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March 26, 1993 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Hava Nedaber Ivrit: Afikomen's Special Symbol

O T HE DETRO IT J EWIS H N EWS

By NIRA LEV

Chag ha'Pesach is one of the
most important chagim in the Jewish
calendar, and the chavaya of leil
ha'seder is the most impressive and
significant chavaya Yehudit for
many yeladim and mevugarim.
Because of the great significance
of Yetzee'at Mitz'rayim to our am,
we are commanded to relate and
explain to our yeladim how Hashem,
the Almighty, ga'al otanu from avdut
Mitzrayim. This biblical injunction is
called in Hebrew haggadah and it is
fulfilled on Leil Ha'seder. Since the
seder service and kree'at
Ha'Haggadah are largely intended
for our banim and banot, many of
the fifteen tka'sim of the seder
clearly have the children in mind.
One of these tka'sim is that
revolving around the afikomen.
Afikomen is the piece of matzah
broken off by the leader of the seder
from the central of the three matzot
used in the seder. Ha'meelah
"afikomen" is of Greek origin and
denotes something served acharey
ha'arucha in the form of beedur of
dessert.
The afikomen has become one of
the many "attractions" for the
yeladim at the seder because of the
minhag of g'neivat ha'afikomen.
The yeladim present at the seder
attempt "to steal" the afikomen from
the person leading the seder (who
therefore tries "le'hstir" the afikomen
from them.)
Since the afikomen is necessary
for the completion of the ritual, the
yeladim have to agree to relinquish
it. The "ransom" is usually the
havtacha of some matanah or
p'rass. It is clear that this minhag
not only invites the eenyan and
hish'tat'fut of the yeladim and helps
to keep them errim, but it also
initiates a reversal of tafkidim in
which the yeladim, and not the
mevugarim control the completion of
the seder.
In the seepur of Yetzee'at
Mitz'rayim it was also the yeladim of
bnei Yisrael, not their avot, who
completed the masah through the
midbar.
The significance of the afikomen,
however, is not limited to yeladim
only. There was a minhag amami to
preserve chatichat afikomen as a
haganah against harm or ayin
ha'rah, or as an aid for arichut
yamim. The power attributed to this
chatichat matzah in the folklore is
based on the assumption that its
importance during the seder endows
it with a special k'dusha. Thus,
Yehudim from Iran, Salonica,
Kurdistan and other yehudim

Sephardim keep chatichat
afikomen in their kissim or batim
throughout the year for good luck.
In Sephardic custom, a conscious
kesher is made between the
afikomen and the period of nedudim
in the midbar. In the masoret
Sephardit the afikomen is not stolen
or hidden away. Instead, it is
wrapped in a mapit and placed on
the katef as a "tarmil gay while
traveling to Yerushalayim," and the
chavilla is transferred from one to
another until all have had a turn
carrying it.
The matzah is the food eaten
during Pesach, and the matzah as
afikomen is the final food of the
seder. By placing the focus on the
matzah that was carried into the
midbar, the seder turns its attention
to the period of time between leaving
Mitzrayim and arriving in
Yerushalayim. That was a difficult
period of struggling for the matara,
the "reward" — the successful
completion of the masah ba'midbar.
Thus, the afikomen also sends
another messer both to the yeladim
and the mevugarim at the seder: the
messer of delayed gratification.
It fits in with seepur Yetzee'at
Mitz'rayim when bnei Yisrael had
to take a great risk and make the
enormous ma'amatz of being
nodedim ba'midbar for arba'eem
shana before they gained their real
chofesh and atzma'ut in ha'aretz
ha'moov'tachat, the land of Israel.
Yehudim all over the world, for many
dorot in the galut, continued
celebrating Pesach and at the seder
they always reiterated the tikvah to
return to Yerushalayim: "La'shanah
ha'ba'ah biyrushalayim ha'
bnooyah."
They struggled and suffered and
made a lot of korbanot before the
chalom of returning to Yerushalayim
was fulfilled. Every Pesach we still
pray and hope for a better olam
where shalom and harmony will
prevail and this is the "matanah" we
all are waiting for.

MEELON (Dictonary)

chag
chagim
chavaya

a holiday
holidays
experience

Find idlqe
Afikomen

leil ha'seder

The night of
the seder
yeladim
children
mevugarim
adults
Yetzee'at Mitzrayim
The Exodus,
The going
out of Egypt
am
nation
hashem
God
ga'al otanu
delivered us
avdut
slavery
haggadah
telling
kre'at ha'haggadah
the reading of
the Haggadah
banim
sons
banot
daughters
tka'sim
ceremonies
ha'meelah afikomen
the word
afikomen
archarey ha'arucha
after the meal
beedur
entertainment
minhag
custom
g'neivat ha'afikomen
the stealing
of the afikomen
le'hastir
to hide
havtacha
promise
matanah
gift
prass
award, reward
eenyan
interest
hish'tat'fut
participation
errim
awake (plural)
tafkidim
roles, tasks
bnei Yisrael
The Children
of Israel

seepur
avot
masah
midbar
minhag amami
chatichat afikomen

haganah
ayin ha'rah
arichut yamin
k'dusha
kissim
batim
kesher
nedudim
mapit
katef
tarmil gav
chavilla
ma'amatz
nodedim
arba'eem shana
chofesh
atzmma'ut
dorot
galut
chalom
olam

story
fathers
journey
desert
a folk custom
a piece of
afikomen
protection
the evil eye
longevity
sacredness
pockets
houses
connection
wandrerings
napkin
shoulder
backpack
package
effort
wanderers
forty years
freedom
independence
generations
dispora
dream
world

Nira Lev is director of the Agency
for Jewish Education's Hebrew
Interactive Learning Center and
director of the Community Jewish
High School's Hebrew Department.

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