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Some Pesach Mitzvot

Posted by rabbiart on April 28, 2008

Section 613

A study of the traditional 613 mitzvot (commandments/obligations) according to their order of appearance in the Torah.

This week we cover a number of Mitzvot that all have to do with eating the Pesach offering. These Mitzvot are shown below, and you can read the twelfth chapter of Shemot here.

Mitzvah #7: Not to eat (and therefore not to undercook) the Pesach offering raw or only slightly roasted: Shemot 12:9

Mitzvah #8: Not to leave over any of the Pesach offering to the next day (15th of Nissan): Shemot 12:10

Mitzvah #13: Not to give an apostate Jew any part of the Pesach offering to eat: Shemot 12:43

Mitzvah #14: Not to give a partial proselyte nor a resident alien any part of the Pesach offering to eat: Shemot 12:45

Mitzvah #15: Not to carry any part of the Pesach offering outside of one’s house: Shemot 12:46

Mitzvah #16: Not to break any bone of the Pesach offering: Shemot 12:46

Mitzvah #17: That no uncircumcised person eat of the Pesach offering: Shemot 12:48

We have already explored Mitzvot #5 and #6 which also involve the ritual slaughtering and eating of the Pesach offering. In this issue we examine the remainder of the Mitzvot in Parshat Bo that relate to this offering. First, a review. The captive Israelites have been instructed to separate out from their flocks a one year old lamb (or goat) without blemish. The lamb is chosen on the 10th of Nissan, kept until the 14th. At the beginning of the 14th of Nissan (which becomes Erev Pesach) it is slaughtered, roasted with fire and eaten. The blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel of the houses where the Israelites lived.

At first glance Mitzvot 13, 14 and 17 might appear harsh and “unfriendly”, as they forbid us from sharing the Pesach offering with individuals who are not part of the Jewish people. The reader may disagree, of course, but I believe that there is nothing wrong with saying that there are religious practices that are not appropriate, and therefore not performed, by persons who are not ritually and officially Jewish. The purpose of all of these mitzvot is to recognized, recall and remember what HaShem did for our ncestors in freeing us from the servitude of Mitzrayim (Egypt). An individual who has removed him or herself from the Jewish people should not (and probably would not want to) celebrate what HaShem did for the Jewish people. An individual who may be intending to but has not joined the Jewish people, is not ready to participate in the Jewish conversation with G-d.

If this line of reasoning makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps a simple and deliberately silly analogy will be helpful. Imagine yourself playing a game of baseball with your friends, and someone comes along holding a football. You can welcome the new person to join the baseball game and play a game according to baseball rules. But if he says, I want to use my football, and I want to kick it when its my turn to bat, you explain to him that this is not the baseball game is played. This does not mean that you disrespect the game of football or think a football is a bad thing; you’re simply not playing football – you’re playing baseball. Baseball requires baseball players. Similarly with Jewish observance – it requires Jews, and has to be done according to the rules of Judaism, however we understand them.

Want to learn more about the traditional mitzvot? Start here.

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