Should one give up a happy family time such as a Seder Night in order to keep someone company who is alone in a hospital?  Is the spiritual sacrifice worth it?

The Gemara on Amud Aleph states a surprising ruling. Although one may bring a Paschal sacrifice by himself if there is no other option, the importance of bringing it together with another person even allows another to purposely render himself ritually impure in order to legally allow him to bring the second chance Paschal offering along with the other fellow (see Rashi She’eyn Shochatin).   

This is one more remarkable example of the importance of community in the observance of certain mitzvos. It certainly resonates in our times where some people are forced to observe Sedarim and other rituals in isolation.

This might have moral and philosophical implications such as if one can keep another person company seder night, even if it would mean missing out on a more spiritual or uplifting experience elsewhere.  Such as, joining an elderly person in a nursing home or a hospital patient for seder night.

Another interesting psychological and halachic discussion that comes out of this case is found in a responsum of the Noda BeYehuda (II, EH 112:8):

The question was raised, since we rule ‏ שליח לדבר עבירה that one cannot appoint a representative to fulfill an obligation if there is a sinful act attached to it, how could it be possible for someone to slaughter a Paschal sacrifice for a single person or bring the offering which is done by the priest? Since we say  אין שליח לדבר עבירה And it is considered improper for one to bring the Paschal offering alone, how could the priest fulfill his obligation as representing him in the sacrifice, when the act itself is considered forbidden?

The  Noda BeYehuda answers in a twofold way. For one, he indicates that something that is not initially preferred is not considered forbidden enough to invalidate a שליח. Secondly, he cleverly points out, since the psychological reason why שליחות for a sinful act is nullified is due to the principle of ‏דברי הרב ודברי התלמיד מי שומעים? Whom does one listen to, the student or the master? (This rhetorical quip implies that the שליח cannot be bound to the request of his sender, because he is obligated to listen to the higher authority of G-d‘s Commandments.)

Therefore, in this case, the  Noda BeYehuda argues that since a greater sin will happen if the Paschal sacrifice is not offered, i.e. the person will miss out on the entire sacrifice, the logic of being overridden by a higher authority does not apply. This is because surely G-d himself would approve of bringing the sacrifice even in this imperfect way as opposed to not bringing it at all.



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Translations Courtesy of Sefaria