The Chometz Korban

Pesach

The Korban Pesach is unique amongst Sacrifices. From the famous total of 613 Mitzvohs there are no ‎less than eleven commandments associated with this offering; two positive actions and nine negative ‎transgressions. Let us investigate these Mitzvohs:‎

One

The two positive Mitzvohs consist of Slaughtering and Eating the Pascal lamb. With all other Korbonos ‎such as a Chatos, Shlomim etc… the slaughtering and eating are bracketed underneath one ‎commandment. Pesach is the exception; these two functions are designated separately. Why?‎

It is also interesting that each Mitzvah has its own vital time zone. The slaughtering can only be ‎performed on Erev Pesach in the afternoon. The consumption may only take place on the first night of ‎Pesach. All other sacrifices are normally consumed immediately i.e. on the same day they are ‎sacrificed. Why the difference?‎

Two

One of the stark negative precepts is “Do not sacrifice the Pascal lamb whilst still in possession of ‎Chometz”. Meaning, that besides for the classical requirement to dispose of one’s leaven, there is an ‎additional prohibition not to slaughter the Korban before having destroyed one’s Chometz. Why? ‎What is the connection between Korban Pesach and Chometz? ‎

Furthermore, this prohibition is limited to slaughter, but does not preclude the subsequent ingestion ‎of said Korban. Whether one is still in ownership of the old Chometz or even acquired new Chometz, ‎no sin is transgressed by consumption of the Korban. Why? ‎

Solution

This Chag which celebrates our transformation from slaves to aristocrats has a twofold dimension. It ‎represents the ultimate turnaround, first by fleeing evil and secondly by pursuing goodness. This is ‎demonstrated by Chometz and Matzah; Chometz corresponds to the Evil Inclination, and Matzah is the ‎‎‘bread of the Faithful one’. On Pesach we refrain from eating leaven and delight in Matzah. ‎

There is a particular sequence to these two ideas. King David proscribes in Tehillim (34:15) “Shun evil ‎and do good”. Before engaging in health we must first reject the detrimental. Thus we are Biblically ‎mandated to abstain from leaven on Erev Pesach and only later engage in eating Matzah on the following ‎evening. ‎

Just as Matzah has an intrinsic duplicity, we may posit that these two ideas pervade the Korban ‎Pesach. How so? Moshe told the people “Draw and take for yourselves sheep” (Shemos 12:21). ‎Mechilta provides an interesting exposition on the seeming superfluous word ‘Draw’: ‎

The Jews were passionately fond of idolatry. Moshe said to them, “Draw and take for yourselves”. He ‎meant: Withdraw from idolatry, and take for yourselves sheep for the mitzvah. (Rashi 12:6)‎

But what does taking a sheep have to do with distancing from idolatry? ‎

Sheep and goats figured greatly into the local prevalent culture. The young of these species were deified by the ‎Ancient Egyptians. Astronomically, the month of Nissan bears the constellation of young sheep and ‎goats, and in the middle of the month – which correlates to the zenith of the zodiac – the Jews went and ‎sacrificed the lamb. They killed the god of Egypt. The initial sacrifice in Egypt took immense moral ‎fortitude and was the first step in distancing from their depraved descent into Egyptian culture. ‎

A very common Jewish theme is that satisfying the body in not just a necessary evil on the contrary it is a Mitzvah. Food, intimacy and ‎nature are vehicles capable of religious and spiritual growth. Particularly eating of any Korban – an ‎animal offered to Hashem – is an elevating experience. ‎

We now have developed the two components mentioned earlier – shunning evil and doing good. ‎Slaughter of the Korban Pesach was an act distancing from the Evil Egyptians. The subsequent consumption of the lamb is ‎a medium for an inspirational uplift. That is why the two Mitzvohs, Slaughtering and Eating are ‎enumerated separately unlike other Korbonos, because they represent two starkly opposite ‎concepts. In similar vein each commandment has its own time frame – the slaughtering in the ‎afternoon and the eating at night – as they represent two distinct stages. It is only after a period ‎distancing from evil that we can pursue good. ‎

What remains to be explained is why the slaughtering is prohibited whilst in possession of Chometz, ‎but not the eating. The answer is now self explanatory the two notions of Chometz and Slaughter ‎correlate with one another. The slaughter of the Pesach is eradicating evil, by killing the idol of Egypt, ‎and banishing the haughty Chometz conveys a likewise message: how is it possible to kill evil whilst ‎hoarding it in one’s very own larder. This is paradoxical. One runs against the grain of the other. ‎However eating the Korban Pesach whilst in possession of Chometz does not carry a specific ‎prohibition. Many people do good and evil at the same time, not that one excuses the other but the ‎inconsistency is not contradictory. However it is impossible to destroy and eradicate something whilst ‎hanging on to it.‎

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