Pesachim 107-108 Eating snacks during the מגיד

The Gemara on 107b concludes that the reason for the prohibition against eating  from סמוך למנחה  on ערב פסח  is in order not to become full and land up eating the מצה  in a way that is considered אכילה גסה (gluttonous eating.)

Rashi  (see Pesachim 99b “לא יאכל”) seems to take this further than face value and explain this as a form of הדור מצוה  (performing the mitzva in a more beautiful way.)

Rather than literally avoiding אכילה גסה , which as Tosfos (קז. ד”ה “דילמא) notes is generally not considered eating at all, Rashi explained that one actually needs to build up an תאיבון  [appetite] for the matza, an idea he seconds here on our daf using the even stronger phrase תאוה[lust.]

This seems to make this law a rather unusual case of a גזירה דרבנן  (rabbinical decree) made to protect a הדור מצוה , something requiring its own analysis.

In contrast, the above-mentioned Tosfos on our daf understands that the concern is literally that one will be so full by the time he comes to eating his מצה  that it will not qualify as eating at all, the fully-fledged kind of אכילה גסה  for which one is exempt on Yom-Kippur!

This makes this a more usual גזירה דרבנן  designed to prevent one from entirely missing an עשה דאורייתא , similar to that requiring one to say שמע  before midnight to avoid missing it entirely (Brachos 2a.)

A possible נפקא מינה  (practical difference) between these two views could be what types of snacks one is permitted to eat even after this time and/or the quantity of snacks that one is permitted to eat.

We have already seen from Tosfos at the beginning of the פרק  (see post on Pesachim 99 and 100) that this prohibition is referring to  something very specific, not to all forms of eating, namely מצה עשירה.

In contrast, מצה  is forbidden all day, and מיני תרגימא  (certain snacks) are permitted all day.

We have also seen that the Rambam distinguishes between eating a lot of anything which is prohibited, and eating a small amount of snacks, which is permitted.

The source for the היתר  (permission) to eat מיני תרגימא lies on our daf and is stated expressly by ר’ אסי  and illustrated by ר’יצחק’s practise of “dipping” them.

This practise seems to be further illustrated by a ברייתא  which states that the שמש(servant) may dip (and eat) the בני מעיים  (innards) of the animals and also place them in front of the guests.

According to Rashi, the proof from the ברייתא  is somewhat difficult, given that he defines מיני תרגימא  as פירות  (fruits) but does not seem to permit meats, like Rashbam does,  let alone  Mezonos snacks (as permitted by Tosfos, at least according to his first answer in ד”ה “מיני”.

Rashi’s limitation of the leniency to fruit appears to fit in well with his requirement for הדור מצוה  which presumably requires a greater degree of caution than simply avoiding אכילה גסה  and Tosfos’s generous extension of this permission even to Mezonos snacks which are certainly more filling seems to match his lower bar of simply avoiding אכילה גסה.

Yet how would Rashi explain the proof in the Beraisa, which seems to permit eating meat snacks as well, at least the way he himself explains it (see Rashbam for alternative explanation.)

As Rashbam himself seems to note Rashi understands this in several steps:

  1. It is normal for the שמש  to eat while preparing food, and not doing so causes him צער. (distress)
  2. Seeing that he is eating while he works to prevent צער and not for pleasure, meat snacks are also less likely to fill him up, and have the status of מיני תרגימא  specifically for him
  3. From the fact that the בני מעיים  get the more lenient status of מיני תרגימא  for him and this permits them to him, it follows that fully fledged מיני תרגימא, namely fruits, are permitted for all people.

Be that as it may, we have seen that Rashi limits the היתר   of מיני תרגימא  to fruit , Rashbam expands it to meat snacks, and Tosfos permits even “Mezonos” snacks like non chametz cake, cookies, kneidlach etc, and this can be directly linked to how Rashi and Tosfos see the basis for the prohibition.

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Once we have seen that the ban on eating is not total but linked to the risk of being satiated by the type of quantity of snacks eaten, which in turn is linked to how we understand the prohibition, it is possible to investigate another possible נ”מ  of this debate.

Is it permitted to eat after dark, after Kiddush, during the Seder itself, but before eating the matza?

On the one hand, we have not seen a specific prohibition against doing so, and the Mishna specifically seems to limit the prohibition עד שתחשך  (until it gets dark.)

On the other hand, if we are concerned about being too full for matza for the entire later half of the afternoon, surely we should be more concerned during the Seder itself, closer to the time we need to eat the matza?

The second law in the Beraisa brought as a support for permitting מיני תרגימא  states that the שמש   places the בני מעיים  in front of the visitors.

As it is normal for the visitors to arrive after dark for the seder, the simple reading of this statement seems to imply that the visitors are permitted to eat them after dark during the Hagada. (though note that what is normal for us might have been normal in the times of Chazal, and the discussion on 100a about interrupting eating or drinking when Shabbos or Yom-Tov starts  does seem to indicate that serving visitors  (probably sleep-over visitors from out of town which was the main form of הכנסת אורחים  practiced)  was done for pre -Yom-Tov snacks as well.)

Though Rashbam understands that the visitors are fed these snacks during the afternoon before dark as appetizers for later, Rashi specifically limited the היתר  to eat בני מעיים  in the late afternoon to the שמש, so it is also more consistent for him to view the placing in front of the visitors after dark when the official prohibition is over, if it indeed is.

Tosfos (צט.. ד”ה “סמוך למנחה” ) seems to have offered explicit proof that eating after dark is permitted from an earlier sugya (Pesachim 40a) which permits one to eat בציקות של נכרים  (matza baked by non-Jews but essentially non shmura-matza) during the seder so long as one eats at least a kezayis of fully fledged (shmura) matza afterwards to fulfil one’s mitzva.

Whereas the main lesson of the Gemara there is that it is permitted to eat non Shmura matza on pesach, even during the seder, but cannot use it to fulfil the mitzva of eating matza, it appears from it that eating בציקות של נכרים  is permitted before one fulfills the mitzva of matza!

As these taste like מצה, are just as filling as מצה, and far more filling than מיני תרגימא (certainly Rashi’s “fruit” מיני תרגימא ), this seems to fly completely in the face of the prohibition of eating on ערב פסח  and even defeat the purpose.

Whereas there are other ways of learning the earlier sugya and Rashi seems to understand that the מצה באחרונה  referred to there is the afikomen, which is meant to be eaten while satisfied anyway, it seems clear from their question and answer that Tosfos understands it to refer to the מוציא מצה!

In a logical curveball, the Tosfos answer that eating during the seder before the מצה  is actually less risky than eating during the late afternoon!- once one has started the meal (presumably with קדוש  and כרפס) one is aware of the risk of filling oneself up and is more careful not to do so.

As such, one would be permitted to eat even בציקות של נכרים  and certainly מיני תרגימא  during the meal even before eating מצה.

Whereas this logic might be arguable, and it is hard to believe that eating בציקות של נכרים  will not ruin one’s appetite for the מצה, Tosfos seems to be happy with it, and this might well be  consistent with his limiting  the prohibition of eating to that which risks real אכילה גסה.

It is unlikely that Rashi, who requires one to have a “lust” for the מצה, would permit eating בציקות של נכרים  before the first מצה  has been eaten, and by explaining this היתר  as referring to during the meal proper before the afikomen, he avoids the need to do so.

Yet it is quite possible that he accepts Tosfos’ basic logic that eating non-filling things like fruit, which in smaller quantities actually stimulate the appetite, is even less problematic than during the afternoon, and remains permitted during the entire seder, even before מצה  is eaten- This would be consistent with how he seems to understand the permission for the visitors to eat the בני מעיים  as being specifically after dark, during the seder, but before the מצה!

This thesis of Tosfos is put to the test, however, by a discussion at the end of daf 107b, moving onto 108a.

We are told how Rava used to drink wine throughout erev Pesach in order to stimulate his appetite for the מצה  later.

In order to prove that wine stimulates the, he draws on the Mishna which states that one is permitted to drink additional cups of wine between the first and second cups, and between the second and third cups.

If wine is filling, argues Rava, it would not be permitted to drink so much before eating the מצה!

Tosfos acknowledges that if his thesis is correct that eating during the seder is less problematic than during the afternoon, Rava’s entire proof falls away.

His first answer, once again consistent with his view of the prohibition, is that although one is careful during the seder not to eat too much, it is much harder to be careful not to drink too much wine, due to its intoxicating effect.

As such, whereas eating even בציקות של נכרים  and certainly מיני תרגימא  during this time is permitted, drinking additional wine is not.

The second answer, however, is more problematic in terms of permitting eating snacks during the מגיד.

Tosfos suggests that there is a distinction between the long period of the מגיד  between the first and second cups which is similar in practise to a different meal, and the short period between drinking the second cup and making המוציא .

According to this answer, the היתר  to eat בציקות של נכרים  is limited to the short period between the מגיד  and מוציא מצה when was is super conscious of the impending mitzva and can be very careful not to fill oneself.

There is no such permission during the long period of the מגיד  between the first and second cup, and it is from the permission to drink wine during this period despite it being like a different meal, that Rava derives his proof that wine, unlike בציקות של נכרים , are not filling.

It follows that according to this answer, eating בציקות של נכרי  during the מגיד  is certainly forbidden and it remains unclear whether מיני תרגימא  are still  permitted like they are during the later afternoon.

These posts are intended to raise issues and stimulate further research and discussion on contemporary topics related to the daf. They are not intended as psak halacha.

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