Monday, April 14, 2008


So much of our lives is hidden. We conceal things from others, even from ourselves often because of shame. We feel that a good part of who we are is unworthy of disclosure, preferring to let that part remain buried deep within us, secretly submerged in the innermost recesses of our selves.
So preoccupied are we in hiding from view who we are , we fail to feel free. Our spiritual and psychological energy is invested in hiding, in concealing ourselves from others, in making sure that nothing of our true identities that we consider socially unacceptable slips out of our private and insular grasp.
Zafun ,the hidden Matzah, is now searched for and brought out in full view of the participants and shared by all. It is customary to have children either hide or search for the Afikomen, the hidden piece of Matzah.
What is the meaning of the word "Afikoman?" The normative understanding is related to the concept of eating a dessert or refreshments following the meal.(It is a Greek word meaning aftermeal entertainment or refreshment) Jewish law instructs us not to eat any dessert following the consumption of the Paschal lamb , or in our day ,the final piece of Matzah-the Afikoman.
A more homiletic interpretation touches upon the idea of revealing the hidden in our souls. The word can be divided into two parts-"Afiko"and "Man." The first word is translated as 'bring out or bring forth' and the second word suggests a word found in the Torah uttered in bewilderment by the Israelites when they witnessed the "Manna" fall from heaven and exclaimed-"Man huh?"-what is it? That is, the word "Man" denotes the unknown, the unexplainable, perhaps the mysterious.
Thus returning to our current attempt to understand the term -"Afiko-man, " does it not suggest that at this point in the Seder we are called upon to reveal the hidden, the unknown, the mysterious in our lives? Are we not bidden to bring out and bring forth our authentic selves, without the trappings of super sophistication and the layers of grown up convention superimposed upon our fragile and tender souls?
How do we accomplish this personal revelation? As children figure so prominently in the act of discovering the hidden matzah, does this not intimate an insistence that we return to the child within us, to that dimension of dormant innocence and pure trust, awaiting an awakening in the midst of the caution and censurship so characteristic of adult, cerebral life? Is this not the perfect moment during which to throw bias, discrimination, analysis, intellectualization to the winds and instead bask in the carefree warmth of the Seder's safety and security? After all, we are surrounded by loved ones, we feel God's protecting care hover above us. It is "leil Shimurim"-the night of being protected, watched over, cared for? No harm can befall us; we need not raise up false defenses against imaginary fears? We are free to be who we are, and this freedom gives us the inner strength to be ourselves-"for You are our refuge and our fortress!"

Amidst the feeling of freedom, we are now ready to bless-we arrive at "Barech."

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