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It says in the Gemorah Pesachim Daf 115a:

אמר רבינא אמר לי רב משרשיא בריה דרב נתן הכי אמר הלל משמיה דגמרא לא ניכרוך איניש מצה ומרור בהדי הדדי וניכול משום דסבירא לן מצה בזמן הזה דאורייתא ומרור דרבנן ואתי מרור דרבנן ומבטיל ליה למצה דאורייתא

that a person shouldn't eat matzah and maror together b'zman ha'zeh (nowadays) since the taste of the maror will be mvatel (cancel) the taste of the matzah. The chiyuv (requirement) of maror which is m'drabbanan will be m'vatel (in taste) that of the chiyuv of matzah that is m'doraisa.

However, the Gemorah says on Daf 115b:

אמר רבא בלע מצה יצא בלע מרור לא יצא

that if one swallows matzah whole they are yotzee (however if they swallow maror whole they are not yotzee).

We see from the Gemorah on Daf 115a that one needs to taste the matzah, so why then does the Gemorah say on Daf 115b that you would be yotzee in a case of swallowing where you seemingly wouldn't taste the matzah (wee this idea from the fact that maror you aren't yotzee.) Or perhaps the question could be asked the other way. It says in Daf 115b that if you swallow the matzah you are yotzee (we see then that you don't need to be feel the taste.) However from the Gemorah on Daf 115a it would seem that you do (since the taste of the maror will be m'vatel the taste of the matzah.) How can this contradiction be addressed? Are there any maforshim that speak about this?

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There is a כלל in the Talmud, כל הראוי לבילה, בילה מעכבת בו, כל שאין ראוי לבילה, בילה מעכבת בו. I.e. if there is an action required to be done (as part of a chain of actions), as long as one is able to do so, one does not need to actually do it. But if it cannot be done, the entire chain of actions is invalidated. The Gemara above speaks of a קרבן מנחה, which cannot be brought in a volume over 60 kav, because it cannot be mixed with the oil. Yet if the מנחה is brought less that 60 kav, it does not even need to be mixed, as stated above.

It could be that the taste of the matza is like the mixing of the מנחה, that it is only מעכב if it can't be done. Therefore if you eat it with מרור, the מרור will definitely prevent you from tasting the matza, you aren'e יוצא.

The same would not apply for מרור, being that the taste is not "a stage in the process" of the מצוה, but the whole point of eating the מרור is tasting the bitterness.

  • This definitely seemed like a possible answer that I had considered and that many others also said. What I was looking for more as well if any maforshim said this (or even had this difficulty.) As pashut as this might seem that this is in fact the answer, still I was looking for one that said it. – Yehoshua Apr 3 '13 at 5:18
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There is a simple explanation. Rava, who holds on 115b that you can swallow matzah whole (presumably because you don't need to taste it) argues with Ravina's ruling on 115a that the taste of the maror would nullify the taste of the matzah if they're eaten together.

His very next words in Pesachim 115b after your quote are:

בלע מצה ומרור ידי מצה יצא ידי מרור לא יצא

If he swallowed matzah and maror together, he has fulfilled the obligation to eat matzah but not maror.

As Rashi explains:

יצא ידי מצה שאינה צריכה טעם

He fulfills the obligation to eat matzah because it does not need to be tasted.

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