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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.