Monday, April 14, 2008

Leaning at the Seder


We are taught to lean at the Seder, at least while drinking the four cups of wine and while eating matzah, to display our freedom from Egypt.

One should lean to his left, not his right, due to concern for choking. Leaning forward or on one's back is not considered a type of leaning which demonstrates freedom.

There are those who argue that we no longer lean as a matter of course while eating, so that leaning has ceased to demonstrate freedom. This leads to some leninecy in the leaning requirement, for a person who drank the wine and then realized that he did not lean:

1st cup - One cannot simply drink another cup while leaning, because people do not generally intend to drink more than one at that point in the seder, and so the initial blessing was recited while one intended to drink only one cup. Therefore, we rely on the view that leaning is not as necessary in our era (unless one specifically had in mind that he would drink more).

2nd cup - One may drink another cup, while leaning; the meal is about to begin, and in one's blesing one had in mind the mealtime drinking as well.

3rd and 4th cups - It is prohibited to drink extra at this point in the seder, lest one appear to add to the mitzvah, so we rely on the view that leaning is not as necessary in our era.

(Code of Jewish Law Orach Chaim 472:2-3, 7; Mishneh Berurah 472:7-9, 13, 20-21)

Have a great day,

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