The form of Pesach in the past was absolutely different than the form of Pesach today. The focus of Pesach in the past was theKorban-Pesach. Today it is Leil-Haseder.
The punishment about avoidance of Korban-Pesach is “Karet” (somebody that his soul shall be cut off from among his people and he hasn’t any part in the world to come).This punishment is given to the most severe transgressions, such as eating on Yom Kippur. However we find only two instances of the punishment of Karet applying to the avoidance of a Mitzvat-Aseh (positive commandment). Leil-Haseder is not an alternative to Korban-Pesach and doesn’t exempt us from the punishment of “Karet”.
According to few opinions there is option to sacrifice “Korban Pesach”in our generation. The goal of this article is to examine if it is possible.
The Concept of “Mitzvat Korban-Pesach”
The Torah commands us about Korban Pesach with very particular details. (Shemot 12,3-12, Bamidbar 9,1-13 and Devarim 16). The concept of this Mitzvah is very simple : all Israel have to gather to one place, to eat together a Korban that symbolizes our “nation-creation”. Korban Pesach demonstrates that the real God is our God, and the connection of all of us to this event and this message expresses the significance of our nation. (Sefer Hachinuch,Mitzvah 380 and RambanDevarim 12 ,5)
The main details of the Mitzvah according to the simple understanding are to eat a complete sheep with family and friends. Everybody has to be involved with the Korban Pesach and we need to organize groups to do it together. We need to prepare it as roasted meat and not to leave any piece of it until the morning, neither must we break any of its bones. Furthermore, there is a second chance to keep this Mitzvah (on the 14th of Iyar) .The second chance is for those who were unable to offer it at its set time in a state of ritual purity (as we are obligated to do so).
In addition, there is the punishment of Karet for one who fails to eat the Korban Pesach.
The message here is very clear .The ritual of Korban-Pesach used to create a unity amongst Am-Israel. We have some amazing examples of this:
- The first time that Israel celebrated Pesach was on the second year after Yetziat-Mitzraim .
It is a very clear commandment, which states that everybody of Am-Israel must take part in this Mitzvah. (Bamidbar 9 1-13)
- When Joshua arrived to Israel he organized a big event of offering the Korban-Pesach. The goal was the unity of all Israel. (Joshua 1 1-12)
- The king Josiah decided to purify the country and to destroy all idolatry. The first thing that he did after this purification was to celebrate Pesach. The prophet tells us that: “Surely there was not celebrated such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel”. The goal of this celebration was to create a new atmosphere and a new situation. (Kings chapter 23)
- After a long time that it had been impossible to visit the BeitHamikdash, the king Hezekiah decided to change the situation and he called upon all Israel to celebrate the Pesach in Jerusalem. We find here, that the ritual of Pesach was used to engender unity and the prophet describes it so: “And there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”(Chronicles 2, chapter 30)
- In the beginning of the second Beit-Mikdash, Ezra wanted that Jerusalem would be the centre for all Am-Israel. How did he achieve this? By offering the Korban Pesach for all the Diaspora. As it is described in Sefer Ezra: “and they killed the Passover lamb for all the returned exiles, and for their brothers the priests, and for themselves”.(Ezra 6 19-22)
The conclusion is that if we want to come back and to be a nation of unity that connects to the significance of Am-Israel then we have to sacrifice the Korban Pesach, even in our generation, without the Beit-Mikdash.
The question remains however: is it possible to do this today according to the Halacha?
In order to answer this, there are several questions that we need to clarify about the Korban-Pesach today:
The place: Is it possible to sacrifice the Korban-Pesach without the BeitHamikdash?
Must the Korban-Pesach be sacrificed on Har-Habayit, near the BeitHamikdash?
Is it possible to sacrifice the Korban-Pesach in other places, even in another country?
The Altar: Is the Altar necessary to sacrifice Korban-Pesach?
Is it possible to build Altar today?
Purity:Is it possible to sacrifice the Korban-Pesach when all of us are ritually impure?
Kohanim: Is it necessary to sacrifice the Korban-Pesach just by the Kohanim? And how certain are we of the ancestry of ourkohanim?
The place of Korban-Pesach
The first option -the only place to sacrifice is Har Habayit
Basically we need to make the Korban-Pesach in the Azara (the yard of Beit-Hamikdash on Har-Habayit)
because it is holy (kodashimkalim). We learn this from the Pasuk : “You may not sacrifice the Passover inside any of your gates, which the Lord your God gives you; But at the place which the Lord your God shall choose to place his name in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at the evening, at the going down of the sun, in the season when you came out of Egypt.”(Devarim 16 , 5-6)
But today the situation different because that we haven’t the Beit-Hamikdash. There are some opinions that the holiness was nullified with the destruction of the Beit-Mikdash. But the Rambam (BeitHabchira 6 , 14) says that the Halacha is that the holiness of Har-Habit that was established then continues to exist. Therefore -it is impossible to sacrifice in other places. Having set the scene , the only question is :
Is it possible to sacrifice the Korban Pesach on Har-Habayit, today, without the Beit Mikdash?
The answer is very clear -yes. (according the Halacha and ignoring the political situation)
The Mishna (Edoyot 8,6) says:”R Joshua said: I have heard that sacrifices may be offered even though there are no Beit-Mikdash,and that the most holy sacrifice may be eaten even though there is no Beit-Mikdash, and lesser sacrifices may be eaten even though there are no walls [of Jerusalem]…”.
The Rambam (Beit Habchira 6 , 16) says that this is the Halacha and we are obligated to do it, even today.
In summary- according to the Rambam it is permissible just on Har-Habayit although there are problems to go up there.
The Rahav”dand the Kesef-Mishne both state that the holiness of Har-Habayit was nullified, therefore, there is no reason to do it on Har-Habayit . But equally there is no problem to come on to Har-Habayit and to sacrifice it there.
The second option -we can sacrifice it in every place
Chonyowas a Jewish man that built a temple in Egypt after the destruction of our Beit Hamikdash and he sacrificed there all the sacrifices. R’Yitzchaksays (Gemara Megila 10a) that it is possible to sacrifice in any place because the holiness of Har-Habayit was lost after the destruction.
In the Gemara (Zevachim 107 b) there is debate about the prohibition of sacrificing outside the Beit-Hamikdash today. Reish-Lakish permits it and R’Yohananforbids it. The Rambam says (Maaseh Hakorbanot 19 ,15) that the Halacha is that we are permitted to sacrifice on HarHabayit alone as its holiness was not lost.
The Hatam-Sofer (Shahasrkorbanot and kapara chapter 1 part b) says according to this Rambam not only is it possible to sacrifice the Korban Pesach but that we must, however only on Har-Habit.
Perhaps due to political constraints it is impossible, but this doesn’t free us from the punishment of Karet.
Most of the objectors thought that it is impossible to sacrifice Korban-Pesach today because we haven’t a Kosher Altar, and there no option to build the altar until that Mashiahach will come.
In the end of 19 century the speaking about return to Israel crossed the “Jewish street”. Of course that was a big debate about the option to build altar and Mikdash. Rabbi Akiva Iger wrote about it an article for magazine with the name “Halevanon”(year 5623) . Rabbi David Fridman wrote some books about it (“Zionand Jerusalem”and “Shehelat David”). Both said that it is impossible to sacrifice Korban-Pesach because the Tosfot (Masehet Sucah 41a D”a “deshtakadlo”) and the Rambam (Beit Habechira 2,1-2) proved that the Halachic of “the permission to sacrifice without Beit-Mikdash”is just if there is a altar.The Rabbi Kuk (MishpatKohenchapter 91)wrote that the altar is obligation and not just option of Mitzvah .
The question now is if is it possible to build altar?
The Gemmara (Holin 18a) set that the main thing of the altar building is that the stones will be straight without any small notch .The Tospot (Socah 49a D”a “shecol mizbehach”) proved that there is probation to use with any metal to build the altar.
The Rambam (Beit Habechira 2 ,17 )added the Halachic that the altar needs square corners exactly.
Rabbi David Fridman and the Rabbi Shelomo SakalA(Beit ShelomoYore-Deha part b ,chapter 125) objected to sacrifice Korban-Pesach because we haven’t the ability to build an altar. But is just technical problem.Today, by the modern technology, there no any problem to build altar with square corners exactly (maybe more than the past). In addition -we can use with laser rays instead of metal tools.
The “Tomha” (impurity)
We have a special commandment to sacrifice Korban-Pesach on the time, as it written “(Bamidbar 9,3) ”In the fourteenth day of this month, at evening you shall keep it in its appointed season; according to all its rites, and according to all its ceremonies, shall you keep it.”But on another hand, we have prohibition to eat Korban-Pesach in impurity situation. The Gemmara (Pesachim 71a) learned from it that we have to be a pure for Korban-Pesach just if there option to be pure. Therefore, if all Israel impure then we adjourn the probation to eat Korban-Pesach in impure situation, and we can to sacrifice Korban-Pesach if all Israel impure.
In the Gemmara (Yoma 6b) there is debate about the question if the impurity will be canceled or just adjourned in situation that all Israel impure,but everybody agree that we can to sacrifice Korban-Pesach with impurity situation.
The Rambam (HilchotBeit Hamikdash 4, 15-16) says that this the Halachic:”the impurity is adjourned if all Israel impure.”In addition -the Rambam wrote that if there are no Kohanim or there are no a pure Israel,than the Korban will be sacrificed by simple Israel even if he impure.(RambamBeit Habechira 7,23)
The Hatam-Sofer (Yore Deha 236) and the Rav kalisher (in the book “Derishat Zion”124) wrote that according to these things the impurity is adjourned in our generation.
The Kohanim in our generation
In the beginning of the twenty-century was a great debate about the Halachic of the Kohanim today.
Rabbi Akiva Iger wrote ) In letter to Rabbi Kalisher) that we can’t trust about the relation of the Kohanim today because there was a big mixture in Am-Israel.The source for this Halachic is the Ram”a (SholchanHaroch , Orach-Chaim 457,2) who said : not to give presents of Kohanim because we don’t know how is a real Kohen. Most of the Rabbis in those time agreed with it (The Rivashchapter 34, “Yam ShelShlomo”Baba Kamachapter 35 ,”Beit Efraim”, Orach-Chaim, chapter 6) although that the Mishna (Edoyot 8,7) said the Mashich will not make clear who is real Kohen ,and we have to trust our Kohnim. The Rambam(“Isorey Biha”20,1) said that the Halachic is that we have to trust our Kohanim.
The Rabbi Kalisher (in his book “Derishat Zion”) gave a proof that is enough to know that this family during four generations isKohanim family. The Hazon-Eash (Even A’ezer, Hilchot Periya O’reviyachapter 2,7) added, that there no promotion to cancelKorban-Pesach just we can’t trust our Kohim.
There are other problems with the cloths of the Kohanim etc, but most of the Rabbis think that is not adjourn to sacrifice Korban Pesach.
Testimonies for immolation of Passover sacrifice after the ruin
1. The Gemmara(Pesachim 87b) told us about Raban Gamliel that commanded his slave to roast the Korban Pesach.it was about hundred years after the ruin.
2. YostaninosCaesar commanded not to sacrifice Korban-Pesach. We can learn that the Jewish people were sacrifice in those time,and we are speaking about the six century.
3. Rabeno Chananeldid Korban-Pesach on Har-Habit in 5017 (748 years ago)
(according to R’Ishtori A’parchi,in the book “Kaftor V’perach”chpter 6)
What our Rabbi’s say:
RabbiZvi Hirsh Kalishersays clearly: we can to sacrifice Korban Peasach today. He suggested to the Baron Rotchild to build a altar( in year 5596). In year 5597 he had a big debate with Rabbi Akiva Iger about it. In year 5622 he published the book “Derishat Zion” with all his arguments about it. (There is also a good summary about it in the book “All the document of the Mharit”z Chayut” p 844-849).
Rabbi Kuk and Rabbi Akiva Iger objected to his arguments and they say that it impossible to build altar today and that we can’t to sacrifice in impure situation. Most of the Rabbi’s now think that we have to wait that Machihach wiil come. Although,that according to the things that we saw before there no probation to do it.
We saw that is possible to sacrifice Korban-Pesach on Har-Habit without Beit Mikdash. We have the technology to build altar and the impurity been allowed if all Israel impure.
We saw that ritual of Korban-Pesach used to create unity, which we need it so much. We have to remember that the punishment about avoidance from this Korban is Karet. Is clear that the biggest problem that is not realistic to do it today on Har-Habit.Is it good reason to avoid from this Mitzvah?
Is it weakness or real Halachic?
Any way, today they’re no options to come up the Har-Habit and to sacrifice Korban Peasach
Because the political reasons, but to exempt us from the punishment of “Karet”we have to do something. If we can’t to do it we need, at least, to want it, and to dream about it and to pray for it.
I hope that we will be can say (after 120 years old): “we wanted it, very much, but we couldn’t.