Pesach: Korban Pesach: Emet L’Yaakov

Nov 17, 2014

Pesach Source Guide

Emet L’Yaakov Parshat Bo, pp. 288-289, 5758 edition.

Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l

[Reprinted with permission of Rav Yaakov zt”l’s grandson.]


(Shemot 12:48) “When a convert will live among you and make a Pesach sacrifice to Hashem he must circumcise all males [in his household] and then come close to make it. He is like the settler in the land, but no uncircumcised one should eat from it.”

Rashi explains: “Perhaps anyone who converts should immediately make it, = should immediately offer a Pesach sacrifice? The Torah teaches us, ‘He is like the native in the land.’ Just like the citizen brings it on the fourteenth, so the convert brings it on the fourteenth.”


Rashi’s question is surprising. Had the Torah not told us that a convert’s Korban Pesach is identical to a native Jew’s, we would have thought that every convert offers a Pesach along with his conversion! In order to understand this Rashi, Rav Yaakov collects a number of observations about the Pesach sacrifice, extracts an approach to the nature of the Korban Pesach and then applies it to the Rashi. His observations:


Anyone who is a habitual idol worshipper is forbidden to eat of it. Rashi on Shemot 12:43 — quoting the Mekhilta.

In the times of Chizkiyah (Divrei Hayamim II 30:81), after the nation refrained from idol worship, the first sacrifice they offered was the Korban Pesach. Scheduling a Korban Pesach close after their national repentence was such a high priority that they went to the trouble of added an extra Adar and making that year a leap year. They even altered from standard procedure for extending the year (see Pesachim 56a).

Similarly, the main repentance of the nation in the times of Yoshiahu was expressed in the offering of the Pesach sacrifice (Divrei Hayamim II 35:1). Immediately preceding this Pesach sacrifice King Yoshiahu removed all idolatry from any lands where the people of Israel dwelled (34:33).

In the book of Ezra also, when the nation separated from the impurity of the foreign nations they offered the Pesach sacrifice (6:19). Verse 21 in that chapter says that “. . . . Anyone who separated from the defilement of the nations of the land . . . ” ate of the Pesach sacrifice.

It seems that the Korban Pesach is a sacrifice brought for pulling away from idolatry, as it is written, “Pull and take for yourselves a sheep. (Shemot 12:21)” The sages say (Mekhilta on the verse), “Pull your hands away from idolatry.”


Therefore one might have thought that anyone who converts must bring a Pesach sacrifice on the same day of his conversion. Because this sacrifice, in general, is related to distancing one’s self from the idolatry of the nations, there was special need to let us know, “He will be like the native in the land.”

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