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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Parashat Acharei Mot 5776 A Holy, Delicate Land

Echoes of Eden
Rabbi Ari Kahn
Parashat Acharei Mot 5776
A Holy, Delicate Land

Perhaps reading the parasha from a post-Pesach perspective impacts what we see, but there are one or two comments in this week’s parasha that are particularly apt for this time of year - after the seder, when all of us felt as if we had been redeemed from Egypt.

The book of Vayikra is almost completely devoid of chronological and geographical reference points, giving the book a certain feel of timelessness. Nonetheless, we do know that the context, both geographically and historically, is somewhere between Egypt and the Promised Land:

Do not follow the ways of the Land of Egypt where you lived, nor of the Land of Canaan, where I will be bringing you. Do not follow [any] of their customs. (Vayikra 18:3)

As an introduction to a set of laws that create a new morality, the Torah warns against the practices of these depraved nations, and then proceeds to list forbidden sexual relations and practices. At the end of the list, an additional consideration is introduced: Not only are these behaviors wrong from the Torah’s perspective, but the Land of Israel – the Holy Land - cannot tolerate depravity of this sort:

Do not let yourselves be defiled by any of these acts. It was as a result of these behaviors that the nations that I am driving away before you became defiled. The land became defiled, and I held them responsible for the sins committed there, and the Land vomited out its inhabitants…The people who lived in the land before you did all these disgusting perversions and defiled the land. But [you shall not cause] the land to vomit you out by defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was there before you. (Vayikra 18:24-28)

There is a price to be paid for holiness; the spiritual constitution of the Land of Israel cannot tolerate sin – certainly not certain types of sin. It was this profound holiness, reflected in the laws unique to the Land of Israel (particularly the agricultural laws, designed to create a more caring and cohesive society) that scared off many a settler throughout the centuries. “Am I on a high enough spiritual level,” they wondered, “to live in such a holy place?” They additional laws, and the more exacting level of Divine scrutiny, were frightening. After all, this land is described as a place of unique character and characteristics:

The land you are about to occupy is not like Egypt, the place you left, where you could plant seeds and irrigate it by yourself, like a vegetable garden. Rather, the land which you are crossing into is a land of mountains and valleys, which can be irrigated only by the rain. It is therefore a land constantly under Almighty God’s scrutiny; the eyes of the Almighty your God are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. (Dvarim 11:10-12)

God’s constant scrutiny is daunting; who could possibly live under such pressure? Who would willingly subject themself to that? Nonetheless, the tradeoff – the opportunity to live in “God’s palace,” to be close to the Divine, seems like an offer one cannot possibly refuse.

Those who make that leap, those who cross over and settle in the Promised Land, may be tempted see others in a harsh, critical light, and to hold them up to impossibly high standards: “Perhaps they are unworthy, perhaps they will cause all of us to be expelled.” Such self-righteous posturing was anticipated years ago by a famous Kabbalist, Rabbi Avraham Azzulai. Looking back at the verses in this week’s parashah, Rabbi Azzulai drew the opposite conclusion regarding the “others” who live in this land, those perceived as not that holy enough or deserving enough:

And you should know that every person who lives in the Land of Israel is considered a tzaddik (righteous person), including those who do not appear to be tzaddikim. For if he was not righteous, the land would expel him, as it says “a land that vomits out its inhabitants.” Since the land did not vomit him out, he is certainly righteous, even though he appears to be wicked. (Rabbi Avraham Azzulai, Hesed l’Avraham, ma’ayan 3 nahar 12)

The Land of Israel is indeed a holy land, and when we look at ourselves, each of us should make sure that we live up to God’s standards. In order to merit living in the Holy Land, we must reject the sordid behavior of the Egyptians and the Canaanites, and follow the way of God. However, when we look at others, we must never question their right to be in the Holy Land. The fact that the land “tolerates” their presence is proof enough that they are deserving, and holy.

For more in depth study see:

Echoes of Eden

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

(And God Said…) I am Sorry

Echoes of Eden

(And God Said…) I am Sorry

Rabbi Ari Kahn

Every spring, a number of days of commemoration are observed.  Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron, established by the government of Israel, are days in which we honor the memory of the fallen – first for the victims of the Holocaust and then for those who gave their lives to create and defend the State of Israel. On these solemn days, we remember the fallen as individuals, just as we attempt to transmit the lessons learned from tragic loss to the next generation.
Yom HaAtzmaut immediately follows Yom HaZikaron, marking the establishment of the State of Israel and celebrating our continued freedom and sovereignty in our homeland. These three days, clustered together in a very intensive sequence, create a period of national introspection and stock-taking in which we consider, on the one hand, our many achievements and the unprecedented success of the Jewish nation-state, while on the other hand, the extreme sacrifices that were made to achieve our freedom. By creating the juxtaposition between Remembrance Day and Independence Day, this was the underlying message Israel’s founders hoped to convey  - a lesson they apparently learned from the juxtaposition of the solemn fast of Esther and the celebratory holiday of Purim: Our victory, our survival, was made possible by almost-unthinkable sacrifice.
Similarly, the darkness of the Holocaust is contrasted with the dawn of the emerging Jewish state – not to insinuate a correlation or “barter” of six million souls for the establishment of the State, but to help us appreciate the contrast between these two eras through their juxtaposition. The Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel should be seen as polar opposites – not only in the political or physical sense, but also, as Rabbi Soloveitchik encouraged us to understand them, in terms of their theological implications.
The Holocaust is an archetypical example of darkness, of the hester panim (literally “hidden face”) mentioned in the book of D’varim: “I will surely hide my face on that day…” (31:18). Conversely, the establishment of the modern State of Israel is a revelation of God’s presence and active involvement in Jewish history, a dazzling gilui panim (revelation) in which God’s hand is unmistakable. The contrast between the darkness that we experienced and the emergence into the light and warmth of modern Israel is almost startling.
In a very real sense, the relationship between God and the Jewish people may be likened to the cycle of the moon, which disappears and then reappears, at first as a sliver, and eventually as a full moon. A brief rabbinic comment regarding the new moon may help us reframe this strange shift from darkness to light from a theocentric perspective: On each holiday, we are commanded to sacrifice a sin-offering, just as a sin-offering is brought on the eve of every new month. However, the biblical passage that describes the sin-offering on Rosh Hodesh – the new moon – differs from all the others. In all other instances, the Torah refers simply to the “sin-offering.” Only the sacrifice brought on Rosh Hodesh is described as “a sin-offering for God” (B’midbar 28:15). The Talmud (Hullin 60b) offers a philosophical explanation for this anomaly: God asks that a sin offering be brought each month to atone for His own sin – the sin of diminishing the moon.
The implications of this teaching are extraordinary, and they speak to the very core of our reality.  The world was created with a delicate balance between light and darkness, between clarity and obscurity, between revelation and hester panim. Presumably, this balance is necessary in order to create an atmosphere in which man can retain free will, which is the very foundation of our independent existence.  In a world in which God’s constant, active involvement in human history is always apparent, free will is eclipsed, and man cannot thrive. Ultimately, the periods of darkness, the terrible bouts of existential loneliness, are as spiritually beneficial for us as the periods of light. The waves of hester panim, as they are juxtaposed with gilui panim, sharpen our awareness of the Divine and encourage us to seek out the spiritual message contained in the darkness, in the silence, in the pain that precedes the appearance of that sliver of moon. It is the struggle with the darkness that allows us to grow.
And yet, God expresses remorse for inflicting upon us the hours, days, even years of darkness and doubt. God takes responsibility for the pain we must experience. “Pray for Me,” He says. “Bring an offering to atone for My sin. Forgive Me.” By commanding us to bring this offering, God says “Forgive Me for the pain you have experienced.” We might consider this the flip-side of the coin of the human condition: We all, unavoidably, sin. When we do, we turn to God, we desperately pray and plead for forgiveness. Once each month, the proverbial shoe is on the other foot, and God seeks our forgiveness for the pain inherent in the human condition. Can we rejoice in the loving reunion that ensues as the light overcomes the darkness and we realize that the pain was an indispensable stage in our spiritual growth? Do we have the moral fortitude to forgive God?


This essay originally appeared in the Times of Israel, April 28th 2014





Essays and Audio Parshiot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim

Parshiot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim

Please note that there will be a discrepancy between the readings in Israel and the Diaspora for the next few months. In Israel we read Parashat Kedoshim, and in the Diaspora the previous Parasha - Acharei Mot

New Essay:
Parasha Acharei Mot

Audio: -Acharei Mot

Going to Azazel

How Yom Kippur Works

Molach Submission And Ecstasy

The Metaphysical Component

Audio: -Kedoshim
The Holy and Delicate Constitution of the Land of Israel

Don’t Do Unto Others What Is Hateful To You

The Spirit Of The Law

Flowers in Shul and Chukat Akum

Is there a prohibition to hear music during the Omer (Hebrew)

וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ חלק א'

וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ...המשך

Honoring Parents in Dysfunctional Relationships

Essays:
A Nation of Priests 

Rectification

Creating Holiness


Parashat Kedoshim:





video
Honoring Parents in Model & Difficult Relationships



Monday, April 18, 2016

In Search of Chametz

Echoes of Eden     
     Rabbi Ari Kahn
Pesach 5776
                             In Search of Chametz          
  
I. Pesach and Matzah

While the seven day festival commemorated each year in the spring is now known as Chag haPesach (Passover),[1] the Torah consistently refers to this holiday as Chag haMatzot – the holiday of matzah. The biblical name for the evening prior to this seven day holiday, the day on which the Paschal offering was brought- the day commonly referred to in modern parlance as “erev Pesach” - is, in fact, referred to in the Torah as Pesach. Each of these names, “Chag haPesach” and Chag haMatzot,” is applied to a distinct holiday, reflecting the major obligations of each of these respective days: Sacrificing the Korban Pesach, on the one hand, and eating matzah, on the other.

There is, however, one major element that is not expressed in these names; apparently, this third element is the flip side of the coin, as it were: We are commanded to eat matzah (unleavened bread), and, at the same time, chametz (leavened bread) is prohibited. And although this aspect is not given expression in the name of the holiday, the avoidance of chametz may be the real essence of the holiday, and it is this aspect which occupies our thoughts and energies in the days leading up to Passover.

In Jewish theology, the avoidance of chametz is associated with the understanding that chametz is a symbol of the evil inclination, and of sin. The earliest source for this association is a brief passage in the Talmud in which chametz (or, to be more precise, a leavening agent) is used as a metaphor for man’s weakness in the face of the evil inclination:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף יז עמוד א
וְרַבִּי אַלֶכְּסַנְדְּרִי, בָּתַר דְּמַצְלֵי, אָמַר הָכִי, רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לְפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁרְצוֹנֵנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ, וּמִי מְעַכֵּב? שְׂאוֹר שֶׁבָּעִסָּה וְשִׁעְבּוּד גָּלֻיּוֹת. יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁתַּצִילֵנוּ מִיָדָם וּמֵאַחֲרֵינוּ, וְנָשׁוּב לַעֲשׂוֹת חֻוקֵּי רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם.
R. Alexandri, when he finished praying, would add the following: Sovereign of the Universe, it is known full well to You that our will is to do Your will. What prevents us (from doing so)? The yeast in the dough and our subjugation to foreign powers. May it be Your will to deliver us from their hand, so that we may return to performing the statutes of Your will with a perfect heart! (Talmud Bavli, Brachot 17a)

This passage has nothing to do with Passover or preparation for the holiday; rather, the identification of chametz – or se’or (yeast) is primarily a metaphor. Nonetheless, this single and singular passage has wielded a great deal of influence, and is the source of the angst experienced by many Jews as the holiday approaches.

The equation this passage creates between chametz and sin gives rise to many question, foremost of which is this: If leaven, and specifically bread, are representations of evil, why is it ever allowed? Why is bread not relegated to the same category as other forbidden foodstuffs, banished from the Jewish diet along with pork, shellfish and other proscribed foods? Why is abstaining from chametz commanded for only one week a year?

II. Chametz and Matzah

In order to understand the very particular commandment regarding Pesach, we must have a more in-depth understanding of the relationship between chametz and matzah, both in terms of the narrative of the Passover story and other areas of the Torah.

On a fundamental level, the terms chametz and matzah are seen as two sides of the same coin: They appear in tandem, and are presented by the Torah as polar opposites. When the Israelites are first given instructions regarding the holiday they will observe in the future, the Torah instructs them - in the same breath - not only to eat matzah, but to search out, destroy, and most certainly not eat leaven:

שמות פרק יב: טו-כ
שִׁבְעַ֤ת יָמִים֙ מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵ֔לוּ אַ֚ךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁ֔וֹן תַּשְׁבִּ֥יתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם כִּי׀ כָּל־אֹכֵל חָמֵ֗ץ וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מִיּ֥וֹם הָרִאשֹׁן עַד־י֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִעִֽי: וּבַיּ֤וֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן֙ מִקְרָא־קֹ֔דֶשׁ וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י מִקְרָא־קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם כָּל־מְלָאכָה֙ לֹא־יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶ֔ם אַ֚ךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכָל־ נֶ֔פֶשׁ ה֥וּא לְבַדּוֹ יֵעָשֶׂ֥ה לָכֶֽם: וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֘ אֶת־הַמַּצּוֹת֒ כִּ֗י בְּעֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּ֔ה הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֶת־צִבְאוֹתֵיכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֞ם אֶת־הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּ֛ה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם חֻקַּ֥ת עוֹלָֽם: בָּרִאשֹׁ֡ן בְּאַרְבָּעָה֩ עָשָׂ֨ר י֤וֹם לַחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ בָּעֶ֔רֶב תֹּאכְלוּ מַצֹּת עַ֠ד יוֹם הָאֶחָ֧ד וְעֶשְׂרִ֛ים לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעָֽרֶב: שִׁבְעַת יָמִ֔ים שְׂאֹ֕ר לֹ֥א יִמָּצֵא בְּבָתֵּיכֶם כִּי׀ כָּל־אֹכֵל מַחְמֶ֗צֶת וְנִכְרְתָ֞ה הַנֶּ֤פֶשׁ הַהִוא֙ מֵעֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בַּגֵּר וּבְאֶזְרַ֥ח הָאָֽרֶץ: כָּל־מַחְמֶצֶת לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ בְּכֹל֙ מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶ֔ם תֹּאכְלוּ מַצּֽוֹת:
Eat matzah for seven days. By the first day, you must have your homes cleared of all leaven, for whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day will have his soul cut off from Israel. The first day shall be a sacred holiday, and the seventh day shall [also] be a sacred holiday. No work may be done on these [days], except for [work] which is needed so that everyone will be able to eat. Be careful regarding the matzot, for on this very day I will have brought your masses out of Egypt. You must carefully keep this day for all generations; it is a law for all times. From the 14th day of the first month in the evening, until the night of the 21st day of the month, you must eat [only] matzot. During [these] seven days, no leaven may be found in your homes. If someone eats anything leavened his soul shall be cut off from the community of Israel. [This is true] whether he is a proselyte or a person born into the nation. You must not eat anything leavened. In all the areas where you live, eat matzot. (Shmot 12:15-20)

In the same chapter, as the narrative describes the Jews’ departure from Egypt, these two opposites are again mentioned:

שמות פרק יב:לט
וַיֹּאפוּ אֶת־הַבָּצֵק אֲשֶׁר הוֹצִיאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם עֻגֹת מַצּוֹת כִּי לֹא חָמֵץ כִּֽי־גֹרְשׁוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם וְלֹא יָֽכְלוּ לְהִתְמַהְמֵהַּ וְגַם־צֵדָה לֹא־עָשׂוּ לָהֶֽם:
[The Israelites] baked the dough that they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened (matzah) cakes, since it had not risen. They had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any other provisions. (Shmot 12:39)

Once again, we are told, there is only one or the other: There was no chametz, therefore there was matzah – or, because there was matzah, there was no chametz and vice versa.

What is surprising, though, is the account of the very first “seder” held in the Israelites’ homes in Egypt on the night prior to the Exodus: They received very detailed instructions about how to prepare for this very special night, how to bring the required offering, how to eat the festive meal: The Korban Pesach was to be eaten with matzah, but there is no mention of any prohibition regarding chametz:

שמות פרק יב:ח
וְאָכְלוּ אֶת־הַבָּשָׂר בַּלּיְלָה הַזֶּה צְלִי־אֵשׁ וּמַצּוֹת עַל־מְרֹרִים יֹאכְלֻֽהוּ:
Eat the [sacrificial] meat on this night, roasted over fire, with matzah and bitter herbs. (Shmot 12:8)

We might posit that leaven was disallowed only after the Jews left Egypt in haste and the dough had no time to rise; prior to the Exodus, matzah was commanded – because that is how the Passover offering is eaten – yet it was not yet necessary to prohibit chametz.

Alternatively, we may infer from this anomaly that the prohibition of chametz is associated with the holiday of Chag haMatzot – and not with the festival of Pesach.[2] This may be borne out by an additional instance in which matzot are eaten with the sacrifice of a paschal lamb, but chametz is not prohibited: “Pesach Sheni.” As in the first Pesach celebrated in Egypt, Chag haMatzot was not celebrated by those who were unable to bring their sacrifice at the appointed time. As in Egypt, those who could not celebrate Pesach at the proper time celebrated the second, “mini” Chag haPesach, and ate their sacrificial meal with matzot, although there was no prohibition against chametz.[3] Eating the Korban with matzah was part of the mitzvah of Pesach, but was distinct from the eating of matzah on Chag haMatzot -- which is always accompanied by the prohibition of chametz.[4]

III. Spring Time

We have examined the verses that instructed the Israelites regarding Pesach in Egypt. In the chapter that follows these instructions, we find an additional discussion of chametz and matzah, but in this second presentation, the Torah very subtly introduces a new factor:
שמות פרק יג:א
וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹֽר: קַדֶּשׁ־לִי כָל־בְּכוֹר פֶּטֶר כָּל־רֶחֶם בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בָּאָדָם וּבַבְּהֵמָה לִי הֽוּא: וַיֹּ֨אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־הָעָ֗ם זָכ֞וֹר אֶת־הַיּ֤וֹם הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצָאתֶ֤ם מִמִּצְרַ֙יִם֙ מִבֵּית עֲבָדִ֔ים כִּ֚י בְּחֹזֶק יָ֔ד הוֹצִ֧יא ה֛' אֶתְכֶם מִזֶּה וְלֹ֥א יֵאָכֵל חָמֵֽץ:  הַיּוֹם אַתֶּם יֹצְאִים בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִֽיב:  וְהָיָה כִֽי־יְבִֽיאֲךָ ה֡' אֶל־אֶרֶץ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּ֨י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֜י וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִ֗י אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע לַאֲבֹתֶ֙יךָ֙ לָתֶת לָ֔ךְ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ וְעָבַדְתָּ֛ אֶת־הָעֲבֹדָ֥ה הַזֹּאת בַּחֹ֥דֶשׁ הַזֶּֽה: שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִים תֹּאכַל מַצֹּת וּבַיּוֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔י חַג לַהֽ': מַצּוֹת֙ יֵֽאָכֵ֔ל אֵת שִׁבְעַת הַיָּמִים וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֨ה לְךָ֜ חָמֵ֗ץ וְלֹֽא־יֵרָאֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ שְׂאֹר בְּכָל־גְּבֻלֶֽךָ:
God spoke to Moshe, saying, 'Sanctify to Me every first-born that initiates the womb among the Israelites. Among both man and beast, it is Mine.' Moshe said to the people: ‘Remember this day as [the time] you left Egypt, the house of slavery, when God brought you out of here with a show of force, and no leaven may be eaten. Today you are leaving [Egypt], in the month of spring. There will come a time when God will bring you to the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Yevusites that he promised your forefathers to give to you, a land flowing with milk and honey; there you will observe this ritual in this month. Eat matzot for seven days, and make the seventh day a festival to God. Matzot must be eaten for [these] seven days, and no chamtetz and no leavening agents may be seen in your possession in all your territories. (Shmot 13:1-7)

We are commanded to remember the day we left Egypt, and (therefore) not to eat chametz. Additionally, the Torah speaks of eating matzah for seven days and proscribes the possession of chametz or leavening agents. However, sandwiched between these laws is an element that had not been mentioned before: We are told of the connection between the Exodus and spring. Passover must be celebrated specifically in the first month, known as Nisan, and Nisan must fall as the spring begins in the Land of Israel. We should recall here that the responsibility for the sanctification of the new moon, the human determination of the months that comprise the Jewish cycle of festivals, was given to the Israelites as the first stage of the Exodus.[5] However, until this point we could have assumed that an exclusively lunar-based calendar was sufficient. A calendar based exclusively on lunar months, like the Hijri calendar of Islam, is not season-based. Due to the disparity between the average lunar year of 354 days and the average solar year of 365 days, each year the lunar month would be eleven days “earlier” when compared to the solar year – and to the seasons. Hence, an uncorrected lunar calendar would have no “seasonal integrity:” Passover would not necessarily be in the spring; it would be just as likely to fall any other time of the year.

How important is this connection to the seasons, to the natural cycle of the year? Apparently, very important indeed: The next few times Pesach is mentioned, the element of springtime is stressed, and other festivals are added, creating a yearly cycle of three holidays, which leads us to the obvious question: Why is this important? What is the significance of the seasons for the Jewish festivals?

שמות פרק כג:יד-יז
שָׁלֹשׁ רְגָלִ֔ים תָּחֹ֥ג לִי בַּשָּׁנָֽה: אֶת־חַג הַמַּצּוֹת֘ תִּשְׁמֹר֒ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים֩ תֹּאכַ֨ל מַצּ֜וֹת כַּֽאֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִ֗ךָ לְמוֹעֵד֙ חֹדֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב כִּי־בוֹ יָצָאתָ מִמִּצְרָיִם וְלֹא־יֵרָא֥וּ פָנַי רֵיקָֽם: וְחַ֤ג הַקָּצִיר֙ בִּכּוּרֵי מַעֲשֶׂ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר תִּזְרַע בַּשָּׂדֶה וְחַ֤ג הָֽאָסִף֙ בְּצֵאת הַשָּׁנָ֔ה בְּאָסְפְּךָ֥ אֶֽת־מַעֲשֶׂיךָ מִן־הַשָּׂדֶֽה: שָׁלֹ֥שׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה֙ כָּל־זְכוּרְךָ֔ אֶל־פְּנֵי הָאָדֹ֥ן׀ הֽ':
Offer a sacrifice to Me three times each year. Keep the Festival of Matzot; eat matzot for seven days, as I commanded you, during the prescribed time in the month of spring, because this is when you left Egypt, and do not appear before Me empty-handed. [Also keep] the Reaping Festival, [through] the first fruits of your produce that you planted in the field, and the Harvest Festival at the end of the year, when you gather your produce from the field. Three times each year, every male among you must appear before God, Master [of the Universe]. (Shmot 23:14-17)
שמות פרק לד:יח-כו
אֶת־חַג הַמַּצּוֹת֘ תִּשְׁמֹר֒ שִׁבְעַ֨ת יָמִ֜ים תֹּאכַ֤ל מַצּוֹת֙ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִ֔ךָ לְמוֹעֵד חֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב כִּ֚י בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב יָצָאתָ מִמִּצְרָֽיִם:... וְחַ֤ג שָׁבֻעֹת֙ תַּעֲשֶׂה לְךָ֔ בִּכּוּרֵי קְצִיר חִטִּים וְחַג֙ הָֽאָסִ֔יף תְּקוּפַת הַשָּׁנָֽה: שָׁלֹ֥שׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָה יֵרָאֶה֙ כָּל־זְכוּרְךָ֔ אֶת־פְּנֵ֛י הָֽאָדֹ֥ן׀ ה' אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: כִּֽי־אוֹרִ֤ישׁ גּוֹיִם֙ מִפָּנֶ֔יךָ וְהִרְחַבְתִּי אֶת־גְּבֻלֶךָ וְלֹא־יַחְמֹ֥ד אִישׁ֙ אֶֽת־אַרְצְךָ֔ בַּעֲלֹֽתְךָ֗ לֵרָאוֹת֙ אֶת־ פְּנֵי֙ ה' אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ שָׁלֹ֥שׁ פְּעָמִים בַּשָּׁנָֽה: לֹֽא־תִשְׁחַ֥ט עַל־חָמֵץ דַּם־זִבְחִי וְלֹא־יָלִין לַבֹּ֔קֶר זֶבַח חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח: רֵאשִׁ֗ית בִּכּוּרֵי֙ אַדְמָתְךָ֔ תָּבִ֕יא בֵּית ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ לֹא־תְבַשֵּׁ֥ל גְּדִי בַּחֲלֵ֥ב אִמּֽוֹ:
Keep the Festival of Matzahs. Eat matzot for seven days as I commanded, in the designated time in the month of spring, because it was in the month of spring that you left Egypt. The first-born initiating every womb is Mine. Among all your livestock, you must separate out the males of the first-born cattle and sheep. The first-born of a donkey must be redeemed with a sheep, and if it is not redeemed, you must decapitate it. You must [also] redeem every first-born among your sons. Do not appear before Me empty-handed. You may work during the six weekdays, but on Shabbat, you must stop working, ceasing from all plowing and reaping. Keep the Festival of Shavuot through the first fruits of your wheat harvest. Also keep the Harvest Festival soon after the year changes. Three times each year, all your males shall thus present themselves before God the Master, Lord of Israel. When I expel the other nations before you and extend your boundaries, no one will be envious of your land when you go to be seen in God's presence three times each year. Do not slaughter the Passover sacrifice with leaven in your possession. Do not allow the Passover sacrifice to remain overnight until morning. Bring the first fruits of your Land to the Temple of God your Lord. Do not [eat] meat cooked in milk [even that of] its own mother.

When we note the reference to harvest, plowing and reaping, the answer to our question becomes obvious: The three yearly festivals have an inherent agricultural aspect. In order for these holidays to be meaningful they must be connected not only to particular calendric months but to the seasons of the Land of Israel. The holiday of the first fruits and the holiday of the harvest must be in celebrated in their respective seasons, just as Passover must be in the spring. And yet, the identity and contours of Passover as an agricultural holiday remain far more elusive than those of the other two festivals – that is, until we read the following passage in the book of Vayikra:

ויקרא פרק כג: ד-כ
אֵ֚לֶּה מוֹעֲדֵי ה֔' מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־תִּקְרְא֥וּ אֹתָם בְּמוֹעֲדָֽם: בַּחֹדֶשׁ הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן בְּאַרְבָּעָ֥ה עָשָׂ֛ר לַחֹדֶשׁ בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם פֶּסַח לַהֽ': וּבַחֲמִשָּׁ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר יוֹם֙ לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּ֔ה חַ֥ג הַמַּצּוֹת לַה' שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִים מַצּ֥וֹת תֹּאכֵֽלוּ: בַּיּוֹם֙ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן מִקְרָא־קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹ֥א תַעֲשֽׂוּ: וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֥ם אִשֶּׁ֛ה לַה' שִׁבְעַת יָמִים בַּיּ֤וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי֙ מִקְרָא־קֹ֔דֶשׁ כָּל־מְלֶ֥אכֶת עֲבֹדָה לֹ֥א תַעֲשֽׂוּ:
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר: דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם כִּֽי־תָבֹאוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֲנִי֙ נֹתֵן לָכֶ֔ם וּקְצַרְתֶּם אֶת־ קְצִירָהּ וַהֲבֵאתֶ֥ם אֶת־עֹ֛מֶר רֵאשִׁ֥ית קְצִירְכֶם אֶל־הַכֹּהֵֽן: ... וְלֶחֶם֩ וְקָלִ֨י וְכַרְמֶ֜ל לֹא תֹֽאכְל֗וּ עַד־עֶ֙צֶם֙ הַיּוֹם הַזֶּ֔ה עַ֚ד הֲבִיאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־קָרְבַּן אֱלֹהֵיכֶם חֻקַּ֤ת עוֹלָם֙ לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֔ם בְּכֹל מֹשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם: וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִיאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה: עַד מִֽמָּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁה לַהֽ': מִמּוֹשְׁבֹ֨תֵיכֶ֜ם תָּבִיאּוּ׀ לֶחֶם תְּנוּפָ֗ה שְׁ֚תַּיִם שְׁנֵי עֶשְׂרֹנִ֔ים סֹלֶת תִּהְיֶ֔ינָה חָמֵץ תֵּאָפֶינָה בִּכּוּרִים לַֽהֽ': וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם עַל־הַלֶּ֗חֶם שִׁבְעַ֨ת כְּבָשִׂ֤ים תְּמִימִם֙ בְּנֵי שָׁנָ֔ה וּפַ֧ר בֶּן־בָּקָ֛ר אֶחָד וְאֵילִם שְׁנָיִם יִהְי֤וּ עֹלָה֙ לַֽה֔' וּמִנְחָתָם֙ וְנִסְכֵּיהֶ֔ם אִשֵּׁ֥ה רֵֽיחַ־נִיחֹחַ לַהֽ': וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֛ם שְׂעִיר־עִזִּ֥ים אֶחָד לְחַטָּאת וּשְׁנֵ֧י כְבָשִׂ֛ים בְּנֵ֥י שָׁנָה לְזֶ֥בַח שְׁלָמִֽים: וְהֵנִיף הַכֹּהֵן׀ אֹתָ֡ם עַל֩ לֶ֨חֶם הַבִּכֻּרִ֤ים תְּנוּפָה֙ לִפְנֵי ה֔' עַל־שְׁנֵי כְּבָשִׂים קֹ֛דֶשׁ יִהְי֥וּ לַה' לַכֹּהֵֽן:...
These are God's festivals that you must celebrate as sacred holidays at their appropriate times: The afternoon of the 14th day of the first month is God’s Pesach. And on the 15th of that month, it is God's Chag haMatzot, for seven days matzah will be eaten.  The first day shall be a sacred holiday to you, when you may not do any creative work. You shall then bring sacrifices to God for seven days. The seventh day is a sacred holiday when you may not do any creative work.
God spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you come to the land that I am going to give you, and you reap its harvest, you must bring an omer of your first reaping to the kohen… Until the day that you bring this sacrifice to your God, you may not eat bread, roasted grain or fresh grain. This shall be an eternal law for all generations, no matter where you live.
You shall then count seven complete weeks after the day following the holiday when you brought the omer as a wave offering, until the day after the seventh week, for [a total of] 50 days. [On that 50th day] you will present new grain as a meal offering to God. From the land upon which you live, you shall bring two loaves of bread as a wave offering. They shall be made of two-tenths [of an ephah] of wheat meal, and shall be baked as leavened bread. They are the first-harvest offering to God. Together with this bread, you shall sacrifice seven unblemished yearling sheep, one young bull, and two rams. These, along with their meal offerings and libations, shall be a burnt offering to God, a fire offering as an appeasing fragrance to God.   You shall also prepare one goat as a sin offering, and two yearling sheep as peace sacrifices. The kohen shall make the motions prescribed for a wave offering before God with the bread of the first-harvest offering and the two sheep. They belong to the kohen because they are sacred to God. (Vayikra 23:4-20)

Predictably, both Pesach and Chag haMaztot are mentioned; then, a new law is introduced - a law that revolves around bread. The new crop of grain is prohibited until the second day of Chag haMatzot. “Until the day that you bring this sacrifice to your God, you may not eat bread, roasted grain or fresh grain… From the land upon which you live, you shall bring two loaves of bread as a wave offering. They shall be made of two-tenths [of an ephah] of wheat meal, and shall be baked as leavened bread. They are the first-harvest offering to God.”

We may not enjoy the new crop until the omer offering is brought, on the day following the first day of the festival (now known as the first day of Hol HaMoed). Once the crop is “redeemed” in this way, the days and weeks are counted, leading up to the Shavuot holiday. Chag HaMatzot is thus intrinsically connected to Shavuot, the festival on which leavened bread is part of the Temple service. In a mere fifty days, something that had been completely banned, something that is associated with the evil inclination, is transformed into a central part of the service in the Beit HaMikdash!

IV. Chametz in the Beit Hamikdash?

The leavened bread offered on Shavuot seems even more anomalous when seen in the context of the normal grain offering, known as a korban mincha or gift offering. The korban mincha is comprised exclusively of unleavened ingredients; care must be taken that the offering is never tainted with chametz:

ויקרא פרק ב: יא
כָּל־הַמִּנְחָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר תַּקְרִ֙יבוּ֙ לַה֔' לֹ֥א תֵעָשֶׂה חָמֵץ כִּ֤י כָל־שְׂאֹר֙ וְכָל־דְּבַ֔שׁ לֹֽא־תַקְטִ֧ירוּ מִמֶּ֛נּוּ אִשֶּׁה לַֽהֽ':
Do not make any meal offering that is sacrificed to God out of leavened dough, because no leaven or honey may be sacrificed as a fire offering to God. (Vayikra 2:11)

ויקרא פרק ו: ז-יא
וְזֹ֥את תּוֹרַת הַמִּנְחָה הַקְרֵ֨ב אֹתָ֤הּ בְּנֵֽי־אַהֲרֹן֙ לִפְנֵי ה֔' אֶל־פְּנֵי הַמִּזְבֵּֽחַ: וְהֵרִ֨ים מִמֶּ֜נּוּ בְּקֻמְצ֗וֹ מִסֹּ֤לֶת הַמִּנְחָה֙ וּמִשַּׁמְנָ֔הּ וְאֵת֙ כָּל־הַלְּבֹנָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר עַל־הַמִּנְחָה וְהִקְטִיר הַמִּזְבֵּ֗חַ רֵ֧יחַ נִיחֹ֛חַ אַזְכָּרָתָהּ לַהֽ': וְהַנּוֹתֶרֶת מִמֶּ֔נָּה יֹאכְלוּ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מַצּ֤וֹת תֵּֽאָכֵל֙ בְּמָקוֹם קָדֹ֔שׁ בַּחֲצַ֥ר אֹֽהֶל־מוֹעֵד יֹאכְלֽוּהָ: לֹ֤א תֵאָפֶה֙ חָמֵ֔ץ חֶלְקָ֛ם נָתַ֥תִּי אֹתָהּ מֵאִשָּׁי קֹ֤דֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁים֙ הִ֔וא כַּחַטָּאת וְכָאָשָֽׁם: כָּל־זָכָ֞ר בִּבְנֵ֤י אַהֲרֹן֙ יֹֽאכֲלֶ֔נָּה חָק־עוֹלָם֙ לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֔ם מֵאִשֵּׁי ה' כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־יִגַּ֥ע בָּהֶם יִקְדָּֽשׁ:
This is the law of the gift offering: [One of] Aharon's descendants shall offer it before God, [near the place where one ascends] to the Altar. With his three middle fingers he shall lift up some of the wheat meal and oil of the offering, and all the frankincense on the offering. He shall burn [this] on the altar as an appeasing fragrance - it is the memorial portion to God. Aharon and his descendants shall then eat the rest of [the offering]. It must be eaten as unleavened bread in a holy place. They must therefore eat it in the enclosure of the Communion Tent. It shall not be baked as leavened bread. I have given this to them as their portion of My fire offerings, and it is holy of holies, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. Every male among Aharon's descendants may eat it. It is an eternal law for all generations [that it be taken] from God's fire offerings. Any [food] coming in contact with it shall become holy. (Vayikra 6:7-11)

There is, however, another type of offering that includes leavened bread, and this other offering may shed light on the matzah/chametz conundrum: The korban todah, the thanksgiving offering, contains both chametz and matzah:

ויקרא פרק ז: יא-טז
וְזֹ֥את תּוֹרַת זֶבַח הַשְּׁלָמִים אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַקְרִיב לַהֽ': אִם עַל־תּוֹדָה֘ יַקְרִיבֶנּוּ֒ וְהִקְרִיב׀ עַל־זֶבַח הַתּוֹדָ֗ה חַלּ֤וֹת מַצּוֹת֙ בְּלוּלֹת בַּשֶּׁ֔מֶן וּרְקִיקֵ֥י מַצּוֹת מְשֻׁחִים בַּשָּׁמֶן וְסֹלֶת מֻרְבֶּ֔כֶת חַלֹּת בְּלוּלֹ֥ת בַּשָּֽׁמֶן: עַל־חַלֹּת֙ לֶחֶם חָמֵ֔ץ יַקְרִיב קָרְבָּנוֹ עַל־זֶבַח תּוֹדַ֥ת שְׁלָמָֽיו: וְהִקְרִ֨יב מִמֶּ֤נּוּ אֶחָד֙ מִכָּל־קָרְבָּ֔ן תְּרוּמָה לַה' לַכֹּהֵ֗ן הַזֹּרֵ֛ק אֶת־דַּ֥ם הַשְּׁלָמִים ל֥וֹ יִהְיֶֽה: וּבְשַׂ֗ר זֶ֚בַח תּוֹדַת שְׁלָמָ֔יו בְּי֥וֹם קָרְבָּנוֹ יֵאָכֵל לֹֽא־יַנִּ֥יחַ מִמֶּנּוּ עַד־בֹּֽקֶר
This is the law of the peace offering that is sacrificed to God. If it is offered as a thanksgiving offering, then it must be presented along with unleavened loaves mixed with oil, flat matzot saturated with oil, and loaves made of boiled flour mixed with oil.  The sacrifice shall [also] be presented along with loaves of leavened bread. [All these] shall be presented with one's thanksgiving peace offering.  He shall present some of each [of the above four bread] offerings as an elevated gift to God. This shall belong to the kohen who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.  The flesh of the thanksgiving peace offering must be eaten on the day it is offered. None of it may be left over until morning. [However,] if one's sacrifice offering is meant [merely] to fulfill a general vow or a specific pledge, he shall eat it on the same day that he offers his sacrifice, but what is left over may also be eaten on the next day. (Vayikra 7:11-16)

Despite the fact that it contains leavened bread, the korban todah resembles the Korban Pesach in ways that are not shared by other peace offerings: While all other peace offerings may be eaten for two days, both the korban todah and the Korban Pesach may only be eaten on the same night[6] they were brought to the kohen. (In the Beit HaMikdash - as opposed to all other areas of Jewish life - the day begins in the morning, and not on the eve of the previous night; therefore, these two unique offerings must be consumed on the same day they are offered).

The korban todah includes a great quantity of both leavened bread and matzah; all of this bread, together with the offering itself, must be consumed in relative haste. The Netz”iv (R’ Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin), explained that the korban todah was designed to maximize the number of people invited to take part in the thanksgiving feast: Generally, this sort of offering is brought as an expression of an individual’s gratitude to God for some joyous event. This person generally has a story to tell, and this story should be shared with as many people as possible so that they, too, can share in the joy and thanksgiving.[7]

According to the Chatam Sofer (R’ Moshe Sofer), this may explain the strange question posed at the outset of the Pesach seder: “Why on all nights do we eat chametz and matzah, while on this night - only matzah?” In fact, on most nights we do not necessarily consume both “chametz and matzah.” The Chatam Sofer explains that there is one night when we do, in fact, eat both: When the korban todah is eaten. The parallel between the korban todah and the Korban Pesach may have been far more obvious to those who had participated in both offerings than it is to us; hence, when the Beit HaMikdash still functioned, the question was a very fair one: Why is this particular “thanksgiving” offering accompanied by matzah alone, if all other thanksgiving offerings are eaten with a combination of chametz and matzah?[8]

This understanding of the nature of the korban todah thanksgiving offering, coupled with our appreciation of the agricultural aspects of the holiday, leads to a profound insight: The Korban Pesach, with its prohibition of chametz – is only a partial thanksgiving offering; it contains only one of the bread components of a normal thanksgiving offering. As noted by Ramban, the counting of the days (Sefirat haOmer) between Pesach with Shavuot[9] connects these holidays, and, in a way, makes them one. In this sense, Shavuot is the completion of Passover, forming an eight-day festival comparable to Sukkot, with the Sefirat HaOmer period serving as a sort of Hol HaMoed between the two festivals. The leavened bread that is part of the Shavuot celebration is the missing bread from the thanksgiving offering of Pesach: It makes the korban todah complete,[10] turning the Korban Pesach into a complete korban todah.

V. Two Destinations

We now understand that Chag haPesach has many facets; it is an agricultural festival, bound inextricably to the season of the new grain, as well as a celebration of an historical event, the Exodus, and a national/political reaffirmation of Jewish peoplehood. And yet, the overlap between these facets is neither coincidental, accidental nor incidental: The agricultural aspect of the holiday is an expression of the historical/geographical aspect: Merely leaving Egypt was never enough. A simple change of address, or even our emancipation from slavery was never the goal. The Jewish People were tasked with a mission that had not yet been completed as we marched out of Egypt. We had a very specific destination charted; in fact, we had two destinations: On the one hand, the culmination of the Exodus is achieved only when we arrived in the Land of Israel. On the other hand, leaving Egypt necessarily takes us to Mount Sinai, to receive the Torah. Both of these elements were communicated by God to Moshe at their very first “meeting” at the Burning Bush – when the plan was laid out:

שמות פרק ג: ח-יב
וָאֵרֵ֞ד לְהַצִּילוֹ׀ מִיַּד מִצְרַ֗יִם וּֽלְהַעֲלֹתוֹ֘ מִן־הָאָרֶץ הַהִוא֒ אֶל־אֶ֤רֶץ טוֹבָה֙ וּרְחָבָ֔ה אֶל־אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ אֶל־מְק֤וֹם הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ וְהַחִתִּ֔י וְהָֽאֱמֹרִי֙ וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִֽי: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִי שְׁלַחְתִּיךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם תַּֽעַבְדוּן֙ אֶת־הָאֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל הָהָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה:
I have come down to rescue them from the grip of Egypt's power. I will bring them out of that land, to a good, spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, the territory of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Yevusites… 'Because I will be with you,' replied [God]. 'And this will be proof that I have sent you: When you get the people out of Egypt, all of you will then serve God on this mountain.' (Shmot 3:8-12)

The Jewish People have two destinations: The Land of Israel, which flows with milk and honey, and the mountain known as “Horev” or Sinai. Passover is connected to both of these destinations. The Land of Israel is related not only because it is the “promised land,” but because it serves as the anchor and the setting for the agricultural reality which will define their new lives. From the outset, we were told that the Exodus would be incomplete until we arrive in our land, until we work our land and see the land come back to life and bear fruit. The Jewish People that left Egypt were like the mythological phoenix: They were redeemed from a place of servitude and oppression, a place of spiritual blackness, and were reborn. Every time we plant a seed, we relive and reinforce this concept: We take something that seems dead, and place it in the ground as if we are performing a burial. And then, it comes to life. This is our experience every spring – and the reason that Passover must be in the springtime; the connection is organic and essential: In the spring, we celebrate – not the birth of the Jewish people, but the rebirth of a people who became free. As a nation, we regained the physical and political independence that had been denied us for generations.

The second destination, the short stop we needed to take along the way at Mount Sinai, gave us a different kind of freedom. Leaving Egypt was not an open-ended mission, nor was it the exclusive goal. As Moshe told Pharaoh from the very start, the goal was to become emancipated from the theological and ideological slavery of Egypt’s polytheism and idolatry in order to serve God. Only as we stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Torah did we become truly free of Egypt and all that it stood for. The Exodus was building toward a day seven weeks later - the day we call Shavuot. 

VI. The Clinching Argument

The Talmud records a remarkable dialogue which occurred at the summit of Mount Sinai. Moshe ascends into heaven to get the Torah, but is met with stiff opposition. The angels are incensed that the Torah will be given to the “son of woman,” a mere mortal, flesh and blood. Moshe is told to respond to their complaint:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף פח עמוד ב
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעָלָה מֹשֶׁה לַמָּרוֹם, אָמְרוּ מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, מַה לִילוּד אִשָּׁה בֵינֵינוּ? אָמַר לָהֶם, לְקַבֵּל הַתּוֹרָה בָא. אָמְרוּ, לְפָנָיו חֶמְדָה גְּנוּזָה, שֶׁגְּנוּזָה לָךְ תְּשַׁע מֵאוֹת שִׁבְעִים וְאַרְבָּעָה דּוֹרוֹת קוֹדֶם שֶׁנִּבְרָא הָעוֹלָם, אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ לִיתְּנָהּ לְבָּשָׂר וָדָם"? (תהלים ח) "מָה אֱנוֹשׁ כִּי תִזְכְּרֶנוּ? וּבֶן אָדָם כִּי תִפְקְדֶנוּ?" (שם) "ה' אֲדוֹנֵינוּ מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ בְּכֹל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר תְּנָה הוֹדְךָ עַל הַשָּׁמָיִם". אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה, הַחְזֵר לָהֶם תְּשׁוּבָה! אָמַר לְפָנָיו, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, מִתְיָירֵא אֲנִי שֶׁמָּא יִשְׂרְפוּנִי בְהֶבֶל שֶׁבְּפִיהֶם. אָמַר לוֹ, אֱחוֹז בְּכִסֵּא כְּבוֹדִי, וְהַחְזֵר לָהֶם תְּשׁוּבָה. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (איוב כּו) "מְאַחֵז פְּנֵי כִּסֵּא פַּרְשֵׁז עָלָיו עֲנָנוֹ". וְאָמַר רַבִּי נַחוּם, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁפִּירֵשׁ שַׁדַּי מִזִּיו שְׁכִינָתוֹ וַעֲנָנָוֹ עָלָיו. אָמַר לְפָנָיו, רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, תּוֹרָה שֶׁאַתָּה נוֹתֵן לִי, מַה כְּתִיב בָּהּ? (שמות כּ) "אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם". אָמַר לָהֶם, לְמִצְרַיִם יְרַדְתֶּם? לְפַרְעֹה הִשְׁתַּעְבַּדְתֶּם? תּוֹרָה לָמָּה תֵּהֵא לָכֵם? שׁוּב מַה כְּתִיב בָּה? (שם) "לֹא יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים". בֵּין עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים אַתֶּם שְׁרוּיִים שֶׁעוֹבְדִין [דף פּט ע"א] עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים? שׁוּב מַה כְּתִיב בָּהּ? (שם) "זָכוֹר אֶת יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת לְקַדְשׁוֹ". כְּלוּם אַתֶּם עוֹשִׁים מְלָאכָה? שֶׁאַתֶּם צְרִיכִין שְׁבוּת? שׁוּב מַה כְּתִיב בָּהּ? (שם) "לֹא תִּשָּא". מַשָּׂא וּמַתָּן יֵשׁ בֵּינֵכֶם? שׁוּב מַה כְּתִיב בָּהּ? (שם) "כַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךְ וְאֵת אִמֶּךָ". אָב וָאֵם יֵשׁ לָכֶם? שׁוּב מַה כְּתִיב בָּהּ? (שם) "לֹא תִּרְצַח, לֹא תִּנְאָף, לֹא תִּגְנוֹב". קִנְאָה יֵשׁ בֵּינֵיכֶם? יֵצֶר הָרַע יֵשׁ בֵּינֵיכֶם? מִיָּד הוֹדוּ לוֹ לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (תהלים ח) "ה' אֲדוֹנֵינוּ מָה אַדִּיר שִׁמְךָ" וְגוֹ', וְאִלּוּ "תְּנָה הוֹדְךָ עַל הַשָּׁמַיִם", לָא כְּתִיב. מִיָּד כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד נַעֲשָׂה לוֹ אוֹהֵב, וּמָסַר לוֹ דָּבָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (תהלים סח) "עָלִיתָ לַמָּרוֹם שָׁבִיתָ שֶׁבִי, לָקַחְתָ מַתָּנוֹת בָּאָדָם". בִּשְׂכַר שֶׁקְרָאוּךָ "אָדָם" - לָקַחְתָ מַתָּנוֹת. וְאַף מַלְאָךְ הַמָּוֶת מָסַר לוֹ דָּבָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (במדבר יז) "וְיִּתֵּן אֶת הַקְּטֹרֶת וַיְכַפֵּר עַל הָעָם". וְאוֹמֵר, (שם) "וַיַעֲמוֹד בֵּין הַמֵּתִים וּבֵין הַחַיִּים" וְגוֹ'. אִי לָאו דַּאֲמַר לֵיהּ, מְנָא הֲוָה יָדַע?:
R. Joshua b. Levi said: When Moshe ascended on high, the ministering angels said to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Sovereign of the Universe! What business has one born of woman amongst us?” “He has come to receive the Torah,’ answered He to them. [The angels] said to Him, ‘That secret treasure, which You have hidden since nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created, You desire to give to flesh and blood?! ‘What is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him?’ O Lord our God, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! Who has set Your glory [the Torah] upon the Heavens!’ “Respond to them,” the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moshe. ‘Sovereign of the Universe,’ Moshe replied, ‘I fear that they might consume me with the [fiery] breath of their mouths.” “Hold on to the Throne of Glory,’ God said to Moshe, ‘and respond to them, as it is said, ‘He makes him hold on to the face of his throne, and spreads His cloud over him.” R. Nahman observed: This teaches that the Almighty spread the lustre of His Shechinah and cast it as a protection over Moshe. Then Moshe spoke before Him: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! What is written in the Torah which You are about to give me? “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt.” Moshe said he to [the angels], ‘Did you go down to Egypt? Were you enslaved to Pharaoh? Why, then, should the Torah be yours? What else is written in the Torah?” “You shall have no other gods.” “Do you dwell among peoples that engage in idol worship? What else is written in the Torah?” “Remember the Shabbat day, to keep it holy.” “Do you perform work, that you need to rest?” “Again, what is written therein?” “Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain.” “Do you conduct any business dealings among you?” “Again, what is written therein?” “Honor your father and your mother.” “Do you have fathers and mothers? What else is written therein?” “Thou shall not murder. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou Shalt not steal.” “Is there jealousy among you? Is the Evil Inclination among you?” Straightway they conceded to the Holy One, blessed be He, for it is said, ‘O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is thy name, etc. whereas ‘Who has set Thy glory upon the heavens is not written. Immediately each one was moved to love him [Moshe] and transmitted something to him, for it is said, ‘Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast taken spoils [the Torah]; Thou hast received gifts on account of man: as a recompense for their calling you a son of man you received these gifts. The Angel of Death too confided his secret to him, for it is said, ‘And he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people;’ and it is said, ‘and he stood between the dead and the living, etc.’ Had [the Angel of Death] not told it to him, how would he have he known [this secret]? (Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 88b)

The angels argue that mankind is not worthy of the Torah, and Moshe forcefully counters that the angels have no need for the Torah: It is precisely mankind’s imperfection and inadequacy that clinch the argument in Moshe’s favor. Man’s foibles, weaknesses and yetzer hara are the reason we were given the Torah. This reasoning is echoed by the Kli Yakar, who explained why specifically on the holiday of Shavuot leavened bread, which represents the evil inclination, is included in the service: Our evil inclination is the reason why we were allowed to receive the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot.

כלי יקר ויקרא פרק ו:ט
וטעם הרחקת השאור נראה לפרש בשני דרכים. הדרך האחד הוא, כדברי רבי אלכסנדרי שאמר (ברכות יז א) רצוננו לעשות רצונך אלא ששאור שבעיסה מעכב, ... כי על ידי זביחת הקרבן האדם זובח יצרו ויבוקש והנה איננו על כן גם המנחה באה נקיה מן השאור, אמנם שתי הלחם של עצרת באו דוקא חמץ כי אלמלא היצר הרע לא היו התחתונים צריכין אל התורה יותר מן העליונים כי בטענה זו נצח משה המלאכים ואמר כלום יש יצר הרע ביניכם וכו' (שבת פט א), ועוד שמציאות היצר הרע הכרחי ואלמלא הוא לא בנה האדם בית ולא נשא אשה, ובמקום התורה אין לחוש שמא יפרוץ גדרו כי התורה תבלין אליו. אבל התודה היו בו חלת חמץ ומצה כאחד, כי המצה לאות שכבר נכנע בעמל ...
The prohibition of leavened bread may be understood two ways: First, following the teaching of R’ Alexandri, who said (Brachot 17a) “Our will is to do Your will, but the evil inclination hinders us.”… By bringing this sacrifice, we offer up our evil inclination so that it will no longer be found; this is why the gift offering is free of chametz, but the two loaves brought on Shavuot are specifically, purposefully made of leavened bread, for if not for the evil inclination, mortals would have no more need for Torah than the celestial beings, and this was the argument with which Moshe bested the angels…Furthermore, the existence of the evil inclination is essential, because without it man would never build a home and marry…but the korban todah contained both chametz and matzah, to indicate that the [evil inclination] has been vanquished with great effort.(Kli Yakar, Vayikra 6:9)


The Kli Yakar makes reference to the positive aspects of the Evil Inclination as a great motivator, citing a Talmudic passage that treats this same question in depth: The great sages once prayed that the evil inclination be banished, but when this prayer was answered, the world was nearly destroyed:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת יומא דף סט עמוד ב
אָמַר רַב, וְאִיתֵימָא רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן, "בַּיָיא בַיָיא". הַיְינוּ הַאי דְּאַחְרְבֵיהּ לְבֵי מַקְדְּשָׁא, וְקַלְּיֵהּ לְהֵיכָלָא, וְקַטְלִינְהוּ  לְכוּלְהוּ לְצַדִּיקַיָא, וְאַגְלִינְּהוּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל מִן אֲרְעַהוֹן - וַעֲדַיִין מְרַקֵּד בֵּינָן. כְּלוּם יְהַבִתֵּיהּ אֶלָּא לְקַבּוּלֵי בֵיהּ אַגְרָא - לָא אִיהוּ בָעִינָן, וְלָא אַגְרֵיהּ בָּעִינָן. נָפַל לְהוּ פִיתְקָא מֵרְקִיעָא, דְּהוה כָתוּב בָּהּ, "אֱמֶת... אותִיבו בְתַעֲנִיתָא תְלָתָא יוֹמֵי וּתְלָתָא לֵילואתא, מַסְרוהו נִיהֲלִינְהוּ, נָפַק, אֲתָא כִי גוּרְיָא דְנוּרָא מִבֵּית קָדְשֵׁי הַקֳּדָשִׁים. אֲמַר להו נָבִיא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, הַיְינוּ יִצְרָא דַּעֲבוֹדַה זרה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (זכריה ה) "וַיֹּאמֶר, זֹאת הָרִשְׁעָה" וְגוֹ'. בַּהֲדֵי דְתָפְסוה לֵיהּ, אִישְׁתַּמִּיט בִּינִיתָא מִן מַזְיָיה, וְרָמָא קָלָא, ואֲזַל קָלֵיהּ אַרְבַּע מְאָה פַּרְסֵי, אָמְרֵי, הֵיכִי נַעֲבִיד, דִּילְמָא חַס וְשָׁלוֹם מְרֲחֲמֵי עֲלֵיהּ מִן שְׁמַיָּא. אֲמַר לְהוּ נָבִיא, שַׁדְיוּהוּ בְדוּדָא דְאַבְרָא, וְחַפְיוּהוּ לְפוּמיה בְאַבְרָא - דְּאברא משאב שָׁאִיב קָלָא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, (שם) "וַיֹּאמֶר, זֹאת הָרִשְׁעָה וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֹתָהּ אֶל תּוֹךְ הָאֵיפָה, וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת אֶבֶן הָעוֹפֶרֶת אֶל פִּיהָ". אָמְרו, הוֹאִיל וְעֵת רָצוֹן הוּא, נִבָּעֵי רַחֲמֵי עַל יִצְרָא דַעֲבֵירָה, בָּעוּ רַחֲמֵי וְאִמְסַר בִּידַיְיהוּ. אָמַר לְהוּ, חָזוּ, דְּאִי קַטִילְתּוּן לְהַהוּא, כַּלְיָא עָלְמָא. חַבְשׁוּהוּ תְּלָתָא יוֹמֵי, ובָּעו בֵיעֲתָא בַת יוֹמָא בְכָל אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְלֹא אִישְׁתַּכַּח. אָמְרֵי, הֵיכִי נַעֲבִיד? נִיקְטְלֵיהּ?! כּלֵיא עָלְמָא. נִבָּעֵי רַחֲמֵי אפַלְגָא? פַּלְגָא ברְקִיעָא לָא יַהֲבֵי. כַּחְלִינְהוּ לְעֵינֵיהּ וּשְׁבָקוּהוּ, וְאַהֲנֵי דְּלָא מִיגְרֵי לֵיהּ לְאִינַשׁ בִּקְרוּבְתָּא.
What did they cry? Woe, woe, it is [the Evil Inclination] who has destroyed the Sanctuary, burnt the Temple, killed all the righteous, driven all Israel into exile, and he is still dancing around among us! [God] has surely given him to us so that we may receive reward through him. We want neither him, nor reward through him! Thereupon a tablet fell down from heaven for them, upon which the word ‘truth’ was inscribed. … They ordered a fast of three days and three nights, whereupon [the Evil Inclination] surrendered to them, bursting forth from the Holy of Holies like a fiery young lion. Thereupon the prophet said to them: This is the evil desire of idolatry … They said: Since this is a fortuitous moment, let us pray for mercy regarding the evil inclination for sexuality. They prayed for mercy, and he was handed over to them. The prophet said to them: ‘Realize that if you kill him, the world goes down.’ They imprisoned him for three days, then looked in the whole Land of Israel for a fresh egg and could not find one. Thereupon they said: ‘What shall we do now? Shall we kill him? The world would cease to exist. Shall we beg for half-mercy? They do not grant ‘halves’ in heaven. They put out his eyes and let him go. It helped inasmuch as he no longer entices men to commit incest. (Talmud Bavli Yoma 69b)

This Talmudic passage conveys an idea we might not have expected to find in rabbinic literature: The evil inclination – human desire, sexuality, even lust - must be contained, sublimated, but not destroyed. It is part of the life force of mankind, part of what drives human creativity and productivity – and it is also the reason we have been given the Torah: Only by learning and living by the Torah’s guidelines will we be able to sublimate and harness this powerful force.

A second Talmudic passage illustrates this idea in less abstract terms:


תלמוד בבלי מסכת קידושין דף פא עמוד ב
רַבִּי חִייָּא בַּר אַשִׁי הֲוָה רָגִיל, כָּל עִידָן דַּהֲוָה נָפִיל לְאַפֵּיהּ, הֲוָה אָמַר, "הָרַחֲמָן יַצִּילֵנִי מִיֵּצֶר הָרָע". יוֹמָא חַד שְׁמַעְתִּינְהוּ דְּבִיתְהוּ, אָמְרָה, מִכְּדִי, הָא, כַּמָּה שְׁנֵי דְפָרִישׁ לֵיהּ מִינָאִי, מַאי טַעֲמָא קָאָמַר הָכִי? יוֹמָא חֲדָא הֲוָה קָא גָּרִיס בְּגִינְתֵּיהּ, קַשְׁטָה נַפְשָׁהּ, חָלְפָה וְתַנְיָיה קַמֵּיהּ. אָמַר לָה, מַאן אַתְּ? אָמְרָה, אֲנָא חֲרוּתָא, דְּהַדְּרִי מִיּוֹמָא, תָּבְעָהּ. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, אַיְיתִי נִיהֲלִי לְהַךְ רוּמָנָא דְּרֵישׁ צוּצִיתָא, שָׁוַור, אָזַל, אַתְיֵיהּ נִיהֲלָהּ. כִּי אָתָא לְבֵיתֵיהּ, הֲוָה קָא שַׁגְרָא דְּבִיתְהוּ תַּנּוּרָא, סָלִיק וְקָא יָתִיב בְּגַוֵּיהּ. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, מַאי הַאי? אָמַר לָהּ, הָכִי וְהָכִי הֲוָה מַעֲשֶׂה. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, אֲנָא הֲוָאִי. לָא אַשְׁגַּח בָּהּ, עַד דִּיְהָבָה לֵיהּ סִימָנָי. אָמַר לָהּ, אֲנָא מִיהָא לְאִיסוּרָא אִיכַוְּונִי. כָּל יָמָיו שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ צַדִּיק הָיָה מִצְטַעֵר, עַד שֶׁמֵּת בְּאוֹתָהּ מִיתָה.
Every time R. Hiyya b. Abba recited the neffilat apayim[11], he would add, “MayThe Merciful God save me from the Evil Inclination.” One day his wife heard him. “Let us see,” she reflected. “It is so many years that he has held aloof from me. Why then should he pray thus?’ One day, while he was studying in his garden, she adorned herself and repeatedly walked up and down before him. Who are you? he demanded. ‘I am Harutha, and have returned to-day, she replied. He desired her. Said she to him, Bring me that pomegranate from the uppermost bough. He jumped up, and went and brought it to her. When he returned home, his wife was firing the oven, and he climbed up and sat in it. What does this mean!? she demanded. He told her what had happened. It was I, she assured him; but he paid no heed to her until she gave him proof. Nevertheless, said he, my intention was evil.That righteous man [R. Hiyya b. Ashi] was tormented for the rest of his life, until he died because of it. (Talmud Bavli Kiddushin 81b)

R’ Hiyya prayed[12] to defeat the yetzer hara,[13] but his prayer was not answered. He wanted to learn Torah in a pristine environment, free of the distractions of flesh and blood; apparently, the life of asceticism is not what God intended. Torah is given to us in order to contend with the human condition. We cannot have one without the other.

R’ Hiyya’s forlorn wife decided to take her years of loneliness in her own hands. She dressed in an alluring and seductive fashion, perhaps taking her cues from the biblical story of Tamar and Yehudah, and paraded in front of her husband in the hope of enflaming his passion and enticing him. When R’ Hiyya asked her name, she responded, “Charuta,” perhaps a derivative of the word cherut, “freedom.” Was she trying to free herself from the living widowhood her husband had subjected her to? Was she perhaps attempting to free him from his self-imposed “living death?” Or was this simply a sobriquet for a loose woman, as Rashi suggests? Perhaps we, the readers, might see a deeper message in this name: True freedom is achieved through studying Torah – but Torah belongs to those who live with their evil inclination, battle with it rather than banish it.

R’ Hiyya asks the strange paramour to set her price; again, echoing the biblical scene between Tamar and Yehudah, she chooses a symbolic wage. She points to a pomegranate[14] – the fruit that symbolizes being full of mitzvot;[15] alas, the fruit is on a high branch, out of his reach. R’ Hiyya, whom we imagine as frail, pale, ravaged by years spent sequestered in the study hall, suddenly finds the strength to leap up and grab the object of his newly-kindled desire.

The Talmud gives no details of the ensuing scene; from the context, it seems clear that they were intimate. When he returns home, he sees that his wife has lit a fire in the oven, and he tries to commit suicide.[16] In truth, his wife had lit more than one fire that day, but in both cases R’ Hiyya was unable to see those fires as anything but destructive. Even when she reveals her secret and reassures him that he committed no sin, he refuses to believe her. He is unwilling to acknowledge her sexuality, unable to contend with his own desire. She shows him the pomegranate, perhaps to indicate that what he had done was also a mitzvah. But R’ Hiyya was inconsolable; he could not look past his own inability to vanquish his yetzer hara. He saw himself as a sinner, even though the Talmud describes him as tzaddik.

 It appears we have now come full circle: The evil inclination is the se’or sheba’isa, the leavening agent that turns flour and water into bread. On the one hand, it is destructive, and we are commanded to search it out and banish it on the festival of our freedom. On the other hand, chametz has its proper place. Without it, human life would be impossible, and our worship of God would be incomplete. There is one week during the year when we reject the chametz; during the remaining 51 weeks of the year, we eat it and enjoy it. There is even a time of year, on the holiday of Shavuot,[17] when leavened bread becomes a part of the Temple service. That is the very day on which we receive the Torah.

The Torah tells us to love God with all of our hearts.[18] The Talmud finds this turn of phrase troubling, for it sounds as if each individual has more than one heart:

דברים פרק ו: ד-ה
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה֥' אֱלֹהֵינוּ ה֥'׀ אֶחָֽד: וְאָהַבְתָּ֔ אֵת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ:
Listen, Israel, God is our Lord, God is One. Love God your Lord with all your hearts and with all your soul, and with all your might. (Dvarim 6:4,5)
תלמוד בבלי מסכת ברכות דף נד עמוד א
"בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ" - בִּשְׁנֵי יְצָרֶיךָ, בְּיֵצֶר טוֹב וּבְיֵצֶר הרָע
“With all your hearts:” With both inclinations, the good inclination and the evil inclination. (Talmud Bavli Brachot 54a)

Real love of God means serving Him with both of our inclinations, the good and the evil. Real love of God does not require that we destroy the yetzer hara, nor does it require that we remove ourselves from normal human interaction. Rather, we are commanded to channel our desire, to focus our human nature, even – or perhaps especially - the “evil inclination,” on constructive service of God. This is the reason chametz is permitted all year round: We eat it; we share it; we use it to tell others about the great kindness God has shown us. One week a year, though, we put it aside. We symbolically hunt down our evil inclination, remove it from our lives, even destroy it completely, while the rest of the year we channel, subdue, and subjugate it – and that is why God took us out of Egypt, gave us the Torah and took us to the Promised Land.

For more material on Pesach see:





[1] This shift in the names of the festival may be seen as early as the Talmudic period.
[2] This thesis would be countered by the verse in Shmot 32:25, and see next note.
שמות פרק לד
(כה) לֹֽא־תִשְׁחַ֥ט עַל־חָמֵ֖ץ דַּם־זִבְחִ֑י וְלֹא־יָלִ֣ין לַבֹּ֔קֶר זֶ֖בַח חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח:

[3]  While the plain reading of the biblical text, the “Pshuto shel Mikra” –, does not reveal a prohibition of chametz in Egypt, nonetheless the rabbinic tradition does presume such a prohibition, see Tosefta Pesachim 8:21, and Talmud Bavli Pesachim 28b, and 96b.
תוספתא מסכת פסחים (ליברמן) פרק ח הלכה כא
פסח מצרים נוהג כל שבעה פסח דורות כיוצא בו ר' יוסה הגלילי אומ' אומ' אני שלא נאסר חמץ במצרים אלא יום אחד שנ' לא יאכל חמץ היום.`
[4] See Bamidbar 9:9-12: All aspects of Pesach are to be observed; Chag haMatzot is not mentioned.
במדבר פרק ט:ט-יב
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר ה֖' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר: דַּבֵּ֛ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לֵאמֹ֑ר אִ֣ישׁ אִ֣ישׁ כִּי־יִהְיֶֽה־טָמֵ֣א׀ לָנֶ֡פֶשׁ אוֹ֩ בְדֶ֨רֶךְ רְחֹקָ֜ה לָכֶ֗ם א֚וֹ לְדֹרֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְעָ֥שָׂה פֶ֖סַח לַהֽ':  בַּחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בְּאַרְבָּעָ֨ה עָשָׂ֥ר י֛וֹם בֵּ֥ין הָעַרְבַּ֖יִם יַעֲשׂ֣וּ אֹת֑וֹ עַל־מַצּ֥וֹת וּמְרֹרִ֖ים יֹאכְלֻֽהוּ: לֹֽא־יַשְׁאִ֤ירוּ מִמֶּ֙נּוּ֙ עַד־בֹּ֔קֶר וְעֶ֖צֶם לֹ֣א יִשְׁבְּרוּ־ב֑וֹ כְּכָל־חֻקַּ֥ת הַפֶּ֖סַח יַעֲשׂ֥וּ אֹתֽוֹ:
“God spoke to Moshe, telling him: ‘Speak to the Israelites, saying: “If any person is ritually unclean from contact with the dead, or is on a distant journey, whether among you [now] or in future generations, he shall still have the opportunity to prepare God's Pesach offering. He shall prepare it on the afternoon of the 14th of the second month, and shall eat it with matzot and bitter herbs. He shall not leave any of it over until morning, and not break any bone in it. He shall thus prepare it according to all the rules of the [regular] Pesach offering.”
[5] Shmot 12:1-3.
שמות פרק יב: א-ג
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה֙' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאֶֽל־אַהֲרֹ֔ן בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לֵאמֹֽר: הַחֹ֧דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֛ה לָכֶ֖ם רֹ֣אשׁ חֳדָשִׁ֑ים רִאשׁ֥וֹן הוּא֙ לָכֶ֔ם לְחָדְשֵׁ֖י הַשָּׁנָֽה: דַּבְּר֗וּ אֶֽל־כָּל־עֲדַ֤ת יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר בֶּעָשֹׂ֖ר לַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַזֶּ֑ה וְיִקְח֣וּ לָהֶ֗ם אִ֛ישׁ שֶׂ֥ה לְבֵית־אָבֹ֖ת שֶׂ֥ה לַבָּֽיִת:
[6] Our sages debated whether or not the Korban Pesach can be eaten the entire night or only until midnight, and whether the limitation is on a biblical or a rabbinic level. Similarly, the Mishnah states that the korban todah must be consumed by midnight. See Mishna Brachot 1:1, Zevachim 5:6-8, Talmud Bavli Pesachim 120b.
משנה מסכת ברכות פרק א:א
 וְלֹא זוֹ בִּלְבַד, אֶלָּא כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים עַד חֲצוֹת, מִצְוָתָן עַד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עַמּוּד הַשָּׁחַר. הֶקְטֵר חֲלָבִים וְאֵבָרִים, מִצְוָתָן עַד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עַמּוּד הַשָּׁחַר. וְכָל הַנֶּאֱכָלִין לְיוֹם אֶחָד, מִצְוָתָן עַד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר. אִם כֵּן, לָמָּה אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים עַד חֲצוֹת, כְּדֵי לְהַרְחִיק אֶת הָאָדָם מִן הָעֲבֵירָה:
משנה מסכת זבחים פרק ה
(ו) הַתּוֹדָה וְאֵל נָזִיר, קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים, שְׁחִיטָתָן בְּכָל מָקוֹם בָּעֲזָרָה, וְדָמָן טָעוּן שְׁתֵּי מַתָּנוֹת שֶׁהֵן אַרְבַּע, וְנֶאֱכָלִין בְּכָל הָעִיר לְכָל אָדָם בְּכָל מַאֲכָל לְיוֹם וָלַיְלָה עַד חֲצוֹת. הַמּוּרָם מֵהֶם כַּיּוֹצֵא בָהֶם, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמּוּרָם נֶאֱכָל לַכֹּהֲנִים לִנְשֵׁיהֶם וְלִבְנֵיהֶם וּלְעַבְדֵיהֶם:
(ז) שְׁלָמִים, קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים, שְׁחִיטָתָן בְּכָל מָקוֹם בָּעֲזָרָה, וְדָמָן טָעוּן שְׁתֵּי מַתָּנוֹת שֶׁהֵן אַרְבַּע, וְנֶאֱכָלִין בְּכָל הָעִיר לְכָל אָדָם בְּכָל מַאֲכָל לִשְׁנֵי יָמִים וְלַיְלָה אֶחָד. הַמּוּרָם מֵהֶם כַּיּוֹצֵא בָהֶם, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַמּוּרָם נֶאֱכָל לַכֹּהֲנִים, לִנְשֵׁיהֶם וְלִבְנֵיהֶם וּלְעַבְדֵיהֶם:
(ח) הַבְּכוֹר וְהַמַּעֲשֵׂר וְהַפֶּסַח, קָדָשִׁים קַלִּים, שְׁחִיטָתָן בְּכָל מָקוֹם בָּעֲזָרָה, וְדָמָן טָעוּן מַתָּנָה אֶחָת, וּבִלְבָד שֶׁיִּתֵּן כְּנֶגֶד הַיְסוֹד. שִׁנָּה בַאֲכִילָתָן, הַבְּכוֹר נֶאֱכָל לַכֹּהֲנִים, וְהַמַּעֲשֵׂר לְכָל אָדָם, וְנֶאֱכָלִין בְּכָל הָעִיר (לְכָל אָדָם) בְּכָל מַאֲכָל לִשְׁנֵי יָמִים וְלַיְלָה אֶחָד. הַפֶּסַח אֵינוֹ נֶאֱכָל אֶלָּא בַלַּיְלָה, וְאֵינוֹ נֶאֱכָל אֶלָּא עַד חֲצוֹת, וְאֵינוֹ נֶאֱכָל אֶלָּא לִמְנוּיָיו, וְאֵינוֹ נֶאֳכָל אֶלָּא צָלִי:
תלמוד בבלי מסכת פסחים דף קכ עמוד ב
דתניא: ואכלו את הבשר בלילה הזה, רבי אלעזר בן עזריה אומר: נאמר כאן בלילה הזה ונאמר להלן ועברתי בארץ מצרים בלילה הזה מה להלן עד חצות - אף כאן עד חצות. - אמר לו רבי עקיבא: והלא נאמר חפזון - עד שעת חפזון. אם כן מה תלמוד לומר בלילה - יכול יהא נאכל כקדשים ביום - תלמוד לומר בלילה - בלילה הוא נאכל, ואינו נאכל ביום. ורבי עקיבא, האי הזה מאי עביד ליה? - מיבעי ליה למעוטי לילה אחר הוא דאתא. סלקא דעתך אמינא: הואיל ופסח קדשים קלים ושלמים קדשים קלים, מה שלמים נאכלים לשני ימים ולילה אחד - אף פסח, אוקים לילות במקום ימים, ויהא נאכל לשני לילות ויום אחד - כתב רחמנא הזה. ורבי אלעזר בן עזריה אמר לך: מלא תותירו עד בקר נפקא הא. ורבי עקיבא אמר לך: אי לא כתב רחמנא הזה - הוה אמינא: מאי בקר - בקר שני. ורבי אלעזר אמר לך: כל היכא דכתב, בקר - בקר ראשון הוא.

[7] This idea may be based on the Abravanel, Vayikra 7:11-21.
אברבנאל על ויקרא - פרק ז פסוק יא-כא
"אם על תודה יקריבנו והקריב על זבח התודה חלות מצות" וגו'. ושיהיה לכהנים מהם בשר ולחם, רוצה לומר: בשר חזה ושוק, ולחם מצה וחמץ "אחד מכל קרבן", ושאר הבשר והלחם נאכל לבעלים. וטעם הלחם הזה לשלמי תודה, כדי להגדיל השמחה ולהשלימה לכהנים ולבעלים, כדרך שעושים בני אדם בשעת שמחתם, שהם שמחים ומשמחים את רעיהם. ולפי שבזמן הגאולה העתידה יזבחו זבחי צדק שהם השלמים, וכמו שכתוב: "והביאותים אל הר קדשי ושמחתים בבית תפלתי עולתיהם וזבחיהם לרצון על מזבחי" (ישעיה נו, ז), ויזבחו זבחי תודה וישמחו בם הכהנים והבעלים. אמר הנביא: "כי פדה יי' את יעקב וגאלו מיד חזק ממנו, ובאו ורננו במרום ציון ונהרו אל טוב יהוה על דגן ועל תירש ועל יצהר ועל בני צאן ובקר והיתה נפשם כגן רוה ולא יוסיפו לדאבה עוד" (ירמיה לא, י-יא). וכתיב: "אז תשמח בתולה במחול וגו', ורויתי נפש הכהנים דשן ועמי את טובי ישבעו נאם יי'" (שם שם, יב-יג). הנה בני בקר וצאן - אלו הם השלמים. והדגן והתירוש והיצהר - רמז ללחמי מצות בלולות בשמן. והתירוש, עם היות שלא בא עם השלמים לשתיה, היו שותים הכהנים יין של תרומה או של חולין בסעודת השלמים ההם. וכן הבעלים היו שותים יין של חולין, דכתיב: "וזבחת שלמים ואכלת שם ושמחת לפני יי' אלהיך" (דברים כז, ז). ואין שמחה אלא ביין, דכתיב (תהלים קד, טו): "ויין ישמח לבב אנוש" (פסחים קט, א). וכן מצינו בדוד, ששלח אשישה אחת יין עם אשפר השלמים.
העמק דבר על ויקרא פרק ז פסוק יג
על חלת לחם חמץ יקריב קרבנו. משמעות המקרא דתכלית הקרבן הוא חלות לחם חמץ. ומשום זה מפרש עוד המקרא על זבח תודת שלמיו. מש"ה לחם חמץ הוא עיקר משום שהוא זבח תודת שלמיו. והענין דתכלית תודה שבא על הנס הוא כדי לספר חסדי ה' שגמל עליו (והיינו דכתיב בהלל. לך אזבח זבח תודה ובשם ה' אקרא נדרי לה' אשלם נגדה נא לכל עמו בחצרות בית ה' בתוככי ירושלים. ויש להבין המאמר שישלם נדרו נגד כל עמו ומה זה שבח. והרי ה' דורש מן האדם שיהי הצנע לכת עם אלהיו. ותו ק' מה שמסיים בתוככי ירושלים. והרי בחצרות בית ה' הוא בירושלים ואחר שהחל במקומות הגבוהים האיך סיים בכלל ירושלים. אלא תרי מילי קאמר. לך אזבח זבח תודה הוא הקרבן. ובשם ה' אקרא הוא קול תודה לה' צבאות על הנס. וביאר על הבאת הקרבן נדרי לה' אשלם. ועל הודות בשם ה' אמר נגדה נא לכל עמו. דברוב עם שיאכלו עמו את התודה יספר עוז ההשגחה עליו לטובה. וכן ת"י אתני כדון נסוי לכל עמי'. ומדויק בזה דקדוק תיבת נגדה בלי גדש בדל"ת שלא כחק. וכמו נגבה מן נגב. אלא משום שנכלל בזה התיבה גם שורש הגדה והה"א נוסף למקור כמו קרבה משהה ועוד רבים ובא הנו"ן מן נגדה בסגו"ל ולא בקמ"ץ לכלול בו גם הוראת מול ונוכח וכמו שביארנו כ"פ דיש תיבות משונות בניקוד משום דשתי כונות נכללו בה. וביאר עוד על הקרב בחצרות בית ה'. ועל קול תודה בתוככי ירושלים בשעת אכילה:). ומטעם זה ריבה הכתוב בלחם ומיעט בזמן אכילת תודה מכל שלמים. היינו כדי שיהי' מרבה ריעים לסעודה אחת ביום הקרבה והי' ספור הנס לפי רוב אנשים וארבע חלות לכהנים שהן המה ת"ח. וא"כ העיקר אכילה הוא לחם חמץ דמצה הוא לחם עוני ואינו נאכל יפה כמו חמץ כמש"כ התוס' זבחים דע"ה ב' ד"ה שביעית. והיינו דמסיים טעם שלחם חמץ עיקר משום שהוא זבח תודת שלמיו. תודה על שלומו במה שנחלץ מצרה:
[8] Chatam Sofer, Shmot 13:13.
חתם סופר על שמות פרק יג פסוק יג
וזה נ"ל פי' ההגדה מה נשתנה וכו' הלילה הזה כלו מצה, עפ"י פי' האברבנאל ז"ל שבכל הלילות היינו כשאנו אוכלין קרבן תודה ליום ולילה אוכלי' חמץ ומצה שכן מצות תודה והלילה שאנו מקריבי' פסח שהוא תודה על הגאולה יהי' כלו מצה ע"ש ולפע"ד בכלל שאלתו מ"ט בתודה גם המצה הותרה בקצת חמוץ כשיעור הכספת פנים והלילה הזה כלו מצה יהי' המצה כלו מצה בלי שום נדנוד חמוץ אפי' כשיעור הכספת פנים, ובאה התשובה אלו לא הוציא אבותינו הרי אנו ובנינו וכו' רומז לחפזון הנ"ל שלא הי' שיעור להמתין אפי' כדי הכספת פנים.
[9]  See the comments of Ramban, Vayikra 23:37, where he refers to the omer period as the “Chol haMoed” between Pesach and Shavuot.
רמב"ן, ויקרא פרק כג:לו
עצרת היא - וצוה בחג המצות שבעה ימים בקדושה לפניהם ולאחריהם כי כולם קדושים ובתוכם ה', ומנה ממנו תשעה וארבעים יום שבעה שבועות כימי עולם, וקדש יום שמיני כשמיני של חג, והימים הספורים בינתים כחולו של מועד בין הראשון והשמיני בחג, והוא יום מתן תורה שהראם בו את אשו הגדולה ודבריו שמעו מתוך האש. ולכך יקראו רבותינו ז"ל בכל מקום חג השבועות עצרת, כי הוא כיום שמיני של חג שקראו הכתוב כן:
[10] See Ramban, Vayikra 23:17, where he refers to the bread offered on Shavuot as a korban todah.
רמב"ן, ויקרא פרק כג:יז
חמץ תאפינה - צוה הכתוב שתהיינה חמץ, לפי שהם תודה לשם כי חקות קציר שמר לנו, וקרבן התודה יבוא על לחם חמץ. ואולי אסור החמץ מפני שירמוז אל מדת דין, כי נקרא "חמץ" כאשר יקרא היין אשר יקהה חומץ יין וחומץ שכר (במדבר ו ג), והלשון נגזר מלשון מעול וחומץ (תהלים עא ד), כי נגזל מהם טעמם ולא יאכלו, וכן כי יתחמץ לבבי (שם עג כא), יכעוס ויאבד טעמו ממנו. ובעבור שהקרבנות לרצון לשם הנכבד, לא יובאו מן הדברים אשר להם היד החזקה לשנות הטבעים, וכן לא יבאו מן הדברים המתוקים לגמרי כגון הדבש, רק מן הדברים המזוגים, כאשר אמרו בבריאת העולם (ב"ר יב טו) שיתף מדת רחמים במדת הדין ובראו. והנה בחג השבועות שהוא יום מתן תורה יביא הקרבן בדין תודה, כי הוא יום העצרת, והמשכיל יבין. וזה סוד מה שאמרו רבותינו (ויק"ר ט ז), כל הקרבנות בטלין וקרבן תודה אינו בטל לעולם וכו', כי בו מצה וחמץ, כענין בעולם הבא:

[11] Literally, “fell upon his face.”  This section of the liturgy, known as tachanoon, is a prayer for the defeat of our enemies.
[12] Elsewhere, we learn that saying Rabbi Eliezer’s prayer of  “nefilat apayim”was answered. See Bava Metziah 59b.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא מציעא דף נט עמוד א
מההוא מעשה ואילך לא הוה שבקה ליה לרבי אליעזר למיפל על אפיה. אשכחתיה דנפל על אנפיה, אמרה ליה: קום, קטלית לאחי.
“Ima Shalom was R. Eliezer's wife, and sister to R. Gamliel. From the time of this incident onwards she did not permit him to say nefilat apayim … One day, she found him reciting this prayer.. ‘Arise,’ she cried out to him, ‘you have slain my brother!’
סדור תפלה נוסח אשכנז
רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן חָטָאתִי לְפָנֶיךָ. ה' מָלֵא רַחֲמִים. רַחֵם עָלַי וְקַבֵּל תַּחֲנוּנָי: ה' אַל בְּאַפְּךָ תוֹכִיחֵנִי. וְאַל בַּחֲמָתְךָ תְיַסְּרֵנִי: חָנֵּנִי ה'. כִּי אֻמְלַל אָנִי. רְפָאֵנִי ה'. כִּי נִבְהֲלוּ עֲצָמָי: וְנַפְשִׁי נִבְהֲלָה מְאֹד. וְאַתָּה ה' עַד מָתָי: שׁוּבָה ה'. חַלְּצָה נַפְשִׁי. הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ: כִּי אֵין בַּמָּוֶת זִכְרֶךָ. בִּשְׁאוֹל מִי יוֹדֶה לָּךְ: יָגַעְתִּי בְאַנְחָתִי. אַשְֹחֶה בְכָל לַיְלָה מִטָּתִי. בְּדִמְעָתִי עַרְשִֹי אַמְסֶה: עָשְׁשָׁה מִכַּעַס עֵינִי. עָתְקָה בְּכָל צוֹרְרָי: סוּרוּ מִמֶּנִּי כָּל פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן. כִּי שָׁמַע ה' קוֹל בִּכְיִי: שָׁמַע ה' תְּחִנָּתִי. ה' תְּפִלָּתִי יִקָּח: יֵבֹשׁוּ וְיִבָּהֲלוּ מְאֹד כָּל אֹיְבָי. יָשֻׁבוּ יֵבשׁוּ רָגַע:
[13] He associated the yetzer harah with sexuality and therefore stayed away from his wife. His attitude toward sexuality reminds us of that of the angels who questioned the propriety of a man “born of a woman” receiving the Torah. Rav Hiyya seems to think Torah is only for angels, and not for “regular”people. His attitude toward sexuality seems to echo Rabbi Eliezer, whose wife Ima Shalom describes her husband as behaving “as if forced by a demon.” See Talmud Bavli Nedarim 20a
תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדרים דף כ עמוד א
שאלו את אימא שלום: מפני מה )תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדרים דף כ עמוד ב( בניך יפיפין ביותר? אמרה להן: אינו מספר עמי לא בתחלת הלילה ולא בסוף הלילה אלא בחצות הלילה, וכשהוא מספר מגלה טפח ומכסה טפח, ודומה עליו כמי שכפאו שד; ואמרתי לו: מה טעם? ואמר לי: כדי שלא אתן את עיני באשה אחרת, ונמצאו בניו באין לידי ממזרות!
[14] The pomegranate may be an allusion to sexuality. See Song of Songs 4:12,13
שיר השירים פרק ד, יב-יג
 גַּ֥ן׀ נָע֖וּל אֲחֹתִ֣י כַלָּ֑ה גַּ֥ל נָע֖וּל מַעְיָ֥ן חָתֽוּם: (יג) שְׁלָחַ֙יִךְ֙ פַּרְדֵּ֣ס רִמּוֹנִ֔ים עִ֖ם פְּרִ֣י מְגָדִ֑ים כְּפָרִ֖ים עִם־נְרָדִֽים:
פסיקתא זוטרתא (לקח טוב) שיר השירים פרק ד
סימן יב -גן נעול אלו הבחורים שאינם פרוצין בעריות: גל נעול אחותי כלה. אלו הבתולת שנועלות פתחיהן לבעליהן.
סימן יג -לפרדס רמונים. מה הפרדס הזה של רמונים שהוא נאה, כך הם ישראל נאים במעשיהם הטובים. מה הרמונים נאים ומוטעמים, כך ישראל מלאים מצוות. וכן ישראל עתידים להעשות כפרדס רמונים על ידי אליהו:
רש"י שיר השירים פרק ד פסוק יב
גן נעול - על שם צניעות בנות ישראל שאין פורצות בעריות:
[15] See Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 37a.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף לז עמוד א
סוגה בשושנים שאפילו כסוגה של שושנים לא יפרצו בהן פרצות. והיינו דאמר ליה ההוא מינא לרב כהנא: אמריתו נדה שרי לייחודי בהדי גברא, אפשר אש בנעורת ואינה מהבהבת? - אמר ליה: התורה העידה עלינו סוגה בשושנים, שאפילו כסוגה בשושנים - לא יפרצו בהן פרצות. ריש לקיש אמר: מהכא - כפלח הרמון רקתך אפילו ריקנין שבך מלאין מצוות כרמון.

[16] For more cases of rabbis who were enticed and tried to end their lives, see Talmud Bavli Kiddushin 40a.
תלמוד בבלי קידושין דף מ ע"א
דִּתְנִינָא, כָּל הַבָּא דְּבַר עֶרְוָה לְיָדוֹ וְנִצָּל הֵימֶנָּה, עוֹשִׂים לוֹ נֵס. (תהלים קג) "גִּבֹּרֵי כֹחַ עֹשֵׂי דְבָרוֹ לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל דְּבָרוֹ", כְּגוֹן רַבִּי צָדוֹק [וַחֲבֵרָיו. רַבִּי צָדוֹק] , תְּבַעְתֵּיהּ הַהִיא מַטְרוֹנִיתָא, אָמַר לָהּ, חָלַשׁ לִי לִבָּאִי וְלָא מָצִינָא. אִיכָּא מִידִי לְמֵיכַל? אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, אִיכָּא דָבָר טָמֵא. אָמַר לָהּ, מַאי נַפְקָא מִינָהּ, דְּעָבִיד הָא אָכוֹל הָא, שָׁגְרָא תַּנוּרָא, קָא מַנְּחַת לֵיהּ. סָלִיק וְיָתִיב בְּגַוֵּיהּ. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, מַאי הַאי? אָמַר לָהּ, דְּעָבִיד הָא נָפִיל בְּהָא. אָמְרָה לֵיהּ, אִי יָדְעִי כּוּלֵי הַאי, לָא צִעַרְתִּיךְ. רַב כָּהֲנָא הֲוָה מַזְבַּן דִּיקוּלֵי, תְּבַעְתֵּיהּ הַהִיא מַטְרוֹנִיתָא. אָמַר לָהּ, אֵיזִיל אִיקְשִׁיט נַפְשָׁאִי. סָלִיק וְקָא נָפִיל מֵאִיגְרָא לְאַרְעָא. אָתָא אֵלִיָּהוּ קַבְּלֵיהּ, אָמַר לֵיהּ, אַטְרַחְתָּן אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת פַּרְסֵי. אָמַר לֵיהּ, מִי גָּרַם לִי? לָאו עֲנִיּוּתָא? יָהֵב לֵיהּ שִׁיפָא דְּדִינְרֵי:
“For it was taught: He who is tempted with immorality and successfully resists, a miracle is performed for him. “[Bless the Lord, you, His messengers,] you mighty in strength that fulfill his word, hearkening unto the sound of His word.’ (Tehilim 103) Thus, R. Zadok and his companions: R. Zadok was summoned by a certain matron [to immorality]. Said he to her, ‘My heart is faint and I am unable; is there nothing to eat?’ She answered him, ‘There is unkosher food.’ ‘What am I to deduce from this,’ he retorted:’That he who commits this [sexual immorality] may eat this [unkosher food].’ She then fired the oven and was placing [the forbidden meat] in it, when he ascended and sat in it. Said she to him, ‘What is the meaning of this?’ ‘He who commits the one [immorality] falls into the other [the fire of hell],’ was his reply. Had I known that it is so heinous,’ said she, ‘I would not have tormented you.’  R. Kahana was selling baskets, when a certain matron made [immoral] demands upon him. Said he to her, ‘I will first adorn myself.’He [thereupon] ascended and hurled himself from the roof, but Elijah came and caught him. ‘You have troubled me [to come] four hundred parsot,’he reproved him. ‘What caused me [to do it]?He replied, ‘Is it not poverty?’So [Elijah] gave him a shifa [full] of denarii.
[17] See Talmud Bavli, Pesachim 68b.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת פסחים דף סח עמוד ב
ואמר רבי יוחנן: ושניהם מקרא אחד דרשו, כתוב אחד אומר עצרת לה' אלהיך, וכתוב אחד אומר עצרת תהיה לכם. רבי אליעזר סבר: או כולו לה' או כולו לכם. ורבי יהושע סבר: חלקהו, חציו לה' וחציו לכם.
[18] See the Maharal Tiferet Yisrael chapter 30
ספר תפארת ישראל פרק ל
ורבי אבהו אומר שהוא כאילו הקריב תודה וכו'. ביאור זה, כי התודה הוא שיש בו חמץ ומצה (ויקרא ז, יב - יג), ואין לך קרבן שיש בו חמץ ומצה כמו קרבן זה. אף על גב שלא היה קרב על מזבח, מכל מקום 'קרבן' נקרא. ולכן אמרו (ויק"ר ט, ז) כל הקרבנות יהיו בטלים לעתיד, חוץ מקרבן תודה. מפני שיש בו חמץ ומצה, שהם שני דברים חלוקים שאין זה כזה. להודיע כי כל הכחות אשר הם מחולקים, הכל הוא אליו יתברך. ודבר זה ראוי שיהיה הקרבן, כאשר נעשה לו נס והציל אותו מן המיתה, ובזה מודה לו כי האדם הוא אל השם יתברך, שהרי הציל אותו, ושעל זה מביא קרבן תודה. ולא שהוא לבד אל השם יתברך, רק כל הנמצאים וכל חלופי המציאות, הכל הוא אליו יתברך, עד שהוא יתברך הוא אחד, ואין זולתו. ודבר זה יהיה לעתיד, כי יהיה השם יתברך אחד ואין זולתו. ולכך קרבן תודה לא יהיה בטל, כי קרבן תודה מורה כי כל חלופי וחלוקי המציאות אל השם יתברך. וכאשר הכל אל השם יתברך, אז הוא אחד ואין זולתו. ולכך קרבן זה לא יהיה בטל לעתיד.

Echoes of Eden