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BINA Beis Medrash

This week’s classes:

Sunday, July 21
Sunday Morning Beis Medrash
BINA Beis Medrash
Starts 8:00AM
Chaburah
BINA Beis Medrash
Starts 8:00PM

THE BRISKER ROV ON LEANING

In the Chidushei Hagri”z on the Rambam, the Brisker Rov dwells on the following chakira (analysis). We know


that the Sages obligate us to lean on the Seder night. We do this when we eat the Matza and the four cups of


wine. However, there are two ways to understand the “relationship” between the leaning and the Matza and


wine:


1) That leaning is an independent Mitzva that the sages instituted in order to express our freedom on the


Seder night. It’s just that for most of the Seder it is optional to lean, and for Mazta and wine, it’s obligatory.


However, leaning is not a part of the requirement of Matza and wine, rather it is a separate mitzva that happens to


come together with them.


2) Leaning is a detail in the Mitzvos of Matza and wine. The sages instituted that in order to properly fulfill the


mizvos of Matza and wine, you need to lean. It is part of the requirement of Matza and wine.


A practical difference between these two approaches is if I forget to lean when drinking the wine. According to


approach #1 I have fully fulfilled the mitzvah of wine. It’s the requirement to lean that I missed out on but


nothing is lacking in my drinking of four cups of wine. However, according to approach #2 because leaning


is part of the Mitzva of wine, I am missing a key component of the Mitzva and would therefore need to drink


that cup again in order to fulfill the Mitzva of wine properly.


The Rosh (Arvei Psachim siman 20) clearly paskens that if one forgets to lean when drinking wine or eating


Matza, they have not fulfilled these mitzvas and therefore need to do it again. The Rosh is clearly going


according to approach #2.


What approach does the Rambam take? The Brikser Rov explains that that when you look at the Rambam you


will clearly see that he is going like approach #1.


The Rambam (Hilchos Chometz Umatza Chapter 7, Halacha 6) states: “In each and every generation, a person


must present himself as if he, himself, has now left the slavery of Egypt, as it states: “He took us out from there.”


Regarding this manner, God commanded in the Torah: “Remember that you were a slave i.e., as if you, yourself,


were a slave and went out to freedom and were redeemed.


Therefore, when a person feasts on this night, he must eat and drink while he is reclining in the manner of free


men…. Even one of Israel’s poor should not eat until he [can] recline…… Reclining on one’s right side is not


considered reclining. Neither is reclining on one’s back or forwards. When must one recline? when eating the


kezayis of matzah and when drinking these four cups of wine. While eating and drinking at other times: if one


reclines, it is praiseworthy; if not, there is no requirement.”


The Rambam first introduces the requirement to lean as a general obligation of the night when you are eating


and drinking. He only brings the specific things when you are obligated to lean all the way at the end of the


discussion. Says the Brisker Rov, the Rambam is clearly going like approach #1 that leaning is an independent


obligation. It’s a general requirement to display freedom on Seder night and you do that through leaning. 


Further proof for this is that the Rambam says that if you lean the whole meal your are praiseworthy. Clearly


leaning is not only a required detail of Matza and wine because what would be the point of leaning during the


meal then? It must be that the Rambam holds that it is a separate obligation that you should ideally do the


whole night.


 


That, explains the Brisker Rov, which is the dispute between the Rosh and the Rambam.


 


Please note: For the practical Halacha if someone forgets to lean, see Shulchan Aruch


Orach Chaim chapter 472 and consult with your Rabbi.


 

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