Tzafun (Step 12) – Halachic Approach to a Common Problem

The following is dedicted LZecer Nishmas Avivah Rachel bas Malkah Zicronah Livracha whose all too short life was dedicated to Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. May her family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

I mentioned in my first post that one of the more frequent issues that arises with respect to Tzafun is that of Chatzos–eating the afikomen before halachic midnight. IOW, your seder is progressing -you have gone through Magid with a lot of Divrei Torah and Shirah and you have started the meal. Depending on the calendar, Chatzos not so suddenly creeps up on you and a halachic issue presents itself-what about the Afikoman?!

The Avnei Nezer, one of the Gdolei Acharonim presented the following ingenious solution.The He suggested that one take a matzah before Chatzos and say-If the Halacha is in accordance with R Eliezer Ben Azaryah , this is the Afikoman. If the halacha is not so, it is just a piece of matzah. Therefore, regardless of who the halacha is like., I can continue to eat because according to R Eliezer Ben Azaryah, since the time for eating the Karban pesach has passed, and according to the Rabbanan, one can eat the Afikoman until Alos HaShachar (sunrise)-all night and before Alos HaShachar I can eat another piece of
matzah to fulfull the view of the Rabbanan. ( See ShuT Avnei Nezer Orach Chaim Siman 251 Sif Katan 5 for the entirety of this fascinating solution).

This solution attracted the attention of many of the Gdolim . The following is just a sampling of some of a few of their views:

In a published shiur that is discussed in the Haggadah published by talmidim of R Shlomoh Zalman Aurebach ZTL, it is noted that :

1) R Velvele Soloveitchik ZTL ( The Brisker Rav ) is reported as having of approved of this solution even without the necessity of a verbal stipulation as to whether the halacha follows R Eliezer Ben Azaryah.

2) R Moshe Feinstein ZTL felt that a verbal stipulation to this affect would not solve the issue of Chazos ( see P 205, footnote 698).

3)R Avigdor Nevenzahl, a Talmid Muvhak and Chaver of RSZA pointed out that the verbal stipulation works only if one assumes that Hallel and the Fourth Cup don’t have to be completed before Chatzos- a position that the Mishnah Brurah rejects.

4) RYBS reviewed the position of the Avnei Nezer in a shiur devoted to this solution. RYBS pointed out that Ramban and Ibn Ezra as well as the Baal HaMaor assume that there is a clear issur against eating matzah after Chatzos. The Rambam and Tosfos seem to support the Avnei Nezer in the sense that one may eat, but will not fullfill the halacha of having the Afikoman before Chatzos.

It is also possible that both Rambam and Ritva view the eating of Matzah and having the taste of matzah remaining in one’s mouth are really an aspect of relating the Exodus from Egypt- which can last the whole night. Therefore, in that sense, both Rambam and Ritva offer support for the Avnei Nezer. However, a close reading of Rambam seems to support the view that Afikoman is part and parcel of the eating of the matzah and Karban Pesach and thus must be completed before Chatzos.

All of the above illustrates the response of the Gdolim to a common problem at the seder. However, without venturing into the realm of psak, one can follow the practice of many Gdolim who are makpid to complete the entire Seder before Chatzos and then stay up as late as desired to learn the halachos. RYBS mentioned that this was the practice of R Y Salanter’s talmid, R Y Blazer. ZTL. IIIRC, R M Willig also suggested this practice as well in a shiur that he gave a number of years ago in KGH. It especially seems a logical way to go when all are tired and wiped out from the cleaning and preparations.

6 comments on “Tzafun (Step 12) – Halachic Approach to a Common Problem

  1. reb yitz – do the words “milsa d’b’d’chusa” mean anything to you? (that’s aramaic for where’s your sense of humor?)

    wait til step 15!

  2. Ahem, Reb Shmuel,

    Don’t you know that there were 15 steps in the Beis HaMikdash, corresponding to the 15 Shir HaMaalos in Tehillim, and the 15 Steps of the Seder? Not to mention the 15 Dayenus, which, I learned this year [actually, yesterday at a Shabbos HaGadol drasha] that they correspond to the 15 words from V’yatziv, v’Nachon…till V’Yafeh that we say after Kriyas Shema!

  3. For those with more time and interest on the suggestion of the Avnei Nezer, I would suggest looking in some of the following sources :

    1) Tosefta Pesachim 10
    2) Ohr Sameach Hil. Chametz uMatzah 6
    3) Mikraei Kodesh Pesach Vol 2: 54
    3) Piskei Teshuvos
    4) Hagadah Shel Pesach Arzei Halevanon.
    5) ShuT Teshuvos v Hanhagos 2: 339

    I discovered that many Chasidishe Admorim as well as the Netziv and possibly R Chaim Brisker did in fact have the Afikoman after Chatzos. However, many other Gdolim were just as careful to have the Afikoman before Chatzos.

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