Halacha for Monday 3 Nissan 5779 April 8 2019

Hosting and Being Hosted on the Seder Night- The Custom of Maran zt”l

Question: Is it better to stay home for the Pesach Seder or to be hosted by one’s parents or in-laws?

Answer: Many people commonly contend with the above dilemma, so let us discuss this issue.

Hagaon Harav Betzalel Stern zt”l writes (in his Responsa Be’Tzel Ha’Cochma Volume 6, Chapter 67) that the custom that many have to spend the Seder night with their parents is a fulfilment of the Mitzvah to rejoice on the holiday, for sharing each other’s company makes the holiday more enjoyable. Several great Rishonim, including the Shibolei Ha’Leket (Chapter 218), write that many people customarily spend Yom Tov with their families and this increases one’s joy. We have already mentioned such an idea based on Rashi in Megillat Esther regarding the Purim feast. This is certainly true regarding Pesach when there was a special Mitzvah to join a group to eat the Pesach offering as opposed to just eating alone.

This was indeed the custom of Maran zt”l who would invite his sons and daughters along with their children to his home where they would all conduct the Seder together. The entire family rejoiced in the presence of Maran zt”l and he and the Rabbanit would be filled with satisfaction to see their children and grandchildren following in the path of the Torah. At the conclusion of the Seder, the Rabbanit would sing “Chad Gadya” according to the tradition of her birthplace (Aleppo, Syria) in Arabic. Maran zt”l would then gather all his grandchildren and sit them down in a half-circle and he would the proceed to recount the story of the Exodus and the splitting of the Red Sea in a manner especially appropriate for children until approximately midnight at which point everyone would go to sleep (so that they would be able to wake up early to pray Shacharit). Maran zt”l, however, remained awake all night long and studied Torah.

It seems then that it is always optimal to host or be hosted for the Pesach Seder. Nevertheless, the primary Mitzvah of the Seder night is that of recounting the story of the Exodus from Egypt to one’s children. One is therefore obligated to prepare accordingly, as we have discussed on several occasions. Thus, if one knows that by spending the Seder with one’s parents, one will not be able to recount the story to one’s children properly, one must weigh one’s options carefully since sometimes, if one’s parents will not take offense, it may be preferable for one to stay home for the Seder so that one will be able to focus on transmitting our timeless belief in Hashem to one’s children along with praising Hashem for all the great miracles He performs for us every day. However, if this will hurt one’s parents’ feelings, one should find another solution to the above issue. One should try to strike the correct balance between spending the Seder with one’s parents and recounting the story of the Exodus to one’s children as much as possible.

Indeed, when Maran zt”l’s children were young, he preferred to spend the Seder at home. Although his mother, Gorgia, would implore him to spend the Seder night in her house, Maran zt”l discussed with her how important it was to him to conduct the Seder at home so that he could impart the story of the Exodus to his children in the most beneficial manner. Although he graciously offered to host his parents or other family members who wanted to spend the Seder with him, he nevertheless did not want to go elsewhere for the Seder. Since Maran zt”l’s mother was a truly regal and understanding woman, she was not offended whatsoever and agreed for Maran zt”l to stay home and she invited her other children to be with her for the Seder.

May Hashem guide us in the proper path before Him, Amen.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Walking on One’s Way

Question: If one is eating while walking outdoors, may one recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed that our Sages have enacted that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while sitting in order for the individual to have maximum concentration. ......

Read Halacha

The Significance of Tu Bishvat

The Fifteenth of Shevat or Tu Bishvat is the Rosh Hashanah for trees (Rosh Hashanah 2a). Most people commonly think that just as on the First of Tishrei, which is the day of Rosh Hashanah, all creations are judged for life or death, for wealth or poverty, and the like, so too, on Tu Bishvat, trees a......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Seated

Question: Is one obligated to sit while reciting Birkat Hamazon or is it permissible to recite it while walking as well? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (51b) states that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while seated. The Poskim as well as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183) rule li......

Read Halacha

A Dish Comprised of Several Kinds of Food

Question: What is the correct blessing on stuffed peppers? Similarly, what is the correct blessing on a cake which has just a little flour but the primary ingredients of the cake are fruits and nuts? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that when one eats two different foods requirin......

Read Halacha


Foods Which Contain Flour

During the past few days, we have discussed that when a dish is comprised of several different foods which require different blessings, one should recite the blessing on the primary food in the dish. Thus, if one eats grape leaves stuffed with rice, one should recite the Mezonot blessing, for the ri......

Read Halacha

The Law that the Blessing on a Primary Food Exempts a Secondary Food

Next Sunday night marks Tu Bishvat, a day we customarily recite many blessings. We shall therefore discuss the laws of blessing for the next several days. The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (44a) states: “The rule is: If there is a primary food and a secondary food along with it, one recites ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of a Primary and Secondary Food Regarding Blessings

Question: If one eats a slice of bread along with fish, is it possible that one only recites a blessing on the fish and the bread will be considered secondary to the fish and exempted by it? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained the basic laws of primary and secondary foods regarding ......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha