Jonathan Muskat

Last Minute Invitations to the Pesach Seder and the Korban Pesach

As we approach the joyous occasion of Pesach, many of us are making arrangements to welcome guests to our Seder tables. Given the significance of the Pesach Seder, invitations are typically extended weeks in advance. However, should we discover at the last moment that someone lacks a place to observe the Seder, it is our heartfelt intention to extend an invitation on that very night, ensuring that no one feels alone. Yet, during the era of the Beit Hamikdash, where the korban Pesach (Passover offering) was ritually slaughtered, such spontaneous invitations were not feasible. Participants couldn’t simply be added to the Pesach offering at whim; a prior registration process known as “minui” was required before the animal was slaughtered. But why was this registration necessary?

Allow me to propose four reasons behind the mandate for “minui” concerning the korban Pesach. Firstly, this requirement underscores the importance of meticulous planning to avoid transgressing the prohibition of “notar.” This prohibition mandates the consumption of the Pesach offering’s meat before midnight on the Seder night; failure to do so constitutes a violation of “notar.” Thus, by prearranging guests, we ensure an adequate number of participants to consume the Pesach offering within the allotted time, rather than relying on last-minute arrivals.

Secondly, the “minui” requirement must be understood in conjunction with other halachic aspects of the Seder night. These include refraining from breaking the bones of the Pesach offering, consuming it when roasted, and only eating it when partially satiated (“al ha-sova”). These regulations collectively reflect the regal nature of the Seder as a banquet. Participants receive formal invitations and partake of the meal in a dignified manner, avoiding behaviors indicative of hunger. Furthermore, as elucidated by the Sefer Ha-Chinuch (mitzvah #7), the roasting of the meat symbolizes affluence, contrasting with the boiled preparation favored by the less fortunate as boiled food is more filling than roasted food.

Thirdly, Rabbi Soloveitchik expounds on the notion that the Seder meal not only commemorates the transition from slavery to freedom but actively facilitates it. Redemption through the korban Pesach is achieved by fostering a sense of mutual care and celebration through intentional communal gatherings. This communal celebration epitomizes the essence of freedom in Torah culture, emphasizing the establishment of a compassionate community.

Lastly, the Torah mandates that each “beit av,” or each household, procure a sheep for the Pesach offering. The concept of “beit av” refers to an extended family unit, encompassing multiple generations. The ideal Seder scenario envisioned by the Torah involves the entire extended family gathering under one roof. While it remains our duty to ensure no individual is excluded from the Seder, the Torah’s vision underscores the importance of familial unity, facilitating the transmission of the Exodus experience to future generations.

The location of the Seder raises a fundamental question within Judaism regarding the catalyst for religious growth: the home or the mikdash (sanctuary)? While ancient practice incorporated both, today, with the absence of the Beit Hamikdash, we rely on community institutions such as synagogues and yeshivot. However, our challenge lies in integrating the spirituality gleaned from communal experiences into our homes, thereby fostering growth within our families.

In conclusion, the “minui” requirement serves as a mechanism to ensure timely completion of the Pesach offering, contributes to the regal ambiance of the Seder, fosters communal unity, and underscores the pivotal role of the home in nurturing familial spiritual growth. May we embrace this call to action, leveraging both communal and familial settings to enrich our Pesach experience and strengthen our bonds with each other and with the Divine.

About the Author
Jonathan Muskat is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Oceanside.
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