Re: Hiding the Afikomen
Mon, 05 May 1997 00:47:46 EDT

Susan Rubin Weintrob writes:
>Where did the custom of hiding the Afikomen (half of middle Matza eaten at
>end of the meal) at the Pesach seder originate from?
>Although I know that much in the seder is to include children, I wondered
if >there is another derivation.

One source is the mishna which says "chotfin es hamatzos" : we
grab the matzos in order to prevent the children from falling asleep.
One interpretation is that we sit down to the seder immediately; another
is to give them games such as "stealing the afikoman" (playing with nuts
and toasted grains is also mentioned) to keep them interested.

Another, deeper meaning can be found in the general division of
the seder into two parts: the part before the meal generally
commemorating the exodus from Egypt while the second half, after the
meal, looks forward in time to the Messianic epoch. As such, putting
away the matzoh from the former for the latter can be seen variously as
hoping for the Moshiach, or of the roots of the ultimate redemption
being found within the redemption from Egypt.