2003(always read the Shabbat after Purim)
Guess What Happens Four Weeks From Now?
I was just in the supermarket two days before Purim and already, the Pesach food display is prominent harkening everyone t'o the fact that the festival of freedom will be here before we know it. There is method to this, and even Talmudic precedent.
Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 6b
"One should learn and expound upon the laws of Pesach thirty days before Pesach. Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel says "Two weeks before Pesach..."
The Talmud goes on to offer proofs from the Torah for both positions. For the anonymous teacher, the reason given is that Moshe offered the laws for Pesach Sheni (The make up Pesach for those who were too far away, or were ritually impure) on the regular Pesach, so one sees one starts learning thirty days before.
Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel's position comes from the fact that the first Mitzvah that is Pesach related is Rosh Chodesh Nisan, when the verse basically says, "This month is yours..."
Babylonian Talmud Megilla 4b
The rabbis taught: Moshe decreed for Israel that they should teach and expound the laws of Pesach on Pesach, the laws of Shavuot on Shavuot, and Succot on Succot.
Your Talmud Navigator
1. Do these two Talmudic passages complement or contradict each other?
2. Is there a difference between what one learns on the day and what one learns before?
Holidays do not only signify the days themselves, but they are also markers for seasons. Before we could leave Egypt, there was much to prepare. Just as we prepared to leave then, we must prepare to leave every year. This is a different type of learning experience then the teaching of Laws on the festival Pesach itself. This learning is not the learning of preparation, but the learning of celebration, of experiencing joy through immersion in our traditions. Thirty days prior to the festival, we prepare for the moment. When the moment comes, we savor it through study. Two different experiences; two different commandments.
Prepared by Avi Weinstein, Director, Joseph Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Learning.
Additional commentaries and text studies on Vayikra at MyJewishLearning.com.