Brit Millah on Erev Pesach

Eduyot (5:2) | Yisrael Bankier | 9 years ago

This week we continued learning about the debates between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel where Beit Hillel ruled stringently. One of these debates was regarding a gerthat converted on erev Pesach and whether or not he could partake in eating the korban pesach that night. Beit Shammai maintains that he can immerse in the mikveh and eat the korban pesach. Beit Hillel however maintains that he cannot, arguing that “one that separates from the orlah is like one separate separating from a corpse.” We will attempt to understand this debate.

The Gemara explains that the debate is focused only on a nochri. The concern of Beit Hillel is as follows. If we allow this gerto immerse in the mikveh and eat that night, the next year on erev Pesach he might be tameh met and wrongly assume that immersion in the mikveh would be enough to enable him to partake in the korban pesach. The purification from tumat met involves the mei chatat and is a process that takes a week. The gerhowever will think that in the previous year, prior to his conversion he was not particular with staying a way from tumah and a simple immersion was enough on erev Pesach. The mistake was that prior to the conversion he was not susceptible to tumat met. Beit Hillel was concerned for this situation and therefore prevent a ger that converted on erev Pesach from taking part in the korban Pesach that night.

The Tosfot Yom (Pesachim 8:8) raises a number of issues with this Mishnah. First, he cites the Rambam (Korban Pesach 6:7) who asks that the position of Beit Hillelis a rabbinic one – it is a gezeirah. The obligation to eat a korban pesach is biblical and punishable with karet. How then can they make a gezeira to override this serious obligation? The Rambam explains that a geris not obligated in mitzvot until the immersion in the mikveh. Furthermore he does not immerse until he has recovered from the circumcision. Consequently, there was room for Beit Hillel to institute the gezeira since he could delay the immersion until he recovered from the brit and thereby avoid issue of being liable to karet.

The Gemara continues that when it comes to an yisrael who is circumcised on erev Pesach everyone agrees that he immersed in a mikveh and partakes in eating the korban pesach that night. Beit Hillel would not expand the scope of the gezeira to yisraelim. The Bartenura on our Mishnah brings this comment of the Gemara.*The Tosfot cite the Riva that raises a basic problem with the statement in the Gemara. We do not find anywhere that there is an obligation for an yisrael that has a brit millah to immerse in a mikveh! What then does the Gemara mean that an yisrael that has a brit millah on erev Pesach “immerses and eats his korban Pesach that evening”? Indeed that Rambam does not mention the immersion when he bring this law in the Mishnah Torah*.

The Tosfot Yom Tov answers that it is true that a brit millah for an yisrael does not need to be followed by tevillah. Nevertheless he is required to immerse when going to Yerushalaim for the regalim (festivals). Consequently the Gemara means that since he will be immersing in the mikveh following his brit millah (albeit for another reason) one might think that Beit Hillel would expand the gezeira to cover this case as well. The Gemara therefore teaches that this is not the case.


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