Arvei Pesachim #19: 108a

  • Rav Yair Kahn

Gemora Pesachim

Yeshivat Har Etzion




SHIUR #19: 108a

by Rav Yair Kahn



The gemara requires one to lean (haseiva) on Pesach night while eating the matza and drinking TWO of the four cups of wine. However, the gemara is unable to resolve definitively whether it is the FIRST two cups of wine which should be drunk while leaning, or the LAST two and, therefore, requires haseiva for ALL four so as to cover both possibilities.


If one failed to lean while drinking any one of the four cups, Tosafot question whether or not an additional cup must be drunk correctly so as to fulfill the obligation of arba kosot. The safek (doubt) of Tosafot may be explained on the basis of the gemara's uncertainty regarding which two cups require haseiva. If so, one who ate matza without haseiva would certainly be required to consume a further quantity of matza while leaning. In fact, the Rosh rules this explicitly.


Underlying the opinion of Tosafot and the Rosh is the assumption that haseiva is NOT a mitzva in and of itself. Rather, it is an essential COMPONENT of the mitzvot of akhilat matza and arba kosot (to the extent that lack of the required haseiva invalidates the performance of these two mitzvot). In other words: One is not required to lean on the first night of Pesach - he is obligated to eat matza and drink the cups of wine WHILE leaning.


Both the Rosh and Tosafot view the requirement of haseiva as a QUALIFICATION of the obligation to eat matza and drink wine and NOT as a SEPARATE requirement. One must eat matza and drink two of the arba kosot in a fashion that demonstrates freedom. Consequently, the requirement of haseiva is RESTRICTED to the mitzvot of akhilat matza and arba kosot and one need not lean at any other stage of the Pesach seder.


The Rambam (Hilkhot Chametz u-Matza 7:7) in contra-distinction, does NOT limit haseiva to eating matza and drinking wine and requires one to lean during the ENTIRE meal. (Special emphasis, however, is placed on the matza and wine since they are the essential ingredients of the seder.) This would seem to indicate that haseiva is NOT intrinsically connected to akhilat matza and arba kosot.


Furthermore, the Rambam does not mention haseiva while discussing the mitzva of akhilat matza in chapter six. Rather, it is dealt with in chapter seven, within the context of the obligation to view (or show) ourselves as if we personally were redeemed from Egypt. Based on the above, R. Velvel Soloveitchik zt"l concludes that according to the Rambam, haseiva is an INDEPENDENT obligation to act in a manner which indicates freedom. This is connected, perhaps, with the general mitzva of sipur yetzi'at Mitzrayim (which was introduced by the Rambam in chapter seven). Accordingly, we are obligated not only to tell the story VERBALLY, but to ACT it out as well.


The Me'iri takes this idea a step further and claims that the obligation of haseiva for the arba kosot does not relate only to the actual DRINKING of the wine. In addition, one must lean while RECITING the portion of the hagada upon which those cups were instituted. For instance, haseiva during the second cup, obligates leaning during the ENTIRE magid section of the hagada and not only while drinking the wine. Clearly, this opinion is conceptually consistent with that of the Rambam, as opposed to the Rosh and Tosafot.


Rashbam s.v. Isha


The Rashbam offers two explanations why women are not required to lean while eating the matza:

1. A woman is subservient to her husband and was therefore exempted from the haseiva requirement (similar to a talmid who partakes of the seder in front of his Rabbi).

2. Haseiva is not normal behavior for women (She'iltot) and thus, it does not DEMONSTRATE freedom. This explanation applies to single women as well. However, the first interpretation is limited to married women.


The gemara states that an important woman - "isha chashuva" - is required to lean. If we adopt the first suggestion, that the exemption of heseiva is because a woman is subservient to her husband, an isha chashuva is a woman who is not subservient. This indicates that the subservience was (at least then) a social reality, but not a halakhic directive. The she'iltot, on the other hand, would probably interpret 'isha chashuva' as a woman who is accustomed to leaning.


The explanation of the She'iltot, raises a broader issue: Is the requirement of haseiva SOLELY a DEMONSTRATIVE act - only such haseiva which expresses freedom being obligated - or is the FORMAL act of haseiva required, and one is required lean even in situations where it LACKS demonstrative content?


The Mishna (99b) rules that even a pauper should not eat unless he leans. Tosafot (s.v. Ve-afilu) attempt to explain why a pauper is singled out in this regard. They explain that one might have thought that since a pauper has nothing to lean on, his haseiva lacks demonstrative content and, therefore, he need not lean. Consequently, the mishna is compelled to explicitly obligate the pauper. From Tosafot it seems that our question is dealt with by the mishna which concludes that the requirement of haseiva is a universal FORMAL one, and includes situations where there is NO demonstration of cheirut.


Rashi (s.v. Ve-afilu), however, explains that the mishna obligates the pauper to acquire a pillow to lean upon in order that his haseiva will demonstrate cheirut. It seems, therefore, that according to Rashi there is no significance to haseiva which is not demonstrative. (See Tosafot for an alternate explanation of the mishna.)


If haseiva is a DEMONSTRATIVE act, it follows that women are not required to lean, assuming (as does the She'iltot) that haseiva is NOT normal behavior for women. However, if there is a universal FORMAL requirement of haseiva, whether demonstrative or not, the premise of the She'iltot is not a sufficient reason to exempt women from haseiva.


The definition of haseiva is related to the issue discussed above: Is haseiva an INDEPENDENT obligation, based on the necessity to view or show oneself as if he personally left Egypt (Rambam and Me'iri), or is it a QUALIFICATION of the mitzva of matza (Tosafot and Rashbam). If haseiva constitutes an INDEPENDENT category, it is reasonable that it is significant only insofar as it is DEMONSTRATIVE. If, however, it was formalized as a QUALIFICATION of akhilat matza, then it is possible that the act of leaning is necessary, even when the demonstrative element is lacking.



Tosafot Hayu


Women are obligated to perform those mitzvot which are related to historic events in which they were involved ("Af hen hayu be-oto ha-nes"). According to the Rashbam, this halakha applies only in cases where women played a CRUCIAL role, such as the Purim story where Esther features prominently. Similarly, women played a vital role in the Exodus as "the redemption was due to the righteous women" (Sota 11b) and, thus, they are obligated to drink the arba kosot.


Tosafot, based on the Yerushalmi, argue that "af hen" relates to situations where women were affected by the events, even though they did not play a specific role in bringing about the salvation. Based on this interpretation, Tosafot question why women are not included in the mitzva of sukka. After all, women as well as men were protected by sukkot in the wilderness. Tosafot respond that "af hen" only relates to mitzvot of a rabbinic nature. Sukka which is biblical, is consequently not included.


However, R. Yosef Ish Yerushalayim (see Tosafot Megilla 4a) apparently argues that "af hen" applies even to mitzvot DE-ORAITA. Hence, the biblical obligation requiring women to eat matza, could have been derived from "af hen." Nevertheless, it is clear, according to him, that "af hen" does NOT apply to the mitzva of sukka. R. Moshe Soloveitchik zt"l explained that "af hen" applies only to mitzvot belonging to the category of "pirsum hanes" - publicizing the miracle. Women who were redeemed bya miracle, are included in the obligation to praise Hashem publicly. Therefore, we only find "af hen" regarding Megilla reading, lighting Chanuka candles and drinking the four cups of wine on the seder night. All of these mitzvot are categorized as "pirsum ha-nes." According to R Yosef Ish Yerushalayim, the mitzva to eat matza is included in this category. After all, matza expresses the suddenness of the redemption. Sukka, however, is not included, and women are, therefore, not obligated due to "af hen." (Tosafot who suggest that women be obligated in sukka due to "af hen" may accept the theory of R. Moshe, but argue that sukka is also categorized as "pirsum ha-nes"; see She'iltei Giborim beginning of Sukka who learns this from a passuk.)


According to the Sefer HaChinukh, women are obligated in the mitzva of sippur yetzi'at Mitzrayim. The Minchat Chinukh questions the source of this din - women should be exempt as it is a time-related commandment. However, in light of the distinction of R. Moshe, we can understand the opinion of the Sefer Ha Chinukh: Since the purpose of this mitzva is pirsum ha-nes, women are included in the obligation to re-tell the story of the Exodus.


This category of mitzvot has other ramifications as well. The mishna (99b) states that even paupers are obligated to fulfill the mitzva of the four cups of wine. Normally, a person is not required to spend more than a fifth of his money in order to fulfill mitzvot aseh. Nevertheless, here we find that a pauper is required to receive charity in order to fulfill the mitzva of the four cups of wine. The Maggid Mishneh (Hilkhot Chanuka 4:12) explains that this is because the mitzva of arba kosot is categorized as "pirsum ha-nes." Regarding this category, there is no limit of a fifth. Based upon this he explains the Rambam's seemingly baseless ruling that even a pauper who has no food, is required to take charity or sell his possessions in order to fulfill the mitzva of chanuka candles.


In a similar vein, Rashi (on the mishna) requires a pauper to purchase a pillow to lean on. This is congruent with his opinion that the purpose of haseiva is to demonstrate freedom, thus defining it as a mitzva categorized as pirsum ha-nes.


1. 108b "Amar R. Yehuda amar Shmuel ... ve-echad tinokot."

2. Rashbam s.v. Shat-an chai, Tosafot s.v. Shat-an chai, Rambam Hilkhot Chametz U-matza 7:6-7, 9-10.

3. Rashi s.v. Be-vat achat, Rashbam Be-vat achat, Tosafot s.v. Yedei.

4. 99b Tosafot s.v. Lo.

5. 108b Tosafot s.v. Ruba, 107a Tosafot s.v. Im.


1. Why should undiluted wine not be used for the 4 cups? Can such wine be used for a standard kiddush?

2. What is wrong with drinking the 4 cups together? In such a case, is it necessary to drink an additional 3 cups?

3. Must everyone attending the seder drink 4 cups of wine independently? Why is the same requirement not applied to a regular kos shel berakha?

4. How much of each of the 4 cups must be drunk? Does this amount correspond to that of a standard kos shel berakha?






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