Halakhot of the Seder:
Yosef Zvi Rimon
Rabbi Dr. Shmuel
for the “sandwich”
The Gemara in
Pesachim (115a) brings a dispute of tanna’im about the question of
how the observance of eating matza and maror took place when the
Temple still stood. According to the Sages, one must eat the matza by
itself and the maror by itself, whereas Hillel would wrap the matza
and the maror and eat them together, as the verse states, “They shall eat
it with matzot and bitter herbs” (Bemidbar 9:11).
According to the Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz u-Matza 8:6-7), Hillel would
wrap only the matza and the maror, whereas according to Rashi and
the Rashbam (ibid.) Hillel would wrap the matza and the maror with
the Pesach sacrifice and eat them together.
to Hillel, would failure to eat the items together mean that one has not
fulfilled the commandment?
Rishonim differ as to whether failure to eat the different components
together means that one has not performed the commandment according to Hillel.
(ibid.), Ramban (Milchemet Hashem, 25, in the Rif’s pagination) and Rav
Yehonatan of Lunil (ibid.) are of the opinion that according to Hillel, a
failure to eat the components together means that one has not fulfilled his
obligation, and thus one who eats matza, maror, and the Pesach
sacrifice separately has not fulfilled his obligation.
On the other
hand, according to Tosafot (s.v. ella amar), “Ideally one should
wrap them together, but if he did not do so, he has still fulfilled his
obligation.” That is also the view of the Ba’al ha-Ma’or (25a, in the
Rif’s pagination), that
even according to Hillel, a person who eats the components separately has
fulfilled his obligation.
to the Sages, if one eats the components together, has he nevertheless fulfilled
Rishonim also differ as to what the Sages’ position is if a person ate
matza and maror together.
(ibid., s.v. ve-hashta) understood that Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion in the
Gemara there is that if the matza and maror are eaten together,
according to the Sages one has not fulfilled his obligation, and that is also
the view of the Me’iri and Ba’al ha-Ma’or (ibid.).
understood that Rav Ashi’s view there is that according to the Sages it does not
make a difference, and one can fulfill the obligations of matza and
maror whether eating them together or separately. That is the view of the
Ramban (Milchemet Hashem, there), even regarding Rabbi Yochanan’s
Explanation of our custom today
Now that the
law was not determined as either according to Hillel or the Sages, one recites
[the] “al akhilat matza” [blessing] and eats it [the matza], then
recites [the] “al akhilat maror” [blessing] and eats it [the maror],
and then eats matza together with Romaine lettuce without a blessing - a
remembrance of the Temple practice according to Hillel.
words, as there was no decision made regarding this dispute, one eats matza
by itself, maror by itself, and then matza together with maror.
Why do we act that way?
should note, that in our times even Hillel would agree that in order to fulfill
the commandment of eating matza, one must eat it by itself. The reason
for this is explained in the Gemara (ibid.) that in our times eating matza
is a Torah commandment, whereas eating maror is by rabbinic decree, and
one is not to mix a Torah commandment with a rabbinic decree, for the taste of
the rabbinic decree would nullify the taste of the Torah commandment.
according to all views, one must eat a ke-zayit (olive’s bulk) of
matza by itself. The dispute between Hillel and the Sages only affects what
is done thereafter:
the Sages, after eating the matza one must eat a ke-zayit of
maror by itself, and the maror is not to be eaten with the matza.
It is true that we saw Rishonim who are of the opinion that according to
the Sages one may eat the maror along with the matza, but even
according to this view that would only be true when the
stood, when a person could fulfill the two commandments together. Nowadays, when
one must eat the ke-zayit of matza by itself, one may not eat the
matza along with the maror. This is because once one has eaten
matza, eating more matza is optional but not required, and one cannot
mix the eating of maror, which is required by rabbinic decree, with the
eating of matza, which is now an optional act (just as one does not mix
an eating requirement by Torah law with one which is only by rabbinic decree).
Therefore, had we ruled according to the Sages, we would say that the matza
and the maror must be eaten separately.
On the other
hand, according to Hillel, as ideally the commandment is to eat the matza
together with the maror, thus, even though we must eat the matza
by itself nowadays, we still have the obligation to make a remembrance of the
Temple practice and to eat the two together, thereby fulfilling the commandment
to eat maror. According to Hillel, we do not say that after one has eaten
the matza, the later eating of matza will be optional and will
nullify the taste of the maror in the “sandwich,” because eating the
maror is by rabbinic decree as is the eating of matza along with the
maror, since eating the two together serves as a remembrance of the
Temple practice. Thus we have here two rabbinic decrees, where one does not
nullify the other. Therefore, if we had ruled in accordance with Hillel, we
should have said that one is to eat a ke-zayit of matza and
afterwards to eat a ke-zayit of maror along with a ke-zayit
of matza (all of this is according to Tosafot ibid., s.v. ella;
Rosh, 27; Ran, 25a in the Rif’s
pagination; and others).
that the Gemara did not reach any decision, we follow both views:
a) We start
by eating a ke-zayit of matza (which is required by both the Sages
and Hillel, because eating matza is required by Torah law, and one cannot
mix it with maror, which is only is rabbinic ordinance).
Afterwards, we eat a ke-zayit of maror (in accordance with the
view of the Sages, that one does not mix the eating of maror, which is a
rabbinic ordinance, with matza, which at that point is only optional).
we eat matza together with maror (according to Hillel, who ruled
that at the outset that is the way to fulfill the eating of maror, as was
done in the Temple).
according to Hillel it would be appropriate in our times to eat a ke-zayit
of matza, and immediately afterwards eat the korekh. However, out
of concern for the view of the Sages, we eat the ke-zayit of maror
separately before the korekh. In light of our custom, one can ask
whether, according to Hillel, one fulfills the commandment of maror when
eating the maror or when eating the korekh. This question would
seem to depend on the first dispute we mentioned above, whether, after the fact,
according to Hillel one can fulfill the requirement to eat maror by
itself without matza. If, after the fact, one has already fulfilled the
requirement by eating the maror by itself, that would mean that by the
time one gets to korekh, one has already fulfilled the commandment, and
eating the korekh at that time is merely a remembrance of the
practice, and there is no additional fulfillment of maror consumption.
However, if according to Hillel one does not fulfill the ordinance of eating
maror by itself, the eating of the korekh fulfills the rabbinic
decree of maror. This latter approach is suggested by a number of
Acharonim (Vilna Gaon, Bei’ur ha-Gra 475:1; s.v. u-mi’she’beirekh;
Peri Chadash, ibid., s.v. ve-khorekhah, and others), namely that
the korekh is not only a remembrance of the Temple practice, but is the
main element of fulfilling the ordinance (by rabbinic decree) according to
question, though, depends on another question. As cited above, there is a
dispute among Rishonim if Hillel wrapped only the matza and
maror together, or whether he added these to the Pesach sacrifice. If Hillel
also included the Pesach sacrifice, then, in our times, where there is no Pesach
sacrifice, the entire wrapping of the items together loses its real
Thus one can say that even if at the time of the Temple there was an obligation
to combine the two, and eating maror by itself would have been of no
value according to Hillel, nowadays, where there is no Pesach sacrifice, the
commandment of eating maror, which is only by rabbinic decree, need not
require be combined with matza, and it is possible to fulfill one’s
obligation by eating the maror alone even according to Hillel. It follows
that as we have the custom of eating maror by itself out of concern for
the view of the Sages, we are thereby fulfilling our obligation of eating
maror even according to Hillel, and when we eat the two together it is only
a remembrance of the Temple practice, but not a fulfillment of the obligation to
eat maror. That is what the Bach (475, s.v. u-ma she-katav
ve’achar kakh noteil) wrote, that nowadays where we have no Pesach sacrifice
one is unable to fulfill the korekh properly, and that is why we fulfill
the obligation to eat maror by eating it by itself, and the korekh
is only as a remembrance. That is also the view of the Maharal (Gevurot
Hashem, 63), and that is the view accepted by the Acharonim.
Reciting “A Remembrance of the Temple practice
according to Hillel”
Shulchan Arukh (475:1) writes:
recited the blessing on the matza he should not be distracted by anything
which is not part of the meal until he eats this combination, so that the
blessing of matza and that of maror will apply to this combination
words, one should not speak between starting to eat the matza until
finishing korekh (except for those matters which pertain to the eating).
The source of this is the Tur (475) in the name of the Sefer ha-Manhig
(Laws of Pesach, 84). They explain that since according to Hillel it is a
commandment to eat matza and maror together, when reciting the
blessings of matza and of maror one must keep in mind to include
korekh in those blessings.
is also dependent on the dispute among Acharonim mentioned above. If
korekh is the main aspect of eating maror according to Hillel, it is
clear that one may not interrupt with conversation between eating the maror
and eating the korekh, for that would be an interruption between the
blessing and the performance of the commandment. That was also what the Vilna
Gaon and Peri Chadash wrote, as quoted above.
However, if korekh is only as a remembrance of the Temple practice, it is
only a preferred practice that one should not speak between the blessing and
korekh, just as, in the view of Hillel, at the time of the Temple one was
forbidden to speak between the blessing and the korekh, but that is not
required by law. That indeed emerges from the words of the Manhig and of
the Tur, who write that this is “most preferable,” as the Bach
(475, s.v. u-ma she-katav ve-khatav od),
based on his view above, wrote.
Shulchan Arukh (475:1) added:
he takes the third matza and breaks it and wraps it with the maror...
and he says: A remembrance of the Temple practice according to Hillel and eats
it while leaning.
Halakha (s.v. ve’omair) expressed surprised regarding this: after
all, the Shulchan Arukh himself writes that one is not to interrupt
himself between the blessing of the matza and korekh, so how can
one say, “A remembrance...”? He rejects the solution that this statement is part
of the meal and is therefore not considered to be an interruption (evidently
because there is no instruction being given here which practically serves the
needs of the meal, but is rather providing background for the consumption). The
Bei’ur Halakha gives two answers:
a) It is
possible that the sequence which the Shulchan Arukh wrote here was not
precise, and he meant that one must eat the korekh and then make this
declaration. However this answer is difficult given the language of the
Shulchan Arukh: “He says ‘A remembrance of the Temple practice according to
Hillel,’ and then eats it.”
b) One can
emend the language in the Shulchan Arukh and delete the words “he says.”
According to this, what Shulchan Arukh means is that one eats the
korekh as appears in the Gemara and the poskim, but without making
In the end,
the Bei’ur Halakha leaves the question unanswered.
One might be
able to understand the Shulchan Arukh based on the view of the Bach
which we saw above, that the entire eating of korekh is only as a
remembrance of the Temple practice, even according to Hillel. According to this
view, when one recites the blessings on matza and maror, there is
no reason to have korekh in mind, but at the outset one tries not to
interrupt between them, so that the “remembrance” will be fulfilled in a true
way. As this is only an enhancement but not required by law, one can say “A
remembrance of the Temple practice according to Hillel,” and explain the
significance of the combination, even though this is an interruption.
explain this matter slightly differently. On the night of the seder we
attempt to emulate the way the seder was celebrated in Temple times, as
if the Temple still stood. As we saw, according to the Bach and most
Acharonim, in our times, Hillel, too, would agree that there is no
obligation to eat matza together with maror, so why do we eat
The answer is
that we try to have the entire seder as a “remembrance of the Temple,”
and we therefore make a point of eating the korekh, as if the Temple
still stood. It follows that our declaration is not merely symbolic. The
declaration is part of the obligation of korekh. That declaration imparts
all the significance to the korekh in our time! It announces: we are now
eating korekh, because we want to act as if the Temple still stands! (It
is obvious that even without this declaration we have fulfilled the obligation
of korekh, but the declaration is an integral part of the fulfillment of
the obligation, and is not merely a symbolic and external statement.) This also
emerges from the words of the Bach (475, s.v. u-ma she-katav ve-khatav
od), who wrote that one should not speak until after the korekh even
though it is only a remembrance, for we are acting “as if the Temple still
If so, as a
matter of course, we act in regard to the blessing as if the Temple still stood,
and one is not to divert his attention until he performs the korekh as
Hillel ruled, so that the blessing of matza and maror will apply
to the korekh.
Halakha wrote that
reciting “A remembrance of the Temple practice according to Hillel” is not
mentioned by any rabbinic decisor except for Shulchan Arukh, but in
reality it is mentioned by a number of poskim: Hilkhot Pesach de-Rabbi
Shmuel mi-Palaiza (one of the Tosafists, p. 138), the Darkei Moshe
(475:3) in the name of the Maharil, and others. And indeed the custom today is
to say, “A remembrance of the Temple practice according to Hillel,” before
eating the korekh (Kitzur Shulchan Arukh, 119:7; Shulchan Arukh
ha-Rav , 475:18), and others).
The way to
combine the two
Rabbeinu Chananel (Pesachim 115a), “one wraps the maror on the
matza,” or, in other words, the matza is wrapped by maror. And
that is what Sefer ha-Chinukh (Commandment 21) wrote.
custom is to place the maror between pieces of matza, and that is
what Arukh ha-Shulchan (475:7) and Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (119:7)
wrote. In any event, both are equally valid (Haggadat Mo’adim u-Zemanim,
explained that the Rishonim would use Romaine lettuce for maror,
and they were therefore able to wrap the matza with maror, but in
Europe they would use horseradish, and it is impossible to wrap matza
with it, and that is why they placed the maror between the matza.
even though it might be appropriate to revert to the practices of the
Rishonim and to wrap the matza with maror, in any event, since
it is not essential for the fulfillment, it is the accepted practice to place
the maror between the matza. In this way, it is possible to say
that one matza is meant to commemorate the matza eaten with the
Pesach sacrifice, and the second matza to commemorate the Pesach
sacrifice itself (Vayaged Moshe, 26:7).
the Ra’avya (quoted in Tur, 475) and Rabbeinu Yona (Seder Leil Pesach),
it is not customary to dip the maror of korekh in charoset,
as one has already fulfilled the requirement of dipping, and as the charoset
is only optional, it will annul the requirement of eating matza with
maror according to Hillel. Similarly, there is no need to offset the pungent
taste of the maror (one of the reasons given for dipping the maror
in charoset), as the matza annuls this taste.
according to Rashi, the Rosh (brought by the Tur ibid.), the Or Zaru’a
(II:256) and others, the custom is to dip the korekh in charoset
as well, because that was what Hillel did (because he would fulfill the
obligation of maror with korekh), and we act as Hillel did
in fulfilling korekh (Hagahot Maimoniyot, 8:7).
the Shulchan Arukh (475:1) wrote that one dips the korekh in
charoset. The Rema (ibid.) noted that there are those who do not dip, while
the Mishna Berura (subsection 19) wrote that the custom is to dip.
off the charoset
maror, the Shulchan Arukh (ibid.) wrote that one shakes off the
charoset, whereas in regard to korekh, he did not write that one
shakes it off, implying that there is no need to do so for korekh. This
is indeed what the Beit Yosef (ibid., s.v. ve-khen katav) cited in
the name of the Agur from the Maharil. However, the Mishna Berura
(subsection 17) wrote in the name of the Ma’amar Mordekhai that one must
shake off the charoset for korekh as well. In any event, whoever
wants to eat the korekh without shaking off the charoset first may
do so (see Pesach Me’ubban, 308; Kaf ha-Chaim, 475:32).
maror in the korekh
quantity of maror
Sha’agat Arye (100) wrote that according to the Rosh, who states that the
need for a ke-zayit of maror is only because of the blessing,
there is no need for a ke-zayit for korekh, and the Yeshu’ot
Ya’akov wrote the same.
In the final
analysis, the Sha’agat Arye disagreed with the Rosh, and wrote that one
is to eat a ke-zayit for korekh as well, and that is the ruling of
the Mishna Berura (475:16).
The amount of
a ke-zayit for rabbinic decrees is 27 cubic centimeters (1.65 cubic
inches). However, according to the letter of the law one may use a smaller
quantity for the ke-zayit of korekh, namely 19 or even 17 cubic
centimeters (just over a cubic inch) - namely, a medium or small leaf of
lettuce, because this is only a remembrance of the Temple practice, and many
poskim were lenient in the size of maror (including the Chazon Ish
and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach).
eat the korekh continuously (within four minutes, but there is no need to
time it with a watch).
those who wrote that, according to the Ari z”l, it is preferable to use Romaine
lettuce for maror and horseradish for korekh. The Magen Avraham
(473:12) wrote that the custom is to use the leaves of Romaine lettuce for
maror and the stalks of Romaine lettuce for korekh.
(ibid., subsection 5), though, wrote that “there is no rhyme nor reason” for
this differentiation, and those who do so “do not know their right from their
left.” There are those who wrote that the “origin of this is that the seder
plate of the Ari z”l had one place for “maror” and another for “chazeret,”
but he did not mean that there are different things.
there is no need to differentiate between the vegetable to be used for maror
and that to be used for korekh, however every person may do as he wishes,
as any of these is acceptable (and according to Chazon Ish there is even
an advantage in eating horseradish, and if that is so, it is possibly better,
according to him, for the maror. And there are those whose custom is to
eat Romaine lettuce for korekh, but to add a little horseradish).
It is better
to lean when eating the korekh, for Hillel certainly ate it while
leaning, given that, according to him, this is the obligatory eating of matza.
If one did not lean, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Peri
Chadash, 475:1; Shulchan Arukh ha-Rav, 475:20).
Rabbi Dov Karoll from Pesach Haggadah Shirah Miriam – Haggadah MiMekorah
by Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, published by Mosad Harav Kook in conjunction with the
Halacha Educational Center,