Open main menu

This chapter contains eighteen sections:

Section 1Edit

After the second cup is drunk one washes his hands and recites the blessing "Al Netillat Yadayim". Even though he has previously washed for dipping [of the "Carpas"] the Hagadah recitation had interrupted in between and it is possible that his hands touched a place of sweat or dirt in the interim. (Pesachim, 115.2)

If not for the above concern the first washing would suffice, and that's even though that washing was not for the purpose of [symbolizing] a holy state, as it was only to prevent liquids from becoming ritually unclean [ON HAND WASHING:]. The washing is nevertheless effective because we rule that washing does not require specific intent (Tosfos, Pesachim 115.2). Therefore, if one washes the first time with intent that it should cover the entire meal, pronounces the blessing and watches the cleanliness of his hands he is not required to wash again (see Magen Avraham, comment 1).

Section 2Edit

However, our teacher the Beis Yosef has written in his great work that he is not pleased with this:

"It appears to me that one should not wash with this intent, so as not to nullify the enactment of the Sages who instructed two separate washings of the hands on this night."

Until here is the quote. Others have asked on this: "Where is this enactment? Haven't we all learned that the reason is due to forgetting to watch the cleanliness of the hands, without which there is no issue? (Magen Avraham and Bach).

It appears to me that the actual law is as the Beis Yosef, as the Sages created a formalism in law that one washes his hand twice, and though their reason was based on a criteria of being mindful of one's hands, it nevertheless remains the law regardless of whether he was or not. On Pesach night we are especially cognizant of retaining the customs of old. In any event, who knows what other reasons they may have had, and so therefore this custom should not be changed.

Section 3Edit

[Continuing on with the Seder], the Tur quotes two opinions, those that rule that the blessing of "Hamotze" is recited on the whole Matzah while "Al Achilas Matzah" is recited on the broken Matzah as a symbol of "the poor man's bread", while the others rule the opposite, that "Hamotze" should be said over the broken piece, providing another departure from the common practice [which is a main theme of the Seder]. "Al Achilas Matzah" is the recited on whole piece, as it is impossible for two blessings to be recited on one Matzah due to the maxim that "Mitzvos are not performed in bundles".

Therefore, both opinions can be fulfilled by holding both Matzahs during the blessings, following the direction of the Beis Yosef, by

"taking the Matzahs as they have been placed [on top of each other], with the broken piece between the two whole, and reciting the blessings of "Hamotze" and "All Achilas Matzah". Afterward, the top whole and middle broken pieces are broken up together, dipped in salt, and eaten together while reclining, and olive sized amount from each. If one cannot eat these two pieces together, he should first eat the "Hamotze" piece and then "Al Achilas Matzah."

Until here is the quote.

The reference to eating the "Hamotze" first is a bit puzzling, as [both are grasped together in the blessing due to doubt over the proper procedure] and how would one know which Matzah is the "Hamotze"? (see further in the Taz, comment 3, where he questions similarly). It appears though that the primary ruling would be that the "Hamotze" is recited on the whole and "Al Achilas Matzah" on the broken, as that is the majority opinion among the ruling authorities, and we hold both simply to recognize the dissenting opinion.

Section 4Edit

We learn from the words of the Beis Yosef that the preferred practice is to swallow both olive sized portions together, or at least [swallow] one olive sized portion at a time. Even though the portions may be eaten over the time of "Achilas Pras" [the time it takes to eat a small loaf of bread], the preferred fulfillment of the Mitzva is as we have said.

Now concerning [the apparently related] text in section 6: "If one ate half an olive sized piece, and the ate another, he has fulfilled his obligation, providing he does not wait longer than "Achilas Pras" between pieces." Until here is the quote. The meaning is that the time that passes between starting to eat the first piece and finishing the second piece should not exceed "Achilas Pras". We do not find amount the early authorities the requirement eat all in one moment. The Maharil himself writes explicitly that one may eat slowly, as long as he does not exceed "Achilas Pras".

I have seen one who writes that section 6 is contradicting this (Magen Avraham, comment 4), though it appears to me that these two are unrelated, as section 6 refers to one who has eaten a half olive sized piece, which is certainly insufficient in the first place. If, however, one eats them consecutively why would we think that all has to be eaten in one moment?

(Furthermore, the source provided by the Magen Avraham from the end of the Talmudic chapter "Gid Hanashe" is quite odd. That text is referring to the sin of eating the limb from a living animal, where the requirement of a complete limb [at once, per Reish Lakish] is special to that case (see there). Nevertheless, since the Beis Yosef has written as he has, it behooves one to be careful if at all possible.)

Section 5Edit

Though it is understood that the Mitzvah requires an olive sized piece, and therefore the blessing "Al Achilas Matzah" requires the same, the question of why the blessing of "Hamotze" requires an olive-sized piece has been raised, since chapter 201 states that it is not necessary (Bach). Truthfully this is not difficulty at all, for does one not fulfill the command of the Torah regardless of which of the two pieces he eats? It is only our interest in performing the command in the best possible manner that creates the need to have one piece for "Hamotze" and one for the obligation of Matzah. Therefore, when on eats the first piece he is fulfilling his obligation, and so he requires an olive-sized piece. When he eats the second piece, with the intent for the Mitzvah, by the very nature of hid intent he requires the same size piece, following the enactment as the sages constructed it. This is why we use two olive-sized pieces. (The Taz in comment 2 troubles himself with this issue, although I have written what appears to be the straightforward explanation.)

Continuing with what our tecaher the Beis Yosef wrote, that one should dip the Matza in salt, the Rema has already commented on this that it is not our custom to do so on the first night, since "plain bread does not require salt". He does not only mean the first night, for so is the rule for the second night as well (Chok Yaakov, comment 4) Rather, his intent on the obligation in general, which to us would apply on both nights (the second night is kept due to doubt over whether it is the correct first night). The reason why we do not dip, though we normally dip plain bread in salt, is due to the preciousness of the Mitzva (Maharil) - that we wish to eat the Matza in an unadulterated state. In addition, the Levush writes that the reason is because it should be "poor mans' bread". Is this so? Do the poor not eat bread with salt? It appears to me that now we should dip in slat as that improves the taste, which beautifies the Mitzva. Incidentally, the Rmabam writes that one should dip in Charoses, though he is disputed, and the custom is not so.

Section 6Edit

Afterward and olive-sized piece of Maror [bitter herb] is taken and completely submerged in the Charoses in order to render inactive the damaging substances that are naturally present in Maror. Do not let the Maror remain in the Charoses for a long time so an not to neutralize that bitter taste itself. For this reason we also shake off the Charoses that adheres to the Maror.

The blessing "Al Achilas Maror" is then recited. It is then eaten without reclining since it is symbolic of affliction, which obviously is quite the opposite symbolism of that displayed by reclining like 'free men'. If one did eat it while reclining he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation.

Now though the Talmud records a dispute where Hillel ruled that Maror is eaten together with Matzah as a sandwich - and these two Mitzvahs performed at once do not cancel each other out, even according to the opinion that two prohibitions cannot be violated by the commission of a singular act (as I have written in Yoreh Deah, chapter 98), since this rule does not apply to positive obligations - nevertheless, Hillel's practice applied most correctly to the period when the Temple stood and both these obligations were biblical. Today, when Matzah is biblical and Maror is only rabbinic the strong taste of Maror can be considered to nullify the Matzah (Pesachom 115.1).

Section 7Edit

For this reason we eat Matzah first by itself and then Maror by itself. Only afterward do we take the third Matzah to fulfill the Mitzvah of taking it together with Maror as a sandwich and eat it will reclining. On this eating we recite the paragraph "This is in remembrance of the practice in the Temple according to Hillel" ("Zaycher l'Mikdash k'Hillel").

A question arises at this point: Why do we eat Maror by itself? We eat Matzah by itself because of the biblical command. We eat the sandwich after, when both obligations are rabbinic and so neither can be considered to 'nullify' the other [Matzah's biblical obligation having been previously discharged]. Why then eat Maror by itself [there being no obligation to eat Maror alone]?

The answer is thus: Truthfully Hillel would have no issue with Maror not being eaten by itself, [as that makes sense according to his position]. We, however, are in doubt as to whom to follow in that dispute, and perhaps the law is as the Rabbis who do not require the sandwich. If so, the sandwich is not an obligation, rather a wholly voluntary act, which could result in this act rendering nullifying the eating of the Maror [and the fulfillment of its Mitzvah] (Tosfos Pesachim 115.1 "Elah").

Section 8Edit

Know further regarding eating the sandwich while reclining that our teacher the Beis Yosef add that it should be dipped in Charoses as well. Our teacher the Rema writes thereon: " There are those that say that it should not be dipped. This was their custom and I have seen as well that this is the practice." Until here is the quote.

This is a difficult point here: If the purpose of Charoses is to counteract the damaging substance in Maror how can one not not dip the sandwich [the act is need for protection of his health]? The truth of the matter is that many later authorities dispute this ruling and rule instead that the sandwich should be dipped in Charoses. This is in fact our custom. His reasoning is not easy to understand, though one could suggest that he is of the opinion that the Matzah itself [mixes in while chewing] and counteracts the damaging substances.

The blessing of "Borei Pri Ha'adamah" [pronounced over vegetables] is not recited over Maror, since it falls under the rubric of 'items that accompany the meal' [which are covered under the original Hamotzee]. Furthermore, the blessing over vegetables was already recited on the Karpas and that can encompass the Maror as well, as I have written in chapter 173.

One should be careful not to speak of matters not relating to the meal until he has eaten the sandwich, so that the blessings of "Achilas Matzah" and "Achilas Maror" can apply to it without any question or doubt, for since Hillel stated that this is in fact the Seder obligation [of Matzah and Maror] the sandwich itself should be the item the blessings are recited over." However, if one did talk he need not recite the blessings again, since the entire matter is in a state of legal doubt. Moreover, even Hillel's ruling would only apply when the Temple stood, which means that today the biblical obligation would not apply, which would result in the Matzah nullifying the Maror, as I have previously noted. (See further in the Taz, comment 7, which requires additional study. Attend to the sources and you will find the matter as explained).

Section 9Edit

Such is the language of the Rambam in chapter 8, law 6:

"Afterward, the blessing on washing the hands ('Al Netilas Yadayim') is recited... then the Matzah and Maror are wrapped as one and dipped in Charoses. One then recites 'Blessed...Who sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us on eating the Matzas and Marors'. He then eats them. If one eats the Matzah and Maror separately he recites a blessing on each separately. After that one recites the blessing 'Blessed...Who sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us regarding the eating of the sacrifice', after which he eats from the 'Chagiga of the fourteenth [day]' first. Then he recites 'Blessed...Who sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us regarding the eating of the Pesach [sacrifice], at which point he eats from the Pesach sacrifice itself. The blessing over the Pesach cannot cover the Chagiga, and the blessing over the Chagiga cannot cover the Pesach.

Nowadays, when there is no sacrificial service, after the blessing of 'Hamotzee' one recites 'Al Achilas Matzah', dips the Matzah in Chroses and eats. Then 'Al Achilas Maror' is recited, it too is dipped in the Charoses and eaten. This is the Mitzvah enacted by the Sofrim. The Matzah and Maror are then wrapped together, dipped in Charoses, and eaten without a blessing, as a commemoration of the practice when the Temple stood."

Until here is the quote. [The 'Sofrim' are either rabbinic in nature or biblical in nature but not explicit in Torah]

Section 10Edit

This quote above is quite difficult. First of all, during the Temple period the Matzah, Maror and Pesach were all wrapped together, as it is written: "...with Matzah and Maror shall you eat it [the Pesach]." Furthermore, in whose accordance [in the Talmud] is his ruling? If as Hillel, how can he write the one fulfills the obligation by eating each separately? If as the Rabbis, though they may agree that one can fulfill his obligation by eating them together, as the language in the Talmud suggests, nevertheless certainly they rule that the preferred primary approach is to eat them separately. This is proven from the Talmud (Zevachim (79.2), see there.)

In addition, if he does rule as Hillel, why would we need to eat Maror by itself nowadays (a question I have previously raised in section 7)?


Section 11Edit

It therefore appears in my humble opinion that his words are founded on the Yirushalmi, in the first chapter of Challah, where we find the following text: "Hillel the Elder wrapped all three together. Said Rabbi Yochanan: "We disagree with Hillel the Elder." And the question is asked: "Did not Rabbi Yochanan have the practice of wrapping Matzah and Maror?", and it is answered: "One account was when the Temple stood, while the other account was when it did not. And even where you to say that both took place when the Temple stood, we can answer that any two will render the third nullified." Until here is the quote.

The explanation is as follows: [The first part of the answer:] When the Temple stood if all were eaten together they would render each one nullified since all are biblical requirements. [Each two commandments taken together can be considered a type of non performance of the third]. However, when the Temple did not stand Maror is not biblical so that there is no group of two to nullify a third. This, of course, is the opposite of the reasoning in our Talmud. To reply to that issue the following was added: Even during the time when the Temple stood, it was only all three together that could not be eaten, since two would overwhelm a third. However, two together would not cause a problem for each other. The Yirushalmi would then understand the verse "...with Matzah and Marror you shall it it" as meaning with Matzah or Maror you shall eat it, but not both.

Then the ruling of the Rambam follows Rabbi Yochanan well, for he disagrees with Hillel when it comes to wrapping all three together, though two is fine. The Rambam therefore rules as the Rabbis in accordance with Rabbi Yochanan. When it comes to our current era he rules as our Talmud, where the Rabbis rule that even two will nullify one another. Therefore each must first be eaten separately, and only then together.

(The is as the opinion of Tosafos, and the flow of the text in out Talmud works out nicely as well. See there. Attend to the sources and all will be clear.)

Section 12Edit

If one does not possess any other vegetables other than Maror one may use it for the first dipping, and recite 'Borei Pri Ha'Adamah' and 'Al Achilas Maror'. For the second dipping he should dip it in Charoses and eat without reciting any blessing, for how can he recite the blessing on Maror if he has already partaken of it? He is therefore forced to recite the blessing 'Al Achilas Maror' at the earlier dipping even though the primary Mitzvah is to eat it after the Matzah. There is also no concluding blessing recited immediately after it is eaten.

Now since the blessing and the eating happens earlier that is when the Mitzvah fulfillment occurs, and though the verse states "...with Matzah and Maror he eats..." it is not be taken as preventing the earlier fulfillment should it happen (Tosofs 114.2 entitled 'This...'). Should one ask further: 'Why then eat Maror again after the Matzah?', know that this is only so that it serve its lesson [in the Haggadah narrative] for the children (see Talmud there).

As for the question of why the Maror would not be dipped at the first dipping in Charoses, whose whole use was to counteract the unhealthy substance in Maror, the Rosh answers in the name of Rabbeinu Yona as follows: "Since the obligation of the first dipping is only to teach a lesson, and it is not a biblical command, and we are used to eating this vegetable throughout the year without Charoses, the sages are not concerned for it. The second dipping, however, is to fulfill a Mitzvah, and here the sages were concerned that there be no danger to his health." Until here is the quote. [IT SEEMS THAT THEY DO NOT REALLY EXPECT A DANGER, THOUGH THEY DO NOT WANT IN ANY WAY TO CAUSE THE MITZVAH TO BE CAST IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT SHOULD ONE EXPERIENCE ANY PAIN IN ITS FULFILLMENT.]

Now this needs an explanation, as we have already seen that [in this instance] one does fulfill the Mitzvah at the first dipping. It must be concluded that the Rosh does not agree with what I have written, that one can fulfill at the first dipping. His disagreement then is based either on the order of the verse "...with Matzah and Maror he eats..." or because he rules that Mitzva fulfillment requires intent (see fourth chapter of Rosh Hashana). Regardless, the first dipping simply has the status of dipped vegetables and no more. Now one might as at this point 'If so then why does he recite 'Al Achilas Maror'? The answer to this is that his actual intent at the time is to refer to the second dipping later on. Still, one may ask 'If so, then recite the blessing at the second dipping?' The problem is that this appears to mock the blessing, as he recites it long after he has actually eaten the Maror (Ran). Therefore, one has no choice but to recite at the first dipping.

(The Magen Avraham in comment 14 writes: "Thought Mitzvos require intent to fulfill, food has a different status, as one eats and automatically has pleasure [and therefore it is a type of intent] (see there). The Bach distinguishes between biblical and rabbinic Mitzvos, in that rabbinic ones do not require intent (see there). For his part, the Prisha distinguishes (regarding intent) between situations when does know he has eaten and when one does not (see there further). Even so, from the words of the Rosh and Ran these distinctions do not appear operative. Attend to the sources and it will be clear.)

Section 13Edit

Since there has been quite a lot of debate over difficulties in eating Maror twice one should exert himself to attain a vegetable other than Maror for the initial dipping. There is even an opinion that suggests turnip if one has no other vegetable other than Maror (Magen Avraham, comment 9), though it is quite surprising to say so, as the sages have ruled that only vegetables are used. [IS TURNIP NOT A VEGETABLE?] (The Eliah Rabah writes this as well, suggesting that further study is needed.)

In addition, there are also those that say that since the custom in our countries is to use horseradish for Maror one who also uses it for the first dipping should not recite a 'Borei Pri Ha'Adamah' on it, as it is not really a vegetable that is normally fit to eat by itself (Magen Avraham comment 10). One does, however, recite 'Al Achilas Maror'. Other argue and maintain that since the sages have enacted that it be dipped in vinegar or salt water it is fit to eat and one does recite 'Borei Pri Ha'Adamah' (Chok Yaakov, comment 16 and Eliah Rabah). Furthermore, here the standard blessing type of 'for personal benefit' ('Brachas Hanehenin') is considered as a blessing over a Mitzvah since the sages have commanded the act. At any rate, it is very rare nowadays to be unable to obtain a vegetable of different type to use [for the first dipping].

Section 14Edit

The preferable performance when eating Matzah is to chew it with one's teeth so as to taste the Matzah. If one did swallow the Matzah without tasting it he has still fulfilled the obligation (Pesachim, 115.2 ). One need not protest this, pointing out that even on post-facto basis Matzah must be tasted, as this point was specifically stated in chapter 461 in respect to cooking Matzah, which thereby loses its taste and cannot be used to fulfill the obligation, as these two are not comparable - for cooking renders the Matzah no longer Matzah, and it is as though he put another food in his mouth. This is not true for swallowing (Magen Avraham, comment 11). Furthermore, when cooked it is not Matzah entering his digestive tract, unlike when he swallows it without chewing - he is still digesting Matzah, and note that we have learned in the Talmudic chapter 'Gid Hanashe' that digesting food is [legally termed] eating. (In that text Resh Lakish considers digesting food 'eating', Rabbi Yochanan considers food passing through one's throat (and certainly digesting) to be eating. Of course, this would not work by Maror, where tasting the Maror is intrinsic to its fulfillment, as we will see with the help of Heaven.)

Section 15Edit

One who swallows Maror without tasting it has not fulfilled the obligation. Tasting the bitterness is a requirement (Talmud). Do not ask: "Isn't Chazeres [Romaine Lettuce] the choicest of the Maror vegetables, and behold, it is has no bitterness at all?" - for the Chazeres is termed Maror on account of its uncomfortability, as I have written in chapter 473, section 16 (see there). Other varieties of Maror vegetables are indeed bitter, and if the bitterness is not tasted, the obligation is unfulfilled.

In any event, one with Chazeres one must taste it, since the law will not distinguish between the varieties in this aspect, as the Torah commanded that Maror be tasted, so that whichever Maror one might he eat he must taste it in his mouth, and not by swallowing at once. In fact, if one were to swallow Matzah and Maror together at once he has fulfilled his Matzah obligation but not his Maror obligation. Here the Maror does not nullify the Matzah, as there was no chewing whatsoever. If the Matzah and Maror are placed in a non food wrap and swallowed even the mitzvah of Matzah is unfulfilled, not because there was no taste, for that is not required, but rather because this is not considered normal eating, as so cannot full under the rubric of the verse "in the evening you shall eat Matzah". Obviously he has not filfilled is Maror obligation either, since this is neither eating nor tasting.

Section 16Edit

Our teacher the Beis Yosef writes in section 14:

"One who eats Matzah without intent [to fulfill the obligation thereby], for example if he were forced by ruffians or criminals, has fulfilled his obligation, since he knows that it is the night of Pesach and he is obligated to eat Matzah. If, however, he thought it was a regular day or that the food he was eating was not Matzah he has not fulfilled his obligatiion."

Until here is the quote. This reason was recorded here in order to explain the position of the Rambam, who rules here that he has fulfilled his obligated, while also ruling in the second chapter of the laws of Shofar that one who has no intent has not fulfilled his obligation. In this law eating is not treated the same as other acts. However, even the act of eating requires one to be aware that it is Pesach and he is eating Matzah, for if not there is certainly no fulfillment since Mitzvah performance requires intent. On the other hand, the act of eating under duress with knowledge is still eating, and is considered intent. This reasoning is mentioned in Tosafos (Pesachim 115.1), though it should be noted the words of the Rosh there (Pesachim) and the Tur here (Shulchan Aruch) do not lend themselves to this point of view (see the sources).

Section 17Edit

One who eats a olive-sized piece of Matzah will not being lucid and later returns to his awareness is obligated to eat again after he has healed, for his original eating was during a time when he was exempt from all commandments (not being one in control of his faculties). This has nothing to do with the whether Mitzvahs require intent or not, rather it hinges on a more basic requirement - that one must be in control of his faculties [in order to be able to be obligated by the law].

Know further that even if, as a matter of law, Mitzvahs did not require intent, one still would not fulfill the obligation if he has specific intent not to fulfill the commandment. Do not then ask "If so, why would one forced by ruffians fulfill his obligation [if he does not want to eat and had to be forced]? The answer is that he doesn't want to be forced by them, but would eat it willingly if he were by himself. After they had forced him he certainly didn't have specific intent not to fulfill (see Beis Yosef in the name of the Riv. Attend to the sources and it will be clear).

Section 18Edit

It is widely know that the obligation to eat Matzah exists only on the first night, as the verse states: "In the evening you shall eat Matzah". If one wishes to avoid Matzah for the remainder of the festival he may do so. It is only on Shabbos and the actual Yom Tov days [when work is prohibited] when one must eat bread - which on Pesach would have to be Matzah [as bread is prohibited] - though this would not be due to any positive obligation to eat Matzah. Even on the first night itself one is only required by the Torah to eat an olive-sized piece.

Our teacher the Rema writes in section 7:

"The custom is to make the three Matzahs used at the Seder [on the seder plate] from an Issaron of flour as a commemoration of the thanksgiving offerings of bread ['Lachmei Todah': one type of bread and three types of Matzah brought as an offering]. A sign is made in each Matzah so that one is designated the first, one the second, and one the third. The first is placed on the top, the second in the middle and the third on the bottom. If one switched the order it does not matter. These Matzahs should also be baked in the order of their numbering. If one should break it may be switched to be used as the middle Matzah, since that will in any event be broken."

Until here is the quote. Nowadays we do not have this custom as there is a greater likelihood that the dough will sit too long in its unbaked state [which may lead to leavening]. The practice is therefore not advisable.

Finally, know that I have received the following tradition regarding the Mitzvah of eating Matzah: Though the Biblical requirement is only the first night it is nevertheless a Mitzvah to eat Matzah all the days of Pesach, as it is written "Seven days shall you eat Matzah...". The fact that it is termed 'optional' on these days only means that it lacks the force of a positive command. Regardless, it is still the will of G-d that the Jewish people eat Matzah all the days of Pesach.