Sunday, May 3, 2015

Halacha: Pesach Sheni - Hoping for the Mikdash (A Halachic Discussion)

Rav Turetsky

Those unable to bring a Karban Pesach on Pesach are able to do so on Pesach Sheni.[1] Absent a Mikdash, many of the Halachot of Pesach Sheni are not relevant nowadays. While there are certain halachic questions with contemporary relevance – such as whether Tachanun should be recited - many Poskim deal with an interesting question that unfortunately is not relevant now, but we hope will be soon.

If the Beit HaMikdash would be built in between Pesach and Pesach Sheni, would the Jewish people be able to offer a Karban Pesach?

Three Approaches emerge within the Poskim.[2]

1. Many Poskim, including Rav Herzog (Shut Heichel Yitzchak O.C. no. 53), note a Yerushalmi (Pesachim 9:1), in which Rebbe Yehuda and Chachamim appear to argue about this question. They maintain that we follow the opinion of the Chachamim that we would not be allowed to offer such a Karban. This is because of the general rule that we follow the Chachamim over individuals.[3] Additional support for this view is based on the Gemara’s comment (Pesachim 66b) that only individuals can have their opportunity to offer a Karban Pesach delayed until Pesach Sheni. The Tzibbur’s (community’s) offering of the Karban cannot be delayed from the first Pesach until Pesach Sheni. As such, the Jewish people would not be allowed to offer their Karban in such a case.

2. Other Poskim maintain one would be able to offer the Karban Pesach. The Minchat Chinuch (Mitzvah 380) and Lubavitcher Rebbe (Likkutei Sichot 12: pg. 216) each explain why that is so given the Talmud’s statement that only individuals can be pushed off to Pesach Sheni. Though they do so for different reasons, they offer a distinction between the classical case where the majority of people came  to Yerushalayim to offer a Karban but were unable to for Halakhic reasons and our case in which we were unable to offer a Karban for more technical reasons.

3. A third view is that of Mesech Chachmah (Pinchas 28:16). According to his reading of the Pesukim, there would be a unique occurrence if the Mikdash would be built in between Pesach and Pesach Sheni. Typically, Pesach Sheni does not require one to remove Chametz from the home, and there is no independent requirement to eat Matzah.[4] However, he suggests that if the Mikdash would be built in between the two Pesachs, we would even be required to have an entire seven day Yom Tov of Pesach following Pesach Sheni.

May we be Zoche for this question to be Limayseh!

[1] For a discussion about the nature of the day/the various people able to offer Karbanot on Pesach Sheni, see Rav Rosensweig’s article in Ohr HaMizrach (ניסן תשע"ה).
[2] A nice summary of this topic is found in Yemot HaMashiach BiHalacha Vol. 2., No 26.
This brief post focuses on the fundamental opinions. There may still be a variety of additional halachic questions that would need to be dealt with, such as how long it will take to become pure, how the Mikdash would be built etc… Those are beyond the scope of this brief overview.
[3] There is much discussion whether the normal Klalei HaPesak apply to Halachot relevant to the time of Mashiach. See Shut Maharik (no. 165) and Peticha to Yemot HaMashiach BiHalacha Vol. 2, 3-20.  
[4] See Mishna Pesachim 95a and Shut Chatam Sofer 1:140).

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