Leilu Nishmas Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז״ל
And in the merit of our partner in Torah, Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia, שיחי׳
This class was presented by Rabbi YY Jacobson at Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid in Lawrence, NY, with an introduction by its spiritual leader, Rabbi Mordechai Stern. Why Do We Teach Children to Steal on the Night of Our Freedom? Stealing the Afikoman: The Halacha & the Spirituality -- The Night When You Have to Deceive Yourself. What is fascinating and deeply perplexing if not disturbing is the tradition in many homes, that the Afikoman—the larger piece of matzah hidden away till the end of the Passover meal—is stolen! One, or a few, of the children, “steal” the Afikoman and hide it. They refuse to return it till father or mother promises them the world: It used to be a bike, a calculator (remember when kids got excited by calculators?), the new dress, the new book. Nowadays it’s the new iphone, ipod, ipad, trip to Europe, or even a Lamborghini. Do we really need to encourage our children to steal? What’s the educational benefit here? In Jewish law, it is absolutely forbidden to steal from a friend even as a joke or to teach a lesson, even if one has no intention of keeping the “stolen” object. How did Passover change this? What is the meaning of this mysterious, disturbing and morally objectionable custom to steal the Afikoman? In truth, the theme of stealing seems to be at the core of the entire Passover narrative. The Torah relates how Moshe deceived Pharaoh, telling him that the Jews were leaving Egypt for three days. But why did Moshe need to act deceptively, and not communicate honestly with Pharaoh? One more story occurred on the night of Passover. And lo and behold—it also involves thievery! It was on Pesach when Jacob dressed up like his brother Esau and “stole” the blessings that Isaac was planning to give to Esau. And it was on Pesach when Queen Esther declared that she would enter into the chamber of the king without his permission. She would trespass her boundaries. Is this how we celebrate freedom? By stealing, deceiving, and manipulating? In truth, it is the deception of Pharaoh, the deception of Esau, and in many communities the stealing of the Afikoman, which captures the core of the Pesach experience.