The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 29 January 2011 / 23 Shevat 5771

Zevachim 79 - 85

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The Hillel Sandwich

At the Pesach Seder we first eat matzah and maror (bitter herbs) separately and then we make a "sandwich" of the two which we eat after declaring that we do so as a way of recalling what the Sage Hillel used to do in the days of the Beis Hamikdash.

In Temple times the flesh of the korban pesach was consumed on the first night of Pesach along with matzah and maror, with all of these mitzvos being of Torah origin. Hillel's opinion, which was disputed by his colleagues, was that the Torah instructed us to eat all three of these wrapped up together and that the conflicting tastes simultaneously experienced did not nullify each other since all were obligatory in the same degree.

After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, however, we have no opportunity at all to eat the korban pesach, and the mitzvah of eating maror today is only of rabbinic nature. Should we start off eating matzah and maror as a sandwich we will not fulfill the Torah mitzvah of eating matzah even according to Hillel because its taste will be considered nullified by the maror which is only a rabbinic obligation. We therefore begin by eating them separately to assure proper fulfillment of the mitzvah of matzah, and only afterwards do we combine them to recall how Hillel did these mitzvos in Temple times when both were equal Torah obligations.

  • Zevachim 79a

Setting a Standard

"And if you offer a blind animal as a sacrifice, is it not evil? and if you offer a lame or sick one, is that not evil? offer it to your governor - will he be pleased with you or will he show you favor?"

This Divine rebuke delivered by the Prophet Malachi (1:8) is mentioned in our weekly section in regard to offering the innards of a sacrifice on the altar without first cleansing them from the wastes inside them. It is used in other places in the Talmud as well for setting a minimal standard of propriety in the Divine service and is sometimes even extended to other areas of religious practice.

The message is concise and clear - do not show less respect for the King of kings than you would for your own earthly ruler.

  • Zevachim 85a

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