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Tzafun: Eating the Afikoman

Tzafun: Eating the Afikoman

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The afikoman is the half of the middle matzah that was hidden away to be eaten at the conclusion of the meal. There is an unresolved question as to whether the afikoman is intended to commemorate the Paschal offering or the matzah that was eaten together with it. Therefore, ideally one should eat two kezeisim. This is the prevailing Lubavitch custom.

Some find this difficult, and therefore eat only one kezayis. In such an instance, the person should have the intent that the matzah serve to commemorate whichever of the above two subjects is the one requiring commemoration.

Portions of the desired size should be given to everyone. The afikoman that was hidden away usually is not large enough to provide everyone with portions of the desired size. Therefore other matzah is taken in addition.

The afikoman should be eaten while reclining on one’s left side, without pause or interruption, and must be eaten bichedei achilas p’ras. At the first Seder, the afikoman should be eaten before midnight. After the afikoman, nothing should be eaten for the remainder of the night. Nor, with the exception of the remaining two of the four cups of wine drunk at the Seder, should one drink after eating the afikoman, so that the taste of the matzah will remain in one’s mouth.

Tzafun

Rav Sholem Kaidaner, tutor of the Rebbe Rashab, once asked the Rebbe Maharash the meaning of the name Tzafun. The Rebbe Maharash replied that tzafun means “hidden.” Eating the afikoman endows us with the potential to destroy the evil hidden in our hearts (the Previous Rebbe).1

What is meant by “hidden evil”? We all have faults that are easily recognizable. These must surely be corrected. Beyond that, each of us has character flaws of which we may not be so aware. This is the evil which the afikoman empowers us to destroy (the Rebbe).2

Afikoman

The word afikoman can be broken up into two Aramaic words אפיקו מן, meaning “bring out sustenance.” Eating the afikoman draws down G‑d’s infinite bounty into the framework of our material world (the Previous Rebbe).3

The afikoman is associated with the Paschal sacrifice. Like that sacrifice, it is eaten at the end of the meal, when a person has already satisfied his hunger. The intent is not that a person’s Divine service should merely fill his needs. Instead, he should leap forward (Pesach) to a new and higher rung of Divine service (the Rebbe).4

The taste of the matzah will remain in one’s mouth

Matzah is simple, containing only flour and water. This alludes to the divine service motivated by kabbalas ol, unquestioning self-subordination to the Divine yoke. This requires a person to transcend his own understanding and feelings. Such service is generally “tasteless,” i.e., it does not bring a person satisfaction.

On Pesach, however, matzah is to be savored, for a Jew injects life and vitality into this mode of divine service.And this flavor should linger, inspiring our service for the year to come (Ibid.).5
Footnotes
1.
Sefer HaSichos 5697, p. 226.
2.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, p. 1016.
3.
Sefer HaSichos 5698, p. 261.
4.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, p. 965.
5.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, p. 46ff.
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