Thursday, March 11, 2010

minuy for korban pesach and the the concept of joint ownership (II)

Yesterday we asked: why does the gemara reject the possibility of all of klal yisrael jointly owning one sukkah because, as Rashi (Sukkah 27b) explains, there is no concept of ownership or partnership when each person’s share is worth less than a pertuah, but the gemara (Kid. 42a) accepts the possibility all of klal yisrael owning a single korban pesach?

The question opens the door to making a nice chiluk (as Yosef and PC commented) between the concept of shutfus and the concept of tzibur. Whether a sukkah is owned by 2 people or 2 million people, the legal structure we are speaking of is a partnership. Here, Rashi introduces the requirement of shares having a certain minimal value for the concept of partnership to be make sense. The ownership of the korban pesach, however, like other communal korbanos, is defined by a different legal structure. Communal ownership is more than the sum of its individual parts. It is more like a corporation; ownership is retained by a global entity distinct from the individual members who make up its parts. When we speak of ownership by the tzibur, there is no requirement for each individual member to have a share of any specific value.

There is another, less intuitive answer to this question offered by Rav Noson Gestetner in Shu”T L’Horos Noson (vol 1 #24). He argues that Rashi does not mean that the concept of ownership does not apply to less than a perutah in value; as the Minchas Chinuch asks, this is obviously wrong, as the issur of theft applies to less than a perutah. Rather, what Rashi means is that one cannot acquire an item that is worth less than a perutah. But while I may not be able to buy one little square of chocolate worth less than a penny, if I buy a chocolate bar worth $100, I am the owner of every little square’s worth, even a little nibble worth next to nothing. Furthermore, if I buy a hundred chocolate bars at one time, even if each chocolate bar itself is worth next to nothing, even Rashi would agree that the sale works because the aggregate value of the goods acquired is worth more than a perutah. Hashta d’asis l’hachi, the difference between sukkah and korban pesach is that one sukkah is purchased at a time, and the value being acquired by each individual contributor is minimal; animals are purchased in groups, as a flock or herd, and the total cost to each individual for a large scale purchase may indeed exceed a perutah.

This distinction helps resolve another difficulty raised by the Minchas Chinuch (325). If one assumes that ownership of the matzah used to fulfill the mitzvah of achilas matzah is required, there is a potential problem if the value of an individual matzah is less than a perutah (obviously the Minchas Chinuch got better prices on his hand shemurah than I do in my local supermarket, or he was speaking on a purely theoretical level.) The L’Horos Noson answers that instead of looking at the value of individual matzos we should be looking at the value of the sale as a whole. Since matzah is purchased by the pound, in multiple units, the value of the sale as a whole does exceed a perutah and works even according to Rashi. Once the sale take effect, ownership by definition extends to every individual unit of matzah, meeting the requirement of “lachem.”


  1. My apologies to Yosef yesterday! But I think we remain stuck with yesterday's problem, aren't Klal Yisrael strictly limited to the amount of kzeisim in an animal!

  2. Achila is not m'akeiv. Tos. Kid. 42.