PESAḤIM ("Passover Festival"):
Name of a treatise of the Mishnah and the Tosefta in Babli and Yerushalmi, treating chiefly of the regulations in Ex. xii., xiii. 3-7, xxiii. 15, xxxiv. 18; Lev. xxiii. 5 et seq.; Num. ix. 2-15, xxviii. 16-25; Deut. xvi. 1-8. In all the editions of the Mishnah it is the third treatise of the order Mo'ed. It is divided into ten chapters containing eighty-seven paragraphs in all.
- Ch. i.: At what time and in what places leavened food must be sought in order to be removed (§§ 1-3); limit of time for eating leavened food on the eve of the Passover, and the hour in which the leavened food must be burned; in connection with this, reference is made to the peculiar signal raised on the Temple mount at Jerusalem in order to notify successively to the people the hour until which they might eat leavened food, and that at which they were required to destroy it (§§ 4-5); likewise certain regulations regarding the burning of defiled sacrificial meat or unclean "terumah" (§§ 6-7).
- Ch. ii.: The hour from which any other use of leavened food than eating it is forbidden; the leavened food of a pagan, or leavened food given in pawn by a Jew to a pagan, which may be used immediately at the close of the Passover (§§ 1-3); the punishment of a layman who eats leavened terumah on the Passover (§ 4); material to be used in baking the maẓẓot (§ 5); herbs which come under the category "maror," and the circumstances under which they may be eaten (§ 6); means of preventing anything from becoming leavened during the Passover (§§ 7-8).
- Ch. iii.: Food regarded as leavened, and which renders the person failing to destroy it guilty of transgressing the regulations of Ex. xii. 19 and xiii. 7 (§§ 1-5); time for destroying leavened food if the eve of the Passover falls on a Sabbath (§ 6); cases in which a traveler, having set out on his journey and remembering that he has not destroyed leavened food at home, must return to do so; and cases in which a pilgrim returning home from Jerusalem, and discovering that he is carrying sacrificial meatwith him, must go back in order to burn it at Jerusalem (§§ 7-8).
- Ch. iv.: In the performance of or abstention from work during the forenoon of the eve of the Passover every one should follow local custom in order to avoid difficulties (§ 1); enumeration, in connection therewith, of some other customs, e.g., the lighting of candles during the night of the Day of Atonement, and the performance of work on the Ninth of Ab, in reference to which local custom prevails (§§ 2-5); work which may be performed on the eve of the Passover (§§ 6-7); six acts of the inhabitants of Jericho, and six of King Hezekiah, one of which was his concealment of a book on remedies (§§ 8-9; comp. the commentaries ad loc.).
- Ch. v.: Time for killing the "tamid" sacrifice on the eve of Passover, and time for killing the paschal lamb (§ 1); circumstances which render the paschal lamb unfit for use (§§ 2-4); ceremonies accompanying the slaughtering of the paschal lamb; the rows of priests, the accompanying music, and the three groups of the people who recite the "Hallel" (§§ 5-7); mode of slaughtering when the eve falls on a Sabbath, and further preparation of the paschal lamb (§§ 8-10).
- Ch. vi.: The paschal lamb and the Sabbath (§§ 1-2); cases in which another animal is to be sacrificed together with the paschal lamb; animals used for this sacrifice (§§ 3-4); cases in which the slaughtering of the paschal lamb on the Sabbath desecrates that day (§§ 5-6).
- Ch. vii.: Roasting of the paschal lamb (§§ 1-3); five sacrifices which one in a state of uncleanness may offer but not eat (§ 4); course to be pursued when the paschal lamb, the people, or the priests have become unclean (§§ 5-9); time at which the bones and other remnants must be burned (§ 10); parts of the paschal lamb to be eaten, and the mode of eating it in company (§§ 11-13).
- Ch. viii.: Persons who may eat of the paschal lamb and who may therefore be counted among the company for which the paschal lamb is prepared (§§ 1-7); eating of the paschal lamb by a person in mourning and by a proselyte who has circumcised himself on the eve of the Passover (§ 8).
- Ch. ix.: Persons who must celebrate the Passover in the second month (comp. Num. ix. 10 et seq.) (§§ 1-2); difference between the first and the second Passover (§ 3); difference between the Passover which was celebrated in Egypt during the Exodus and all subsequent Passovers (§ 5); exchange ("temurah") of the paschal lamb (§ 6); offering of a female animal, and mixing of the Passover sacrifice with other sacrifices (§§ 7-8); cases in which paschal lambs have been lost or exchanged (§§ 9-11).
- Ch. x.: The meal eaten on the evening of the Passover; the four cups of wine, and the benedictions pronounced over them; the questions of the son and the father's answers and instructions; other benedictions and the "Hallel."
The Tosefta to this treatise, which likewise is divided into ten chapters, contains much that serves to explain and supplement the Mishnah. For instance, Tosef. i. 1 explains why the leavened food must be sought by candle-light, as ordained in Mishnah i. 1; Tosef. viii. 7-8 supplements and completes Mishnah. ix. 3; and Tosef. viii. 11-22, Mishnah ix. 5. Noteworthy is the account of King Agrippa's procedure in taking a census of the people assembled at Jerusalem for the Passover (Tosef. iv. 3).The Gemaras.
The two Gemaras discuss and explain the several mishnayot; and both, especially the Babylonian, contain a large number of sentences, proverbs, stories, and legends, as well as various interesting haggadic interpretations and notes. Some passages from the Babylonian Gemara may be quoted here: "One should never use an indecent expression" (3a). "The teacher should select brief and accurate expressions in his lessons" (3b). "On the evening closing the Sabbath God inspired the first man to take two stones and rub them together, and the man thereby discovered fire" (54a). "Through anger the sage loses his wisdom and the prophet his gift of prophecy" (66b). "God conferred a benefit upon Israel by scattering it among the different peoples; for if the Jews had remained under the dominion of one people, they would long ago have been destroyed by its hatred and persecution. Now instead the Jews save themselves from persecution by seeking refuge with their brethren living under the dominion of another people" (87b). "What, however, is the ever-continuing cause of the Exile and of the dispersion of the Jews among the peoples? The desire of the Jews to approach the peoples, to assimilate themselves and be related to them" (118b). Several sentences follow describing the bitter hatred existing between the scholars and the country people or "'am ha-areẓ" (49a, b). Especially noteworthy is the discussion of the question of the pronoun "I" in the Psalms, as also the notes on the division of many chapters, e.g., whether the "Halleluiah" belongs to the end of the preceding psalm or to the beginning of the following one (117a). Incidentally it is seen that the division of the Psalms as it existed at that time differed in various points from the present division (comp. Tos. ad loc. s.v. "She-'Omedim."