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UPDATED MARCH 30 2015 WHAT ABOUT THE Afikomen
The wise son says “What are the testimonies, statutes and laws which the
Lord, our God, has commanded you?”
The Hagadah answers
You shall instruct the laws of Passover till the law that after the Passover lamb one does not “Afikomen” (have dessert). In the 12th step of the “seder” is called “Tsafun” meaning hidden. which follows the festive meal like a “dessert” then we eat our last portion of matzah, called the “Afikoman”. Really, the dessert should really be the Paschal lamb—the climax of our evening’s ritual, but without the Temple we substitute this matzah instead.
The Seforno explains concerning the the wise sons question :
“What are the testimonies, statutes and laws which the
Lord, our God, has commanded you?”
He is asking why do we need all these testimonies, statutes and laws are not the 7 laws of Noach enough. He is asking why be Jewish.
So what is the Answer of the Hagaddah really saying ?
Its answer seems to center around the “Afikomen”, which we eat in place of the “Corban Passach”, the “Afikomen” is a substitute “Corban Pessach”. This is quite unique there is no other sacrifice that has a substitute. There is no substitute for the “Corban” of Succot !
In the original Passover in Egypt we needed to start eating the lamb by midnight and to finish by dawn. The rabbis added a fence they ruled that during Temple times a korban Pesach must be finished by midnight.
Like the “Corban Pessach” the “Afikomen” must be be eaten before midnight and it must be eaten when we are already satiated and we cant eat anything after the “Afikomen”. These laws are the same for the sacrifice that the “Afikomen” substitutes for. When you do eat your Afikoman you are reenacting the first “korban Pesach” eaten in Egypt at the time of redemption all those years ago. At that time the heavens came down to earth the Israelites sat in their homes with smeared blood of the “corban Passach” on their doorposts and lintels. Once the sun set, no one was allowed to leave until daybreak, under threat of death. At midnight all hell broke loose outside, while eating their “korban Pesach”. Screams, cries and shrieks filled the streets. As all the first born of Egypt were being killed.
This begs the question what “Afikomen” is what it means. Again the Hagada itself brings the Mishna to answer the wise sons question saying :
You shall instruct the laws of Passover till the law that after the “Corban Pessach” one does not “Afikomen” (have dessert)
We see there was the concept of “Afikomen” even in Temple time but its meaning is something else then it is today.. Rav says “Afikomen” refers to not leaving the group you ate the corban passach with and hang out with other people. Smul says it means one is forbidden to eat anything after the “Corban Pessach” as here “Afikomen” means desert. This is the opinion we follow. So “Afikomen” is referring to something we are not allowed to eat.
Its interesting the the Halachah also says on the “Afikomen” that if one fell asleep during the Seder they cannot eat the “Afikomen”. The Rambam says you must recline when eating the “Afikomen” as such is the way of kings.
This brings us back to one of the principles over the whole “seder” of going from slavery to freedom., but we see from this Rambam on the “Afikomen” we are going beyond “freedom” to the aspect of Kingship.
So in conclusion we answer the wise childs question by alluding to the fact that the testimonies, statutes and laws till “Afikomen” teach us that the 613 commandments bring us to the aspect of Richness and Kingship. As only kings would be brought “Afikomen” (desert) after being satiated by the meal. But to achieve this dont forget that we cannot fall asleep. To achieve this level of existance we must be awake , aware of our spiritual service and complete it otherwise one does not reach the power of Malchut. To remind us of this there are always those at the seder to steal the “Afikomen” .
For a long time now we have been a divided people like as our matzah has been divided. One part of our people, the smaller part still sits at the “seder” table,like their ancestors, following the traditions,rituals, laws and telling the story. These are the Jews who don a tallis, wrap tefilin, go to the synagogue, pray to God, and send their children to Jewish schools to receive an intense Torah education. These are the Jews who celebrate Shabbot eat kosher, would not eat a meal outside of a Sukkah nor wear a garment made of wool and linen. This is the smaller part of the matzah, which is broken in the shape of a ד
While the larger part in the shape of a ו corresponding to the majority of our people, if they are at the “seder” table at all just sit there with closed eyes, half asleep. Many of these could care less about their heritage its wisdom. These are the millions of our brethren who feel alienated from our people and its story. Know, ו is the conduit for “Ruach Hakodesh”. One way or another this energy of the ו shall be returned, hopefully with those who are not at the table these days spiritually, physically or both.
DO NOT LET YOUR SPIRITUAL HERITAGE BECOME STOLEN ! Instead we must all ways think about it, search for it.
The Parsha talks all about sacrifice.
During times when sacrifices were offered sin never clung to Yisrael as these offerings made atonement for them.1 Rabbi Yose teaches concerning the twelve properties of the Torah that inequity can be purged even without sacrifices of flesh but with words of Torah. Even if punishment is already decreed against one, it can be annulled. Words of Torah can purify those who are unclean. He who studies Torah is first purified and then sanctified. 2 Now Torah is from Z’a (Source of Ruach-Emotional Soul), but with complete self sacrifice one can taste the Torah of the future. This is the Torah of “atik” (The ancient of Days source of Delight) or “aor ganuz” (hidden light). This is acquired by one who never prays for his personal benefit, it is as if he is not part of this world.3 Fire is Binna (Divine Understanding). The Torah is spice against the “Yetzer Hora” (evil inclination). Through being occupied in Torah, which is called Bina. Bina is the source of Givurot. “Dinim” (judgments) are only sweetened in their source being in the Torah. This is by including the left in the right, making טוב (good). This is as Avraham’s sacrifice at “batara”. Which is the future slaughtering of the “Yetzer Hora”. Separating it from us. By cleaving oneself in the light of the Eyn Sof that flows from the letters of the Torah. There goes in judgments to their source. They are corrected in their source in the Torah.4 Malchut of Atzilut is called fire. Fire is Atzilut. But since we are in “galut” this fire does not have to power to burn up the “sitra achra” (other side). It is only strong enough to guard “kidusha” (holiness). It is in Rachamim (Mercy) that we are able to stand in this fire of Holiness. In the future it will be this fire which will destroy the wicked, and it is this fire that will build the 3rd Temple. This fire is the כבוד (Glory) of the Shechinah, by it we are sustained. It is יאהדונה”י. When this light stands on ones head all lights shine on it. יאהדונה”י makes all אחד (one). The “ו “ in the middle is the hand of God, which is between 2 “ י “ . By “yichud” the Shechina (Divine Presence) rises to the Ayn Soff (infinateness) and decends to את .5
Like a sacrifice, Torah is offered as a gift to God. He is at his own table.6 The sages teach in the Talmud that at one time, the sacrificial altar atoned for Israel. Now one’s table, through the spiritual elevation of his food, accomplishes it.7 We learn from Rabbenu Bachyah that once a person confesses his sins to God, no angel is permitted to harm him. Confession atones for the wicked; once they accept the judgment, they merit life in Olam HaBa. The words of confession stand in the place of sacrifice. Thus, to avoid grievous Judgment one must confess even for inadvertent sins, as these require a guilt offering. Many have been saved from death by confession. 8 The main greatness of the Divine Name is through wealth. All this is decided by the כסא (thrown) and משפט (judgment). Dont take benefit of a mitzvah before it is complete (dont create a incomplete mitzvah or lacking compared to what you are capable of). This is as if a Cohen were to eat from a sacrifice before he had completed his required Divine service with it. Do the mitzvoth (commandment-attachment) in a way of כבוד (honor) due to the Holy king. Don’t enter into doing the Mitzvot in a light headed way. By comprehension of the mitzvot one comes to be careful with their fulfillment as then they understand that the mitzvot involve Holiness. Then they will do them with all their power, cherishing and guarding their kidusha. But if one enters to fulfill mitzvot with arrogance or not in a serious way they will not comprehend in truth “hashgacha” (divine providence), or see the way of the Mitzvot.9
1Zohar Barashit p.191b
2.Zohar Ibid. 3:80b
3.Lecuty Maharon #15
5Tefilot Ramchal #445,355,Aor eniyim 30:2
6 Sulam on Zohar Pinchas p.253a
8Kad HaKemach, chapter “Confession.”
9safer ha paliyah,Petachy Chotem p.52, Tefilot Ramcha”l #108,Lekutey Mahoran Tannina p.18,Avodat Yisrael p.8,Shoshon Sodot