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Can children eat during Maggid?

Rabbanit Rachel Weinstein

Nissan 5580/April 2020
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She'ela

Growing up I was taught that during the course of Maggid one should not eat. Does that apply to children under bar/bat Mitzva age? Hungry children on Seder night are a recipe for trouble, and I’m quite nervous about this year’s Seder anyways since we will be alone for the first time due to Coronavirus…

Teshuva

The Seder is potentially a wonderful educational opportunity, but it can also be quite challenging. It seems that you are not alone in this adventure. Many young couples and families will be making their first Seder this year compliments of the new Coronavirus…

 

As you’ve mentioned ideally one should not eat during the course of Maggid. This is based on the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch that one should not eat more than a Kazayit of Karpas and therefore run into a disputable situation regarding bracaha achrona. (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 473:6) Having said that, it seems this does not include young children. On the contrary. Children should be eating freely throughout the Seder in order that they be alert and in good spirits.

 

 אמרו עליו על רבי עקיבא שהיה מחלק קליות ואגוזים לתינוקות בערב פסח כדי שישאלו

 

The Gemara in Psachim (109 a)  states that Rabbi Akiva would give the children nuts and toasted grains, in other words snacks, in order to encourage them to ask questions.

I recommend that children should eat throughout the day prior to the Seder, this also helps to keep them and therefore us, in good spirits.

It seems that not only is it allowed, we encourage young children to eat before and during the Seder.

There is one limitation - children of גיל חינוך, who already understand, should not eat Matza (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 471:2).

In addition to the traditional קליות ואגוזים, and any other foods of choice, in our home we have indulged in Karpas, as another way to fill the little tummies.

There are varying customs regarding what people eat for Karpas. Some eat potatoes, some eat celery or parsley. 

It seems that the basic requirement is that Karpas should be a food on which we say Boreh Pri Ha'adama. (Pesachim 114 b, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 473:6).

Over the past few years we’ve gotten creative and chosen a variety of foods on which one would say Ha'adama. French fries, bananas, celery, cucumbers…You name it. The more the merrier, the more satiating the better. And of course we dip it all in salt water. (And/or Ketchup).

 

This variety also goes along with one of the reasons brought for eating Karpas – in order that the children will ask (ibid). The variety and creativity in Karpas options raises questions and promotes discussion in addition to the positive effect on the hunger level of the young participants at the

 Seder.

One might argue that Karpas should ideally be one of the three above mentioned foods that are traditionally eaten, parsley celery or potatoes. This is true. This is an excellent opportunity to raise the question of what the ideal Karpas would be and the reasons for each choice. And then of course,  allow the children to eat all of the props.

 

Although the Shulchan Aruch holds that one should not eat more than Kazayit of Karpas, this again seemingly does not apply to young children. Moreover, according to the Rambam one must eat at least a Kazayit Karpas. This of course refers to the adults. Although that ruling was not accepted by the Shulchan Aruch young children can certainly eat a Kazayit Karpas (Bach Orach Chayim 473: adults should also be eating a Kazayit Karpas. The Bach offers specific explanation of how this should be done. One must say the bracha on the Karpas and have in mind not to include the Maror in this bracha, one would then recite Boreh Nefashot after eating the Karpas. At Motzi Matza one would then also have in mind that the bracha on Matza should not include the Maror. At the time of eating the Maror another Boreh Pri Haadama should be said on the Maror.)

 

It also seems that drinking is not a problem according to some, a variety of drinks is also a way to stave hunger until the meal at the Seder.

 

I hope you have a wonderful Seder. Meaningful, pleasant and healthy.

 

Chag Kasher VeSame’ach!

 

Rachel Weinstein.

 

Rabbanit Rachel Weinstein

is a graduate of Hilkhata, Matan's Advanced Halakhic Institute and is a certified Meshivat Halakha. She studied in Migdal Oz, and Nishmat. Rachel teaches in her community and is a Yoetzet Halakha. She gives classes for women, teaches Kallot and runs the Matan Beit Shemesh Kallah teachers certification course. She lives in Tekoa and is the mother of 8 children.