SALT - Friday, Erev Pesach 14 Nissan 5778 - March 30, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
En honor de mi señora madre María Ocotlán hija de Candelaria, que beezrat Hashem tennga pronta refuá shelemá.
(In honor of my mother, María Ocotlán, daughter of Candelaria, who beezrat Hashem) will have a prompt refuá shelemá. - her daughter)
           Yesterday, we noted the famous comments of the Avnei Neizer (O.C. 381) proposing a solution for those who are still eating the seder meal as chatzot (halakhic midnight) approaches, and thus cannot eat the afikoman before the chatzot deadline.  The Avnei Neizer suggested that right before chatzot, they can eat a piece of matza which will be considered the afikoman according to the view that it must be eaten by chatzot.  They can then resume their meal after chatzot, and eat a second piece of matza after the meal in accordance with the view allowing eating the afikoman throughout the night.
            Later authorities questioned the Avnei Neizer’s ruling, advancing several different arguments against it.  Among the assumptions made by the Avnei Neizer is that the Shulchan Arukh’s ruling requiring one to try to eat the afikoman before chatzot is intended to satisfy the view of Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, who requires eating the korban pesach (which is commemorated by the afikoman) before chatzot.  However, as numerous writers noted, this is not necessarily the case.  Already the Rosh (Pesachim 10:38) raised the possibility that even Rabbi Akiva, who allows eating the korban pesach even after chatzot, speaks only on the level of Torah obligation, but concedes that it must be eaten before chatzot by force of rabbinic enactment.  Indeed, the Vilna Gaon, in his notes to the Shulchan Arukh, comments that the Shulchan Arukh’s ruling requiring eating the afikoman before chatzot does not necessarily follow Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya’s position, as even Rabbi Akiva might acknowledge a rabbinic requirement to eat the sacrifice before chatzot.  This point is also made by the Peri Chadash, who notes that although the Rambam writes that the afikoman may be eaten throughout the night (Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 5:1), elsewhere (Hilkhot Korban Pesach 8:15) he writes that the Sages required eating the meat of the pesach sacrifice before chatzot as a safeguard against neglecting to eat it before morning.  Conceivably, the Peri Chadash writes, this safeguard could be applied also to the afikoman, i,h
which commemorates the pesach sacrifice, and for this reason the Shulchan Arukh requires eating the afikoman before chatzot.
            According to this theory, there is certainly no basis for the Avnei Neizer’s solution.  If even Rabbi Akiva requires one – at least optimally – to eat the afikoman before chatzot, then one cannot eat one afikoman before chatzot to satisfy Rabbi Elazar’s view and then another after chatzot in accordance with Rabbi Akiva’s view.
            Another objection to the Avnei Neizer’s theory relates to the premise that the afikoman may be eaten in the middle of one’s meal.  The Rambam, in Hilkhot Chametz U-matza (8:9), formulates the afikoman requirement as follows: “One eats a ke-zayit of matza and does not eat anything after it, so that it will be the end of his meal…”  The phrase “kedei she-yiheyeh hefsek se’udato” (“so that it will be the end of his meal”) implies that the afikoman must be eaten as the conclusion of one’s meal.  Even if we accept the Avnei Neizer’s premise that Rabbi Elazar allows eating after chatzot, he might still require eating the afikoman as “dessert,” at the conclusion of the meal, as implied by the Rambam, who states that the afikoman must mark “hefsek akhilato.”  Hence, if one plans on resuming his meal after chatzot, he does not fulfill the afikoman requirement by eating it moments before chatzot, as it does not come at the end of the meal.  (This point is made by Rav Yosef Brandsdorfer in his Ora Ve-simcha commentary to the Rambam’s Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 8:9.)