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Friday, April 6

The Weekly Shtikle - Shabbas Chol HaMo'eid Pesach

    Rashi in Parshas Bo (Shemos 12:15) describes a complicated drasha from Mechilta. The basic summary of the drasha is that it is obligatory to eat matzah on the first night of Pesach but from then on, it is optional, so long as you do not eat chameitz. Most of the commentaries learn that this means that for the remaining days of Pesach, the mitzvas aseih to eat matzah is non-existent There is only the mitzvas lo-sa'aseih not to eat chameitz. The GR"A, however, is of the opinion that although eating matzah is not obligatory on the remaining days, one does fulfill a mitzvah by eating matzah. The mitzvah takes on the status of a mitzvah kiyumis, a permissive mitzvah, rather than a mitzvah chiyuvis, obligatory mitzvah. There is even earlier support for this stance in Chizkuni and Ibn Ezra (on the pasuk in Parshas Bo) and even possibly from Targum Yonasan ben Uziel (Devarim 16:3).

    Many ask on this opinion why, if there is a mitzvah all of Pesach, do we not make a brachah of "al achilas matzah" for all of Pesach like we make when we eat in a sukkah during the rest of Sukkos. After all, one is not obligated to be in a sukkah either. It is only if one eats or sleeps that one is required to do so in the sukkah. The mitzvah of tzitzis is also not obligatory. One is only obligated (by the Torah) to put tzitzis on a four-cornered garment. There is nothing wrong with walking around without a four-cornered garment and therefore, without tzitzis. Nevertheless, we make a brachah on tzitzis as well. Why is matzah different?

    The Ba'al HaMaor exlains why sukkah is different from matzah. Chazal learn that it is impossible for anyone to go three days without sleep. Therefore, since sleep is inevitable, it must be that the Torah wanted the mitzvah of sukkah to be fulfilled throughout Sukkos. However, it is certainly possible to go the entire remainder of Pesach without "needing" to eat matzah and therefore it is not an inevitable mitzvah. This of course does not answer the problem of tzitzis.

    R' Shlomoh HaKohein MiVilna differentiates between matzah and the others. Although tzitzis is not an absolute obligation, once one has a four-cornered garment it becomes an absolute obligation. The Torah says a four-cornered garment must have tzitzis. The same can be said about sukkah. Although one can theoretically dodge the mitzvah of sukkah by not eating meals or sleeping, the Torah does decree that sleeping and eating must be done in the sukkah. This cannot be said about matzah. There is no scenario during the remaining days of Pesach where the Torah decrees that one must eat matzah and thus, there is no special brachah. [This approach seems difficult to me, considering we are obligated to have two full-fledged meals on Yom Tov. We must make a "hamotzi" in order to fulfill this obligation and thus, we are certainly commanded to enter a scenario where the consumption of Matzah is necessary. This would seem to render the first answer problematic as well.]w

Moadim leSimchah!


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