Parsha Halacha

Parshat Vayikra

The Chagigah of the Fourteenth

Sources and Laws

Sponsored by George and Joni White

 Parsha Halacha is underwritten by a grant from Dr. Stephen and Bella Brenner and Dr. Morton Berg in loving memory of Stephen’s father, Shmuel Tzvi ben Pinchas, and Bella’s parents, Avraham ben Yitzchak and Leah bas HaRav Sholom Zev HaCohen

Click here for a print version of this article

The Torah portion of Vayikra is all about the laws of sacrifices. One of the sacrifices offered at this time of the year is the Korban Chagigah (Chagigah sacrifice) which accompanied the Pesach sacrifice. This article will discuss the sources, reasons, and details of this sacrifice.

The Regular Chagigah

The standard Chagigah sacrifice was an obligatory sacrifice that all males were commanded[1] to bring on each of the pilgrimage festivals (Shalosh Regalim). It was a Shelamim sacrifice (peace offering) and as such had the following laws:

●      It could be a male or female ox, sheep or goat, and it could be up to two years old (for a sheep or goat) or three years old (for an ox).[2] In addition, it could be eaten roasted or cooked for two days and the night in between.[3]

The Chagigah of the 14th – Three Opinions

There is a mitzvah to bring a Chagigah sacrifice on Erev Pesach and eat it at the seder before partaking of the Pesach sacrifice.

There are three opinions about the basis of this obligation

1)     Ben Teima (a sage of the time of the Mishnah) says that it is a Biblical obligation, based on the verse[4]וְלֹא־יָלִ֣ין לַבֹּ֔קֶר זֶ֖בַח חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח – “You shall not leave over the fat of the sacrifice of the holiday of Pesach, until the morning.” The חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח (Pesach chag [sacrifice]) is referring to the Pesach sacrifice while the זֶ֖בַח חַ֥ג הַפָּֽסַח (sacrifice of the Pesach chag) is referring to the Chagigah of the 14th. Some say that this opinion is the final halacha.[5]

2)     Others say it is a Rabbinic mitzvah. (See below for the reasons.)[6]

3)     The Rambam is of the opinion that this sacrifice is a non-mandatory Biblical mitzvah (i.e., one who offers it fulfills a mitzvah, but one is not obligated to do so).[7]This is based on a verse[8] which gives instructions as to the laws of this sacrifice but does not command one to bring it.

Reasons for the Rabbinic Obligation

The opinions who say that this sacrifice is not Biblically mandated still rule that by Rabbinic law, this sacrifice is obligatory (in most cases, but see Pesachim 69b). The rabbis enacted this to ensure that one would eat the Pesach sacrifice when (nearly[9]) full. Since people will eat the Chagigah first, they will not be so hungry when eating the Pesach. As to why the Pesach was supposed to be eaten when (nearly) full, the Jerusalem Talmud explains that the reason is to make sure that one not break the bones of the Pesach sacrifice, which is a Biblical violation. If one were allowed to eat the Pesach when hungry they may, in their haste to find enough meat, break a bone.[10]Some say that it is a Biblical obligation to eat the Pesach when full as is the case with all sacrifices.[11] Nevertheless, we eat the Chagigah first since, for the Pesach sacrifice, there is an additional reason to eat it when (nearly) full – so that one not break any bones.[12]

Like the Pesach

According to the first opinion (cited above) that the Chagigah of the 14th is a Torah obligation and is referred to as the “sacrifice of the Chag HaPesach,” the laws of this sacrifice are very similar to that of a Pesach sacrifice. Specifically,

●      It may only be a male sheep or goat in their first year.

●      One may eat it only on the evening of the Seder, and one must roast it rather than cook it before eating it.[13]

●      Nevertheless, one does not have to be full when eating it (see above). It is not clear as to whether one may or may not break any of its bones and whether or not it may be eaten only when part of a group.[14]

Or Not

According to those who say that it isn’t a Biblical obligation to sacrifice the Chagigah of the 14th, this sacrifice is similar to a regular Chagigah or Shelamim. Specifically,[15]

●      It could be a male or female, or an ox, and could be in its second or third year.

●      It could be eaten until the end of the first day of Yom Tov.

●      The Chagigah meat need not be roasted. But see below.

When Sacrificed

Some say that the Chagigah of the 14th could be sacrificed in the morning or afternoon of the 14th.[16] Others say it had to be sacrificed in the afternoon, perhaps before the Tamid sacrifice or perhaps afterwards at the same time as the Pesach sacrifice. [17]

The Fifth Question

The Mishnah (Pesachim 116a) writes out the text of the Mah Nishtana. It includes a question that we no longer ask nowadays:[18] “On all other nights we eat either roasted, stewed, or cooked meat, but on this night, all the meat is roasted.” The Talmud says that this Mishnah follows the opinion of Ben Teima who says that the Chagigah sacrifice was similar to the Pesach sacrifice, as according to the sages there could have been cooked meat at the seder as well, i.e., the Chagigah meat which could be cooked.

The Rambam

The Rambam, however, rules that the Chagigah of the 14th was not mandatory, yet he includes the text of the question about eating only roasted meat in his version of the Mah Nishtanah that was recited in the Temple Era.[19]

Several explanations are given to explain this matter:

●      Rabbinic Law

Some say that, according to the Rambam, the rabbis established that one should eat this Chagigah roasted in order to avoid confusion since the Pesach sacrifice, which was eaten at almost the same time, had to be roasted.[20]

●      Torah Law

Others say[21] that, according to the Rambam, even by Torah law the Chagigah had to be roasted although regarding other matters the two sacrifices are not compared.

●      Only About the Pesach

The Chazon Ish says[22] that the child’s question, that we eat “only roasted meat,” refers to the entire Pesach sacrifice which we eat only roasted. The child is not paying attention to the Chagigah sacrifice as it is not mandatory in some cases.[23]

May we merit to bring the Chagigah sacrifice this year in Yerushalayim!

[1] Deut. 16:15 see Rambam, Laws of Chagigah, 1:1 (regarding Sukkot). See also Exodus 12:14 and Talmud Yerushalmy Chagigah, 1:6 (regarding Pesach) and Deut 16:10 with Chagigah 8a (regarding Shavuot).

[2] Pesachim, 70a and Rambam, Hilchot Maseh hakorbanot 1:11

[3] Pesachim ibid

[4] Exodus 34:25

[5] Tosfot (Pesachim 114b D.H. Shnei)

[6] This is the opinion of the sages in the Mishnah on Pesachim 69b as explained there on page 70a. See Tosfot D.H. Lav Chova

[7] The Rambam (Hilchot Korban Pesach, 10:13) writes that it is not mandatory to bring this chagigah yet he cites a Biblical verse (Deut 16:4) as a source for how long one may eat this sacrifice. The Mahri Kurkusand the Lechem Mishnah (Hilchot Chagigah 2:10) explain that this is a non-mandatory mitzvah.

[8] The verse (Deut. 16:4) says וְלֹא־יָלִ֣ין מִן־הַבָּשָׂ֗ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר תִּזְבַּ֥ח בָּעֶ֛רֶב בַּיּ֥וֹם הָרִאשׁ֖וֹן לַבֹּֽקֶר – “and none of the flesh of what you slaughter on the evening of the first day shall be left until morning.” The Rambam (based on Pesachim 71a) understood this verse to be referring to the Chagigah of the 14th.

[9] One should not be totally full when eating the Pesach as this is considered an achilah gasa (overeating).

[10] Tosfot D.H. Lav Chova on Pesachim 70a

[11] Tosfot HaRashba on Pesachim, ibid, quoted in the Yalkut Biurim of the Metivta Shas. See Rashi D.H. Ein on Pesachim 86a

[12] Mordechai, Seder Pesach, see Yalkut Biurim. See there for other opinions on this matter.

[13] See Pesachim 70a

[14] See Rivan (quoted in Yalkut Biurim)

[15] Pesachim 69b and 70a

[16] Rav Eliyahu Mizrachi in his explanations on the Semag, Lo Ta’aseh 75, quoted in Mishna LeMelech

[17] Mishnah Lemelech, Hilchot Klei HaMikdash, 6:9

[18] The Mishnah omits the question as to why we lean on this night. The Vilna Gaon explains that in the times of the Mishnah, leaning was commonplace and the child wasn’t surprised by it. As such, this question was added later. (See Kol Sofer, quoted in the Yalkut Biurim on Pesachim ibid, that there were always only four questions – corresponding to the four expressions of redemption. So, when the question about eating roast meat became obsolete, it was replaced by the question about leaning).

But see Rambam (Laws of Chametz and Matah 8:2) who says that all five questions were asked in the Temple Era (note of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in his Haggadah).

[19] Hilchot Chametz Umatzah 8:2

[20] Mirkevet HaMishnah cited in Yalkut Biurim on Pesachim 70a

[21] Tzelach on Pesachim 70b, cited in ibid

[22] O.C. Siman 124, cited in ibid

[23] See Pesachim 69b that this Chagigah wasn’t brought on Shabbat, when people were ritually impure or when there was a small number of people sacrificing the Pesach.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!

Add Your Comment