The offering and the consumption of the Korban Pesach while Bnei Yisrael was in Egypt was a bold theological statement rejecting idolatry (since the Egyptians idolized the lamb), while the fact that the Korban Pesach was consumed in family groupings (חבורות) was a bold social statement that the strength of a moral society begins in the home. Thus, the Torah (Shemot 12:46) states, with reference to the Korban Pesach, that בְּבַיִת אֶחָד יֵאָכֵל – ‘it must be eaten in one house’.
However, as noted in today’s daf (Pesachim 86a), this instruction appears to contradict an earlier verse (Shemot 12:7) which, while still referring to a singular Korban Pesach, speaks of הַבָּתִּים אֲשֶׁר יֹאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ בָּהֶם – ‘the houses (plural) in which they (plural) are to eat it (singular)’. So did the Korban Pesach need to be eaten in one house, or could it be eaten in more than one house?
The Gemara reconciles these verses by explaining that: (1) A single Korban Pesach may be divided and consumed by more than one חבורה (group) – which explains the plural form in Shemot 12:7; (2) That more than one חבורה may sit and consume the Korban Pesach in one house – which harmonizes Shemot 12:46 & 12:7, and (3) According to Rabbi Yehuda, that any member of a חבורה who consumes the Korban Pesach may only do so in one location, while according to Rabbi Shimon, any member of a חבורה who begins eating a Korban Pesach in one location may leave and finish elsewhere (nb. both deduce this from different ways of reading Shemot 12:46).
Interestingly, using the same term as they use with reference to the Korban Pesach, our Sages (see for example Brachot 63b) teach us that Torah should be learnt בחבורה (in a group), and with this in mind, I would like to apply the lessons found in today’s daf about the Korban Pesach to the study of Torah.
Firstly, just as a single Korban Pesach may be divided and consumed by more than one חבורה, our single Torah can be learnt and enjoyed by many different groups who, though they may be possibly divided by where they sit, are unified by the singular Torah which they learn.
Secondly, it is possible to have settings where Jews of different types and stripes can gather together in different groups while under the same roof to study Torah, and though they differ through being part of different חבורות, they still bond together through sharing their love of Torah.
Finally, while there are those who can experience and learn to love the Torah which they are first introduced to, there are also others who, during their learning journey, feel the need to stop their learning in one place and continue it elsewhere.
The Korban Pesach was a bold theological statement that rejected idolatry and that taught us about how to build a moral society, and this is what the Torah was later to do with even greater clarity; and just as the Korban Pesach symbolized freedom, so too does Torah – as our sages say (Avot 6:2), אין לך בן חורין אלא מי שעוסק בתלמוד תורה – there is no freer person than someone who is involved in the study of Torah.