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Wednesday, Nissan 5, 5779 / April 10, 2019


Questions & Answers about the Pesach holiday & the Seder


Q.   Why is it that when speaking about the holidays of Shavuot and Sukkot, the Torah emphasizes that one must rejoice on these holidays, but with the holiday of Pesach (Passover), there is no specific mention of rejoicing on Pesach?


A.   The Midrash explains that although Passover is a festive holiday, yet the rejoicing is not a complete one. Although on Passover we were freed, yet, so many Egyptians, who are the “handiwork” of G-d, as all humans are, perished on that day, thus our joy is not complete. Although we were oppressed and enslaved by the Egyptians, we cannot rejoice fully with our freedom, when others are suffering.


Q.   Why do we omit the Tachnun prayer (prayers of supplication) in the morning and afternoon prayers during the entire month of Nissan?


A.   The Tabernacle was dedicated on the Rosh Chodesh Nissan.  On each of the twelve days of the month the head of each of the tribes brought special gifts and sacrifices for the dedication. These twelve days were very festive days and have remained so forever. Then we have the eight special days of Passover.  Being that most of the days of the month are special days in which the prayer of supplication is omitted, we omit it for the entire month.


Q.  How many times are we obligated to eat Matzah at the Seder?


A. Three times; Once for the Mitzvah of Matzah (after reciting part of the Hagadah and washing our hands); the second time is the "Korach" (sandwich of Matzah and Maror); third time for the Afikoman after the meal.


Q. Why do we eat the Afikoman-matzah at the end, after we have finished the meal? Why should it be eaten before midnight?


A. The Afikoman reminds us of the Pascal sacrifice which was brought at the time of the Beth Hamikdash (Holy Temple). The Pascal sacrifice had to be eaten at the end of the meal - "Al Hasova" when everyone was "satisfied" so that the taste of the Pascal sacrifice will not be replaced by other foods. It also had to be finished by midnight.  In remembrance of the sacrifice we too eat the Afikoman at the end of the meal and before midnight.


Q.   Why is it called Afikoman?


A.   “Afikoman” means "dessert," as it is the last thing we eat at the Seder.