We would like to provide a “taste” of the Korban Pesach, with a Choshen Mishpat twist!
The Kadosh family winded their way through the streets of rebuilt Yerushalayim. At 4:30 p.m. on Erev Pesach, the city was packed.
“Who are we joining this year for the Korban Pesach?” asked young Zev.
“The lamb easily provides a k’zayis (olive size) portion for 40-50 people,” said his father. “Saba and Savta will be with us, of course, as well as Uncle Shia, Uncle Elimelech and their families. Our neighbors, the Essens asked to participate again in our Seder. The Goldfarbs will take their share of meat and make their own Seder.”
As the Kadosh’s walked towards the Temple Mount, the tantalizing smell of roast lamb wafted from the houses of those who participated in the first wave of sacrifices. Others, from the second wave, were exiting the Temple carrying their slaughtered lambs.
“We’d better hurry,” urged Mr. Kadosh. “The third, and final, wave is usually small and goes quickly.” (Pesachim 64b)
“The Essens will be eating at our Seder?” asked Zev.
“Yes,” Mr. Kadosh responded. “Why do you ask?”
“The Essen boys have all got very healthy appetites,” complained Zev. “Last year, they kept carving doubles and triples from the Korban Pesach! In the end, the rest of the group just got the minimal k’zayis.”
“We already agreed to have them at our Seder,” Mr. Kadosh responded calmly. “It’s not polite to ask them to form a separate group and make their own Seder.”
“We can insist that they cut their fair share up front when it’s time to eat the Pesach, though,” Zev suggested. “Then they won’t be able to take more than they deserve.
“I’m not sure whether a single Seder group can split,” said Mr. Kadosh. “But look! I see Rabbi Dayan; maybe he has an idea.”
Mr. Kadosh introduced himself to Rabbi Dayan and asked: “If some of the members of the group tend to eat more than their fair share, can we require them to cut their portion before they begin eating?”
“This point is addressed in Gemara Pesachim (89b),” answered Rabbi Dayan. “Generally, people joining in one Seder share the Korban Pesach freely as they eat. Ideally, they should not cut off a part to separate out a member of the group. However, if the person is known to have a very hearty appetite, the other members can require him to take his share separately. He cannot claim that they already accepted him to eat freely as part of the group.” (Rambam, Hil. Korban Pesach 2:15)
“Wow!” exclaimed Zev. “It’s great learning the laws of Kodashim now that the Beis Hamikdash has been rebuilt!”
“Actually, this law applies also in day-to-day life,” replied Rabbi Dayan.
“Really?!” asked Zev. “How?”
“Let’s say that a group of people is going on a trip, and they agree to share equally in food expenses,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “Each person is entitled to eat and drink freely, and they do not measure whether one got more than the others. However, if someone is known to have an exceptionally healthy appetite, the other people can insist that he separate his apportioned share and eat only that.” (Rama C.M. 176:10)
“Similarly, let’s say that roommates agree to buy jointly a canister of jelly beans for the week or a box of cookies for Shabbos. If one of them has a sweet tooth and takes more than his fair share, the others can insist that he separate his portion at the beginning and eat only that.”
“If he ate more than his fair share before they separated his portion,” asked Zev, “can they make him pay for the extra amount that he ate?”
“No,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “As long as the food remains jointly owned by the entire group, each person is entitled to eat what he desires.” (Pischei Teshuva C.M. 176:11)
“I don’t think it’s right to take triples before everyone has had doubles, though” said Mrs. Kadosh.
“It is not proper manners,” said Rabbi Dayan. “People who are eating together should be respectful of each other and not eat while the others have paused. (O.C. 170:2) But, as we said, if someone eats significantly more than his fair share, the other members of the group can insist that he separate his portion.”