Halacha for Thursday 6 Nissan 5778 March 22 2018

Leaning During the Seder

The Mitzvah of Leaning
The Gemara (Pesachim 108a among other places) states that there are several things during the Seder that must be eaten or drunk while leaning, i.e. while leaning to one’s left side. Indeed, the Midrash states on the verse “And Hashem led the nation in a roundabout way” that Hashem sat the Jewish nation in a leaning position at a banquet like sons of kings. This alludes to the fact that we must lean on the night of the Seder. The Rambam (Chapter 7 of Hilchot Chametz U’Matzah, Halacha 6) writes: “In every generation, one must show himself as though he has now left the slavery of Egypt, as the verse states, ‘And he has taken us out of there’. This is what Hashem has commanded us in the Torah, ‘And you shall remember that you were a slave’, meaning as if you were a slave and have now been freed. Thus, when one eats on this night, one must eat and drink in a leaning position which is an expression of freedom and every person, both men and women, must drink four cups on this night.”

The Rambam also writes (ibid. Halacha 8): “At what point must one lean? When one eats the Kezayit of Matzah and when drinking the four cups.” This means that one must lean while eating Matzah at the Seder, which includes the portions of Motzi-Matzah, Korech, and the Afikoman. Besides for this, one must lean while drinking the four cups as well.

The Manner in Which to Lean
Leaning means tilting one’s body and head significantly to the left and eating and drinking in this manner.

Although Hagaon Rabbeinu Ben Zion Abba-Shaul zt”l writes that one’s body should be tilted to the left to a forty-five-degree angle and this is indeed the practice of many of his students, nevertheless, the custom is not so. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l did not act this way and would lean slightly to the left and this is sufficient.

The Leaning Should be Comfortable
The primary form of leaning that was customary in earlier generations was done on pillows and cushions, which would make eating in this manner very comfortable. Nowadays when it is quite uncommon to lean during the rest of the year, it is customary on the Seder night to lean on the back of one’s chair or the chair next to the individual (especially if there is no room to do anything else) in a manner which is not so comfortable. The Acharonim disagree whether or not one who has leaned in a manner which was uncomfortable for him has fulfilled his obligation of the Mitzvah of leaning.

Hagaon Harav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg zt”l and other great Poskim rule that one has not fulfilled his obligation in this way and one must eat and drink again in a leaning position that is comfortable for him. This is because the primary idea behind the Mitzvah of leaning is for one to eat in a manner resembling freedom as royalty would; sons of kings do not eat when they are uncomfortable. Nevertheless, halachically speaking, the great Rishon Le’Zion, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yitzchak Yosef Shlit”a, writes (in his Yalkut Yosef-Pesach, Volume 3, page 114) that one who has leaned in an uncomfortable manner has, in fact, fulfilled his obligation since ultimately, he has eaten and drunk on this night while leaning.

Nonetheless, it is preferable to prepare such chairs that have arm-rests so that one can lean comfortably against them. In any event, one should try to lean as comfortably as possible while eating and truly feel like royalty.

Summary: One should lean to one’s left side during every part of the Seder when Matzah is eaten, including Motzi-Matzah, Korech, and Afikoman, as well as when one drinks the four cups of wine.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Se couper les cheveux et se raser pendant le ‘Omer

Ne pas se couper les cheveux pendant les jours du ‘Omer La tradition est répandue de ne pas se couper les cheveux pendant le ‘Omer. Selon la tradition Ashkénaze, jusqu’au 33ème jour du ‘Omer, mais selon la tradition Séfarade, jusqu’au 34&eg......

Read Halacha

Un Néder (un vœu)

Nous sommes aujourd’hui Yom Ha’atsmaout. Pour lire ce que nous avons écrit les années précédentes à partir des enseignements de notre maitre le Rav z.ts.l, cliquer ici. Question: Y a-t-il une interdiction à formuler des vœux même ......

Read Halacha

« Chéhéh’éyanou » pendant le ‘Omer (nouveau vêtement ou nouveau fruit)

Certains ont la tradition de ne pas inaugurer un nouveau vêtement durant la période du ‘Omer (jusqu’au 34ème jour), pour ne pas avoir à réciter la bénédiction de Chéhéh’éyanou (il s’agit ici d’un v&eci......

Read Halacha

Y a-t-il une obligation de marcher en permanence en portant un Talitt Katane afin d’accomplir la Mitsva de Tsitsit ?

Il est enseigné dans la Guémara Péssah’im (113b): 7 catégories d’individus sont rejetées par Hachem, et l’une de ces catégories désigne les personnes qui ne mettent pas les Téfilines, qui ne portent pas le Tsitsit et qui ne p......

Read Halacha


Les quantités de Matsa que l’on doit consommer le soir du Séder

Question: Quelle quantité de « Kazaït » de Matsa doit-on consommer le soir de Pessah’? Réponse: Le soir du Seder de Pessah’, l’obligation est de consommer au total 3 fois la quantité de Kazaït de Matsa. Le Kazaït correspo......

Read Halacha

Recherche et annulation du H’amets

La recherche du H‘amets La nuit du 14 Nissan - qui tombe cette année 5778 ce jeudi soir - on procède à la recherche du H’ametz à la lueur d’une bougie de cire (ou d’huile de paraffine solidifiée comme on en trouve de notre époque), c......

Read Halacha

La période du ‘Omer

Les jours de la période du ‘Omer sont des jours d’une très grande sainteté, comme l’écrit le RAMBAN dans son commentaire sur la Paracha de Emor, car ces jours du compte du ‘Omer – depuis la fête de Péssa’h jusqu’&agra......

Read Halacha

Le 7ème jour de Pessa’h - L’ouverture de la Mer Rouge

Sanctifier le Nom d’Hashem : « Ne vous battez pas, il y en aura pour tout le monde ! » Moshé étendit son bras au-dessus de la mer. Hashem conduisit la mer par un vent d’Est puissant durant toute la nuit. Il mit la mer à sec et divisa les eaux. (Sh&eacut......

Read Halacha