In the gemara (Pesachim 108a) the text reads that matzah צריך הסיבה But Not chayav. This is brought down as halacha. Is there any technical difference between saying that one "needs" to do something and that someone is "obligated" to do so?

Later on the gemara says נשים חייבות In the 4 cups of wine. Why switch the language to chiyuv? Masechet Megilla says that a person is chayav to party on Purim, not that he needs to. Is there a difference?

1 Answer 1


חייב is used of being obligated to do something. צריך means being in need of something, not being obligated to do something (it doesn't correspond exactly with the English word "need" which is used of both, but in English we distinguish the meanings "in need of" vs. "needs to do"). צריך is also used of a condition for fulfilling an obligation, i.e. one is in need of the condition in order to fulfill the obligation, or the obligation is in need of the condition for it to be fulfilled.

Here there is an added complication because the text appears to be incorrect. The words appearing in the printed text of the Gemara are מצה צריך הסיבה, which you want to interpret as "For matzah, one needs to recline." The text printed in Rashi and Rashbam is better, מצה צריכה הסיבה, "Matzah requires reclining," i.e. reclining is a condition for fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzah.

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