Mar 26, 2012

Restoring Heseiba To The Seder

One of the things about the seder night on Pesach that I never really like is the heseiba - the need to recline while drinking the wine and at other points during the seder. I find the reclining to be unnatural and even uncomfortable. I am partial to the opinion that says that nowadays we do not have to do so heseiba because heseiba is a symbol of freedom yet nowadays people no longer do it. Despite being partial to the anti-heseiba opinion, I still do heseiba.

Rav Yoel Bin-Nun has an interesting suggestion, and personal approach, to dealing with the necessary reclining on Pesach night. Rav Bin-Nun says that we really do heseiba nowadays, just not when we are eating - we do it when we relax on the couch rather than at the dining room table. Rav Bin-Nun says that the common style of heseiba used today - on couches - changes the halachic requirement.

Rav Bin-Nun says that what he does, and what he sees as being the proper way to fulfill the mitzva of heseiba, is by moving the seder from the dining room table to the living room couches. He says that he and his family sit  at the couches from Kiddush through the eating of the maror. When it is time to start "Shulchan Oreich" and begin the meal, they move back to the main table. During the interim, they use tv tables for the necessary eating and drinking in the first half of the seder, and when reading and discussing the Maggid portion the tv tables are removed.

Another benefit of this is that it encourages the children to really be curious and ask natural questions. While much of what we do at the seder is meant to encourage questions and discussion, we still tell the kids what to ask and we are told what to answer. It does not encourage natural questions and discussion. Making such a drastic change, sitting on the couches instead of at the table, does encourage the natural curiosity.

source: YBN
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  1. "to really be curious and ask natural questions"
    I agree that reclining while trying to eat is, if anything, uncomfortable rather than "royal".
    As to the quoted line above, does that really mean anything anymore? With all they learn in school, they have more and better answers than the parent s themselves.

  2. if they thought of the question on their own because they saw unusual behavior, it is a natural question. knowing you are going dip in saltwater, and that you are goign to ask why we dip in saltwater, then asking why we dipped in saltwater is not a natural question

  3. After a technical meeting in Las Vegas, I was once stuck over Shabbos at Caesar's Palace. My room had a Roman-style couch of the type that, back in the day, let the wealthy recline comfortably while eating. This may be furniture we could really use to do the Seder properly.

  4. We put up a temporary Japanese-style table one year. It was cool, but hard to eat. Western-style food needs a table at a height convenient for using a knife. A little rough on the back.

  5. So are we eating on couches this year? We may need to get another for there to be room for everyone. My friend in elementary school said that her father brought the lazy boy to the table for the seder..

  6. presumably, Rav Bin-nun is still 'on the couch' for Koreich, too, no?


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