Tuesday, February 2, 2021

About the Passover lamb’s bones being broken…


The matter of the Passover lamb ... 'none of its bones should be broken', does that apply to the lamb slaughtered as the 'official' lamb only? Which was ultimately a foreshadow of Messiah. I am thinking, today when you buy lamb at the local butcher to prepare in this case, it hardly adheres to that instruction, for Passover specifically.


The prophetic meaning in that terminology of Exodus 12:46 "and you are not to break any of its bones" goes deeper than simply the command to not break its bones. The sages say that this is a reference to the dignity of which we are to hold in our Passover remembrance by considering ourselves, at our celebration as "free and wealthy people."

This is because in those ancient Biblical days, breaking the bones of of the animal to be consumed was done by the poor and peasants. That was the quickest way they could get the slaughtered animal on the fire, and the poor would consume as much of the animal as they could, and by breaking the bones they could get to the bone marrow.

So the sages write (in Sefer HaChinuch #16 for example, about Exodus 12:46): "For it is not honorable for the sons of kings and the advisers of the land to drag the bones and break them like dogs. Except for the impoverished among the people and the starving, it is not a proper thing to do this."

(Note also that it is the practice also at the Passover seder to "recline" while eating the seder meal. This, too, is said to be from the idea that his is how royalty and nobility used to eat (i.e., lounging while being served) while slaves would have to stand to eat. On Passover the people of Israel are entitled and privileged to conduct themselves like royalty, after all, they were slaves but no more.)

So, at Passover, when the lamb was prepared, whether it was the official lamb slaughtered at the Temple, or a lamb slaughtered at home (or a lamb which had been taken to the Temple and then taken home to eat for Passover), care would be made to not break the animal's bones. Today we, too, would not intentionally "break" the bones, but then again, we don't also put blood on our doorposts.

Buying cuts of meat in our time which are rendered by a butcher does not count as breaking its bones; for we are not poor and we are not going to eat every last scrap as the poor would have done in ancient times.

We can still carry the memory of that original exodus, but we don't have to establish the conditions of that original and only "pass-over." Thus the tradition in most seders, for hundreds of years, has simply been to have on the table a lamb shankbone which has not been cut or broken to represent the commandment.

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