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Why is the positive mitzvah to eat matza only for the first day of Peach?

If the psukim either state to eat for 7 days in Shmot or 6 days in Devarim, why is it a postive obligation to eat it only the first day?

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Interesting question! Can you cite those verses more precisely? – msh210 Apr 17 '14 at 5:20

The classic answer to your question is a Rashi in Shemos 12:15

For seven days you shall eat unleavened cakes-: But elsewhere it says: “For six days you shall eat unleavened cakes” (Deut. 16:8). This teaches us regarding the seventh day of Passover, that it is not obligatory to eat matzah, as long as one does not eat chametz. How do we know that the first six days are also optional concerning eating matzah?

This is a principle in interpreting the Torah: Anything that was included in a generalization in the Torah and was excluded from that generalization in the Torah to teach something it was not excluded to teach only about itself, but it was excluded to teach about the entire generalization.

In this case it means that just as on the seventh day eating matzah is optional, so is it optional in the first six days. I might think that on the first night it is also optional. Therefore, Scripture states: “in the evening, you shall eat unleavened cakes” (Exod. 12:18). The text established it as an obligation. — from Mechilta

However, (questioning the premise of your question) see this Yeshivat Har Etzion shiur. Here is the summary:

We have thus learned that, according to one view, there is an obligation to eat matza all week (Penei Yehoshua's understanding of Rav Shimon), whereas another opinion maintains that although there is no obligation, one fulfills a mitzva by eating matza all week (Chizkuni, Vilna Gaon). This latter opinion was disputed by Me'iri and others. Lastly, we saw that the Maharal felt that although one fulfills the mitzva by eating a ke-zayit on the first night, all matza eaten that night is also a fulfillment of the mitzva.

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Thank you for the reference. However I still dont understand the reasoning. Shemot 12-8 is no longer applicable without Bet HaMikdash. The other source Shemot 12-18 includes "... until the 21st day of the month in the evening". So not just on the first day. It would seem to suggest that the first 6 days it is required by verse in Devarim but in Shemot the requirement to eat matza for 7 days refers to the requirement not to eat chametz. – sta Apr 17 '14 at 14:40
@sta Your comment refers to Shemot 12-8. Presumably you mean Deut. 16:8. You say that this is only applicable when there is a Bet Hamikdash. And I understand you to imply that therefore the part of the narrative dealing with matzot is not applicable now. But we do find that a parsha can imply obligations, even if all the conditions mentioned are not fulfilled. An example might be Bamidbar 15:37-41 which requires a blue thread for tzitzit. Nevertheless if you do not have the blue thread the tzitzit are kosher. Similarly Deut 16:8 can apply to matzot even though there is no Bet Hamikdash. – Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 17 '14 at 21:44
I actually did mean Shemot 12-8 which refers to the korban pesach to be eaten with matza and bitter herbs. But what confuses me is that the requirement to eat matza on the first night is usually derived according to the commentaries not from Shemot 12-8 (because we don't perform the korban pesach anymore) but rather from Shemot 12-18. However, Shemot 12-18 says "on the 14th day of the month in the evening shall you eat matzos until the 21st day". How does one infer from this that one should eat on just the 1st day? The verse would suggest it should be eat until the 21st day. – sta Apr 18 '14 at 2:13
@sta Sorry. To clarify hopefully. Shmos 12:15 says eat for a period of seven days. Deut 16:8 says six days. Both cannot work together. 7-6=1. So 7th day must be optional and therefore all 7 days must be optional (Anything that was included in a generalization {7 days 12:15} and was excluded from that generalization {6 days 16:8}to teach [something] it was not excluded to teach [only] about itself, but it was excluded to teach about the entire generalization.{all 7 days}) Shmos12:18 says we must eat on the first night. So the only obligation is on the first night - not “day” as you say. – Avrohom Yitzchok Apr 18 '14 at 9:39
Sorry but my confusion is that Shmos 12:18 says "on the 14th day of the month in the evening shall you eat matzos until the 21st day". So this verse does not refer to the first day only but to all 7 days. So how can it be the source for the requirement to eat matza on the first day specifically. It is no different from the other verses in Shemot which say to eat matza for 7 days. But for those verses we dont infer a requirement to eat for 7 days. So why do we infer it from Shmos 12:18? – sta Apr 18 '14 at 12:14

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