Rashi in Pesachim 58b mentions and rejects an opinion that in the days of the Tannaim the rules for which day of the week Pesach and (Rosh Hashana) can fall out, לא בד"ו פסח, were already in practice. I remember seeing that this is the opinion of Rav Saddia Goan, and that the Rambam also is strongly against this idea. Can anyone bring the original sources?


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This opinion of R. Sa'adia Ga'on is quoted by R. Avraham b. Hiyya HaNasi. In his Sefer Ha-Ibbur, he writes (ma'amar sheni, sha'ar shemini):

ואמר הגאון ר' סעדיה בר' יוסף ראש הישיבה זצ"ל: קבוע היה מהר סיני שלא יהיה פסח יום שני כדי שלא יהיה יום הכפורים ערב שבת... וכן אם היה פסח יום רביעי היה יום הכפורים יום ראשון... וכן אנו אומרים על פסח שאינו ביום ששי מפני י"ו בניסן שלא יהיה בשבת ואין העומר נקצר בשבת... ותראה מן התורה שאין פסח בא בימי בד"ו...‏

ואם יאמר לך אדם שקדמונים היו עושים פסח בבד"ו ... אל יביאו ספיקא בלבך, כי כל ההלכות האלו הן אמורות על הדין בהם מה היה אלו היו נמצאין ואין אתה מוצא באחת מהן שהוא אומר מעשה שחל ששה עשר להיות בשבת...‏

Said the Ga'on, R. Sa'adia b. Yosef, the Head of the Academy, of blessed memory: From Mt Sinai it was fixed that Pesach cannot fall on Monday, so that Yom Kippur not fall on Friday... and similarly if Pesach were on Wednesday then Yom Kippur would be on Sunday... and we also say that Pesach is not Friday so that the sixteenth of Nissan not be on Shabbat and the omer is not harvested on Shabbat... thus you see from the Torah that Pesach cannot fall on Monday, Wednesday or Friday...

If someone were to say to you that the earlier generations did make Pesach on Monday, Wednesday or Friday... have no doubt in your heart, that all these laws [discussing instances where Pesach seems to have fallen on these days] are only stated to give the legal principle, in the case where they would hypothetically occur, but you find nowhere stated "there was a case when the sixteenth [of Nissan] fell on Shabbat"...

(My translation)

As you noted, this approach was forcefully rejected by Rambam (without mentioning R. Sa'adia by name). For instance, in his Commentary to Menachot 11:7 he writes:

And this is one of the things which refutes the claims of all those who argue and say that Yom Kippur never fell on Friday or Sunday, and that whenever this is mentioned in the mishnah it is hypothetical. See here, the mishnah discusses the practical case that the priests who came from Babylon would eat it [the Yom Kippur sacrifice] raw. There is no place for argument here. It is impossible to say that this is hypothetical, and there are many places in the talmud that strengthen this claim. Rather, the matter [of the calendar] follows observation, when there is a court, as we explained in Rosh HaShanah. Know this.

(My translation, based on R. Qafih's Hebrew translation from the original Arabic)

In his Commentary to Rosh HaShanah 2:6, Rambam suggests that R. Sa'adia (again, without mentioning him by name) only advanced this position polemically, in order to prevail over his adversary (presumably R. Aharon b. Meir) by any means possible.

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