Afikoman

Afikoman (Hebrew: אפיקומן )  is the name of a portion of Matzah eaten at the end of the Passover evening meal ( Lail Ha’seder).

The afikoman is a substitute for the Korban Pesach, based on the Mishnah (Pesahim 119a). Korban Pesach was the last thing eaten at the Passover Seder during the periods of the First and Second Temples and the Mishkan(Tabernacle).

According to Jewish traditions, early in the evening, the person conducting the Seder breaks the middle of the three Matzot into two pieces, putting away the larger portion, designated as the afikoman, for consumption at the end of the meal.

In many families, the father takes the afikoman and hides it for the children to find. The child that finds the afikoman receives a gift: toy, money or candy. In other families, the children steal the afikoman and hide it and then ask for a reward for its return.

After the meal and the customary desserts, the one who conducts the Seder hands out pieces of the afikoman to each guest. The Halakha prescribes that an olive-sized piece of Matzah should be eaten to fulfill the mitzvah of eating the afikoman.

According to Jewish law, the afikoman must be consumed before midnight, just as the Korban Pesach was eaten before midnight during the days of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Credit:
jewishvirtuallibrary.org

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