Bo 5783


Problematic pascal prohibitions[1]

בבית אחד יאכל לא-תוציא מן-הבית מן-הבשר חוצה ועצם לא תשברו-בו
It shall be eaten in one house. Don’t take from the meat from the house to outside. And don’t break a bone from it[2]

This week’s parsha introduces the mitzvah of the korbon Pesach, the Passover offering. It was to be prepared and consumed in a very specific way. There are thus many mitzvos associated with the korbon Pesach. One of them is the meat from the offering had to be consumed in one house, and it was prohibited to even take it outside. Another mitzvah is that one wasn’t allowed to break the bones of the Pesach offering, for example to get to the marrow inside. These two mitzvos are written in the same verse, but for some reason there’s an inconsistency. The prohibition to not take the meat outside is written in the singular (תוציא); one shouldn’t do it. However, the prohibition to not break the bones is written in in the plural, speaking to many people (תשברו). Why are they written differently?

The explanations offered are halachic in nature. One, is that the rule is that once the Pesach offering has been brought outside, it becomes disqualified for consumption[3]. What comes out from that is it’s impossible to take it out more than once. The first time someone takes it out, they’ve transgressed a prohibition. However, if they were to take it back in, and then back out, they didn’t do anything wrong, as it’s already been disqualified. It’s like it’s any other piece of meat. Since the prohibition can only be done once, it’s written in the singular. This is unlike breaking the bones, which every time someone breaks them, they’ve committed a new transgression[4]. The mitzvah is therefore written in plural[5].

However, a major question on this solution that even if the same person breaks the Pesach offering’s bones multiple times they transgress each time. Why then is the prohibition addressed to multiple people? If one person takes it out, and then a different person takes it out, the second person still doesn’t transgress. The point isn’t how many people do it, just that it can only be done once. Why then would that be a reason to have the verse address one person[6]?

Instead, another reason is suggested[7]. There’s a rule in the laws of Shabbos that although one isn’t allowed to carry something outside, if two people do it together, they are exempt[8]. This is known as שנים שעשו. There’s a dispute if this rule is specifically by Shabbos, or if it applies to other Torah prohibitions[9]. We can say that this verse is a proof like the former. The Torah is telling us that there’s a prohibition of breaking the bones of the korbon Pesach, and the prohibition is addressed to multiple people. This is teaching us that even if multiple people do it together, they all transgress. However, this would not be the case with taking the meat of the korbon Pesach outside. Our Sages teach us[10] that the laws of carrying the meat outside are the exact same as the laws of Shabbos. Since on Shabbos, multiple people carrying would be exempt, so too if multiple people carry the meat of the korbon Pesach outside. Therefore, the prohibition is written in the singular, to teach you that only when someone carries it by themselves do they transgress.

Good Shabbos

[1] Based on a devar Torah heard from Rav Yitzchak Horowitz of Givat HaMivtar, Jerusalem

[2] Exodus 12:46

[3] Mishneh Torah Hilchos Korbon Pesach 9:1

[4] Ibid 10:4. This distinction appears in Yerushalmi Pesachim 7:13

[5] Rav Horowitz cited this answer from the Maharam Chagiz. I couldn’t find it. However, HaKesav VeHaKabballah ad. loc. brings such an explanation from Rav Zalman of Vilna, brought in the biography about him Toldos Adam Chapter 3 p. 34 (Jerusalem 2016 edition). He was the brother of Rav Chaim Volozhin and a student of the Vilna Gaon. HaKesav VeHaKabballah then says that this explanation was already brought by the Maharam Chagiz, but he doesn’t provide a citation. This idea from Toldos Adam is also brought by Torah Temimah ad. loc. § 238

[6] Rav Yosef Engel in Porat Yosef 1:10:4. He writes that he heard this explanation בשם ספר אחד. Malbim ad. loc. § 94 also brings the Maharam Chagiz’s explanation, and asks a somewhat similar question as Rav Yosef Engel

[7] Rav Yosef Engel loc. cit. See also Yehuda Ya’aleh Orach Chaim 1:73

[8] Shabbos 93a

[9] See Ritva and Tosafos HaRosh to Kiddushin 43a s.v. חד למעוטי, Penei Yehoshua to Shabbos loc. cit., Mekor Chaim on Magen Avraham § 266, Kli Chemdah parshas Yisro § 6 (end), Beis Yitzchak Orach Chaim § 35, Be’er Yitzchak Orach Chaim 14:7, and Kuntresei Shiurim Bava Kamma 13:11

[10] Pesachim 85b