Based on the Abarbanel

For the week ending 17 August 2013 / 10 Elul 5773

Pesachim 58 - 64

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The mishna teaches that the korban Pesach was ritually slaughtered in the Beit Hamikdash on the afternoon prior to Pesach, and needed to take place in three separate shifts. The gates of the Beit Hamikdash closed once the courtyard filled with people, and the sacrificial process began. Who closed these gates?

Abaye says that no human effort was made to close the gates. Rather, people were permitted to enter through them until they miraculously closed by themselves. Rava, however, disagrees and states that such a policy could have led to all the people entering at once, which would not result in the division into three shifts as the Torah prescribed. His view is that when the kohanim evaluated that there would not be enough people to form a second and a third shift, they took the initiative of closing the gates on the earlier shifts.

The gemara explainstheir dispute: Abaye's opinion is that it was proper to rely on the miracle that the gates would close on their own, while Rava's view is that they did not rely on such a miracle.

However, there is a general rule that in human affairs we should trust in G-d but should not rely on miracles. Why should Abaye hold that in this case it was proper to rely on a miracle?

One answer proposed by the commentaries is that the Beit Hamikdash was the site of so many ongoing miracles (see Pirkei Avot 5:10) that it was reasonable to rely on the miracle of automatically closing gates as well.

  • Pesachim 64a-b

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish stated, “Once a mitzvah presents itself to you it must not be bypassed (even for the sake of another mitzvah).”

  • Pesachim 64b

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