Introduction The final mishnah of Pesahim deals with the status of the pesah after it has been left pass the time in which it may be eaten. It also deals with the blessings recited over the pesah and the hagigah, the sacrifice that accompanies the pesah.
The pesah defiles one’s hands after midnight. The pesah sacrifice can be eaten only until midnight (Exodus 12:8). This verse does not actually specify midnight, but this is how it is interpreted by some sages. Since it cannot be eaten after midnight, it becomes “remnant” if it is left over (see Leviticus 7:17-18). The issue of defiling hands is explained below.
Piggul and remnant defile one’s hands. If any one of the four essential procedures (slaughtering, receiving the blood in a vessel, bringing the blood to the altar and sprinkling the blood on the altar) for a sacrifice is done with the intent of eating the sacrifice or burning up its non-eaten parts on the altar after the time in which this must be done the sacrifice is considered “piggul” and it must be burnt (not on the altar). “Remnant” refers to any sacrifice that is left over past the time in which it may be eaten. The sages decreed that piggul defiles the hands so as to discourage priests who wanted make people’s sacrifices into piggul. They decreed that remnant defiles the hands so that priests wouldn’t be lax in eating and then disposing of the sacrifices.
If he recited the blessing for the pesah, he thereby exempts the sacrifice [the hagigah]; [but] if he recited the blessing for the sacrifice [the hagigah], he does not exempt the pesah, the words of Rabbi Ishmael. Rabbi Akiva says: this does not exempt that nor does that exempt this. According to Rabbi Ishmael, the pesah is the more essential of the sacrifices. The hagigah (for an explanation of this sacrifice see above 6:3) accompanies the pesah, but it itself is secondary. Therefore, if one recites the blessing over the pesah (the essential), he is exempt from reciting the blessing over the hagigah, which is only an accompanying sacrifice. But if one recites the blessing over the hagigah he is still obligated to bless over the pesah. Rabbi Akiva, on the other hand, sees both sacrifices as being different, neither “accompanying” the other. Therefore, reciting a blessing over one does not exempt the other. Congratulations! We have finished Pesahim. It is a tradition at this point to thank God for helping us to finish learning the tractate and to commit ourselves to going back and relearning it, so that we may not forget it and so that its lessons will stay with us for all of our lives. Pesah is certainly one of the most important and closely observed holidays in the Jewish calendar. The seder is perhaps the single Jewish ritual that has been observed for the longest period of time and has captured the hearts of Jews for thousands of years. Even the most casually observant Jew knows that on Pesah one does not eat bread. I hope that learning this tractate has helped us get back to the sources of some of these laws, and that when we observe our own Pesah holidays and our own seder we keep them in mind and share them with others. Congratulations on learning another tractate of Mishnah. May you have the strength and time to keep on learning more! Tomorrow we begin Shekalim.