כ״ח באלול ה׳תשע״ג (September 3, 2013)

Pesaḥim 75a-b: Roast on an Open Grill

As we learned yesterday, one of the most fundamental rules about eating the korban Pesah is that it must be roasted whole (see Shmot 12:9). The first Mishna in the perek (74a) offers a basic lesson on how the roasting was done. According to the Mishna, a wooden spit was made from a pomegranate tree and was placed through the body so that the animal could be roasted whole. Other methods were not acceptable, including a metal spit or a grill. The Gemara explains that, were a metal spit to be used, the meat would be cooked by the heat of the metal rather than by the fire, and the command of the Torah is that the meat be roasted by fire.

It was taught in the mishna that one may not roast the Paschal lamb on a grill. Subsequently, the mishna quotes an incident in which Rabban Gamliel instructed his servant to roast the Paschal lamb for him on a grill. The Gemara expresses surprise: Was an incident cited to contradict what was previously stated? The Gemara responds: The mishna is incomplete and is teaching the following: And if it is a perforated grill, so that the fire reaches each part of the meat and the animal will not be roasted from the heat of the grill itself, it is permitted. And with regard to this Rabbi Tzadok said that there was an incident with Rabban Gamliel, who said to his slave Tavi: Go and roast the Paschal lamb for us on the perforated grill.

In explanation of Rabban Gamliel’s preference to roast the sacrifice in this fashion, the Hatam Sofer suggests that it may have been his concern for the ecology of the Land of Israel. Just imagine what would have happened if every Jewish family needed to cut down a pomegranate tree for their korban Pesah. By allowing the use of a grill, many pomegranate trees could be saved.

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