Halacha for Wednesday 15 Adar 5780 March 11 2020

Thirty Days before Pesach and the Holiday of Purim

Since we are nearing the holiday of Pesach and the laws of Pesach are quite vast, we will begin to review the primary laws of this holiday based on what we have written in previous years in addition to some new insights.

The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (6b) writes that one should begin to inquire about the laws of Pesach thirty days before the actual holiday. The simple meaning of this law seems to imply that thirty days before the holiday of Pesach, one must halt study of any other Torah topics and focus solely on the laws of Pesach.

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 429) asks that the Gemara in Megillah (32a) says that Moshe Rabbeinu instituted that the Jewish nation should expound the laws of Pesach on Pesach, the laws of Shavuot on Shavuot, and the laws of Sukkot on Sukkot. Based on this, it would seem that there is only an obligation to learn the laws of Pesach specifically on Pesach and not thirty days beforehand!

Maran Ha’Bet Yosef answers that this does not actually mean that one must inquire about and expound the laws of Pesach thirty days beforehand; rather, this refers to the ruling that if two students come to ask their rabbi a question and one asks about a matter at hand (a topic being discussed in the Bet Midrash) while the other asks about an unrelated matter, the rabbi must answer the one who asks about a matter at hand. The Gemara therefore teaches us that asking a question about Pesach thirty days before the holiday is considered a matter at hand. The Ran (Rabbeinu Nissim, one of the great Rishonim) explains likewise.

Nevertheless, Hagaon Mishnah Berura writes in his Be’ur Halacha that the Halacha does not follow the opinion of Rabbeinu Nissim and one must actually “expound” and not merely “inquire about” the laws of Pesach thirty days prior to the holiday. However, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l in his Responsa Yabia Omer (Volume 2, Chapter 22) writes lengthily to defend the ruling of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch that there is no actual obligation to halt any other regular study topics before Pesach in order to delve into the laws of Pesach; only with regards to one “inquiring about an issue at hand” do we say that if one asks a Pesach-related question thirty days before Pesach are we obligated to make time to answer the individual.

The day of Purim itself (today, the 15th of Adar, which is Purim in Jerusalem) is also included in the “thirty days” before Pesach. However, if two people pose a question to a rabbi and one asks about a law pertaining to Purim while the other asks about a law pertaining to Pesach, the rabbi must respond to the one inquiring about Purim first since this is the obligation of the day and a Mitzvah at its proper time is dearer.

We must point out that although there is no obligation to expound the laws of Pesach publicly during the thirty days before the holiday of Pesach according to the letter of the law, nevertheless, everyone is obligated to study the laws of Pesach thoroughly so as not to, G-d-forbid, transgress any of its vast laws.

Thus, we at Halacha Yomit will try to discuss as many of the laws of Pesach as possible; we will not delve into the sources and reasons behind these Halachot in order to have the opportunity to cover as many of the pertinent laws as possible before the holiday of Pesach.

Besides for dealing with the actual laws of the holiday, such as the laws of Matzah and the laws of koshering the house for Pesach, we must also discuss some of the laws of the Blessing of the Trees customarily recited in the beginning of the month of Nissan.

 This year, 5780, the first day of Pesach will fall out on a Thursday and the last day of Yom Tov will fall out on the following Wednesday (outside of Israel, Yom Tov is observed on Wednesday and Thursday). We will, therefore, not be discussing the laws of Eruv Tavshilin since they are irrelevant this year.

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