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Against The Tide?
‘How Do We Roast The Paschal Sacrifice?’
(Pesachim 74a)

The Torah (Shemos 12:9) states: “Al tochlu mimmenu na uvashel mevushal bamayim, ki im tzeli esh rosho al kera’av ve’al kirbo – You shall not eat it partially roasted or cooked in water; only roasted over fire – its head, its legs, with its innards.” The paschal sacrifice may not be boiled or cooked. Rather, the entire animal must be roasted over fire. R. Yosi Hagelili maintains that a spit is inserted through the animal, and its legs and innards (which were removed after the animal was slaughtered) are placed inside the animal so that the entire korban is roasted together.

Rabbi Akiva disagrees, arguing that placing the legs and innards inside the animal is akin to cooking them since they are not being roasted directly over the fire. Therefore, he maintains that these parts should be hung on the spit separately from the body of the animal so that the fire roasts them directly.

Rambam Follows The Rule

In keeping with the rule that the halacha generally follows Rabbi Akiva when he disagrees with one of his contemporaries, the Rambam (Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:10) paskens like Rabbi Akiva that one should place the legs and innards of the paschal sacrifice directly on the spit outside the main body of the korban.

Rashi Differs

In his peirush on Chumash, however, Rashi interprets the pasuk in accordance with R. Yosi Hagelili, explaining that the legs and innards are placed inside the paschal sacrifice during the roasting. R. Eliyahu Mizrachi wonders why Rashi doesn’t explain the pasuk in accordance with Rabbi Akiva, whom the halacha generally follows.

Explaining Rashi

The Baruch Ta’am (to the Tzelach, Pesachim – Machon Jerusalem Print 5755) answers this question by referring to a dispute between Rebbi (Rabbi Yehudah HaNassi) and the Sages in Pesachim 41a. Rebbi, based on Shemos 12:9, argues that not only that is it forbidden to boil the meat of a paschal sacrifice in water or other liquids, it is even forbidden to roast it in a pot without any liquid (since it cooks in its own juices). The Sages, however, disagree and permit roasting the meat of the korban Pesach in a pot (since they do not consider this to be cooking in liquid – see Rashi, ibid. s.v. “tzeli kedar”).

The Baruch Ta’am explains that placing the legs and innards of a korban Pesach inside its body is akin to tzeli kadera (lit. roasted through the heat of the pot) since the body of the animal serves as a pot for the legs and innards. Rabbi Akiva forbids it because he agrees with Rebbi that roasting in a pot is considered cooking in liquid and thus forbidden, whereas R. Yosi Hagelili agrees with the Sages who permit tzeli kadera.

Since the halacha follows the majority view of the Sages (that tzeli kadera is permitted), Rashi explains the pasuk in accordance with R. Yosi Hagelili who agrees with the Sages.

About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.


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