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Please include Israel's captive soldiers in your tefillot: Zecharia Shlomo ben Miriam Baumel, Tzvi ben Penina Feldman, Yekutiel Yehuda Nachman ben Sarah Katz, Ron ben Batya Arad, Guy ben Rina Chever.

Erev Pesach - Monday,  14 Nissan 5774 – April 14, 2014           


            As we’ve discussed in our last several editions of S.A.L.T., the Rambam (Hilkhot Korban Pesach 10:11) was of the opinion that the paschal lamb was roasted whole after its slaughtering.  The Ra’avad, however, disagreed, arguing that roasting the lamb whole would cause the meat to absorb the taste of the forbidden portions of the animal, thus rendering all the meat forbidden.


            One of the numerous approaches taken to defend the Rambam’s position, which is advanced by several Acharonim (including the Chesed Le-Avraham and Rav Menachem Zemba in Zera Avraham), is to apply the famous rule of “asei docheh lo ta’aseh.”  This means that in a situation where performing a mitzvat asei – an affirmative command – will violate a Torah prohibition, it should nevertheless be performed, as a mitzvat asei supersedes a mitzvat lo ta’aseh (prohibition).  Thus, even if, indeed, the meat of the korban pesach becomes technically forbidden for consumption by virtue of its being roasted together with the forbidden portions of the animal, nevertheless, the mitzvat asei of eating the korban pesach overrides this prohibition.


            Others, however, questioned this approach.  Rav Shmuel Wosner, in his Shevet Ha-levi (vol. 8, 112:4), noted that seemingly, when sacrificial meat is forbidden for consumption for any reason, there is no mitzva to eat that meat.  We cannot apply the rule of “asei docheh lo ta’aseh” in such a case, because, quite simply, there is no mitzvat asei at all to partake of forbidden sacrificial meat.  (One might respond, however, that in the case of korban pesach, which the Torah specifically commands roasting whole and then commands to eat, the rule of “asei docheh lo ta’aseh” indeed applies.)


            Another question was raised by Rav Yitzchak Menachem Weinberg (the Tolna Rebbe), who noted the Rambam’s comments elsewhere, at the end of his commentary to Masekhet Negaim.  The Rambam there addresses the question of why the laws of tzara’at do not apply nowadays, and in the course of his discussion he advances a novel theory relevant to the rule of “asei docheh lo ta’aseh.”  One of the stages of a metzora’s purification is the removal of all the hair on his body, and as the Gemara notes in Masekhet Yevamot, this obligation overrides the Torah prohibition against shaving the hair on the side of one’s head (“lo takifu”).  However, the Rambam asserts, the rule of asei docheh lo ta’aseh” applies only when the asei is performed “al tzad ha-sheleimut” – in its complete form.  If the mitzvat asei cannot, for whatever reason, be performed in its proper fashion, it cannot override a conflicting mitzvat lo ta’aseh.  Hence, the Rambam claims, since nowadays a metzora would be unable to offer the required sacrifices as part of his purification process, he cannot fulfill the asei of removing his hair in its complete form.  Therefore, this mitzva cannot override the prohibition against shaving one’s sideburns.


            Applying this rule to korban pesach, Rav Weinberg noted, we would end up with the conclusion that one may not partake of the korban pesach if he does not have matza or marror.  The Torah requires eating the korban pesach together with matza and marror, and thus, if the meat of the sacrifice is permissible only by force of the rule of “asei docheh lo ta’aseh,” it can be eaten only with matza and marror, as only then is the mitzva properly fulfilled.  Yet, the Rambam rules explicitly that one eats the korban pesach even if he does not have matza and marror (Hilkhot Korban Pesach 8:2), thus calling into question the theory that the consumption of the korban pesach is contingent upon the rule of asei docheh lo ta’aseh.”


Rav David Silverberg     



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