The ninth perek of masechet Pesachim discusses Pesach Sheni. The Torah lists two situations in which a person is unable to bring their korban pesach on Pesach and may bring the korban instead a month later, on Pesach Sheni. The first case is a person that was tameh met and the second is a person that was "be'derech rechokah" -- "far" from Yerushalaim. We shall try to understand the second case.
The Mishnah (9:2) records a debate regarding the definition of far. R' Akiva maintains that it is if one is further than Modiin from Yerushalaim. R' Eliezer however maintains that it is if one was simply outside the entrance of the azara.
The Gemara (33b) cites Ulla who explains that Modiin was fifteen mil from Yerushalaim. The Gemara continues by explaining that, during Nissan, a person can walk thirty mil from sunrise to sunset. The Gemara therefore concludes that Ulla is consistent with his position that be'derech rechokah mean someone that could not reach the azara at the time of the slaughter of the korban.
The korban pesach, on biblical level, could be slaughtered from midday. Rashi therefore explains that Ulla means that anyone who cannot reach the azara for the entire duration when the korban pesach can be slaughtered is be'derech rechoka. In other words, we measure the distance of fifteen mil at midday. If a person is fifteen mil away, they will not reach the azara in time to slaughter the korban peasch.
The Rambam (Korban Pesach 5:9) however explains that the time at which the distance is measured is sunrise. Consequently, Ulla requires that a person be able to reach the azara when they start slaughtering the korban pesach; otherwise, they would be defined as being be'derech rechoka.
The Minchat Chinnuch (380:10) cites the Gemara that discusses why someone who is be'derech rechoka cannot use a shaliach (messenger) to offer his korban. Rashi explains that since the person is be'derech rechoka the Torah disqualified him from offering the korban. The Minchat Chinnuch explains that this would be the case even if the person, who was defined as being derech rechoka, used other modes of transport to reach the Beit Mikdash in time. He continues that this would be true also for the Rambam. In other words, if the person was be'derech rechoka at sunrise, but reached the azara before midday, even if he offered the korban pesach, it would not be valid for him, and he would need to offer a korban pesach on pesach sheni.
The Avi Ezri however disagrees with the Minchat Chinnuch. If the person arrived at the azara by midday, what does it matter that he was too far at sunrise? The obligation to offer the korban only begins at midday! He continues that even if the person only arrived after midday, he would still need to offer the korban pesach then.
Being defined as be'derech rechoka exempts one from karet if they do not reach yerushalaim. Furthermore, they are not obligated to take extreme efforts to reach Yerushalaim. If however they do, then they would be obligated to offer the korban pesach, and be punishable with karet if they do not.1 The Avi Ezri compares this to one that converted after midday. Even though he was not obligated at midday, he is obligated now.
The Avi Ezri proves his position from the Rambam who rules that if a korban was offered for a person that was be'derech rechoka then "even if he came that night" in time to consumer the korban, he will not have satisfied his obligation. Note that the Rambam write that it would not work if the person arrived "that night", implying that if they arrived in the day, then he would have satisfied his obligation.
1 The Avi Ezri explains that the same is true within Rashi's understanding.
Receive our publication with an in depth article and revision questions.
Listen to the Mishnah Shiurim by Yisrael Bankier