Pesach Sheni

Pesachim (9:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 16 years ago

The ninth perek begins with laws relating to Pesach Sheni. The first Mishnah explains that anyone that did not bring a korban pesach due to being in a state of impurity or having been “far away” from the Beit Ha’Mikdash or accidentally or unintentionally missed out, has another opportunity to bring the korban a month later on the fourteenth of IyarPesach Sheni (see Bamidbar 9:7-14). The Mishnayot then proceed to detail the laws that relate to Pesach Sheni in contrast to Pesach.

The Gemara (Pesachim 93a) records a debate that touches on the very essence of Pesach Sheni relating to when the punishment of karet applies to one that deliberately avoids offering a korban pesach. Rebbi maintains that the punishment applies for both Pesach and Pesach Sheni. Consequently, if one were to deliberately miss offering the korban on either opportunity, the punishment would apply. R’ Natan maintains that the punishment of karet applies to Pesach and not Pesach Sheni. Consequently, karet would apply if one deliberately missed Pesach and for what ever reasons (even be’shogeg) missed Pesach Sheni. The final opinion, R’ Chananya ben Akavya maintains that karet only applies if they also deliberately missed Pesach Sheni.

The Gemara proceeds by explaining that each of the above opinions is based on their understanding of Pesach Sheni. Rebbi maintains that Pesach Sheni is an independent festival (albeit, with sacrifices offered only by those who did not offer them on Pesach). Consequently the punishments of karet for each of the festivals are dealt with independently. R’ Natan maintains that Pesach Sheni serves as a “tashlumim” – another opportunity to offer a replacement sacrifice. Accordingly, if one deliberately missed Pesach yet offered a sacrifice on Pesach Sheni he would be exempt from karet. Finally R’ Chananya ben Akavya maintains that Pesach Sheni is a “tikun” – an opportunity to fix the wrong doing of Pesach. As a result, one would only be obligated in karet if they deliberately avoided both opportunities.

The Gemara sources these opinions in another debate relating to a boy that turns bar-mitzvah in between Pesach and Pesach Sheni. Rebbi, who maintains that Pesach Sheni is an independent festival, maintains that the young man would now be obligated to bring a korban on Pesach Sheni. R’ Natan however argues, that since Pesach Sheni is a tashlumim for Pesach, since during Pesach he was a minor and not obligated to bring a korban, now he should also be exempt from Pesach Sheni.

The Rambam (Hilchot Korban Pesach 5:1) clearly rules like the opinion of Rebbi that Pesach Sheni is considered an independent festival. He also rules consistently (Ibid. 7) that a boy that becomes bar mitzvah in between Pesach and Pesach Sheni must bring a korban on Pesach Sheni.

The Rambam however adds a further detail that is at first surprising; if a korban was offered on the boy’s behalf on Pesach then he is exempt from offering a korban on Pesach Sheni. The Kesef Mishnah asks, since he was a minor during Pesach it should be irrelevant whether a korban was offered for him. He brings the example (Rosh Hashanah 28a) of someone that went mad and ate matzah on Pesach, then recovered. The Gemara concludes that he has not fulfilled his obligation of eating matzah and must do so now, since at the time of eating he was exempt. Similarly, since during Pesach the boy was not a bar chiyuva (person obligated in mitzvot) the performance of mitzvot at the time should not be relevant and he should be obligated to bring a korban on Pesach Sheni.

In response to this question, the Grach explains that the mitzvah of korban pesach is different to the mitzvah of eating matzah in that aside from the active mitzvah there is another level or law that a korban is offered for the person. The second level is satisfied by virtue of the person being considered a part owner (ba’al) of the korban and its being offered on his behalf. While it is true that minors are completely exempt from mitzvot (they are not a bar chiyuva) they can still be considered a ba’al korban. Consequently, the korban being offered on their behalf is enough to exempt them from Pesach Sheni.

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