Sunday, April 12, 2009

Is Nirtza a violation of Ain Maftirin Achar HaPesach Afikomen?

In Yerushalmi Pesachim, we read:
דף עא, א פרק י הלכה ו משנה מזגו לו כוס שלישי מברך על מזונו רביעית גומר עליו את ההלל ואומר עליו ברכת השיר בין הכוסות הללו אם רצה לשתות ישתה בין שלישי לרביעי לא ישתה אין מפטירין אחר הפסח אפיקומן:

דף עא, א פרק י הלכה ו גמרא
מאי אפיקומן רבי סימון בשם רבי אינייני בר רבי סיסיי מיני זמר
ר"י אמר מיני מתיקה
שמואל אמר כגון ערדילי וגוזליא דחנניא בר שילת

Thus, the prohibited afikomen is defined. Interestingly, when we compare Shmuel in Bavli to Yerushalmi, he gives the same definition, but he attributes the practice of eating gozlaya to Chanania bar Shelat in Yerushalmi, rather than to Abba (presumably Rav rather than his father) in Bavli, likely because different people were famous in these different areas.

But what is more interesting, IMHO, is Rabbi Simon's definition of Afikomen. He cites Rabbi Ainaini bar Rabbi Sisai that it means "minei zemer." This would appear to be "types of song." But is this not then Nirtza, which we perform last at the seder? Maybe it is, but we don't pasken like Rabbi Simon. Or maybe it is not.

This is not the only source for prohibiting Nirtza, or wondering about it. I did not see Nirtza mentioned in Tur in his ordering of the seder, but perhaps I missed it. And we say חסל סידור פסח כהלכתו before beginning Nirtzah. And Rav Shmuel Palagi (last seen here) was very upset about Nirtza, as I will hopefully get a chance to elaborate upon in a separate post.

But Nirtza is fairly entrenched, as a kosher and spiritually meaningful practice. What do the standard commentators do when faced with this gemara which appears to prohibit it?

On the standard page of Yerushalmi, we may contrast the approaches of the Pnei Moshe and the Korban HaEdah. The Pnei Moshe writes: Minei Zemer: Thet are types of vessels that they use for eating, and this is from Biblical language. II Melachim 12:14:
יד אַךְ לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה בֵּית ה, סִפּוֹת כֶּסֶף מְזַמְּרוֹת מִזְרָקוֹת חֲצֹצְרוֹת, כָּל-כְּלִי זָהָב, וּכְלִי-כָסֶף--מִן-הַכֶּסֶף, הַמּוּבָא בֵית-יְהוָה. 14 But there were not made for the house of the LORD cups of silver, snuffers, basins, trumpets, any vessels of gold, or vessels of silver, of the money that was brought into the house of the LORD;
and here that they should not say "bring out the mana {vessels}." And Rabbi Yochanan says etc., as we have explained it all in our Mishna.

Now, there is merit to this explanation. He finds a Biblical parallel for the language, explains what minei means, ties it in to Afikomen. Yet is still seems slightly forced, and one wonders if he would say this if not for the established practice of Nirtza in contrast to it.

Compare this with the commentary of the Korban Ha'Eidah. He writes: Minei Zemer: That they would sing {mezamrin} after eating, and on the night of Pesach they would not sing, because of the Hallel which they would sing after the eating.

If so, this would seem to exclude Nirtza, which is another type of singing. Note, though, that he does not necessarily transform this into a prohibition. They do not sing because they are singing something else. But what about after that something else, Hallel, is finished?

Another commentator who grapples with this is Rabbi Yehoshua Refael Benbenishti. In his commentary on Yerushalmi, he writes:

Minei Zemer: It is a notrikon of afiko minei {take out the minei}. And what are the minei? minei zemer you should take out from before you. That is to say, minim of song {=musical instruments, parallel to klei zemer?} draw the heart of the person and bring him to eat, while we require that he should not taste anything after the paschal offering, and therefore they send out any thing which will cause eating. Or it is possible to say "bring out the minei zemer and bring them before you, rather than minei achila, for one should not eat further."

It is clear that he wants to associate this with eating in some way, but this is forced, especially since one should not be maftir after the Pesach (or in Bavli, matzah), the afikomen, such that his commentary is the reverse of what it should be -- the first should be to bring out, but we do not; and the second does not work at all.

And I would suspect that the prominent role we assign to Nirtzah plays at least some role in this somewhat forced commentaries. Of course, who says we hold like Rabbi Simon in this multi-way machlokes on the meaning of Afikomen? BeEzrat Hashem, in a subsequent post, the position of Rabbi Shmuel Palagi.

Note: Not intended halacha lemaaseh. Consult your local Orthodox rabbi.


Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

i was thinking that basically חסל סידור פסח *is* Nirtza itself

Milhouse said...

Nirtzah is not the songs. Nirtzah is not anything we do, it's what Hashem does. The songs, if any, come after the end of the seder, i.e. after Nirtzah.

joshwaxman said...

eh. steg already pointed it out, or similar enough, in the comment above. (that is why I avoided the controversy in later posts about Rav Shmuel Palagi.)

The Vayaged Moshe Haggadah, for example, from Artscroll (which is the one I happened to have on hand), defines Nirtzah as "pray that God accept our observance and speedily send the messiah."

Colloquially, it has come to mean this, at least in some circles I am familiar with, and at any rate it is entirely orthogonal to the point: whether it has a name or not, there is an established practice to sings songs at the conclusion of the seder, and this appears to contradict Rabbi Simon's definition of afikoman.



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