedulah, then it makes sense that there may have been room to think that matzah and maror should be the same; which is why the Mechilta goes out of its way to tell us that they do not have that requirement.

It very well may be that the Rambam holds like Tosafos as far as the basis for this requirement of al ha’sovahspecific to korban pesach is concerned.  Tosafos (Pesachim 70a) quotes a Yerushalmi that says the reasonkorban pesach must be eaten al ha’sovah is m’d’Rabbanan so that one should not come to break a bone of the korban pesach, which is, of course, a lav d’Oraysah.  Eating to satiety means that one is no longer “attacking his food”.  If one would eat the korban pesach in a way that leaves him hungry, he may break a bone in his ravenous state.

(Audio recording available here)


על מררים יאכלהו    יב:ח

In Sefer Ha’Mitzvos (asei 56) the Rambam says that maror is not an independent mitzvah even in the time of the Beis Ha’MikdashMaror is a part of the mitzvah of eating the korban pesach – as “al merorim yochluhu” clearly indicates – and it is not l’ikuva.  The Mechilta, quotes the Rambam, darshens from the form of the word “yochluhu” that even if someone eats the korban pesach by itself, he has fulfilled his obligation.  But eating maror by itself is not a mitzvah at all.

Rashi and Tosafos argue and hold that maror is an independent mitzvah d’Oraysah during the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash.  Their primary source for this is the Gemara in Pesachim (28b, 96a, and 120a) that darshensregarding an areil or tamei, “bo eino ochel aval ochel b’matzah u’maror”.  Even though they cannot or are not eating the korban pesach, they still have a mitzvah to eat matzah and marorTosafos (on 28b) emphasizes: you cannot suggest that the derasha is coming to allow them to eat matzah, because that is obvious.  There is no reason why we would think that they wouldn’t be allowed to eat matzah.  After all, does matzah havekedusha in it?!  Therefore, the Gemara is clearly stating, according to Rashi and Tosafos, that there is a Torah obligation to eat matzah and maror independent of the consumption of the korban pesach.

What does the Rambam do with this Gemara?  This question was posed to the Rambam’s son – Rabbeinu Avraham ben Ha’Rambam – and he answered that the Rambam holds that the derasha is teaching a heter. What Tosafos dismissed out of hand is in fact the way the Rambam understands it.  Since the areil and tameiis not allowed to eat the korban pesach, one might have thought that he is also not allowed to eat matzah. And that is what the derasha is coming to teach: that he is nevertheless allowed to eat matzah and maror, but not that this pasuk is indicating any obligation whatsoever.  So, for matzah that has a separate pasuk ofba’erev tochlu matzos, there is a Torah obligation; but maror whose sole source is al merorim yochluhu, has no independent mitzvah.

In this regard, the Rambam is consistent with his shitah elsewhere.  When it comes to sefiras ha’omer, theRambam is clear that he holds that it is a mitzvah d’Oraysah even nowadays that we do not have a Beis Ha’Mikdash (see Hilchos Temidin u’Musafin 7:24).  Yet, this seems to stand in stark contradiction to an explicitGemara in Menachos (66a) that says sefiras ha’omer nowadays is only a d’Rabbanan zeicher l’Mikdash!

Reb Chaim (Brisker) addressed this question.  I heard it from my grandfather who heard it from the Brisker Rav.  There is a machlokes mentioned in a few places if the kedusha of the Beis Ha’Mikdash is only temporary, l’shaatah, or fixed permanently, even l’asid lavo.  Another way the latter opinion is expressed ismakrivin af al pi sh’ein bayis (see, for example, Zevachim 107b): you can theoretically bring a korban even if there is no Beis Ha’Mikdash.  This machlokes is the basic groundwork to Reb Chaim’s resolution.

The next step is that everyone is in agreement that the mitzvah of sefiras ha’omer is inherently bound up with the mitzvah of bringing the minchas ha’omer on the second day of Pesach.  After all, that is exactly how the Torah says it: mi’yom haviachem es omer ha’tenufah, from the day you bring the minchas ha’omer.

But what if one year the omer was not brought – while the Beis Ha’Mikdash was still standing – for one reason or another?  Would anyone say that we therefore will not count sefiras ha’omer?  Of course not.  The reason for this is that it is not the actual bringing of the korban omer that kickstarts the obligation to count sefiras ha’omer, but the inherent possibility and obligation to do so.

Ameimar, who is the one who says in Menachos 66a that sefiras ha’omer is only d’Rabbanan zeicher l’Mikdash nowadays, holds that kedusha rishona kidsha l’shaatah v’lo kidsha l’asid lavo; the kedusha of theBeis Ha’Mikdash was temporary and only lasted so long as the Beis Ha’Mikdash still stood.  Once the Beis Ha’Mikdash was destroyed, the kedusha expired.  Therefore, there is inherently no possibility and no obligation to bring korbanos.  Accordingly, the mitzvah of sefiras ha’omer – which is dependent on the inherent obligation of minchas ha’omer – is no longer.  Other than d’Rabbanan, zeicher l’Mikdash.

The Rambam paskens, though, in accordance with the shitah that holds kedusha rishona kidsha l’shaatah v’kidsha l’asid lavoh and it is theoretically possible and obligatory to bring all korbanos even nowadays that there is no Beis Ha’Mikdash (see Hilchos Beis Ha’Bechira 6:15).  The fact that we don’t is only because we are anusim and we cannot, but that does not affect the inherent possibility and obligation.  That is why it emerges, according to the Rambam, that the obligation to count sefiras ha’omer is d’Oraysah even nowadays.

This is how Reb Chaim explained the Rambam regarding sefiras ha’omer.  With this, we see the Rambam’s consistency regarding his opinion vis a vis maror.  If maror would have been an independent mitzvah d’Oraysah in the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash, then that mitzvah would have continued even after the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash since kedusha rishona kidsha l’shaatah v’kidsha l’asid lavo.  And that is definitely not so since Rava says in Pesachim (120a) that maror nowadays is d’Rabbanan.

When the Rambam brings the d’Rabbanan obligation to eat maror by itself, he gives no indication whatsoever that this obligation was instituted after the destruction of the Beis Ha’Mikdash.  All he says is that mi’divrei Sofrim one must eat maror by itself on leil ha’seider even in the absence of a korban pesach. Whereas Rashiand Tosafos hold that maror was d’Oraysah during the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash and became d’Rabbananafter its destruction, the Rambam holds that the d’Rabbanan obligation to eat maror even in the absence of akorban pesach was instituted while the Beis Ha’Mikdash still stood.  According to the Rambam, when Ravasaid that maror is d’Rabbanan nowadays, he simply meant that since nowadays we never have a korban pesach, maror is always going to be d’Rabbanan; whereas during the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash it would depend on whether or not one was eating the maror with a korban pesach or by itself.

This segues very nicely with what the Rambam writes in regards to koreich (Hilchos Chameitz u’Matzah 8:8): after eating matzah by itself and maror by itself, one eats matzah and maror together (without a brachah) as azeicher l’Mikdash.  Because the Rambam holds that the d’Rabbanan of eating maror in the absence of akorban pesach dates back even to the time the Beis Ha’Mikdash stood, that obligation is obviously not zeicher l’Mikdash.  Rather, it is the consumption of an additional k’zayis of matzah and maror that serves as thezeicher l’Mikdash.

One could ask, though, why does this additional k’zayis of matzah and maror have to be eaten together askoreich in accordance with the shitah of Hillel (that the korban pesach was eaten together with the matzah andmorer as koreich)?  Why couldn’t there just be an additional k’zayis of matzah and k’zayis of maror and that’s it?  The answer is that that would not have generated a zeicher l’Mikdash.  There is nothing unique about having a bit more matzah or maror.  It would seem as though one is simply increasing his fulfillment of eachmitzvahkol ha’marbeh harei zeh meshubach.  It is specifically by doing something different – namely, eating the additional k’zayis of matzah and maror as koreich in accordance with the shitah of Hillel – that creates thezeicher l’Mikdash.  The other Rishonim also agree that koreich is zeicher l’Mikdash.  The difference is that they hold the entire obligation of maror nowadays is zeicher l’Mikdash, whereas the Rambam holds that eating maror by itself is an indendent takanah (even from the time of the Beis Ha’Mikdash), and only koreich was added later as a zeicher l’Mikdash.

(Audio recording available here)


Quote of the Week

“Never say ‘I have to go learn’.  Mi’mah nafshach: if your help is needed, that’s no excuse; and if you really do have to go learn, then just go learn!”


Featured Story

One day during winter zman, it was raining really hard.  When we arrived at the small, ground-floor structure that housed our shiur room, we found it to be flooded.  Not quite knowing what to do, we all waited outside until our rebbi, Rav Twersky, would arrive.  When he did, one of the bachurim approached him and explained the situation and that it looked as though having shiur that day would be impossible.  Rav Twersky’s response was two words: lamah nigarah?  With that, he entered the flooded room and took his seat as usual – followed by all of us talmidim, his loyal troops – and proceeded to deliver his shiur.

(Reb Zev Aeder)
To Read More Stories and Divrei Torah of Rav Twersky Visit VayigdalMoshe.com!