Thursday, April 17, 2008

Early Seder

Note: Not intended halacha lemaaseh. Certainly not. Just something to think about.

The Mishna in the 10th perek of Pesachim (99b) says that erev Pesach close to Mincha (and on), one should not eat until it gets dark. Similarly, a Yerushalmi has a brayta from Rabbi Chiyya that one should not taste anything until it gets dark.

This idea seems to be so as not to spoil one's appetite. Yet elsewhere we see that one can fill his belly with betzeikot shel nochrim and just eat a kezayit of matzah at the end.

What gives? Tosafot d"h סמוך למנחה לא יאכל asks this question and offers an answer. Within the same meal, one is conscious not to spoil his appetite.

Another question is that "until it gets dark" is obvious, and furthermore, in other cases, such as by erev Shabbos and erev Yom Tov, no explicit mention is made of "until it gets dark." An answer offered is that indeed, by the other cases, one can eat before it gets dark. Based on Berachot 27b, one may daven Shabbos davening early early and say kiddush haYom early, and then eat early. And Tosafot understands the same is true for Yom Tov. However, specifically on Pesach, there is a Tosefta which states that the commandment of the korban Pesach, of matzah, and of marror are specifically at night. Rabbenu Yechiel offers that it is because the korban Pesach may not be eaten until the night, and it is agav urchei that it mentions it. And Rabbenu Yehudah answers that even if one needs wait by Shabbos and erev Pesach until it gets dark, here it is necessary to teach it since here it is not obvious, since the slaughter of the korban Pesach is while it is yet day. And he cites a Yerushalmi, a brayta that from Mincha and on on erev Shabbos, one may not taste anything until it gets dark. (He is citing Yerushalmi Pesachim 68a, not lehalacha, for this is explicitly there the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda -- but rather showing that such a distinction need not be made.)

In general, we accept the idea that one can make an early Shabbos. So let us assume that we want to rule like the first explanation of Tosafot, based on a gemara, that one can make an early Shabbos and also an early Yom Tov. But that the particulars of the mitzvot of Pesach interfere.

This brings us to present practice. I have been to sedarim which have ended at 2:30 AM. And I have been to sedarim which ended at 1 AM, where one or more participants fell asleep and did not finish drinking the four kosot. The proper approach would be to cut maggid short, because it is already longer than it should be and perhaps includes all sorts of meta-material of vehiggadata levincha -- but that for another post. And perhaps there is a cut-off point for the eating of the matzah, and the drinking of the cups, which we might be violating.

Let us now assume that we can rule like Tosafot above. If so, let us start our seder 3 hours before nightfall. If so, we can daven the davening of Pesach. We can drink the first cup, for it is kiddush haYom which is permitted. We can eat wash and eat karpas. We can break the middle matzah, for that is not the mitzvah of eating it. We can recite maggid. Towards the end of maggid, it will become dark. Then, it will be time to eat the matzah. And that will be at the proper time. And everyone will be awake.

There is no problem drinking the wine, or eating the karpas, for it is within the same meal.

One possible objection, besides the fact that it seems at first glance to be against the explicit Mishna (but not really so, for the aforementioned reason), is that we darshen the time for saying the haggadah, and it is baavur zeh, at the time the matzah and marror are munachim before you. They are resting there, for it is the seder night. But if their mitzvah is not yet chal, even though you accepted Pesach, perhaps sippur yetzias mitzrayim is not yet chal either.

More complications would arise on a year like this year, where erev Pesach is on Shabbos. When do you make havdalah? The very gemara deals with this situation. But still it complicates matters.

To reiterate: Don't do this. Just musings here.

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