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Tractate Pesachim: Commentary and Study Guide

by Nachman Cohen

Bibliographic information

TitleTractate Pesachim: Commentary and Study Guide
AuthorNachman Cohen
PublisherVarda Books
Publication Date2009


"Master a Mesikta Series" is probably the most advanced commentary and study guide to Talmud available in English.

By providing background material, outlining the contents of the Talmud and its commentaries, explaining the sequence of the Talmud,offering overviews of the topics discussed and clarifying the aggadic literature and its interaction with the legal discussions, this series enables the student to focus on the unity of the tractate, and serves as an aid in helping him in its mastery.

About the Author 

Nachman Cohen ---

Rabbi Nachman Cohen, Director of Torah Lishmah Institute, is the Spiritual Leader of Young Israel Ohab Zedek, of North Riverdale/Yonkers, and Chairman of the Board of the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists.

Rabbi Cohen studied in Mesivta Torah Vodaath as well as Yeshivas Karlin Stolin. He received an Sc.M. in Physics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.


Pesachim (Hebrew: פסחים, lit. "Passovers") is the third tractate of Seder Moed ("Order of Festivals") of the Mishnah and is present in both Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi.

The tractate deals with regulations concerning:

  • the removal of leaven from the house on the eve of Passover and the exact time when this must be accomplished;

  • articles which cause transgression of the law prohibiting leaven to be seen or found in the house of a Jew;

  • work which may or may not be performed on the day preceding the festival of Passover;

  • the sacrifice of the paschal lamb: acts which supersede the due observance of the Sabbath -- the sacrifice of the Paschal offering -- what is to be done if one sacrifice is in conflict with another;

  • the roasting of the paschal lamb: what to do if the paschal lamb becomes defiled, which parts of the lamb are eaten, who is obligated to eat the paschal sacrifice, where it may be eaten companies appointed to eat it, the differences between the first and the second Passover;

  • the second Passover: cases where the paschal sacrifice had become mixed

  • the meal on the eve of Passover and the four cups of wine to be drunk with the meal

Besides dealing with such life and death issues as the birth of the nation Israel, Pesachim also deals safe traveling, proper speech, biblical Job, trusting strangers and others.


How to make best use of this sefer

Ideally, this sefer should be read several times: before, during and after "learning" the tractate. Before learning the tractate, it is advisable to read through the introductory material [skipping those sections which are too involved] and the Outline of the Talmud (i.e., the top section of the text). This will familiarize you with the contents of the tractate. (Do not be concerned, should you be unable to understand the more complicated sections without a thorough study of the original text.

The Outline was not meant to stand alone. It was intended to be a companion to the Talmudic text. Nevertheless, the vast amount of knowledge about the contents of the tractate that you will be able to master in a relatively short time, will compensate for your not being able to understand everything at this time.)

The second reading should be done with the Analysis. This will sensitize you to the manner in which the commentaries understood the G'mara, the issues they considered important and the way in which the poskim applied the G'mara to contemporary issues.

The third reading should take place while you study the tractate. At that point, the sefer can serve as a source book for identifying the rishonim and acharonim who dealt with specific issues. Finally, after you have completed the tractate, re-read Master a Mesikhta, for this is what the sefer will enable you to domaster the mesikhta. It is organized in a manner which enables you to encapsulate and digest what you have learned in a simple concise manner.

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