Monday, June 16, 2008

Behaaloscha: Pesach Sheni, If A Convert Converts -- Updated

Towards the ends of the laws of Pesach Sheni, we see:
יד וְכִי-יָגוּר אִתְּכֶם גֵּר, וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַה'--כְּחֻקַּת הַפֶּסַח וּכְמִשְׁפָּטוֹ, כֵּן יַעֲשֶׂה: חֻקָּה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם, וְלַגֵּר וּלְאֶזְרַח הָאָרֶץ. {ס} 14 And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD: according to the statute of the passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do; ye shall have one statute, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land.' {S}
This bringing in of the stranger and the ezrach is not unique, but occurs elsewhere, so it is not so jarring. But what is its particular role here? Rashi writes:
If a proselyte dwells with you, and he makes a Passover sacrifice I might think that anyone who converts should immediately make a Passover sacrifice. Therefore, Scripture teaches us, “One statute [shall apply to you, to the proselyte and to the native-born citizen].” And this is its meaning: If a proselyte dwells with you, and he comes (Reggio ed. - and the time comes) to make a Passover sacrifice with his friends,“according to the statutes of the Passover sacrifice and its ordinances he shall make it.” - [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:30]
which is also found in Pesachim 93. On a peshat level, I am not sure what would make someone think that a convert, besides bringing a regular korban, would immediately bring a korban Pesach, not in its proper time.

Ibn Ezra simply says that it means that Pesach Sheni, or else in another reading, Pesach Rishon, is something that applies to a ger.

Ramban suggests the chiddush here (since it seems a repetition of parshat Bo) is that, based on context, one would say that the only ones subject to Pesach for generations were those who went through pesach mitzrayim, so those gerim in parshat Bo were the erev rav. But those converts who convert after pesach mitzrayim, no. Therefore this tells us that all converts are obligated in bringing the korban Pesach.

I have a suggestion that probably does not work according to halacha, and may well not work at all once we consider the general role of mentioning the ger in context throughout various halachos. That suggestion is:

We are talking about Pesach Sheni, for one who was distant, or ritually impure, for Pesach Rishon. What is the law for someone who was non-Jewish during Pesach rishon? They obviously cannot participate. For one thing, uncircumcised men cannot partake of the korban Pesach. So then, וְכִי-יָגוּר אִתְּכֶם גֵּר, in between Pesach Rishon and Pesach Sheni, וְעָשָׂה פֶסַח לַה'--כְּחֻקַּת הַפֶּסַח וּכְמִשְׁפָּטוֹ, he can partake of this second korban Pesach.

I would guess (but have not bothered to look it up -- can someone confirm?) that al pi halacha, one must be of the proper class to to bring the korban pesach during Pesach rishon, but there is some passing factor that temporarily holds him back -- such as distance or ritual impurity. Such that in fact such a ger would not bring pesach sheni.

Update: So I looked it up, and it turns out that al pi halacha, such a convert does bring a Pesach sheni. Baruch shekivanti! On Pesachim daf 93, it is a dispute between Rabbi and Rabbi Natan whether he brings a pesach sheni, and we pasken like Rabbi {=Rabbi Yehuda haNasi}. The gemara explains that the dispute between them is rooted in the pesukim, where they all read the same {earlier} pesukim about pesach sheni in parshas Behaalosecha, but Rabbi Yehuda haNasi holds that Pesach Sheni is a separate chag severed from Pesach Rishon, while Rabbi Natan holds that one comes in to play when one misses the first one. And this conceptual dispute is brought to bear both in the case of a convert and one who reaches majority in between Pesach and Pesach Sheni:

דתניא גר שנתגייר בין שני פסחים וכן קטן שהגדיל בין שני פסחים חייב לעשות פסח שני דברי רבי רבי נתן אומר כל שזקוק לראשון זקוק לשני כל שאין זקוק לראשון אין זקוק לשני במאי קמיפלגי רבי סבר שני רגל בפני עצמו הוא רבי נתן סבר שני תשלומין דראשון הוא תקוני לראשון לא מתקין ליה ורבי חנניא בן עקביא סבר שני תקנתא דראשון הוא ושלשתן מקרא אחד דרשו (במדבר ט) והאיש אשר הוא טהור ובדרך לא היה רבי סבר (במדבר ט) וחדל לעשות הפסח ונכרתה דלא עבד בראשון אי נמי (במדבר ט) קרבן ה' לא הקריב במעדו בשני וממאי <דהא> [דהאי] חטאו ישא כרת הוא
דף צג, ב גמרא קסבר מגדף היינו מברך השם וכתיב במברך את השם (ויקרא כד) ונשא חטאו וגמר האי חטאו דהכא מחטאו דהתם מה להלן כרת אף כאן נמי כרת ור' נתן סבר (במדבר ט) וחדל לעשות הפסח ונכרתה דהאי כי לשון דהא הוא וה"ק רחמנא דהא קרבן ה' לא הקריב במועדו בראשון האי חטאו ישא מאי עביד ליה קסבר מגדף לאו היינו מברך את השם וגמר האי חטאו דהתם מהאי חטאו דהכא מה הכא כרת אף התם כרת ור' חנניא בן עקביא סבר וחדל לעשות הפסח ונכרתה אי קרבן ה' לא הקריב במועדו בשני והאי חטאו ישא מאי עביד ליה כדאמרן הלכך הזיד בזה ובזה דברי הכל חייב שגג בזה ובזה דברי הכל פטור הזיד בראשון ושגג בשני לרבי ולר' נתן מחייבי לרבי חנניא בן עקביא פטור שגג בראשון והזיד בשני לרבי חייב לר' נתן ולר' חנניא בן עקביא פטור:

I would suggest that besides this conceptual (three-way) dispute, the pasuk I mentioned above may come into play, for it can read as stating Rabbi's view, and perhaps we can argue as stating Rabbi Natan's view as well (since he must be like the ezrach in all the laws of the Pesach). After all, I am not coming to this after the fact, but rather was able to read the pasuk as stating exactly what Rabbi stated, and was thus able to generate his position with no preconceived notions.


Anonymous said...

"I am not sure what would make someone think that a convert, besides bringing a regular korban, would immediately bring a korban Pesach, not in its proper time."

All other Jews did a korban pesach at the time they first entered God's covenant. So why not converts too?

joshwaxman said...

It's possible, especially if we consider the bris milah as entering a covenant. But what about har Sinai? I'm going to reserve judgment until I get a chance to see the Sifrei inside. In the meantime, see my update.

Kol Tov,


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