Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Paschal Lamb - A Unique Commandment

While most Jews have attended a Passover Seder, no Jew in the last 1,900 years has tasted a Paschal lamb (“Korban Pesach”), the animal offering associated with Passover that shares the holiday’s name. The Paschal sacrifice was offered on the day before Passover and was eaten that evening at the seder - but only when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem. And while no Jew today can offer and eat the Paschal lamb, it is interesting to note that in Temple times, a Jew who deliberately avoided partaking of the lamb was viewed as having denied an essential connection to the heart of Judaism.

One of the most unique aspects of the Paschal sacrifice is the prohibition against breaking any bones of the animal during its roasting or eating.

The anonymous author of the Sefer Hachinuch suggests that the reason for this negative commandment is a lesson on the effects of manners. A person is supposed to eat food with dignity. As breaking and eating bones is the way a dog eats, humans are reminded to rise significantly above that level.

On a deeper level, however, the Sefer Hachinuch stresses how all actions contribute to a person's character. One who regularly does good deeds will become a good person; conversely, one who allows himself to participate in dishonest actions, will eventually be overtaken by dishonesty. It may begin with how we eat, but it translates into how we live. Our actions, even the breaking of bones, mold us and define us.

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