Eating Matzoh on Erev Pesach
הרב מרדכי גרינברג
The issue of eating matzoh on Erev Pesach is particularly relevant this year, when Pesach occurs on Motzei Shabbat. The Talmud Yerushalmi prohibits it, and compares one who eats matzoh on Erev Pesach to one who has relations with his fiancee while still in her father's house. We would like to examine this issue.
The Mishna (Pesachim 49a) quotes a dispute about Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbat. R. Meir's opinion is that all the chametz must be burned before Shabbat. What will he eat on Shabbat? Rashi explains that he leaves over what he intends to eat for Shabbat, and burns all the other chametz. The Ba'al Hamaor, however, understands literally that he burns all the chametz on Erev Shabbat, and he can eat matzoh on Shabbat. He explains the Yerushalmi as prohibiting only from the sixth hour and on, and finds support for this distinction in the parable of the Yerushalmi which compares it to a fiancee. The Ramban, however, proves that the Yerushalmi prohibited the entire day, from the fact that Rebbe would eat neither chametz nor matzoh for the entire day, out of concern for the opinion of R. Yehuda b. Beteira who approved a korban Pesach that was slaughtered in the morning of Erev Pesach, and thus would not allow chametz even then.
The Ran quotes this dispute, and refutes the Ramban's proof. He suggests that the prohibition against eating matzoh is whenever chametz is prohibited, and since Rebbe was concerned for the opinion that chametz is prohibited the entire day, he would also not eat matzoh the entire day. However, since we maintain that chametz is only prohibited (from the Torah) from midday, so too, matzoh is only prohibited from then. What is the connection between the prohibition of chametz and the prohibition against eating matzoh, and what is the comparison to a fiancee?
Rav Moshe Hevroni explains that the requirement to eat matzoh on Pesach night, as opposed to the afternoon, cannot be entirely from the pasuk, "ba'erev tochlu matzot," since "ba'erev" can mean in the afternoon, as we find regarding the korban Pesach. Rather the basis is from the pasuk, "al matzot u'mrorim yochluhu," which teaches that when you eat the Pesach you eat the matzoh. (Conversely, according to R. Elazar b. Azarya, since the Pesach is eaten only until midnight, so too the matzoh must be eaten by then. For this reason we try to finish the afikoman before midnight.)
The question is whether the proper time for eating the Pesach is only on the night of the fifteenth, or whether in essence the eating is also on the fourteenth, just that regarding sacrifices the night follows the day, as we find that certain sacrifices are eaten that day and the following night. Similarly, certain elements of the Korban Pesach, such as the shechita and sprinkling of the blood, are done during the day even on Shabbat. Rashi explains this based on the pasuk "beyom tzavoto," which teaches that avodat hakorbanot can only be done during the day. Why does Rashi need this pasuk? Let him simply explain that if he were to wait to the night it would no longer the fourteenth! We see that regarding the service of korbanot it would still be considered the fourteenth, were it not for the problem of avodah at night. Similarly, the Meiri writes that these actions cannot be preceded before Shabbat because it is not yet the fourteenth, nor can they be delayed until after Shabbat because of the issue of night. Why does he not explain that at night it is no longer the fourteenth? This, again, shows that the night of Pesach would still be considered as the fourteenth regarding sacrifices. We find, as well, that regarding the prohibition of "oto ve'et beno" the day follows night because of the pasuk "beyom echad" (which parallels the Creation), but otherwise we would have compared it to sacrifices that the night follows the day.
Thus, we can say that the service of the korban Pesach is on the fourteenth, and it is eaten on the subsequent night. If we are to base the obligation to matzoh on the korban Pesach, we should say that the fourteenth is theoretically the time for matzoh, just that practical eating is delayed until the night with the eating of the Pesach. Furthermore, the pasuk says, "In the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening shall you eat matzot." (Shemot 12:18) The Mechilta explains that since the pasuk cannot refer to matzoh (since matzoh is not eaten on the fourteenth) -- apply it to chametz, to teach that there is a prohibition against eating chametz on the fourteenth in the afternoon. However, we derive this from the pasuk, "ach -- chalek." What do we do, then, with the pasuk of the Mechilta? We can learn it simply that the matzoh is eaten on the "fourteenth" -- at night, like the korban Pesach.
What emerges is that the true time of matzoh is the fourteenth, but practically we must wait until night in order to eat it with the korban Pesach. With this we can understand the link between the prohibition of eating matzoh and the offering of the korban Pesach. Presumably, the reason that Chazal prohibited eating matzoh on Erev Pesach is so that the eating for fulfillment of the obligation will be clearly evident. They defined the time for this prohibition as the time that is theoretically acceptable for matzoh but in practice not the proper time yet. (Others have a practice not to eat matzoh already from Rosh Chodesh, but this is only minhag.) Thus, on the twelfth and thirteenth, and even on the fourteenth before midday, it is not prohibited since it is not at all the time for matzoh yet. This is also the meaning of the comparison to the fiancee. After the kiddushin she is connected to him, but he still cannot have relations with her until he brings her into his house, and does an additional act of heter. So too, here, the prohibition sets in only after there is some sort of connection at midday, and we are waiting for the culminating time of heter in the evening.
This approach, however, seems difficult, because it is predicated on the idea that theoretically the time for matzoh begins on the fourteenth, similar to the korban Pesach. However, as far as the korban Pesach this is logical, since there are two aspects to the korban Pesach: the service is on the fourteenth, and the eating is on the night of the fifteenth. But, as far as matzoh, what significance is there to saying that the theoretical time of matzoh is already on the fourteenth? Furthermore, the foundation of this approach is that the prohibition of matzoh on Erev Pesach is tied to the korban Pesach. However, the Ran does not seem to say this way, but rather that the prohibition of matzoh is connected to the prohibition of chametz (which happens to be tied to the time of the korban Pesach). The practical expression of this distinction would be the fifth and sixth hour, during which Chazal prohibited eating chametz, but is not yet the time of the korban Pesach. Indeed, the Ran writes later on that matzoh is also prohibited from the fifth hour. If the connection is to chametz -- we understand this dependence of the prohibition of matzoh on that of chametz. Only at the time that chametz is prohibited is there halachic significance to matzoh that is guarded from fermenting. Before the prohibition of chametz begins, though, there is no significance to this "matzoh," and it is merely a cracker!
However, the Ba'al Hamaor only mentions a prohibition of matzoh from the sixth hour and on, not from the fifth. We can either explain that the Ba'al Hamaor maintains like the first approach of Rav Moshe Hevroni, whereas the Ran follows the second approach that we suggested. However, we can also explain that both link the prohibition of matzoh on Erev Pesach to the prohibition of chametz, and explain their dispute in the following manner.
The first Mishna in Pesachim begins, "Ohr le'arba'ah asar bodkin et hechametz." Does "ohr" mean morning or night? The Gemara (Pesachim 2b) tries to bring proof that it means night from a dispute between R. Eliezer b. Yaakov and R. Yehuda as to when the prohibition of doing work on Erev Pesach begins. In that context the Gemara states that the Sages prohibited eating chametz part of the morning and allowed part. Rashi explains that the first four hours it is permissible to eat chametz, and the latter two hours the Sages prohibited. Rabbeinu Chananel, however, only mentions the sixth hour! Why did he omit the fifth hour?
We can explain this based on the Rambam (Hil. Chametz 1:9), who writes:
Our Sages prohibited eating chametz from the beginning of the sixth hour so as not to come near the Torah prohibition. From the beginning of the sixth hour chametz becomes prohibited from eating and hana'ah (deriving benefit) the entire sixth hour by Rabbinic decree...
The fifth hour we do not eat chametz, a decree because of a cloudy day, lest he mistake between the fifth and sixth ... Therefore, we delay Trumah, loaves of chametz, etc., that are chametz that are holy -- we neither eat nor burn them until the sixth hour arrives and we burn everything.
This is based on a Mishna (11b), "R. Yehuda says we eat all four [hours], tolin (delay) the entire fifth, and burn in the beginning of the sixth." Rashi explains that chametz is prohibited in eating from the fifth hour, and in hana'ah from the sixth. That is why the Mishna says that in the fifth hour "tolin" -- he may not eat it, but is not required to burn it -- since he can still feed it to his animals. The Rambam, however, learned "tolin" as referring only to Trumah and loaves of Todah, that he is not allowed to burn them, since it is still not prohibited in hana'ah. Why not? Korbanot that are no longer edible are burned, so what significance is there that it is still permitted behana'ah?
The Brisker Rav explains based on the following chakira: What is the nature of the prohibition against chametz during the fifth and sixth hour? Did the Sages merely move the prohibition of chametz earlier to the fifth hour (i.e., there is an issur cheftza on the chametz)? Or, does chametz remain inherently prohibited only from the sixth, just that Chazal prohibited the person from eating it earlier, so that would not come to eat after sixth (i.e., there is an issur gavra on the person)? The Rambam seems to learn that the issur cheftza is only from the sixth, as he writes, "Our Sages prohibited eating chametz from the beginning of the sixth hour," etc. Thus, there are three levels according to Rambam: After midday chametz is prohibited from the Torah; in the sixth hour there is an issur cheftza of chametz miderabanan; in the fifth, there is no issur cheftza of chametz, just an issur gavra because of a cloudy day. Indeed, in the next halacha in the Rambam has three levels as far as punishment: In the fifth we "don't eat" chametz, but there is no punishment for one who does; in the sixth he gets makkot mardut; from the seventh he receives lashes.
With this we can understand the dispute between Rashi and R. Chananel. Rashi assumes that already in the fifth hour there is an issur achila of cheftza, while R. Chananel maintains like the Rambam that the inherent prohibition against chametz is only from the sixth, whereas during the fifth there is only a pragmatic issur gavra. Thus, according to Rashi it is permissible to burn the loaves of Todah in the fifth hour, since they cannot be eaten anymore nor fed to animals. But according to Rambam it cannot be burned yet, since the loaves themselves are still not inherently prohibited until the sixth hour. Thus, Rashi in the beginning of the Masechet is consistent ("leshitato") with his interpretation of the Mishna of "tolin."
We can now return to the dispute between the Ran and Ba'al Hamaor about matzoh in the fifth hour. The Ba'al Hamaor maintains like the Rambam and R. Chananel that chametz is only inherently prohibited from the sixth, and therefore the prohibition of matzoh only begins from then. However, the Ran learns like Rashi that chametz is prohibited inherently ba'achila miderabanan from the fifth hour, and therefore matzoh is also prohibited from then.
קוד השיעור: 3959