Modern Commentary

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Pesah - When Pesah falls on Shabbat

When the night of Pesah falls on Shabbat, Pesah should not be postponed until after Shabbat but should be held at its appointed time. We know this from the analogy of the supplementary sacrifices which are offered on Shabbat. Furthermore, it is written, “the matter of each day on its day” (Wayyiqra’ 23:37), which is preceded by, “offer a fire offering to YHWH”. Pesah comes under the rule of, “the matter of each day on its day”, as it is mentioned in the first of the series of sections of which this rule is the concluding; in the verse, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, is YHWH’s Pesah (Wayyiqra’ 23:5). Pesah also comes under the rule, “offer a fire offering to YHWH”, as it is an offering to God.

This is further confirmed by the fact that the Torah calls for the death penalty for him who does not offer the sacrifice of Pesah at its appointed time, while able to do so. It is written, “But the man who is Tahor [ritually pure], and is not on a journey, and does not perform the sacrifice of Pesah, that person [Nefesh] shall be cut off from his people” (BeMidbar [Numbers] 9:13). In this way, it is similar to circumcision, which must not be postponed until after the eighth day, except in cases where the child’s life or health may be in danger.

As the laws of Pesah were given before the ordinance of Shabbat, and Shabbat was established subject to the observance of Pesah, as it was established subject to the observance of circumcision. Furthermore, the Pesah offering involves no revenue for the Kohen [priest], which, if it did, it could be deferred until after Shabbat.