Tag Archives: Pesach

What is Belief?

by R. Gil Student I. Belief and Knowledge Pesach is often called Chag Ha-Emunah, the holiday of faith or, more accurately, belief. But what is belief and how do we acquire it? A better understanding of belief can help us recognize its role in today’s complex world. Our starting point is a debate among Arabic translators with surprising implications. The ...

Read More »

What is Freedom?

by R. Gil Student I. Freedom of the Will Pesach is the holiday of freedom, when God redeemed us from slavery. But has that freedom continued with us, even after we subsequently were oppressed and enslaved? The answer goes to the very nature of freedom in the modern world and in contemporary insular Jewish communities. The center of the Western ...

Read More »

Ten Answers For The Wise Son

The Passover seder is full of fours: four questions, four cups, four sons. The midrashic reading of four sons into the biblical text is brilliant, comparing the four times the Torah refers to teaching sons. Yet the answers given within the haggadah raise many questions. Thankfully so, since the haggadah is the Jewish text most commented on. What follows are ...

Read More »

Historical Revelation

The wise son of the Haggadah asks: “What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws which the Lord, our God, has commended you?” (Deut. 6:20). R. Zvi Kanotopsky (Rejoice In Your Festivals: Penetrating Insights Into Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, p. 62), a leading student of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik (link), explains in a 1952 sermon that this was originally ...

Read More »

The Use of Quinoa on Pesach

by R. Asher Bush For the past several years many people have been excited about the possibility of adding a new item–Quinoa–to an otherwise limited Pesach diet. Unlike past years, there are now several brands available under respected kashrus supervision. The question is whether Quinoa is an appropriate food to help fill that dietary gap. Is it Chametz? Clearly Quinoa ...

Read More »

Sippur Yetzi’at Mitzrayim

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Reciting the Haggadah at the Pesach seder is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of Sippur Yetzi’at Mitzrayim, telling the story of the Exodus. The Haggadah cites a Mishnah in Pesachim (116a) which states that: Rabban Gamliel used to say: Whoever does not mention these three things (on Pesach) does ...

Read More »

Breaking Down Gebrochts

by R. Tsvi Selengut Introduction The custom of abstaining from eating “gebrochts” during Pesach is widely known in the Jewish community. There are many, especially in the Chasidic community, who strictly observe this custom as an integral part of their Pesach. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the various origins of this custom as they appear in Rishonim ...

Read More »

After the Afikoman

The culmination of the seder meal with the Afikoman matzah can, actually should, leave a distinct taste in your mouth. Some people may understandably wish to remove that taste. After the seder, are you allowed to use mouthwash or, if you generally do so on Yom Tov, brush your teeth? The Mishnah (Pesachim 119b) states that one may not take part in an Afikoman after eating the final matzah of the seder. While contemporary terminology labels that matzah as Afikoman, technically the term refers to the activity prohibited after eating the matzah. Prof. Saul Lieberman (Ha-Yerushalmi Ki-Fshuto, vol. 1 p. 521) explains that this term relates to the Greek practice of epikomazein, at the peak of a banquet, going from house to house and forcing others to join the party. After the seder, we are not allowed to act similarly.

Read More »

The Seder and the Symposium

The striking similarities between the Passover seder and the Greco-Roman symposium have led some to believe that the seder is really just a Jewish version of this ancient secular event. I think that this is the wrong approach and have recently seen that Dr. Joshua Kulp says the same in his academic commentary published in the recent Schechter Haggadah. I ...

Read More »