We learn in the Talmud (Pesachim 66a)

אמרו לו "רבי, שכח ולא הביא סכין מערב שבת מהו?"‏
אמר להן "הלכה זו שמעתי ושכחתי אלא הנח להן לישראל אם אין נביאים הן בני נביאים הן"‏

They said to Hillel: Our teacher, if one forgot and did not bring a knife on the eve of Shabbat and cannot slaughter his Paschal lamb, what is the law?
He said to them: I once heard this Halacha from my teachers but I have forgotten it. But leave it to the Jewish people; if they are not prophets to whom God has revealed His secrets, they are the sons of prophets, (and will certainly do the right thing on their own).

למחר מי שפסחו טלה תוחבו בצמרו מי שפסחו גדי תוחבו בין קרניו ראה מעשה ונזכר הלכה ואמר "כך מקובלני מפי שמעיה ואבטליון"‏

The next day, (on Shabbat that was the eve of Passover), one whose Paschal offering was a lamb took the knife and stuck it in its wool; and one whose Paschal offering was a goat, which does not have wool, stuck it between its horns. Hillel saw the incident and remembered the Halacha that he had once learned and said: "This is the tradition I received from the mouths of Shemaya and Avtalyon", (meaning that this is, in fact, the proper course of action).

And this is codified by the Rambam (Hil. Korban Pesach 1:19)

שָׁכַח וְלֹא הֵבִיא סַכִּין לֹא יְבִיאֶנָּה בְּשַׁבָּת. אֶלָּא נוֹתְנָהּ בֵּין קַרְנֵי הַכֶּבֶשׂ אוֹ בְּצַמְרוֹ וּמַכִּישׁוֹ עַד שֶׁמְּבִיאוֹ לָעֲזָרָה וּמַקְדִּישׁוֹ שָׁם. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מְחַמֵּר בְּשַׁבָּת מְחַמֵּר כִּלְאַחַר יָד הוּא וּמִפְּנֵי הַמִּצְוָה מֻתָּר. ‏

If [Erev Pesach is on Shabbat and] a person forgets to bring his knife [to the Beit Hamikdash before Shabbat], he may not bring it on Shabbat.

Instead, he should entangle it in the animal's horns or fleece and have the animal bring it for him. This is permitted in this case since it's needed for a Mitzvah.

Why would a person need to bring a knife to the Beit Hamikdash? Didn't they have a supply of them? They slaughtered animals all the time.

Furthermore, we don't see anywhere else that you were expected to bring your own knife.

Why was one allowed, nay, expected, to bring one's own knife, even on Shabbat?

To further clarify and sharpen the question (pun intended):
Somehow there was time and resources in the Mikdash to share the cups that caught the blood and send them down the line to the Mizbeach and back again to the next animal being slaughtered. During this time the knives could have been passed around also - and even checked for blemishes.

There were also enough bowls in the Mikdash that everybody could pour in the Eimurim that were eventually burnt on the Mizbeach, as well as supplying the poles (and some hooks) for everybody to skin their animals. But for some reason, everybody had to bring their own knife. Why?

  • perhaps they did made the schita without shaliach, so every shochet takes his knife.
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 9:34
  • @kouty - davka we learn Shlichout from Korban Pessach... Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:49
  • of course, ושחטו אותו כל קהל עדת ישראל but perhaps each family has his shochet
    – kouty
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:50
  • 1
    @kouty - so they didn't trust the knives in the Mikdash and had to "carry" on Shabbat??? Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:52
  • 3
    As a practical matter each group had to bring a valid shechitah knife so that they could shecht the korban pesach on time. The knives at the bais hamikdash, besides not being enough for everyone, would have had to have been inspected before each shechitah. If people had not brought their own knives, many would not have been able to get the slaughtering done in time. Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 15:24

2 Answers 2


As a practical matter each group had to bring a valid shechitah knife so that they could shecht the korban pesach on time. The knives at the bais hamikdash, besides not being enough for everyone, would have had to have been inspected before each shechitah. If people had not brought their own knives, many would not have been able to get the slaughtering done in time.

The description of the procedure shows that there were too many people to allow the knives of the temple to be used. The Jewish Encyclopedia Passover Sacrifice shows how this was done.

The animal was slain on the eve of the Passover, on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan, after the Tamid sacrifice had been killed, i.e., at three o'clock, or, in case the eve of the Passover fell on Friday, at two. The killing took place in the court of the Temple, and might be performed by a layman, although the blood had to be caught by a priest, and rows of priests with gold or silver cups in their hands stood in line from the Temple court to the altar, where the blood was sprinkled. These cups were rounded on the bottom, so that they could not be set down; for in that case the blood might coagulate. The priest who caught the blood as it dropped from the victim then handed the cup to the priest next to him, receiving from him an empty one, and the full cup was passed along the line until it reached the last priest, who sprinkled its contents on the altar.

The people taking part in the sacrifice were divided into three groups. The first of these filled the court of the Temple, so that the gates had to be closed, and while they were killing and offering their paschal lambs the Levites on the platform ("dukan") recited the "Hallel" (Ps. cxiii.-cxviii.), accompanied by instruments of brass. If the Levites finished their recitation before the priests had completed the sacrifice, they repeated the "Hallel," although it never happened that they had to repeat it twice. As soon as the first group had offered their sacrifice, the gates were opened to let them out, and their places were taken by the second and third groups successively. All three groups offered their sacrifice in the manner described, while the "Hallel" was recited; but the third group was so small that it had always finished before the Levites reached Ps. cxvi.

  • There is no rule that said that it couldn't take more time (it just didn't). Why was this "rush" enough to be "almost" Mechalel Shabbat? How long does it take to check a knife? Every 2 groups could have shared, and halved the "Chilul Shabbat". Why make it sound like everybody needed their own knife? Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 10:11
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    There was a limit as to when the korban pesach had to be done. There were too many people. In any case, even if some groups shared a knife, people still had to bring knives. @DannySchoemann Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 11:24
  • Somehow there was time to share the cups they used to catch and throw the blood, and send it down the line to the Mizbeach and back again, so why wasn't there time for sharing knives? And the Mikdash provided all those cups, and also bowels for the Aimoorim and poles for skinning the animal - but everybody had bring their own knife. Why? Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 10:49
  • cups were made enough to set up a line without stopping. knives had to be checked. Also people did not want to wait and kohanim were not required to shecht. @DannySchoemann Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 11:59
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    No. I don't think so. I think cups were re-used - the Mishna (5:6) says they first took the full cup and then handed back the empty cup. נוֹתְנוֹ לַחֲבֵרוֹ וַחֲבֵרוֹ לַחֲבֵרוֹ, וּמְקַבֵּל אֶת הַמָּלֵא וּמַחֲזִיר אֶת הָרֵיקָן Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 12:18

Building on the previous answer, there were a lot of knives needed and not a lot of time available. As the question goes on to ask, we see that the mikdash had the resources to provide everyone with bowls, poles, cups, and so on to do the other steps, so why not knives?

Well, to start with, bowels, poles, and cups are reusable, while knives are not until they are checked. This theoretically could have been done between animals, but it requires an expert, who are themselves around only in limited numbers, and running the knife blade over one's fingernail, a dangerous operation in crowded and hurried conditions. Proper checking of the knife also requires concentration, which at that time is too much to ask from the perspective checker.

By requiring everyone to bring their own knife, the checking process can be drawn out (pun intended) over the days leading up to the Pesach slaughtering, done by certified experts who have space and enough time to do a proper job. (Also giving time to sharpen a knife that has a blemish.)

I would add that the knife does not have to be a sanctified vessel (kli sharres) (Rambam Maase haKarbanos 4:7), while the cups to catch the blood must be (Pisulei haMukdashim 1:24). So this instance is different than at least that one other that there is a possibility to bring one's own knife. I don't know of any reason why they couldn't bring their own bowls and poles, but at the same time who is to say that people wouldn't bring their own (when it wasn't Shabbos)?

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