Question:

I just read the article http://dinonline.org/2015/04/03/eating-matzah-for-seven-days/ on (not) Eating Matzah for 7 Days.

Frankly, I don’t understand:

1) The mitzva of EATING matza is mentioned more than almost any other in the Torah!!!

2) It is stated in almost every linguistic style possible (active/passive, singular/plural, etc)

3) There is a separate corpus of laws prohibiting chametz (so avoiding it is explicit)

4) The “eve of Pesach” understanding (Bo) is taken out of context – read the whole sentence

5) Matza is commanded long before that event – what is the concept of “chipazon”

6) “Matza zo” in the hagadda refers to an event of the next morning, not of the evening??

7) The Torah, itself, calls the holiday “Chag haMatzot” when there is no obligation for matzot??

8) Back to #1 – we believe all words are binding – if H’ did NOT want us to eat for 7 – why all the mentions?

I would love to hear your thoughts

Answer:

Your question is very important and fundamental, let me explain to you why.

The article is merely quoting the gemorah Pesachim 120a, where the gemora learns from the pesukim that although the simple appearance of the pesukim appear that we are commanded to eat matzoh for seven days, the actual requirement is only the first night and not for all of the seven days. Therefore the interpretation of “eat matzoh for seven days” days is only referring to eating matzoh versus eating chametz- meaning that for these seven days we are to abstain from eating chometz but that that we are required to go and eat matzoh. Here we have a drasha from chazal, that in a way seemingly contradicts some other openly clear pesukim. Chazal definitely knew that the torah mentions eating matzoh for seven days numerous times. They knew the text by heart, and they were called “sofrim”. The reason they were called sofrim was because they knew the text so well, they could “count” (“lispor” in hebrew means to count) the letters of the torah and tell you exactly which word or letter is the half way point of the torah of a chumash. The question here is how do we understand this? This is a very important and fundamental topic for us to understand.

When we learn the drashot of chazal, we have to understand that this is a part of torah shebal pe, the oral torah that Moshe received from H-shem and transmitted to Yehoshua, and it was transmitted verbally from teacher to student. The torah shebal pe is, in part, the interpretation of the written torah, and it also comes with a set of rules of how we are to interpret the written torah. There is a very famous brayso or R’ Yismael, who talks about 13 cardinal rules for the drashot of chazal. The Malbim in his introduction to Sefer Vayikrah enumerates 613(!) rules, some based on a deep understanding of Hebrew grammer, and some on different logics, and tools that chazal used and employed when learning the text in order to understand its true meaning. Therefore the drashot of chazal are in part from oral transmission from Moshe Rabeinu; that this is the correct interpretation of the text, and partially from a deep analysis of the text itself (including how one text matches up with the other texts). The Malbim himself, in his commentary of the chumash, then proceeds to explain all of the various drashot from Mechilta (Shemot), Sifrei (Vayikra) and Sifra Banidbar and Devorim).

There is an excellent book called “Why do I need to learn Gemorah” By Rabbi Chaim Rosenblatt. In chapter 12 of that book he discusses the topic of drashot of chazal  that seemingly contradict the simply meaning of the text. I would strongly recommend similar that you read it.

Now let’s get down to understanding the actual pesukim themselves and where chazal got to say what they did. The first thing we have to understand is that there is an seemingly open contradiction in the texts. In many places it says that we should eat matzoh for seven days, but in Parshat Reh it says we should eat it for six days. H-shem surely did not mean to command us that we automatically do like the majority of the times the mitzva is quoted, because it is all coming from HIs will, and His will doesn’t work according to majority of pesukim. If it is a contradiction we have to understand where both of them apply and not wipe away one of them because it is outnumbered. The gemorah Pesachim 120a (and Malbim in Vayikra on Sifra 151), explain where chazal deduted this drasha from the text. The verse in Reh says, ” for six days eat mtazoh and on the seventh day should be atzeres, (a festival), meaning that the seventh day of pesach we don’t have to eat matzoh. However the torah tells un in numerous places (such as Vayikra 23-6) that we are to eat matzoh for seven days, and that the seventh day is no different than the other days. Chazal applied over here one of the 13 rules or R’ Yismael, כָּל דָּבָר שֶׁהָיָה בִּכְלָל וְיָצָא מִן הַכְּלָל לְלַמֵּד, לֹא לְלַמֵּד עַל עַצְמוֹ יָצָא, אֶלָּא לְלַמֵּד עַל הַכְּלָל כֻּלּוֹ יָצָא. That whenever we have a klal (rule or set) and the torah takes one of the set out of the rule, it means to say that this is the rule for the whole set until the torah “specifically returns it to the original understanding. From this rule we learn that the same way we are not required to eat matzoh on the seventh day we are also not required to eat them on the other days. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t eat them, rather there is no positive obligation to do so, if we will do it, we will have fulfilled a positive mitzvah. Now the verses are not in contradiction, if should eat matzoh for 7 days, but we are not absolutely required to specifically do so. Chazal then asked another question;  the Torah says in (Bamidbar 9-11), on the night of the fifteenth you should eat the pesach with matzoh and maror, so we see that the is a specific requirement to eat matzoh and it isn’t merely a mitzvah if it is done? To this the gemorah answers that it is true that for the first night of Pesach we have a positive commandment to actual eat matzoh, and in this sense the first night is different from the rest of the yom tov.

Regarding your question that there are other places that the torah tells us not to eat chometz specifically, we do however find that the torah will repeat a commandment more than once and it would be considered as two commandment, as the term in chazal לעבור עליו בשני לאוין .  The fact that the chag is called Chag Hamatzot doesn’t mean that it is the chag that we are commanded to eat matzoh. The commentaries ask the question why does the torah call the chag Chag Hamatzos, but we call it Pesach? There are a few reasons for this. One reason is that we call it Peasch to being out the point of what  H-shem did for us; He spared us and skipped over our homes and we weren’t harmed. In the torah it is called Chag Hamatzoos because H-shem wants to bring out what we did for Him. That the Jews left Eqypt even though they didn’t have enough provisions for the trip- because they trusted in H-shem.

The remainder of your questions I unfortunately didn’t understand. I hope this answer although only partial, helped shed some light to this drasah of chazal.

Tags: matzoh Passover pesach foods

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