Could we bring enough Korban Pesachs for everyone?
There is a chiyuv on every person to bring a Korban Pesach, in fact it is one of the 2 mitzvos aseh that you are chayav kares for not fulfilling. However, it is very difficult to see how the Jewish people could actually have ever fulfilled this mitzva in the practical sense and certainly with the population today (~14,000,000 Jews) it is hard to see how enough Korbanos could actually be brought.
The Gemara in Pesachim 64b states that King Agrippas wanted to take a census so he had the Cohanim count the number of Korban Pesachs that were brought and it came out to 1.2 million korbanos, 12 million people (10 to a korban).
1.2 million korban pesachs seem to be a very problematic number. There are a number of major issues:
- The Korban Pesach is only brought on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan after the korban tamid is brought. The Mishna (58a) states that on Erev Pesach the Tamid was brought from 7.5 - 8.5. That leaves just 3.5 hours (8.5 -12) to bring the korban pesachs. That means that they had to sacrifice over 340,000 korbanos an hour, over 5700 a minute and over 95 a second. That is simply impossible. Let's think about what needed to be done.
- collect the blood
- sprinkle the blood on the mizbeach
- Skin the animal and take out the organs to be burned on the mizbeach.
- How could they possibly fit all of the people and animals in the Azara? The Gemara states that the Korban Pesach is brought in 3 shifts. 1.2 million korbanos means 1.2 million animals and at least 1.2 million people, even in 3 even shifts that is 400,000 people and animals a shift!!! The Beis Hamikdash was simply not that big the whole thing was 100 ama x 100 ama. Even assuming a large ama of 2 feet that is only 40000 sq feet. In addition the Kodesh Hakadoshim was 20 ama long which takes away 1/5 of the total space. In any case, not only does it not fit 400,000 people and animals, it doesn't even fit 40000 people and animals. In addition, moving 400,000 people into and out of a confined space takes hours, the whole 3.5 hours would have been taken up by simply trying to get the people in and out without having time to do anything.
- This leads to the question that given the dimensions of the Mishkan and the Beis Hamikdash and the number of people, how did everyone ever bring a korban pesach? The numbers just don't work.
- As I mentioned above there are over 14 million halachic Jews today, more then in the time of King Agrippas, if Moshiach came now, how could we all possibly bring a korban Pesach in the 3.5 hour window on Erev Pesach?
- The numbers are an exaggeration. This is difficult for a number of reasons:
- Nowhere in the Gemara (or in any of the Rishonim/Acharonim that I saw) is there even a hint that these numbers are not real.
- Even much smaller numbers are unrealistic, even 1/10, 100,000 korbanos, is impossible
- How would we do the mitzva today if Moshiach came with the population numbers as they are?
- It was all a miracle. This is also very very difficult:
- The fact is, that on this very daf, indeed, just a few lines above, there is the famous machlokus between Rava and Abaye on ... are we allowed to rely on nissim. "Abaye said: it was taught that it was closed [referring to the gates of the azarah] , Rava said, that they closed it. What is between them? This is between them: to rely on a miracle. Abaye who says that it was closed, like it was closed by itself and they relied on a miracle [to ensure there were two other groups]. Rava says they closed it, and we do not rely on a miracle. ..." If the entirety of the aliya laregal and particularly the korban pesach was ma'aseh nissim from beginning to end, then Rava's position is rendered untenable - nobody went into the Azarah for pesach without relying on countless miracles, so what is the closing of a door or allowing it to be closed in the grand scheme of things? And generally machlokus Abaye and Rava we posken like Rava - so where does that leave us halacha l'ma'seh?
- This is quite a big miracle and yet nowhere in the Gemara or even the Rishonim or Acharonim do we have a hint about this very big miracle.