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Why Do We Teach Children to Steal?!

Stealing the Afikoman: The Halacha & the Spirituality -- The Night When You Have to Deceive Yourself

1 hr 28 min

Class Summary:

This class was presented by Rabbi YY Jacobson at Beis Medrash Heichal Dovid in Lawrence, NY, with an introduction by its spiritual leader, Rabbi Mordechai Stern.

Why Do We Teach Children to Steal on the Night of Our Freedom? Stealing the Afikoman: The Halacha & the Spirituality -- The Night When You Have to Deceive Yourself.

What is fascinating and deeply perplexing if not disturbing is the tradition in many homes, that the Afikoman—the larger piece of matzah hidden away till the end of the Passover meal—is stolen! One, or a few, of the children, “steal” the Afikoman and hide it. They refuse to return it till father or mother promises them the world: It used to be a bike, a calculator (remember when kids got excited by calculators?), the new dress, the new book. Nowadays it’s the new iphone, ipod, ipad, trip to Europe, or even a Lamborghini.

Do we really need to encourage our children to steal? What’s the educational benefit here? In Jewish law, it is absolutely forbidden to steal from a friend even as a joke or to teach a lesson, even if one has no intention of keeping the “stolen” object. How did Passover change this? What is the meaning of this mysterious, disturbing and morally objectionable custom to steal the Afikoman?

In truth, the theme of stealing seems to be at the core of the entire Passover narrative. The Torah relates how Moshe deceived Pharaoh, telling him that the Jews were leaving Egypt for three days. But why did Moshe need to act deceptively, and not communicate honestly with Pharaoh?

One more story occurred on the night of Passover. And lo and behold—it also involves thievery! It was on Pesach when Jacob dressed up like his brother Esau and “stole” the blessings that Isaac was planning to give to Esau.

And it was on Pesach when Queen Esther declared that she would enter into the chamber of the king without his permission. She would trespass her boundaries.

Is this how we celebrate freedom? By stealing, deceiving, and manipulating? In truth, it is the deception of Pharaoh, the deception of Esau, and in many communities the stealing of the Afikoman, which captures the core of the Pesach experience.


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Please leave your comment below!

  • I

    Isaac -5 years ago

    You mentioned a Mekor Chaim in Hilchos Pesach and attributed it to the Ba'al Chavos Yair. Now I know the Chavos Yair wrote a sefer called Mekor Chaim but if we're talking about Hilchos Pesach I woild assume you meant the Nesivos's Mekor Chaim.

    Have a Chag Kasher Vesame'ach and keep up your great work bebaryus gufa unehora ma'alya.

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  • R

    Rachel -5 years ago

    I am writing to let you know that I find your classes completely awesome. I enjoy to see how you find roots in the Torah for basic concepts in Psychology. I listen to the classes and they help me in my work here in the UK, on a personal and communal level.

    I found the one on how to deal with difficult people such an eye opener on a Pisgam of the Besht that has always eluded me. It is a very good tool to use in our relationship with others, whether it is community members or others.

    Finally the one that definitely had a huge impact on me is the one on Pesach and the idea of deception.

    Thank you so much for allowing me with your talks to be more aware of the person I am and to be more in tune with my core values.

    Best wishes of Kosher'n Un Freilichen Pesach.

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  • YHE

    yechi hamelech ezagui -7 years ago


     .לא שמעתי השיעור עדיין אבל בקריאת הקיצור הבנתי שביאור ענין הטוב בגניבת האפיקומן
    אולם בהגדת רבינו מבאר שאין זה מנהגנו ומביא מקור הלכתי דאם ילמד הבן לגנוב האפיקומן כשיגדל יהי' גנב

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    • RYJ

      Rabbi YY Jacobson -7 years ago

      לא בדיוק. עיין בהגדה שם שמעתיק לשון הגמרא בברכות דף ה מה שאמרו לרב הונא בתר גנבא כו', יעויין שם. ובכ ל אופן, הכוונה פה להסביר קצת מנהג ישראל בכמה וכמה מקומות לגנוב האפיקומן, דלכאורה תמוה הוא במאד מאד. אבל מובן שנהרא נהרא ופשטיה, וכל אחד במסילתו יעלה בית א-ל

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Pesach/Toldos Shuir in the Five Towns

Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • April 4, 2017
  • |
  • 8 Nisan 5777
  • |

​Leilu Nishmas Reb Eliyahu Tzion ben Reb Chananya Niasoff ז״ל

And in the merit of our partner in Torah, Yigal Yisroel ben Sofia, שיחי׳​

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