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Illustration in the Kaufmann Haggadah.
Tractate of the Talmud
Number of Mishnahs:89
Babylonian Talmud pages:121
Jerusalem Talmud pages:71
← Eruvin

Pesachim (Hebrew: פְּסָחִים‎, lit. "Paschal lambs" or "Passovers"), also spelled Pesahim, is the third tractate of Seder Moed ("Order of Festivals") of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. The tractate discusses the topics related to the Jewish holiday of Passover, and the Passover sacrifice, both called "Pesach" in Hebrew. The tractate deals with the laws of matza (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs), the prohibitions against owning or consuming chametz (leaven) on the festival, the details of the Paschal lamb that used to be offered at the Temple in Jerusalem, the order of the feast on the first evening of the holiday known as the Passover seder, and the laws of the supplemental "Second Pesach".[1][2]

Two reasons are given for the name of the tractate Pesachim being in the plural: either because the tractate originally comprised two parts, one dealing with the Passover sacrifice, and the second with the other aspects of the holiday, before they were combined into a single tractate named Pesachim during the Geonic period (by 1040 CE), or, because the tractate deals with the two occasions for offering the Passover sacrifice, namely, the 14th of the month of Nisan on the eve of the holiday, and one month later, the "second Pesach" on the 14th of Iyar for those who were unable to offer the sacrifice on the original date.[2][3]

The basis for the laws included in this tractate are derived from the Torah, largely from the Book of Exodus, in Exodus 12:1–29, Exodus 12:43–49, Exodus 13:3–10 and Exodus 23:15–18,, as well as Leviticus 23:5–8, Numbers 9:2–14 and Numbers 28:16–25, and Deuteronomy 16:1–8.[4]

The tractate consists of ten chapters and has a Gemara – rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah – in both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud. There is also a Tosefta for this tractate.[3]

Apart from the Passover sacrifice, the Jewish religious laws derived from this tractate regarding Passover have continued to be observed, with minor variations according the interpretations of later halakhic authorities, by traditional Jewish communities since ancient times until the present. The observances include the prohibitions on eating, benefiting from or possessing any leaven, and the sale or search for and removal of leaven from the house before Passover; the practices of the Seder night, including eating matza and bitter herbs, drinking four cups of wine, and reciting the Haggadah recalling the Exodus from Egypt; as well as the observances of the entire holiday, including the eating of matza and the recitation of the Hallel prayer.[5]


The name of the tractate Pesachim is the Hebrew plural of the name of the Passover festival Pesach, and there are two explanations given for this:

Firstly, the tractate contains two distinct parts, which were originally separate, until combined into a single tractate during the Geonic period (by 1040 CE). Until then, the tractate was divided into two parts called Pesaḥ Rishon ("First Passover" or "Passover I") and Pesaḥ Sheni ("Second Passover" or "Passover II"). After the two parts were combined, the tractate was called Pesachim, in the plural.[3]

One part, now comprising chapters one to four and chapter ten, addresses the laws of Passover that apply always and everywhere, such as the removal of chametz from the home, the eating of matzah, and the Seder on Passover night. The second part, now chapters five to nine, concern the laws of how the Passover sacrifice was offered and eaten at the Temple in Jerusalem while it existed. This part is more relevant thematically to Seder Kodashim, the order of the Mishna concerned mainly with the sacrificial offerings in the Temple.[6]

In the only surviving manuscript that contains the complete text of the Babylonian Talmud, known as the Munich Codex, the current tenth chapter appears as the fourth, so that the chapters concerning the practical observances of the festival follow one another consecutively.[3][7]

The early medieval Jewish commentators, known as the Rishonim, also refer to the first part of the tractate as "Pesach Rishon", and the second part about the sacrifices as "Pesach Sheni". The Meiri (1249–1315) states clearly in his introduction to the tractate that during the immediately preceding Geonic period, Pesachim was divided into two tractates. This distinction is also marked explicitly in the Vilna edition in the Hadran at the end of the fourth chapter (Talmud, b. Pesachim 57b) and ninth chapter (Talmud, b. Pesachim 99a) of the tractate.[6]

A second reason given for the plural name of the tractate is that there are, in fact, two Passovers: the "second Pesach" on the 14th of Iyar was instituted a month after Passover for those who were unable to offer the Passover sacrifice on the eve of the holiday on 14th of the month of Nisan, in accordance with Leviticus 9:6–12. Accordingly, the title of the tractate in the plural recognizes this, although the Mishnah almost entirely concerns the first or "Great" Passover.[3][2][8]

Subject matter[edit]

The subject matter of this tractate covers the various laws of all the aspects of the Passover holiday. The Mishna follows a mostly sequential order, beginning with the search for chametz (leaven) on the evening of the thirteenth of Nisan, the day before Passover, and the prohibition of leaven in all its aspects; the details of the Passover sacrifice on the eve of the holiday; and the laws of matzah and bitter herbs with which the sacrifice was to be eaten, during the ritual meal on Passover night, known as the Seder, with which the tractate concludes.[1][9]

The topics discussed in this tractate are derived from the Torah in the Book of Exodus, Exodus 12:1–29, Exodus 12:43–49, Exodus 13:3–10 and Exodus 23:15–18,, as well as Leviticus 23:5–8, Numbers 9:2–14 and Numbers 28:16–25, and Deuteronomy 16:1–8.[4][8]

Other Biblical references to the subject matter are found in Joshua 5:10–11, 2 Kings 23:21–23, Ezekiel 45:21–24, Ezra 6:19–22, 2 Chronicles 30:1–5, and 2 Chronicles 35:1–19.[8]


Pesahim is divided into 10 chapters:

  1. אור לארבעה עשר (Or Le'Arba'ah Asar)
  2. כל שעה (Kol Sha'ah)
  3. אלו עוברין (Ellu Overin)
  4. מקום שנהגו (Makom Shennahagu)
  5. תמיד נשחט (Tamid Nishchat)
  6. אלו דברים (Ellu Devarim)
  7. כיצד צולין (Keytzad Tzolin)
  8. האשה (Ha'Ishah)
  9. מה שהיה (Mah SheHayah)
  10. ערבי פסחים (Arvei Fesachim)


  1. ^ a b Steinsaltz, Adin (2013). "Tractates of the Mishna and the Talmud". Reference Guide to the Talmud. Koren. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-59264-312-7.
  2. ^ a b c Kornfeld, Mordecai. "Introduction and Bibliography for Pesachim". Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim. Retrieved 2019-02-03.
  3. ^ a b c d e Ehrman, Arnost Zvi (1978). "Pesahim". Encyclopedia Judaica. 13 (1st ed.). Jerusalem, Israel: Keter Publishing House Ltd. pp. 327–328.
  4. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). "Pesaḥim". The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.
  5. ^ Steinsaltz, Adin (2013). "Halakhic Concepts and Terms: Moed". Reference Guide to the Talmud. Koren. pp. 276–277. ISBN 978-1-59264-312-7.
  6. ^ a b "Introductions to Tractates - Pesachim". Dafyomi Advancement Forum. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  7. ^ "Manuscripts". Collections: Hebrew and Yiddish. Bayerische Staatsbibliothek [Bavarian State Library]. Retrieved 2020-04-14. Munich Codex Hebraicus 95, France, 1342: "the world's only remaining almost entirely preserved manuscript of the Babylonian Talmud.
  8. ^ a b c Lipman, Eugene J., ed. (1970). "Pesahim—Passover". The Mishnah: Oral Teachings of Judaism (1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 95–96. OCLC 1043172244.
  9. ^ Epstein, Isidore, ed. (1938). "Pesachim: Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices". The Babylonian Talmud. Moed. Freedman, H. (translator). London: The Soncino Press. pp. xi–xiii.