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Arvei Pesachim #24: 114b - 115a

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion



SHIUR # 24: Daf 114b-115a

by Rav Yair Kahn




Hekeira Letinokot


The gemara refers to an additional [unnecessary] eating of vegetables at the seder. This extra "tibul" is commonly known as karpas. The halakha of karpas demands that one eat some vegetable after the kiddush, prior to the recital of the haggada. The simple reading of the gemara suggests that its purpose is to indicate to the children the peculiarity of the seder night - "hekeira le-tinokot." Normally, kiddush is followed by eating bread. However, on the seder night instead of bread, vegetables are eaten, while the matza (bread) is broken and subsequently removed. At this juncture, the child is expected to question the odd practices of the seder night. It is noteworthy that one of the four questions asked by the child refers to this strange custom.


Since there is no independent obligation to eat karpas, as it functions only as hekeira le-tinokot, it is reasonable that the normal halakhic requirements associated with eating are not in effect. Usually, the halakha demands eating a minimum amount of "kezayit" in order to be categorized as "akhila." However, according to most opinions, with respect to karpas, there is no demand for a specific amount (see Rosh siman 25). In fact, some poskim insist that one should avoid eating a full kezayit, in an attempt at sidestepping a berakha-related problem. If one eats less than a kezayit of karpas, there is no obligation to recite a berakha acharona. However, eating a kezayit or more obligates the recital of a berakha acharona. The question is whether one must make an independent berakha acharona immediately following the karpas, or can he wait for the birkat ha-mazon at the end of the se'uda. By refraining from a full kezayit, this problem is avoided.


The berakha acharona problem is rooted in a general question, whether or not the reciting of the haggada and hallel is defined as a hefsek - break - regarding berakhot. If it is considered a break then a hefsek has occurred between eating the karpas and birkat ha-mazon, and an independent berakha acharona is probably required. If it is not defined as a hefsek, a berakha acharona is unnecessary, since the birkat ha-mazon is sufficient for the karpas as well.


Furthermore, if haggada is not defined as a hefsek, some Rishonim maintain that the BERAKHA RISHONA recited over the karpas relates to the maror as well (see Rashi and Rashbam 114b s.v. Pshita). They apparently maintain that the birkat ha-motzi recited over the matza, which normally covers everything subsequently eaten in the ensuing meal, does not cover maror, which is eaten independently and is not an integral part of the meal. Therefore, if hagadda is not a hefsek, not only is a berakha acharona unnecessary, but should be avoided as well, so that the "boreh peri ha-adama" recited over the karpas can relate to the maror.


Based upon the above, it is suggested that one has the maror in mind when reciting the berakha rishona on the karpas. He should then eat less then a kezayit of karpas, to avoid the berakha acharona problem, and thereby sustain the effect of the original berakha rishona.


Rav Yosef Tov Elem, an early Ashkenazic scholar, summed up all the laws of the seder night in poetic form. This poem, entitled "Elokei Ha-ruchot", which can be found in the yotzer for Shabbat Hagadol, was often quoted by Rishonim. It is interesting that in this poem Rav Yosef Tov Elem writes, "Why do other vegetables (karpas) come first? In order to relieve the chazeret which is a mitzva (maror) from the required berakha (rishona). In other words, the reason for karpas is in order to recite a berakha rishona, which will then cover the maror to be eaten later.


Tosafot (115a s.v. Ve-hadar) quote this opinion and question how it relates to our sugya, which suggests that the reason for karpas is hekeira le-tinokot. Perhaps, Rav Yosef Tov Elem was explaining why vegetables specifically were chosen as the form for this indication, as opposed to fruit. In any case, Rav Yosef Tov Elem clearly did not consider the haggada a hefsek. Furthermore, he maintained that the berakha rishona recited on the karpas is needed to cover the maror, and that this was the original intention of Chazal in instituting karpas.


The solution mentioned above - eating less than a kezayit and having the maror in mind - is based upon the premise that karpas does not require a kezayit. This assumption is reasonable since the karpas functions only as an indicator - hekeira (see Hagahot Maimoniot 8:4). The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:2), however, required a full kezayit of karpas to be consumed. Apparently, according to the Rambam, although the reason for the rabbinic institution to eat karpas is because of hekeira, the institution of karpas itself is categorized as akhila (eating). Therefore, the normal halakhic parameters of akhila apply to karpas as well. Hence, the Rambam concludes that one should eat a full kezayit of karpas.


Karpas is referred to as "tibul,

" dipping, based on the phrase of the mishna (114a) "metabel ba-chazeret." The Rashbam (114a s.v. Metabel) claims that karpas is not to be dipped into charoset. Tosafot (s.v. Metabel) comment that vinegar or salt water is used instead. However, Tosafot add that if chazeret (maror) is used for karpas, when no other vegetable is available, then karpas should be dipped into charoset. Tosafot, based on the gemara (116a), understood that karpas was required in order to neutralize the "kapa" - sharpness - unique to maror. Therefore, charoset is used wherever maror is eaten, whether it is for karpas or for the mitzva of maror. However, the impression one gets from the Rashbam, is that charoset is not used even when maror substitutes for karpas, as in the case of the mishna. This opinion is reasonable according to R. Eliezer b-R. Tzadok that charoset is a mitzva in memory of the mortar. Therefore, charoset is required only when the mitzva of maror is actually being fulfilled.


The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:2), however, ruled that even when regular vegetables are used for karpas, they are dipped in charoset. Rav Soloveitchik zt"l explained that this is based on the opinion of R. Eliezer b-R. Tzadok, that charoset is a mitzva in memory of the mortar. The Rambam understood that according to this understanding, charoset is not limited to maror, but was instituted regarding akhila of the seder night in general. Therefore, the Rambam also required that the matza be dipped into charoset (Hilkhot Chametz u-Matza 8:8).


Furthermore, as we noted in the previous section, the halakha of karpas is not merely an intriguing act used to spark curiosity. Our Sages, according to the Rambam, categorized karpas as akhila, thereby necessitating the consumption of a full kezayit.


Putting these two points together, we arrive at the conclusion of the Rambam. Since karpas, according to the Rambam, is categorized as akhila, and all akhila requires charoset, karpas requires charoset as well. (See Si'ach HaGrid pg. 15)





Tosafot s.v. Ve-hadar


According to Rav Yosef Tov Elem, the birkat ha-motzi does not cover the maror. Therefore, a separate borei peri ha-adama is required. This berakha is supplied by the karpas (in accordance with the view that the reciting of the hagadda does not constitute a hefsek). The reason the birkat ha-motzi is ineffective regarding the maror, is because this berakha only includes those items which are an integral part of the meal. Maror which is eaten independently because of the mitzva, however, is not considered as part of the meal.


Tosafot, on the other hand, argue that haggada does constitute a hefsek, and the only reason a separate berakha is not required for the maror is because the maror is included in the birkat ha-motzi. Therefore, Tosafot conclude that maror is an integral part of the meal, since raw veare often eaten separately as appetizers. They support this claim by the fact that the mishna refers to the maror as "parperet ha-pat" which indicates relationship to the bread.


The Ramban apparently thought that birkat ha-motzi generally does not cover maror. Nevertheless, he claimed that on the seder night, when the Torah defines maror as part of the meal, it IS included by the ha-motzi. Therefore, there is no need for an independent berakha on the maror, even though there is a hefsek between karpas and the maror.


  1. 115a "Amar Ravina ... v'naga".
  2. Tosafot s.v. Ela amar Rav Ashi.
  3. Rif (27a) "v'heika ... b'lo brakha", Ran s.v. v'heikha.
  4. Tosafot s.v. kol.


  1. Do Chakhamim disqualify korekh or merely don't demand it? How should this effect their position regarding "mitzvot mevatlot zo et zo?
  2. Must shmura matza be used for korekh"
  3. Can we prove from our gemara that hagadda is considered a hefsek regarding brakhot?





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