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S.A.L.T. - Motzaei Shabbat

Rav David Silverberg

In loving memory of
Yitzchak ben Chaim Zvi Schwartz,
who passed away on 13 Shvat 5771
and Sheva Shayndel bat David Schwartz,
who passed away 13 Shvat 5778
by Avraham and Sarah Schwartz

          The Torah in Parashat Bo presents the commands relevant to the korban pesach, the special sacrifice offered on the 14th of Nissan and eaten that night, on the first night of Pesach.  These laws include a prohibition against bringing the sacrificial meat away from the group.  Each pesach sacrifice would be offered on behalf of all those who had “registered” as partners in this offering, and they would then eat the meat together.  The Torah commands, “Lo totzi min ha-bayit min ha-basar chutza” (12:46) – which Chazal understood to mean that one may not bring any of the meat away from the “chabura” (group).

          In this same verse, the Torah commands, “ve-etzem lo tishberu vo” – that one may not break any of the bones of the sacrifice.  The Sefer Ha-chinukh (20) explains that this is forbidden because it is undignified and unbecoming to eat the sacrifice in an aggressive, gluttonous manner, the way animals eat.

          The Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesachim 7:13) establishes an intriguing halakhic distinction between these two prohibitions.  A portion of the korban pesach can be the object of the first violation only once, but a bone can be the object of the second violation multiple times.  Meaning, after a person brings a portion of the sacrifice away from the group, in violation of the Torah command, this prohibition can then not be transgressed again with this piece of meat.  Even if the portion of meat is returned to its original location, somebody who subsequently brings it away does not violate the command.  Since the meat has already been rendered invalid, and is no longer permissible for consumption, it cannot be subject to this prohibition.  When it comes to the prohibition against breaking the sacrifice’s bones, however, this rule does not apply.  Even after a bone has been broken, one who breaks the bone again in a different spot is guilty of violating this command.  A broken bone of the korban pesach retains its sacred status as part of the sacrifice, and thus remains subject to the prohibition of “ve-etzem lo tishberu vo.”

          The Tolna Rebbe suggested that symbolically, this distinction perhaps reflects the special importance of remaining in a group of likeminded religiously-committed Jews.  If a bone has been broken, it remains sacred – because even if a person acts improperly and makes mistakes, he is not “invalidated,” and is still deemed “sacred” provided that he strives to refine his behavior and improve.  However, if a person separates himself from a “chabura,” withdrawing from participation together with other people in the performance of mitzvot, he risks losing his sanctity.  As the Rambam famously discusses in Hilkhot Dei’ot (6:1), people are strongly influenced by their peers, by those with whom they surround themselves and associate, and we are therefore required to put ourselves in the company of those who will influence us positively.  Hence, meat of the korban pesach that was taken away from the chabura loses its status of sanctity – teaching us that, to a large extent, our ability to attain kedusha depends on our close association with other devoted servants of God from whom we can learn and with whom we can work to continue our process of spiritual growth.




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