RABIN MISHNAH STUDY GROUP


TRACTATE PESAĤIM, CHAPTER TEN

Mishnah 1 | Mishnah 2 | Mishnah 3 | Mishnah 4 | Mishnah 5 | Mishnah 6

Mishnah 7 | Mishnah 8 | Mishnah 9






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On the day before Passover from before the Minĥah a person should not eat until it gets dark. Even the indigent in Israel should eat only reclining; and he should not be given less than four cups of wine even if this is from the soup-kitchen.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
When we began our study of this tractate I pointed out that it follows a chronological format, tracing the halakhic events from Nisan 13th onward. We started off with the search for ĥametz and its elimination; we continued with a revue of the halakhic status of Nisan 14th; this led to a long and protracted survey of the manner of slaughtering the paschal lamb. Since we have eliminated from our ownership all ĥametz and since we now have our lamb slowly roasting, we are ready to celebrate the Seder service.

2:
Not only is it important to eat the paschal lamb at the Seder service but it is important to enjoy eating it. One way to ensure this is to make certain that we are reasonably hungry to eat by the time we get to the Seder meal. Our mishnah ensures this by prohibiting the consumption of food during the afternoon of Nisan 14th. When we studied the first mishnah of chapter 5 we surveyed the time schedule associated with Minĥah. Here are the main points that we raised then:


Our present mishnah is referring to the daily sacrifice [called] the Minĥah, which was offered during the afternoon every day... On all regular days, regardless whether it was a weekday or Shabbat or YomTov, the Minĥah sacrifice was slaughtered at 'eight and one half hours' and incinerated on the main altar in the Courtyard of the Priests one hour later. In common with almost all rabbinic time-keeping, these hours are not 'clock' hours of 60 equal minutes, but each hour represents one twelfth of the time that lapses between sunrise and sunset on any given day. Since Pesaĥ always falls on the day of the full moon immediately after the spring equinox, when the number of hours of daylight is about the same as the number of hours of the night, we can more or less translate the 'hours' of our mishnah directly. Thus, the Minĥah was usually offered at around 3.30 pm.

3:
Since our present mishnah states that one should stop eating on Nisan 14th 'from before the Minĥah' this has generally been understood as requiring us to refrain from eating on the day before Pesaĥ from about 3 pm onwards in order that we may eat the roast meat of the paschal lamb with relish.

4:
Nowadays, of course, we do not eat roast lamb at all at the Seder service. When we studied the 4th mishnah of chapter 4 I wrote:


In some places outside Jerusalem it was customary not to eat roast meat at the Seder service. This was so as not to seem as if they were eating that paschal lamb, which could only be eaten at a Seder in Jerusalem after it had been slaughtered in the Bet Mikdash... Rambam [Ĥametz u-Matzah 8:11] quotes our mishnah almost word for word: 'Where it is accepted practice to eat roast meat on the night of Pesaĥ one may do so, but where this is not accepted practice one may not do so and this is a decree of the sages so that people should not think that it is paschal lamb [that they are eating]. However, everywhere it is forbidden to eat roast lamb [at the Seder service].' This halakhah is quoted verbatim by the Shulchan Arukh [Oraĥ Ĥayyim 476:1]. The Tur [Oraĥ Ĥayyim 476] is more circumspect. He says that one may not eat a lamb that has been roasted whole over a spit. He points out that the Talmud of Eretz-Israel [Pesaĥim 28a] prohibits the eating at the Seder service of anything that requires ritual slaughter - even fowl! Since this is not echoed in the Babylonian Talmud it is not accepted halakhah. Today, one should avoid eating roast lamb at the Seder service.

5:
Nowadays it is accepted that where in former times halakhah and custom stipulated the eating of the paschal lamb we now substitute the eating of matzah. Thus we refrain from eating on the afternoon of Nisan 14th in order to eat matzah with relish at the Seder service later that evening.

6:
Our mishnah makes two other stipulations: the Seder meal must be eaten reclining and it must be accompanied by four cups of wine. The following is noted in the Talmud of Eretz- Israel [Pesaĥim 68b]:


Rav Levi says that because servants usually eat standing up here we should eat reclining in order to demonstrate that we have left servitude for liberty. Rav Simon reports Rabbi Yehoshu'a ben-Levi as saying that the olive's-bulk which a person must eat on Pesaĥ must be eaten reclining. Rabbi Yosé asked Rabbi Simon whether this included a servant in the presence of his master and a woman in the presence of her husband; he replied, 'that is what I have heard'.

The reclining referred to here is the Roman habit of formal dining. Low tables were surrounded on three sides with couches on which the male diners lay on their left side, so as to leave their right hand free for handling the food.
It was unheard of in polite Roman circles for women to recline: they usually sat, as we do, on upright chairs on the inside of the U-shape created by the couches of the males (and usually retired before the after-dinner entertainment). The response of Rabbi Simon to the query of Rabbi Yosé clarifies that even women and servants at the Seder service must behave as free Roman males did at their dinner parties.

DISCUSSION:

In a comment on one of my recent explanations I wrote: I am indebted to Rambam, the greatest mishnah commentator of them all, for the germ of the idea that underlies the above explanation.

Yiftah Shapir writes:

I wonder... as you say Rambam's commentary seem to be quite straightforward and the example he gives opens one's eyes - yet the Rabbi Yom Tov Lippman Heller says in the Tosfot Yom Tov, on 've-Yafsid ha-motar' - 'the words of Rambam in his commentary are not clear to me'... Ha-Omnam??? how come?

I respond:

The difficulty experienced by Tosfot YomTov is 'a puzzlement'. Possibly enlightenment may be found in a comment made by another commentator. Rambam, in his explanation, did not use the specific term 'paschal lamb' but the generic term 'sacrifice'. Since Rambam is always extremely careful about his choice of words and almost nothing is 'by chance', perhaps he intended other offerings to be included in his comment. Rabbi Moshe Zacuto [Amsterdam, Venice, Mantua, 17th century CE] in his commentary 'Kol ha- Tor' writes:

You might have misunderstood the mishnah as intending to convey that if the two sacrifices that got mixed up were, for instance, a guilt-offering or a sin-offering which are eaten by priests that they should have to sustain the financial loss. This is why the mishnah states explicitly that this is not the case.


The first part of 9:9 reads (in part): 'If theirs was the first to be slaughtered they must eat from theirs and he must eat of his. If it is not possible to determine which was slaughtered first, or if they were slaughtered simultaneously, he must eat from his own, they may not share his, and theirs must be incinerated, but they are excused the need to observe the Alternative Passover.'

The second part of that same mishnah reads (in part): 'if his was the first to be slaughtered or they were both slaughtered simultaneously, they must eat from theirs, he may not share theirs and his must be incinerated.'

In my explanation I wrote: 'The second element in our mishnah is the same as the first, except that this time it is Re'uven who tries to hedge his bets. In such an event the situation is the same as previously, but with the roles reversed.' Now Nehama Barbiru writes:

The two cases are not exactly the same in their solution (as suggested in the explanation). There is a difference in the case that the second party's lamb was slaughtered first. In part 1 of the Mishna Reuben eats his own but in the second part he is left with no lamb. At the same time, the solution for a simultaneous slaughter is the same in both cases. Why the difference?

I respond:

It is the halakhic reasoning which is parallel in both parts. In the first part of the mishnah it is 'the rest of the group' who create the anomalous situation, whereas in the second part it is Re'uven who does so. In the first part, if Re'uven's lamb was the first to be slaughtered he is considered as having carried out the mission that they required of him and therefore they must eat together with him; if theirs was the first to be slaughtered it must be assumed that they have seceded from Re'uven's lamb, so they eat theirs and he eats his.

In the second part it is Re'uven who tells them to act if he is late. If theirs was the first to be slaughtered they have carried out the mission that he required of them and so he must eat with them. If his was the first to be slaughtered it must be assumed that he has seceded from their lamb so each must eat of its own.

In both cases the 'seceding' party loses it's lamb if it is not possible to determine which one was the first to be slaughtered.


The mishnah in 9:5 includes the phrase 'Passovers ever since'. Ed Frankel writes:

This is reminiscent of a fact we all know, but so often ignore. While the holiday has many names to it, the one most often used is Pesaĥ, which for all intents is mainly an innacuracy if speaking from a biblial perspective. The liturgical texts primarily refer to it as the Holiday of the Matzot, and even at our sedarim it is by that name that we sanctify the festival. Perhaps, the custom of calling the holiday Pesaĥ is more ancient than may have otherwise been believed, and so accepted already in the time of the Mishna that this double meaning is already contained in the text.

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They pour for him the first cup. Bet Shammai say that he must first make the blessing over the day and then over the wine; Bet Hillel say that he must first make the blessing over the wine and then over the day.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
The last clause of the previous mishnah mentioned that every Jew at every Seder must have four cups of wine 'even if this is from the soup-kitchen'. In ancient Israel the soup-kitchen [Tamĥu'i] was part of the rather extensive arrangements made for the support of the indigent. Any person whose annual income was less than 200 dinars was considered indigent and was entitled to weekly financial support from the local charity fund, and to daily support from the soup kitchen which supplied them with food.

2:
Clearly the requirement that every Jew drink four cups of wine with his meal of roast lamb, matzah and maror, is part of the effort of halakhah to ensure that the passover meal is eaten 'in freedom', as we explained in connection with mishnah 1. Technically speaking, the first cup is designated for 'Kiddush', the sanctification of the day over wine; the second is reserved for the recitation of the 'Haggadah' (which is also a requirement of the Torah); the third cup is the cup over which grace is recited after the meal; and the fourth cup is that which accompanies and concludes the recitation of Hallel. This chapter will elaborate on each of these as it progresses.

3:
Even though 'four cups' may have started off as 'many cups' to indicate that the celebrant is a free person who can take his repast 'just like the Romans do', the Romans who were masters of the world - even so an attempt was made to link the number four to a biblical origin. When, at the site of the burning bush in the desert, God appoints Moses to the task of getting the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, He tells Moses to assure the Israelites of their ultimate salvation:

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Therefore tell the children of Israel, 'I am God, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments: and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for a heritage: I am God.'

The sages noted that in this passage [Exodus 6:6-8] there are 'four expressions of salvation' used: 'I will bring you out', 'I will rescue you', 'I will redeem you', and 'I will take you'. The four cups of wine drunk at the Seder service were linked to these four expressions. However, there was a persistent tradition that more than four cups could be involved. This tradition possibly goes back to the original situation where there were not 'four' cups but 'many' cups of wine. Be that as it may, certainly a fifth cup became prominent, whether in the middle ages it was the introduction of Elijah's cup or whether in the modern State of Israel it is linked to a fifth expression to be found in the biblical passage: 'I will bring you into the land'. We shall say more of this at a later stage in our study of this chapter.

4:
The Seder service, just like the celebratory meals of Shabbat and the other festivals, begins with Kiddush. When we studied the first mishnah of the eighth chapter of tractate Berakhot we first learned of the 'machloket' [difference of halakhic opinion] between Bet Hillel and Bet Shammai in this regard. We noted at that time:

The Kiddush, [usually] recited over wine, is a declaratory statement made before the festive spread to the effect that the day is holy. Kiddush on Shabbat Eve consists to two berakhot: a berakhah over wine [assuming that wine is being used, as is almost universally the case] and then a berakhah which declares the sanctity of the day. On all festival evenings (with the sole exception of the last day/s of Pesaĥ) a third blessing is added, called 'Birkat ha-Zeman' [the blessing of the season], known familiarly as 'she-he-che-yanu'... Bet Shammai hold that the berakhah over the sanctity of the day should come first since it is only because the day is holy that we shall drink the wine; what is more, from the chronological point of view, the day has commenced (with the onset of dark) before Kiddush is recited declaring it to be holy. Bet Hillel hold that the berakhah over the wine should come first: the institution of Kiddush itself is based on the Biblical verse [Exodus 20:7] 'Remember the Sabbath day, to sanctify it'... a midrash seems to give the Hebrew verb 'remember' its other meaning, 'to mention': "'Mention' it over wine... In what manner do you 'sanctify' it? - sanctify it with sweet Shabbat food, with scented wine and smart clothing... Sanctify it with a berakhah. Hence the sages said 'Sanctify it over wine'..." [Midrash Tannaim on Deuteronomy 5:12].

5:
In this case, as in most others, the view of Bet Hillel prevails, and when one recites Kiddush at the seder service one first recites the blessing over wine [Boré pri ha-gefen] and only afterwards the main section of Kiddush concludes with the blessing over the day, 'Mekadesh Yisra'el ve-ha-zemanim'.

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They set before him, he dips it into the lettuce before he reaches what goes with the bread. They set before him matzah, lettuce and ĥaroset and two dishes, even though the ĥaroset is not a mitzvah. Rabbi Eli'ezer bar Zadok says that it is [indeed] a mitzvah. And in Temple [times] they would set before him the body of the paschal lamb.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
In order to understand the style of this mishnah (and the previous one) we must recall that the mishnah is following the table customs of the time, table customs that we have mentioned on several occasions over the years. People did not serve themselves, but one (or more) of the number was selected to serve as 'waiter' for the others. Thus, in the previous mishnah it would be this 'waiter' who poured the wine for everyone present - the first cup of wine for Kiddush; and it is the 'waiter' who now places the next items on the table.

2:
The first sentence of our present mishnah is problematic and I have tried to indicate the problem in the translation. Several attempts have been made to reconstruct the text. Rambam, in his commentary on our present mishnah, reads: 'They set before him vegetables and he eats the lettuce before he reaches...' The Tosafists [Pesaĥim 114a] read: 'They set before him a table...' and they explain that the low tables were only set before the diners after Kiddush.

3:
It seems that the intention of our mishnah is to say that even before the main part of the celebratory meal begins the 'waiters' would set before the diners an hors d'oevre of vegetables which they would eat at this early stage. Rambam is a great pains to explain that at this stage 'lettuce' is just an example and that, in fact, any vegetable over which the berakhah for vegetables may be recited is acceptable. Rabbi Ovadyah of Bertinoro adds to what Rambam says the explanation that any vegetable may be used at this stage, and the citation of lettuce is merely to indicate that a poor person who does not have the means to provide several kinds of vegetable to go with his meal may use as his hors d'oevre the same lettuce that will also serve later on as the maror.

4:
Rambam explains that the reason why such a gross deviation from custom is made - to introduce the hors d'oevre long before the main part of the meal - is in order to peek the curiosity of the children present so that they will ask about this, thus prompting the 'haggadah', the 'telling' - as we shall see in the next mishnah.

DISCUSSION:

Recently we had occasion to note that 'even women and servants at the Seder service must behave as free Roman males did at their dinner parties'. Mike Mantel writes:

Opening the proverbial can of worms. Is this not time bound?

I respond:

At first glance Mike's query seems perfectly justified: we recently had occasion to mention the general rule that 'all positive, time-specific mitzvot are incumbent upon men whereas women are excused; all positive mitzvot that are not time-specific are incumbent upon both men and women; all negative commandments, be they time-specific or not, are incumbent upon both men and women'. And, as Mike suggests, can there be anything more 'time-specific' than the requirement that the Seder service be conducted each year on the night of Nisan 15th before midnight?

However, when we discussed this rule in connection with 8:1, I also wrote:

[This] legalistic generalization ... is so unsatisfactory that even the sages themselves had to admit that it is a generalization and 'one cannot deduce specifics from generalizations'. There are so many exceptions to the rule that one begins to wonder to what extent it is indeed a rule. For example, women are required to eat matzah at the seder service; women are required to recite Kiddush on Shabbat and Yom-Tov - and these requirements are not modern innovations, but 'go back to Sinai' as it were. And both these examples are positive mitzvot that are 'time-specific'. (The only time that we must eat matzah is at the seder service; for the rest of Pesaĥ we need not if we choose not to, it's just that we may not eat bread. It goes without saying that the Shabbat Kiddush if recited on a Tuesday is ritually meaningless.)

Rambam [Mishneh Torah, Ĥametz u-Matzah, 7:7] codifies as follows:

'That is why when a person dines on this night he must eat and drink while reclining, as a free person; and everyone - both men and women - must drink four cups of wine' etc.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

5:
The phrase 'what goes with the bread' is a term which indicates the main course of a meal: it refers to the vegetables (or possibly vegetable spreads) which accompany the bread over which the blessing is recited before the meal. As we have already noted, all this means is that the vegetable hors d'oevre, which has been the subject of our present mishnah so far, is introduced and eaten long before the main meal starts. In the format of the Seder now generally accepted, the Kiddush is followed by the eating of a vegetable designated by the term 'Karpas'. Our mishnah says that this vegetable is 'dipped'; however the classical commentators explain that the Hebrew verb used is, in fact, in this context, a synonym for 'eat', and the intent of the mishnah is simply to teach that after Kiddush, and long before the main course of the meal, a vegetable hors d'oevre is served and eaten.

6:
Be that as it may, it is now accepted that this vegetable is dipped. But into what? Our mishnah says that it is dipped into the lettuce (maror) which does not make much sense. Rambam seems to be confusing the Hebrew terms 'chazeret' (lettuce, maror) with 'charoset', but this is simply because he is following the format used in the Gemara. It seems that the custom eventually stabilized into a format whereby the vegetable was dipped into salt water. It was perhaps this that prompted Rabbi Oshaya in the Gemara [Pesaĥim 115a-b] to note that any food that is dipped into a liquid requires the hands to be washed beforehand. The Tur [Oraĥ Ĥayyim 473] says that this vegetable is brought before the celebrant who distributes it to all the other participants and 'he washes his hands because anything that is dipped requires the hands to be washed'. Perhaps the pronoun here was misunderstood, but it became the custom that only the celebrant washes his hands before the 'karpas' is ate.

7:
The rest of our mishnah refers to the main part of the meal. The menu consists of matzah, maror, ĥaroset and two other dishes. In our study of 2:6 we exhaustively discussed the various vegetables which can serve as maror, with a distinct preference being shown for lettuce. When we studied 2:8 we mentioned ĥaroset. The Tur [Oraĥ Ĥayyim 473] gives a recipe for ĥaroset:

The ĥaroset recalls the mud in which our ancestors trudged, therefore it must be made thick and from bitter things; but the Talmud of Eretz-Israel records that some made it thick and some made it loose, to recall the blood. Rabbi Yeĥi'el says that both views may be followed: we first make it thick and we then loosen it with wine. We spice it with cinnamon and ginger which recall the straw which they used to mix with the mud to make bricks. We add apple because of the Song of Songs 8:5, and walnuts because of 6:11 in the same book, and dates because of 2:13.

All of this seems a bit confused, which suggests to me that it is an attempt to reconcile several customs. Originally the ĥaroset was almost liquid (which explains how the karpas could be dipped into it and thus require the washing of the hands) and made with vinegar and was in memory of the blood smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites. It then became the custom to make it with sweet wine, mixed with apple, nuts, dates and sweet spices and the mixture became identified with the Israelites making bricks from straw and mud.

8:
In our mishnah Rabbi Eli'ezer bar-Zadok challenges the view of Tanna Kamma and holds that the ĥaroset is an essential mitzvah of the evening, on a par with matzah and maror etc, and that it therefore requires its own blessing. Halakhah follows Tanna Kamma, and there is no special berakhah that accompanies the ĥaroset.

9:
Our mishnah says that in addition to the elements already mentioned 'two dishes' are brought to the table. It is now customary that the two dishes are a shankbone and an egg, the shankbone representing the paschal lamb and the egg representing the chagigah [celebratory sacrifice] which often accompanied the celebrants in the Bet Mikdash (we discussed this in 6:3-4). However, this was not always the case: in the Gemara [Pesaĥim 114b] Rav Huna recommends beetroot and rice. We should note here two things: firstly, that since Rav Huna recommends beetroot those who refrain from having meat on their table can use a beet to 'represent' the paschal lamb; and secondly, that Rav Huna does not hesitate to recommend that rice be served at the Seder table. (We exhaustively discussed the matter of legumes - kitniyyot - when we studied 2:5.)

10:
From a reading of our mishnah it seems that in Temple times the Seder meal consisted of matzah, maror, ĥaroset, beetroot, rice (or something similar) - and, of course, roast lamb!

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They pour him a second cup. Here the son asks his father (and if the son does not know how his father teaches him): 'In what way is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat ĥametz or matzah, [but] tonight only matzah. On all other nights we eat any vegetables, tonight maror. On all other nights we eat meat roasted, stewed or boiled, [but] tonight only roasted. On all other nights we dip once, [but] tonight twice.' According to the son's understanding the father teaches him, beginning with shame and ending with praise. And he expounds midrashically from 'My father was a wandering Aramean' until he concludes that whole section.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
We now approach that section of the proceedings known as 'maggid'. Before commencing this section the waiters pour out the second cup of wine.

2:
The section called 'maggid' as also a mitzvah of the Torah. On four separate occasions the Torah instructs us to relate the story of the Exodus to our children and to explain to the the details of the Seder ceremony:

: ...

When your children ask you what this ceremony is you shall tell them that it is the passover of God who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck Egypt but spared our homes [Exodus 12 26-27];

:

And you shall tell your son on that day, saying [that I do this] because of what God did for me when I left Egypt [Exodus 13:8];

:

When at some future time your son shall ask you what this [ceremony] is, you shall tell him [that it is because] with might of main God brought us out of the slave pen [of Egypt] [Exodus 13:14];

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When at some future time you son shall ask you, 'What mean the testimonies, statutes, and ordinances, which God has commanded you?' - you shall tell your son that we were Pharaohs slaves in Egypt: and God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand [Deuteronomy 6:20-21].

Rambam [Ĥametz u-Matzah 7:2] codifies this duty as follows:

It is a mitzvah to instruct the children even if they do not ask, for it says, 'You shall tell your son'. The father teaches him according to the son's level of understanding: if the child is small or unintelligent he should say to him, 'My son, in Egypt we were all slaves just like this maidservant or this manservant, and on this night God rescued us and brought us forth to liberty'. If the child is grown or intelligent he should instruct him as to what happened to us in Egypt and the miracles that were done for us through the agency of Moses our teacher - everything according to the son's understanding.

As a preparation to the fulfillment of this duty by the parent the child is expected here to ask for some explanation.

To be continued.

DISCUSSION:

In my explanation of the first mishnah of this chapter I mentioned an annual income of 200 dinars. This was a kind of 'poverty line'. Ze'ev Orzech asks:

Is there any way to express this in terms of equivalents of items used in Mishnaic times, say the price of a lamb, a liter of wine, etc.? All I could find is that each dinar (zuz) is the equivalent of 96 barley grains which seems like a very small amount.

I respond:

It would seem that the daily income of a journeyman (in our terms an employee of 'middle class' standards) was between three and four dinars [Bava Metzi'a 76a]. This would yield an annual income of between 1200 and 1500 dinars.

As an afterthought Ze'ev added:

It occurred to me in the middle of the night that, of course, that we know the price of a lamb from the Chad Gadya.

And I respond to that:

I am sorry that you had to lose sleep over this. Perhaps it was because you were counting sheep!

I don't know how much it would be advisable to base such a calculation on a medieval children's ditty. If that price of two dinars for one kid reflects any kind of reality then one could calculate the approximate value today of 7% a comparable weekly wage today.


In a response to a query by Mike Mantel I wrote: 'Recently we had occasion to note that "even women and servants at the Seder service must behave as free Roman males did at their dinner parties".

Art Werschultz writes:

I recall learning that since women are bound by the negative commandments of ĥametz, they are also bound by the positive commandment of eating the korban pesach. Unfortunately, I don't have the source handy here.

I respond:

Benjamin Fleischer provides you with the information, unasked:

See BT Men 42ab where is it 'clarified' that women are obligated in positive-time-bound-commandments that include negatives like the 'zachor and shamor = remember and guard' of shabbat.

Art Werschultz continues:

However, note that Rambam doesn't specifically say that women recline. Is that contained in the 'etc.'? Once again, I recall learning that 'an important woman reclines', the followup being 'and all our women are important'. Again, I don't have the source handy; it might be the Shulchan Aruch Hilchot Pesaĥ, with the retort being the ReMA, but I can't say for sure.

I respond:

See Rambam, Ĥametz u-Matzah 7:8. On Oraĥ Ĥayyim 472:4 the Rema quotes the Mordechai as quoting Rabbenu Yerucham as saying that 'all our womenfolk are considered to be important' and need to recline at the Seder. Now, isn't that just something for a statement originally made in medieval Europe some 800 years ago!

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

3:
As we have noted, in order to facilitate the 'telling' of the wonder of the Exodus it became the custom for the 'telling' to be prompted by the 'questions'. The original number of questions is not clear since the sources available to us yield different numbers - three, four, five or six. Furthermore, is the first sentence of the series a question or an exclamation? - the Hebrew will sustain both meanings: the translation given above is more in keeping with the usage of Mishnaic Hebrew, but, doing negligible violence to idiom, it could also be rendered 'How different this night is from all other nights!' Thus our own mishnah could be offering four or five questions, depending on the chosen resolution of that imponderable. However, there are many (yes, many) manuscripts of the Mishnah which omit the question about vegetables; in such a case we are left with four or three questions.

4:
Questions can be raised concerning the meaning of each of the questions discerned in our mishnah. When the child notes that 'on all other nights we eat ĥametz or matzah', it could also be translated as 'on all other nights we eat ĥametz with matzah', meaning that on all other occasions ĥametz can be present on the table as well as matzah, but not tonight. (It seems that matzah was eaten quite regularly throughout the year, as well as bread that was ĥametz.)

5:
The question about the vegetables is problematic - and, as we have already noted, it is missing in many manuscripts. Vegetables were regularly served as an hors d'oevre, as we noted in connection with the previous mishnah, usually dipped in a piquant sauce of some kind. The difference was, as noted at that stage, that 'on this night' the usual hors d'oevre was separated from the main meal by the long intrusion of the 'haggadah', the 'telling'. Furthermore, the question would only make sense if the alternative were 'but on this night we eat maror only'; but that could not be the formulation of the question since it simply is not true: maror is not a vegetable eaten at the Seder table to the exclusion of all others.

6:
The question about the meat was obviously appropriate only when the Bet Mikdash was in existence, since, as we noted when we studied 4:4, after that the eating of roast meat at the Seder table was scrupulously avoided, so as not to raise the suspicion of eating 'sacred' meat outside the now non-existent Temple. Thus this question is very old. It means that the child has noted that great care has been taken to fulfill the command of the Torah that the meat of the lamb may not be 'in any way boiled in water, but roasted by fire' [Exodus 12:2-9]. When the question became obsolete it was replaced - universally it seems - with the question about table habits: 'on all other nights we may dine either sitting [on upright chairs] or reclining [on couches], but tonight only reclining'.

To be continued.

DISCUSSION:

Recently we discussed Kiddush and the drinking of wine that accompanies it. Naomi Koltun-Fromm writes:

I am curious about the wine drinking and the blessing there of. Do we have any evidence of a 'first time' or a development of this in the halakha? When the temple was standing festival days were not sanctified with a berakha over a cup of wine, right? Were there wine libations in the temple in connection with the sacrifices? Is it just the influence of wine drinking Romans that the rabbis decide to sanctify with a berakha over wine?

I respond:

I do not know why Naomi thinks that 'when the temple was standing festival days were not sanctified with a berakha over a cup of wine'. While I cannot recall any biblical reference, the custom of reciting Kiddush over wine is mentioned in a very early halakhic midrash, the Mekhilta [Bachodesh 7]. In reference to the biblical injunction in the Ten Commandments 'Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it' [Exodus 12:8] the midrash comments:

'Sanctify it' with a blessing. This is the origin of their saying, 'we sanctify it over wine at its beginning'.

While this midrash certainly dates to early Tannaitic times, the use of the phrase 'this is the origin of their saying' is used in many other instances to indicate a custom whose origin is lost in the mists of time, 'they' being anonymous sages in hoary antiquity. So, at the very least, I think we can safely assume that the use of wine for Kiddush has an origin that considerably predates Roman influence.

Yes, there certainly were libations of wine offered with many sacrifices in the Bet Mikdash, including the twice-daily 'Tamid'.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

7:
The question about dipping also seems to have gradually changed throughout the ages. The original text of our mishnah states that 'on all other nights we dip once, but tonight we dip twice'; the text used nowadays reads that 'on all other nights we do not dip even once, but tonight we dip twice'. The dipping referred to here is the dipping of vegetables into a sauce of some kind. We have already noted that in mishnaic times at almost all formal meals the repast began with an hors d'oeuvre of a vegetable (or vegetables) dipped in a liquid. As we have seen in our study of mishnah 3 this 'regular dipping' occurred at the start of the Seder, immediately after Kiddush - as if the meal were about to commence. The second dipping is peculiar to the Seder service, when maror (lettuce or another of the vegetables mentioned in 2:6) was dipped in ĥaroset. As dining habits changed people began their meals in a different way and it was no longer appropriate to note the difference between one dipping and two; so the change was made was made whereby the child notes the difference between 'no dipping' and doing so twice. (This change is already evident by the time of the Babylonian Amora'im. In Pesaĥim 116a the text is emended to read: 'on all other nights we do not have to dip even once, but tonight we must dip twice')

To be continued.

DISCUSSION:

Albert Ringer has sent a rather comprehensive message concerning Greek and Roman table manners:

It is difficult to generalize on the position of women in the Greek/Roman world. Women in the Western Roman world were in a much better position then in the Greek/Hellenistic east and were not confined totally to the inner space of the house. In Rome, it was not uncommon for women to go out with their men and eat on couches, in the same room as their husbands. In the classical Greek world, that would be unthinkable. Women in Athens were held in less esteem than slaves. However, that is around the same time as the Babylonian exile, seven hundred years before the publication of the Mishnah. Dinner was indeed served on small, round tables that were brought in with the food and then set before the diners. The tables were not set before the dinner started. Wine was always served, mixed with water, never pure. A main task of the waiter was to mix the wine. I am sorry, knowing you hold Rambam in high esteem, that his remark on the reason why the hors d'oeuvre is served before the meal, tells us more about diners in Egypt in the middle ages than about the Mishnah. As is still the case now in Italy, salads in the Roman world were eaten as a first course. However, it is interesting to note that in the eastern Roman world, vegetable salads were more in vogue, while the western Roman world preferred something with eggs as a first course. I learned from my parents to serve an egg, dipped in salt water, just before the meal during the seder. I know the eastern Ashkenazi world holds remnants of Italic Judaism and wonder if this is one too.

I respond:

I have also seen other explanations for the (not universal) custom of starting the meal with an egg in salt-water, but the one offered by Albert certainly seems to have the ring of reason to it. However, let us note that the requirement that it be a vegetable that be dipped as 'karpas' was never uprooted, which meant that the 'egg in salt-water' could not and did not replace the original vegetable hors d'oeuvre.


In connection with mishnah 3 I wrote: The Tur [Oraĥ Ĥayyim 473] says that this vegetable is brought before the celebrant who distributes it to all the other participants and 'he washes his hands because anything that is dipped requires the hands to be washed'. Perhaps the pronoun here was misunderstood, but it became the custom that only the celebrant washes his hands before the 'karpas' is ate.

Josh Greenfield writes:

I was intrigued to see this source, because I have noticed this custom before, although it seemed more correct to have all participants wash their hands before dipping the vegetable. Nonetheless, would a straight reading of the Tur not seem to indicate that only the celebrant himself washes washes his hands, since he is the only one dipping the vegetable? The practice I have seen is to distribute the vegetable, and pass around a bowl of salt water for dipping, but I think the Tur is describing a situation where the dipping is done by one person and then distributed to all present.

I respond:

This is ingenious, but ultimately no less problematic, since in the Gemara [Pesaĥim 115a-b]the requirement to wash the hands before eating 'anything that is dipped' applies to the eater and not just to the server.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

8:
As we have mentioned, it was the custom in ancient times to dine on small (or low) tables that were placed next to the diners and removed when they had finished their meal. It seems that it was the custom then to bring in the tables for the recital of Kiddush and the eating of the 'karpas' and then remove the tables for the actual 'haggadah', the 'telling the story' of the Exodus. The remotest (and by no means consistent) vestiges of this custom are now to be found in the custom of covering and uncovering the Seder dish (with matzah, maror, shankbone etc) and various stages of the proceedings, the Seder dish thus representing the original table set before the diners.

9:
The fact that the Seder dish is removed after 'karpas' has a very interesting repercussion on the questions that the child is expected to ask. Rashi's Prayer Book indicates that 'Mah Nishtanah' is, in fact, offered by our present mishnah as an example of questions that might be asked for the child 'who doesn't know how to ask'. This is reinforced by an account given in the Gemara [Pesaĥim 115b]:

Abbayé was sitting [at the Seder] before Rabba and saw that they were removing his table [after 'karpas'] and said, 'We haven't eaten yet and they're already taking away our tables!?' Rabba said, 'Now we don't have to recite "Mah Nishtanah"!'

The great Babylonian sage Abbayé was an orphan whose father died before he was born and whose mother died during his birth. He was adopted and brought up by his uncle, Rabba, and he grew up to look upon his cousin Rava like a beloved brother. (The Gemara also points out that when he says 'my mother used to say' he is referring to his nurse.) These facts help us to understand that the story we just quoted from the Gemara happened when Abbayé was a child and not when he was an adult, one of the greatest sages of his age. It means that the important thing is for the child to ask: any question will serve as the jumping off point for the response which is the 'haggadah'.

10:
Another example of a starter for the 'haggadah' other than the 'Mah Nishtanah' is recounted in the Gemara [Pesaĥim 116a]:

Rav Nachman turned to Deru his servant and asked: 'If a master releases his slave and gives him silver and gold what should his reaction be?' The slave responded, 'He should thank him and praise him.' Rav Nachman said, 'You have just made it unnecessary for us to recite "Mah Nishtanah"', and he immediately proceeded with 'Once we were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt...'

11:
Our mishnah teaches two reactions to the child's questions: firstly the father must relate the story of the Exodus, beginning with the ignominy of the enslavement of our people and culminating in the glory of the Exodus itself. Our present Haggadah contains two examples of this 'answer', that provided by the Babylonian Amora Shemu'el and that provided by his colleague Rav [mid to late 3rd century CE]. 'Once we were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt...' is the version ascribed to Shemu'el. The version ascribed to Rav begins 'Originally our ancestors were idol worshippers in Mesopotamia...' indicating a much wider historical sweep.

12:
The second reaction mentioned by our mishnah is the midrashic development of Deuteronomy 26:5-8 -

: : : :

My ancestor was a wandering Aramean who went down into Egypt, took up residence there few in number; and there became a great, mighty, and populous nation. The Egyptians ill-treated us, and afflicted us, and laid on us hard bondage: and we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and God heard our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression; and God brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terror, and with signs, and with wonders.

In the midrashic development at present included in our Haggadah this passage is embellished almost word by word.

, , , , , , . , . , . , . , , ' . , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . , :

Rabban Gamli'el would say, Anyone who has not mentioned these three items on Passover has not fulfilled his duty; they are: the paschal lamb, Matzah and Maror. The Paschal lamb - because God passed over the homes of our ancestors in Egypt; Matzah - because our ancestors were redeemed in Egypt; Maror - because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt. In every generation [each] person must look upon himself as if he had left Egypt, for it says: And you shall tell your son on that day, saying [that I do this] because of what God did for me when I left Egypt [Exodus 13:8]. That is why we have the duty to praise ... Him who performed for our ancestors and for us all these miracles: He brought us from slavery to liberty, from wretchedness to joy, from mourning to festivity, from darkness to a great light, and from enslavement to redemption: so let us say before Him, Hallelujah.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
This long mishnah is even longer in the Talmuds - in the Babylonian Talmud it is joined to the next mishnah and in the Talmud of Eretz-Israel it is joined to the previous mishnah. This would suggest that originally there was just one long mishnah that dealt with the whole section of the ceremony that was the 'haggadah' proper - everything that is said and done under the aegis if the second cup of wine, as it were.

2:
Furthermore, even the mishnah as given above could easily be subdivided into three parts. The first part is the three items that must be mentioned, the second part the requisite mindset, and the third part the duty of gratitude - which serves as a smooth passage and introduction to the recitation of Hallel. This mishnah - with cosmetic changes - has been incorporated wholesale into the traditional Haggadah as we know it today.

3:

The first part of our mishnah returns us back to the mitzvah that is being performed at this stage in the proceedings. In our very first shiur on this tractate I wrote:

The Torah stipulates five basic mitzvot [religious requirements] in the celebration of Pesaĥ:

  1. the complete absence of ĥametz [leaven] [Exodus 12:15];
  2. the eating of the paschal lamb; [Exodus 12:43-49];
  3. the eating of Matzah; [Exodus 12:16];
  4. the eating of Maror [bitter herbs] [Numbers 9:11];
  5. telling the children the story of the exodus from Egypt with appropriate embellishments [Exodus 13:8].

The pouring of the second cup (mishnah 4) indicates the start of 'the telling [haggadah] the children the story of the exodus'. We have already seen that in answer to the child's questions the father is required to respond 'beginning with shame and ending with praise', and then 'he expounds midrashically ... until he concludes that whole section'.

4:
In our present mishnah Rabban Gamli'el states that this is not sufficient for the proper fulfillment of the duty of 'telling your son'. The response to the questions suggested by both Rav and Shemu'el (both of which suggestions were incorporated into our Haggadah, as we have mentioned) appeal to the more intellectual aspect of the telling: a historical survey which explains why we are celebrating. The requirement to embellish the telling of the story as much as possible provokes the midrashic exposition that is also included in our Haggadah today. However, now Rabban Gamli'el adds that the duty of 'telling your son' requires an explanation not only of why we are celebrating but also of how we are celebrating: an explanation of the three main items in the meal that will shortly be eaten - the roast lamb (which is still rotating on its spit before the child's eyes), the Matzah and the Maror.

DISCUSSION:

Rémy Landau writes:

Your comment that Had Gadyah is "...a medieval children's ditty" raises a number of questions in my mind. What are the 'zuzei' to which reference is being made? The word, when read backwards, is 'yeizuz' ... which is a very provocative coincidence as far as names go. The other observation which can be made is that the survivors of Had Gadyah are the father, the son (????), and HaKadosh Baruch Hu. That too indicates a profound message that children would not appreciate. Would it therefore be reasonable to speculate that Had Gadyah is far deeper than '...a medieval children's ditty', and may have been the coded result of some very difficult medieval Jewish-Christian contacts?

I respond:

I think that Rémy is trying to read into this 'children's ditty' something that quite simply is not there. Why should our tradition have incorporated into our celebration a song that describes how 'Father bought one kid for two Jesuses'? - whatever that might mean. Apart from the fact that the incidence of a father may presume the existence of a son, where is the son in this song? Also, is it conceivable that any believing Jew - and certainly in the middle ages! - would have seen in the appellation 'ha-Kadosh Barukh Hu' any being but Israel's God? And how would the cat, dog, stick, fire, water etc connect with 'Father, Son and Holy Ghost' even if they were hidden there in the song?

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

5:
The teaching of our present mishnah is attributed to Rabban Gamli'el. It is usually quite a simple task to deduce from the circumstances surrounding a mishnah whether the reference is to Rabban Gamli'el the Elder or to Rabban Gamli'el of Yavneh. In our present case it is slightly more difficult.

6:
The great sage Hillel, who lived around the turn of the era, was the founder of a dynasty whose scions provided the presidents of the Sanhedrin for several centuries. Hillel must have died around the year 20 CE, maybe a little earlier. His son, Gamli'el, who succeeded him was the first to be accorded the honorific 'Rabban' (Our Master) instead of the general 'Rabbi' (My Master). He is usually referred to by later scholarship as 'Rabban Gamli'el the Elder' so as to distinguish him from his grandson of the same name. Rabban Gamli'el was succeeded by his son, Shim'on (and unfortunately there is no easy way to distinguish him from his grandson of the same name). According to the contemporary historian Josephus, Rabban Shim'on ben-Gamli'el was assassinated by zealots (the anti-Roman war faction) around the year 68 or 69 CE. His sudden death left a youngster as his successor, so it seems that after the debacle of the year 70 the presidency was vested in Rabban Yochanan ben-Zakkai; after the death of the latter the rather autocratic Rabban Gamli'el assumed the presidency and is known as Rabban Gamli'el of Yavneh in order to distinguish him from his grandfather. (His son, Shim'on was president of the Sanhedrin during the very difficult period following the collapse of the Bar-Kokhba revolt - mid 2nd century - and his grandson was the great 'Rabbi', Rabbi Yehudah the President of the Sanhedrin, who compiled the Mishnah. 'Rabbi' died in 217 CE.)

7:
Two versions of the text of our mishnah have come down to us: one if the version of the mishnah itself, as given in the translation above, and the other is the one used in our Haggadah. The text in our Haggadah tells us that Rabban Gamli'el used to say that anyone who did not mention the paschal lamb had not fulfilled his duty: 'The paschal lamb, which our ancestors used to eat when the Temple was in existence...' If this text is correct then obviously the Rabban Gamli'el referenced is Rabban Gamli'el of Yavneh. However, there seems no reason not to assume that it is the text as given above that is the original, which was later 'improved' when incorporated into the Haggadah by the addition of proof- texts and the historical adjustment. After all, if the passage is included in the Haggadah for didactic reasons it makes sense to explain to the child that we no longer actually have a paschal lamb to eat but only have it figuratively represented. In this case, the Rabban Gamli'el of our mishnah is Rabban Gamli'el the Elder - the same Rabban Gamli'el who is mentioned in 7:2 as instructing his servant to 'go and roast our paschal lamb on the grating'.

To be continued.

DISCUSSION:

I wrote: The question about the meat was obviously appropriate only when the Bet Mikdash was in existence, since ... after that the eating of roast meat at the Seder table was scrupulously avoided, so as not to raise the suspicion of eating 'sacred' meat outside the now non-existent Temple.

Michael Lewyn writes:

Aren't other rituals patterned after Temple rituals? If so why did Jews avoid imitating Temple rituals here while going out of their way to imitate such rituals elsewhere? How did they eat meat if it wasn't roasted? And how did this custom of nonroasting fall into disuse?

I respond:

No ritual that was exclusively associated with the sacrificial system of the Bet Mikdash is still practiced. (The Priestly Blessing was not exclusive to the Temple ritual.) After the destruction of the Bet Mikdash many new customs were introduced as reminders of its erstwhile existence, but they were not rituals of the Bet Mikdash itself. It became customary to avoid eating roast lamb at the Seder service for this reason. (Immediately after the destruction there were sages of that generation who seriously thought of outlawing the eating of meat and the drinking of wine in general, as signs of deepest mourning, but this was thought by their colleagues to be too excessive.)

As the text of the original question points out: 'On all other nights we eat meat roasted, stewed or boiled...'

I am not aware that the custom of refraining from eating roast lamb at the Seder service has fallen into halakhic disuse. See what I wrote on 4:4 in this regard.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

8:
We should note that the text of our mishnah does not include the proof-texts that are included in the version of this mishnah that is quoted in the Haggadah. In the Haggadah the texts quoted are:-

Exodus 12:27 for the paschal lamb:

You shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of God's Passover, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians, and spared our houses. The people bowed their heads and worshipped.

Exodus 12:39 for the Matzah:

They baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt; for it wasn't leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and couldn't wait, neither had they prepared for themselves any food.

and Exodus 1:14 for the Maror:

And they made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field, all their service, in which they ruthlessly made them serve.

9:
Rabban Gamli'el further states that when the father explains to his son what is going on he should do so with a fervour and conviction born of trying to imagine himself (and his family) personally involved in the miracle of the Exodus. Jews hailing from North Africa have the custom that the children dress up with belt, shoes and staff so as to represent the Israelites ready to leave, as the Torah [Exodus 12:11] commands:

This is how you shall eat it: with your waist girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste: it is God's Passover.

10:
The last part of our present mishnah is, in fact, an introduction to Hallel, which follows immediately. In this connection is is well to recall the anecdote recounted previously from the Gemara [Pesaĥim 116a]:

Rav Nachman turned to Deru his servant and asked: 'If a master releases his slave and gives him silver and gold what should his reaction be?' The slave responded, 'He should thank him and praise him.'

Our mishnah sees this reaction as that appropriate for every Jew, who must regard himself or herself as personally rescued from Egypt. 'That is why we have the duty to praise ...' The original text here brings nine different verbs all of which have more or less the same meaning. Biblical and rabbinic Hebrew is a vehicle most suited to this kind of laudatory agglomeration. In English it sounds quaint and forced, so I have left eight of the verbs untranslated.

DISCUSSION:

Concerning 'Mah Nishtanah' I wrote: 'The original number of questions is not clear since the sources available to us yield different numbers - three, four, five or six. Furthermore, is the first sentence of the series a question or an exclamation? - the Hebrew will sustain both meanings...'

Josh Greenfield writes:

Yet another possibility was raised by a participant at my family's seder this year. She noted that there is actually only one question: 'In what way is this night different from all other nights?' What follows are not separate questions, but different ways of explaining the question itself. That is, the child does not so much ask 'Why do we eat ĥametz or matzah on all other nights, [but] tonight only matzah?' - instead, the child points out this fact (and a few others) once the main question has already been asked.

I respond:

Apart from the fact that the opening sentence is better rendered as an exclamation (and will not accurately bear the interpretation offered at Josh's Seder) there is nothing in this suggestion that one can possibly object to. As we have seen, the sages of the Talmudic era saw this passage not so much as a ritual but as a suggestion as to what a child might say in order to prompt the ritual response.

, , . , . . , , . , ' , , ', ', :

How far does he say? Bet Shammai say: as far as 'a happy mother of children', and Bet Hillel say: as far as 'flint into a spring of water'. And he concludes with [the blessing of] redemption. Rabbi Tarfon says [that this is] 'Who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt' and he would not conclude; Rabbi Akiva says [that the conclusion is] 'Similarly, our God and God of our ancestors, bring us [to enjoy] more festivals and pilgrimages that happily await us in the future, rejoicing in the rebuilding of Your city, and happy in Your worship; there we shall eat offerings and paschal lambs etc' as far as: 'Praised be God, Who redeemed Israel'.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
We learned from mishnah 5:7 that the slaughter of the paschal lamb was accompanied by the singing of Hallel by the Levitical choir. We also learned incidentally from mishnah 9:3 that the eating of the paschal lamb at the Seder service must also be accompanied by Hallel. And the previous mishnah (10:5) taught us incidentally that Hallel is to follow the conclusion of the mitzvah of 'telling' our children the story of the Exodus, and it even contained the introductory formula to Hallel, part of which is to precede the meal.

2:
Our tradition knows of two kinds of Hallel. Psalm 136 is called 'The Great Hallel', with which we shall concern ourselves in our study of the next mishnah; and psalms 113-118 are known as 'Hallel' or 'The Egyptian Hallel'. The Gemara [Pesachim 117a] records about 'this Hallel' (i.e. the Egyptian Hallel) that 'the prophets among them instituted that they should say it at every event [of salvation] and every calamity that may befall: when they are redeemed they must recite it for their redemption'. The Gemara [Pesachim 118a] also says that the reason for this is that this collection of psalms contains five elements: the Exodus [Psalm 114:1], the splitting of the Red Sea [114:3], the Giving of the Torah [ibid.], the resurrection of the dead [116:9] and the birthpangs of the Messianic Age [115:1].

3:
When Hallel is recited at the Seder service it is divided: part is recited before the meal and the rest after the meal. In all probability the reason for this is to encase the symbolic eating of the paschal lamb by the recitation of Hallel in gratitude for the redemption that the lamb signifies.

To be continued.

DISCUSSION:

Some time back, when we were looking at 'Mah Nishtanah' I mentioned that the number of questions is not necessarily four. Cheryl Birkner Mack now suggests a slightly different reading.

A few years ago when I was preparing to teach this Mishna to 6th grade students it occurred to me that 'the father teaches' could refer to the entire rest of the Mishna. In other words the father, as a teacher trying to encourage children/learners to think about what is before them says Ma Nishtana. (Do you notice anything different?, Do you have any questions?) Well on other nights we eat hametz. (any questions?) On other nights we eat all types of vegetables (any questions?) and so on. I think this could account for the stories below where the Ma Nishtana is considered unnecessary. The father (parent) is not supposed to teach the child to repeat back the words of the Mishna, but instead is encouraging or even provoking questions. Any question will do. The Mishna tells us the most obvious perhaps.

I respond:

Certainly the Seder ritual has been seen by many as a paradigm of effective education. It is also clear that the questions are really only 'excuses' for the answers. While there is no internal reason why Cheryl's explication of the mishnah is not justified, it was not the way that tradition understood the mishnah, starting from the Amora'im in the Gemara. Cheryl is right - as we have mentioned before - that 'any question will do', but tradition did see the elements of Mah Nishtanah as reflecting questions that might be suggested to 'he who does not know how to ask'. Already in Tannaitic times the actual questioning had become a ritual. The Gemara [Pesachim 116a] states that if the son is clever enough it is he that asks the questions; failing that the wife asks them; failing that 'he should ask himself; even two scholars both of whom are well-versed in the laws of Passover should ask each other' - and there follows immediately the text of 'Mah Nishtanah'.


Juan-Carlos Kiel asks about the Hebrew text of mishnah 3 of this chapter: he sees a certain difference between the text as I translated it and the text as given in one of the resources he used.

I respond:

This is quite possible. As you probably felt when we studied mishnah 3 the text his hopelessly 'corrupt' (which is a scholarly way of saying that if the scholar doesn't understand the text it must be the fault of the text). There are subtle differences recorded in the various manuscripts. The one Juan-Carlos quoted to me seems to reflect the text given by Rambam in his Mishnah Commentary; the translation I gave is based on the Gemara.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

4:
Our mishnah brings two views as regards the point at which the split within Hallel is made. Bet Shammai hold that only the first psalm (113) is read before the meal and all the rest are read after the meal. Bet Hillel maintain that Psalm 114 is also read before the meal. The reasoning that underlies this divergence of opinion is interesting. The Torah [Deuteronomy 16:1] stipulates:

:

Observe the month of spring and make a passover to God, for it was in the month of spring that God brought you out of the land of Egypt at night.

And, of course, it is well-known that the passover miracle began at midnight, as the Torah [Exodus 12:29-31] relates:

: : ...

And so it was that at midnight God smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in his dungeon... And Pharaoh rose at night - he and all his servants and all Egypt - and there was a great wail in Egypt for there was no home where there was not someone dead. And he summoned Moses and Aaron at night and said...

We note here the threefold repetition of the fact that the action is taking place at night, at midnight.

5:
It seems that one of the reasons why the Seder service was ordained to take place during the evening of Nisan 15th (and not during the daytime) was to emphasize the fact that the redemption from Egypt is celebrated not only on the very day that the Exodus took place, but also at the same time of day that the miracle began. Now, it seems that Bet Shammai took this consideration to much greater lengths than Bet Hillel. Bet Shammai were of the opinion that Hallel, which accompanied the ceremonial eating of the paschal lamb, should be recited at or after midnight. The Tosefta [Pesaĥim 10:6] explains:

Bet Shammai said to Bet Hillel, And have they already left that you mention the Exodus [so early in the day, before midnight]? Bet Hillel responded: One can even wait until cockcrow, for they did not actually start leaving until the sixth hour [of the following morning] - how can you 'conclude with [the blessing of] redemption' when they have not yet been redeemed?

This whole discussion is turning on the issue of whether to recite Psalm 114, 'When the Israelites left Egypt', before midnight. We must assume that Bet Shammai so organized the Seder that the eating of the paschal meal did not conclude until after midnight, and only then would they begin to chant Psalm 114 and conclude the Hallel. As in the vast majority of cases, halakhah (and our present custom) follows the view of Bet Hillel.

6:
Our mishnah teaches (and this is the point that Bet Hillel so cogently make) that the whole ceremony leading up to the paschal meal concludes with the 'blessing of redemption'. (Indeed, we perhaps do a disservice to the sages when today we teach that the Seder commemorates the Exodus from Egypt (a historical event) whereas they wished to emphasize that it commemorates the Redemption from Egypt (a theological event) and the whole ceremony of 'telling' culminates in the berakhah praising God as the one 'who redeemed Israel'.

7:
Our mishnah also recalls a difference between Rabbi Tarfon and his younger contemporary (and friend) Rabbi Akiva as regards the wording of this passage. When our mishnah says that "Rabbi Tarfon says [that the text is] 'Who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt' and he would not conclude" it cannot mean that he did not conclude the whole passage with a berakhah, for then the passage would be ritually meaningless. It must mean that he did not include the additional text that Rabbi Akiva uses. Even though halakhah and custom follow Rabbi Akiva, there must be many today who do not wish to pray for the day when 'we shall eat [once again] offerings and paschal lambs, whose blood is splashed on the sides of your altar'. I can see no grave objection to these people adopting the custom of Rabbi Tarfon and excluding the additional text of Rabbi Akiva.

, . , , . , , . , :

They pour for him the third cup and he says grace after his meal. The fourth, and he concludes on it the Hallel and says on it the Blessing of the Song. Between these cups he may drink if he chooses, but between the third and the fourth he should not drink.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
In the Gemara [Pesachim 117b] we are told that each of the four cups of wine during the Seder is designated for a certain mitzvah. The first is for Kiddush, the second is for the 'telling' (the 'haggadah'), the third is for Grace After Meals, and the fourth is for the Hallel.

2:
In the Gemara [Pesachim 118a] a baraita is quoted:

On the fourth [cup] he concludes the Hallel and recites the Great Hallel...

The Great Hallel is then identified as Psalm 136, which includes the phrase 'for His kindness is everlasting' twenty-six times. (This is the view of Rabbi Tarfon, which is accepted; another view is also quoted in the baraita according to which the Great Hallel is Psalm 23.) More than one reason is offered for the inclusion of Psalm 136; the most appealing is probably that offered by Rabbi Yoĥanan: because God sits in his highest heaven and allocates food for each creature. This is God's supreme act of kindness. The connection between Pesaĥ and the food supply is possibly to be found in a mishnah which we studied in Tractate Rosh ha-Shanah [1:2]:-

On four occasions the world is judged: on Pesaĥ regarding grain; on Shavu'ot regarding the fruit of trees; on Rosh ha-Shanah all mankind passes muster before Him ... and on Sukkot we are judged regarding water.

In the ancient economy the grain supply was the equivalent of the food supply.

3:
In the Gemara [Pesachim 118a] the identity of 'the Blessing of the Song' is also disputed. The Amora of Eretz-Israel, Rabbi Yoĥanan, says that 'the Blessing of the Song' [Birkat ha-Shir] is the passage that we have in our prayer-books today as the conclusion of 'Pesukei de-Zimra' on Shabbat and Yom Tov, 'Nishmat'. The Babylonian Amora, Rav Yehudah, says that Birkat ha-Shir is the blessing that concludes Hallel in our contemporary prayer-books as well. Rather than deciding between the two views, it is established custom nowadays to say both passages, the first after the second.

4:
Our mishnah also states that one should not drink more wine between the third and fourth cups, even though this is permitted between the first and the second and between the second and the third. The Talmud of Eretz-Israel [Pesachim 71a] says that this is to prevent one getting drunk on too much wine (or becoming drowsy). To counter the possible argument that there is no greater reason to fear either eventuality from the wine between the third and fourth cups than that between any of the others, the Gemara there also says that 'wine which comes after the meal can make one drunk; wine which is a part of the meal will not do so'. I do not know whether there is a factual justification for this claim.

DISCUSSION:

We return to the discussion on Ĥad Gadya started by Rémy Landau, who proposed a rather singular interpretation. Reuven Bar-Ephraim offers the following, different explanation:

Abba is ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu [God], the lamb is Israel, the two zuzim are the two luchot habrit [tablets of the covenant], all the animals who eat are the kingdoms that attacked the people of Israel throughout its history. At the end ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu will save and redeem the people.

I respond:

Reuven has here brought the traditional interpretation of the song - and it certainly makes sense. The first time we find this ditty it comes from the school of Rabbi Eli'ezer ben-Yehudah of the German town of Wurms [Wurmeise]. Rabbi Eli'ezer, also known as the Roke'aĥ, after his most celebrated work, lived between 1165 and 1230 approximately. This certainly suggests that it is no more ancient than that. The great Sefaradi sage, Rabbi Ĥayyim Yosef David Alkalai (Ĥida) [1724-1806 CE] claimed that there were 'more than twenty explanations' of this piyyut.

I have already hinted at my own view, which is connected with the great efforts made by our tradition to maintain the interest of the children throughout the evening by various means. The Gemara [Pesachim 108b-109a] quotes a baraita:

Everyone must drink these four cups - men, women and children. Rabbi Yehudah doubted that children could derive any benefit from wine and said that one should give them roasted nuts so that they would not fall asleep and ask their questions... Rabbi Eli'ezer says that we steal the matzah at the Seder service so that the children will not fall asleep...

And I humbly suggest that in addition we promise the children that if they stay awake right to the end we will sing some songs they will like.

. , . , . , , . , :

We do not conclude [the eating of the] paschal lamb with an Afikoman. If some of [the subscription party] fell asleep they may eat, but if all of them slept they may not. Rabbi Yosé says that if they dozed they may eat but if they fell asleep they may not.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
We are fast approaching the end of our tractate. At the very beginning of our study, as part of my introduction to 1:1, I wrote:

Tractate Pesaĥim will deal with all these elements in a chronological manner, starting with the search for leaven on the evening of the 14th, through the slaughter of the lamb during the next afternoon, to the ceremonies accompanying its festive consumption at the Seder service later that night, the evening of Nisan 15th.

We now reach the end of that chronological survey: what happens after the eating of the paschal lamb and the accompanying Hallel.

2:
Our present mishnah is concerned with two discrete issues: the prevention of 'afikoman' and the situation if some of the celebrants fell asleep during the ceremony.

3:
The word 'afikoman' is well known to almost everybody - but not in the sense that it bears in the context of our present mishnah. One thing is quite clear: it is an attempt to render into Hebrew the Greek 'επιχωμον'- 'Epiĥomon'.

4:
Our sources offer many examples of the way this expression was used and understood; while they are not all the same they all do (correctly) have one thing in common: the Greek expression refers to 'things that happen after the meal'. In the Gemara [Pesachim 119b] it is variously described as disbanding into small groups, distributing select items of leftovers to various people, or sweets for desert. The Talmud of Eretz-Israel [Pesachim 70b ff] also makes it refer to these but adds also singing.

5:
The Greek 'Συμποσιον' 'symposion', which is probably best translated as 'dinner party' was the model for the Seder celebratory meal. After the guests had eaten their fill there would follow 'επιχωμον' 'epiĥomon', the after-dinner entertainment. This usually consisted of distributing choice leftovers to the honoured guests, sweets for desert, more wine, singing songs, and entertaining discussion and then the party would disband into smaller groups each going to another home to continue the celebration.

6:
The mishnah notes that despite its similarity to the traditional Greek symposium the paschal meal differed in two major respects: no more wine was to be served after that served to accompany Grace After Meals - except for the last cup which concluded the ceremony [see mishnah 7]; and also there were to be no after- dinner celebrations.

DISCUSSION:

Some time ago Josh Greenfield sent me this resume of comments made by Rabbi Eliahu, the Ga'on of Vilna [18th century CE]. I think they are apposite to our present discussion on the wine served at the Seder.

There is a common misperception about the four cups of wine that has its origins in inaccuracies in the text of the Midrash. It is widely held that the four expressions of redemption ... [in Exodus 6:6-8]. But this is incorrect. This view includes 'and I shall take you' although it does not deal directly with redemption from the bondage of Egypt, nor does it appear in verse 6 with along with the three expressions which do deal directly with redemption from bondage. If 'I shall take you' is to be included, why not 'and I shall bring you to the land'? The only expressions of redemption are found in verse 6: 'I shall take you out,' 'I shall save you,' and 'I shall redeem you.' These are considered four expressions [though] because 'I shall redeem you' breaks down into two - 'with outstretched arm' and 'with great judgments.' This is supported by the Yerushalmi [Pesachim 10:1], which says the four cups of wine correspond to the four cups of consolation mentioned in the Psalms: 16:5, 23:5, 116:13. The Gemara explains that the last cup counts as two, since 'salvations' is plural. Thus, just as the last cup of salvation is one cup which stands for two, so is the last expression of redemption, which corresponds to it, one expression which stands for two. It is for this reason that it is forbidden to drink between the third and fourth cups, in that they derive from the same expression of redemption.

I comment (wickedly):

This is a beautiful example of 18th century pilpul [casuistry].

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

7:
The paschal lamb is 'sacred meat', just like any other sacrifice of its kind. The sanctity of these sacrifices requires the constant attention of the celebrants. If that attention is completely disturbed to the extent that no attention whatsoever is being paid to the sacrifice it becomes disqualified. It is on the basis of this explanation that we may understand the seifa of our mishnah.

8:
After drinking so much wine and eating so much good food it is only to be expected that some of the celebrants will become drowsy. In our mishnah Tanna Kamma addresses the situation that can arise concerning the validity of the paschal lamb under these circumstances.

9:
If some members of the subscription party fall asleep after their meal this does not invalidate the paschal lamb since other members of the party are still alert and may continue eating the meat. However, adds Tanna Kamma, if all the party were to succumb to sleep this would indeed invalidate the paschal sacrifice and when they wake up none of them can continue feasting on the roast lamb.

10:
Rabbi Yosé takes a more stringent view. It is possible to understand his comment as applying either to the first possibility raised by Tanna Kamma or to the second. If we apply his comment to the second situation he is saying that if all the members of the subscription party fell into a deep sleep the paschal lamb becomes invalidated, but even if none of them are alert it does not become invalidated as long as they are only dozing. However, if we apply his comment to the first situation he is obviously taking a more strict stance than Tanna Kamma: even if only some of the party were not alert the paschal lamb would become invalidated if they actually fell asleep; it would only remain valid if they were only dozing. Rambam, both in his commentary on our mishnah and in his halakhic code, Mishneh Torah, says that halakhah follows Rabbi Yosé and applies to the first situation of Tanna Kamma.

11:
The Gemara [Pesachim 120b] defines 'dozing' as being a state in which one is half asleep and half awake: if one were to speak to such a person he would answer to his name even if he could not think cogently. The Gemara gives an example:

Abayyé was sitting [at the Seder table] before Rabba and he noticed that he [Rabba] was dozing off. He said, 'Are you dozing, sir?' He [Rabba] responded, 'Yes, I am dozing - as the mishnah says: "if they dozed they may eat but if they fell asleep they may not"!'

DISCUSSION:

Quite some time ago I wrote: The question about the meat was obviously appropriate only when the Bet Mikdash was in existence, since, as we noted when we studied 4:4, after that the eating of roast meat at the Seder table was scrupulously avoided, so as not to raise the suspicion of eating 'sacred' meat outside the now non-existent Temple. Thus this question is very old. It means that the child has noted that great care has been taken to fulfill the command of the Torah that the meat of the lamb may not be 'in any way boiled in water, but roasted by fire' [Exodus 12:2-9]. When the question became obsolete it was replaced - universally it seems with the question about table habits: 'on all other nights we may dine either sitting or reclining, but tonight only reclining'.

Ed Frankel writes:

Years ago I taught a course in the hagadah, and in it I cited a commentary to the hagadah in which it was noted that the modern question regarding reclining may have been as ancient as the question about the Paschal sacrifice that it replaced. The commentator went on to note that while most of us regard the term hasava in regard to leaning, the term also means to sit around as a group, as in the term for participants in a meal when zimun (invitational portion) is added to the birkat hamazon (Grace after Meals). Given his point it seemed that what was extraordinary about the seder from a sociological perspective may have been not only our physical positions as we partook of the meal, but also that the seder meal was peculiar in that it was one that was certainly eaten as a large group (e.g. family/clan). In our own era family members often grab meals as they can catch them. Scheduling stresses often prevent us to dine together as a family. In our modern atmosphere, we can particularly appreciate the demand of dining together. If we could only find couches on which to recline to go with our dining room tables, so much the better.

I respond:

Whatever the source may be that was in the hagadah in which Ed found the comment about 'hasavah' [reclining] I respectfully disagree with it. I believe that the original meaning of the verb as used in our present context is to recline when dining (Roman style) and all other meanings that the verb may have in different contexts are 'borrowings' from this original meaning - up to and including the modern Hebrew word for a party, 'mesibbah'. (The original meaning of the root verb is 'to curl up'.) The second point, the sociological value of dining in a large group, is surely to be attributed to the requirement for a subscription party to eat the paschal lamb, and not as Ed's source would have us think.

, . , . . , , . , , :

After midnight the paschal lamb transfers ritual impurity to the hands. [Sacrifices that are in a state of] 'pigul' or 'notar' [also] transfer ritual impurity to the hands. If one recites the benediction over the paschal lamb one need not recite one over the 'chagigah', but if one recited the benediction over the 'chagigah' one must still recite the benediction over the paschal lamb. This is the view of Rabbi Yishma'el; Rabbi Akiva [however] says that neither [benediction] removes the necessity for the other.

EXPLANATIONS:

1:
There are two parts to our mishnah. The reisha is concerned with what happens to the meat of the paschal lamb after midnight. The seifa is concerned with the blessings recited over the various kinds of meat served at the Seder meal.

2:
This last mishnah of the tractate uses several technical terms which must first be explained if we are to understand the mishnah properly. We met the concept of the transfer of ritual impurity from one object to another when we studied tractate Yadayyim. Something that is ritually impure can impart that same status of ritual impurity to something else with which it comes into physical contact (a kind of contagion, if you will). (There are even situations whereby the ritual impurity is transferred by simple proximity (a kind of infection if you will). The reisha of our mishnah is concerned with the 'contagion'-type of transfer of ritual impurity.

3:
Concerning the paschal lamb the Torah [Exodus 12:8-10] legislates:

: : :

They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted with fire, accompanied by unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat it rare, nor in any way boiled in water, but roasted by fire; with its head, its legs and its inner parts. You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire.

Here we must especially note the fact that the paschal lamb must be consumed 'that night' and any part of it that may be left over 'until the morning' must be incinerated. When the Torah sets a time limit during which the meat of a sacrifice must be eaten that meat is termed 'notar' when the time limit has expired. (Leviticus 19:7 also calls such meat 'pigul'.) Because the paschal lamb must be eaten 'that night' the sages declared that the deadline for eating the meat of the paschal lamb is midnight - the time when God 'passed over' the Israelite homes. In order to strengthen this warning they also declared that when sacrificial meat becomes 'notar' it becomes ritually impure and transfers that ritual impurity to whoever touches it. (The Gemara [Pesachim 120b] also states that the reason for this decree was to obviate the possibility that the priests might deliberately disqualify the meat so as to deprive the owners of it: by this decree if it was forbidden to the owners it was also forbidden to the priests!)

4:
Nowadays the matzah is held to be the mitzvah of the evening (in place of the discontinued paschal lamb) and therefore the 'afikoman' should be eaten before midnight.

DISCUSSION:

To sum up our rather roaming discussion concerning the Seder Albert Ringer writes:

For our discussion about the position of the 'Ma Nishtana' it might be useful to bring in the ideas of Siegfried Stein, who explains that during the late-Roman period the symposion evolved from a very exclusive kind of thing (Socrates, Plato) to a nice way to socialize for the cultured. There even existed books on the subject, explaining how to throw a successful symposion-party. The outer form of the seder (couches, Hors d'oevre, washing hands) parallels the form of the symposion. The article explains in what way the contents of the haggadah follows the symposion literature.

A fixed element of a symposion is a guest asking a question as a starting point for a discussion. The question should not be too difficult or eccentric, all guests should be able to participate in the discussion and the wise men, present to answer the question, should not be put to shame: 'a pleasant questioner will ask what can be easily answered'. The food on the table can serve as a starting point for a question: 'Does the sea or land afford better food', 'Why is hunger allayed by drinking but thirst increased by eating'. I find the following quote very instructive, both for the parallels it shows between the ideas behind the symposion and the seder, and for the difference between them. Macrobius writes: 'During the Saturnalia, distinguished members of the aristocracy and other scholars assembled at the house of Vettius Praetextatus to celebrate the festive time solemnly by a discourse befitting freemen'. The text nicely parallels our 'Ma'aseh de Rabbi Eli'ezer'. Both for the participants of the symposion and the participants of the seder, the discussions symbolize their position as freemen. The very difference is that in the seder, not only the aristocracy participates, but anybody, even the humble Jew who tomorrow will be somebody's slave again. Within the context of the seder, he or she celebrates his or her freedom. In the context of the Roman empire that's no small feat.

EXPLANATIONS (continued):

5:
We now come to the seifa of our mishnah, which is concerned with the blessings recited over the various kinds of meat served at the Seder meal.

6:
When we studied 6:3 we learned that quite often a second offering was sacrificed at the same time as the paschal lamb. This second offering was called 'chagigah', a 'celebratory' offering. It seems that this additional offering was a kind of safety precaution 'just in case' there was not enough meat from the paschal lamb itself to serve all the company that had subscribed to the lamb. The 'celebratory' chagigah was eaten at the Seder before the roast lamb so that the lamb would not be eaten greedily on an empty stomach, but gracefully, elegantly.

7:
Our mishnah brings two views concerning the benedictions to be recited before eating these viands. According to Rabbi Yishma'el, when the custom mentioned above was followed first of all some meat from the 'celebratory' was eaten preceded by a special benediction; when the paschal lamb was subsequently eaten it too was preceded by its special benediction. However, he holds, if the situation is reversed and meat from the paschal lamb is eaten first its special benediction obviates the necessity for a special benediction for the meat of the 'celebratory'.

8:
Rabbi Akiva disagrees: regardless of the order in which the meat of these two sacrifices is eaten each must be accompanied by its own special blessing. Rambam notes that halakhah follows the view of Rabbi Akiva.

9:
The 'celebratory' is traditionally represented on our modern Seder dish by a burned egg. The Tosefta [10:8] tells us that the benediction over the paschal lamb was: 'Praised be God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has hallowed us with His commandments one of which is the command to eat the paschal lamb'. The same source tells us that the benediction over the 'celebratory' was: 'Praised be God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has hallowed us with His commandments one of which is the command to eat the [celebratory] sacrifice'.

DISCUSSION:

In mishnah 6 of this chapter we noted the requirement that at the Seder service part of Hallel should be recited before the meal and the rest after it. We noted a couple of reasons for this. Avraham Jacobs writes:

There may be another reason for the splitting of Hallel. The part of the Haggadah before the meal, deals with the redemption from Egypt proper. So do the first two Psalms. The first line of the first Psalm has been attributed to Pharaoh himself. The passages starting with R' Yossei up to and including the 15 degrees of beneficence do neither appear in the text of the Gaonim nor in the Haggadah of Maimonides, because the miracles cited there, i.e. at the Red Sea and in the desert, were for a long time not regarded part of the redemption from Egypt. The second half of the Haggadah, after the meal, deals with the future redemption. The difference of opinion mentioned in note 7 [of our explanations of mishnah 6 - SR] about the passage of Rabbi Akibah, may be based on the same conception: R' Akiba's text would be better placed in the second part of the Seder.


In my explanation of mishnah 7 I wrote: Our mishnah also states that one should not drink more wine between the third and fourth cups ... The Talmud of Eretz-Israel says that this is to prevent one getting drunk on too much wine (or becoming drowsy)... The Gemara there also says that 'wine which comes after the meal can make one drunk; wine which is a part of the meal will not do so'. I do not know whether there is a factual justification for this claim.

Jim Feldman supplies the answer:

Wine consumed with food will definitely have less impact than wine consumed on its own, but, at least with seders that I have attended, cups 3 and 4 come pretty soon after the eating of a very considerable meal. Thus, the stomach will be closed to work on its contents and cups 3 and 4 will be retained for a longish period, diluted and molecularly bound up in the liquefied output of the stomach. Thus, their impact will be reduced but not eliminated. While these data are correct, I am not sure that they have much to do with the feelings the rabbis had about drinking after the feast. I suspect that the issue is a distinct fear of emulating the Roman bashes that they so detested.


Ed Frankel wrote about the sociological blessings that derive from all the family being together for Seder. Albert Ringer comments:

In response to what Ed Frankel writes I would like to add that in modern times we tend to see the ideal of a meal together with all the family as a symbol of the slow pace we lost in the frenzy of modern life, something of the past. However, eating together is mainly a North West European, nineteen century, bourgeois (in the positive sense of the word) ideal. In most cultures meals where taken on an individual basis, and even now, most cultures don't know fixed eating hours to the extent as that is normal in Germany and England. Women and men sitting together in synagogue comes from the same root. The purpose was not to give women more access to the service, but to enable families to sit together in a nice, modern way.


This concludes our study of Chapter 10 and also brings to an end our study of Tractate Pesaĥim.