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Thought for the Day: You Really Need to Make Every Effort Eat the Afikomen While Reclining

My granddaughter stumped her parents again.  She wanted to know, "How does a mermaid go potty?"  The last time this happened and they told her they didn't know, she replied, "Let's ask Zeidy; he'll know."  I'd like to keep my status as all knowing as long as possible, so I googled it.  There are a surprising number of sites that address that question.  In fact, Google guessed when I had only gotten halfway through typing "mermaid".  The best answers I found were:

One: The part of a mermaid that would be involved in going potty is the fish part; b'stama they go potty the same way a fish does.  (I actually have a question on that answer, because I am not sure a mermaid eats like a fish, and the equipment necessary to process and dispose of waste certainly will different depending on the food to be processed.  Also, I am not sure how far the internal organs go; they don't have gills, so there is a very real question about how their internal organs are arranged.)  I didn't actually spend more time on this investigation, however, because of the second answer.

Two: Mermaids don't exist.  This is the real answer, but it also takes all the fun out of the question.  Not the first time that accusation has been leveled at me.

I heard from R' Fuerst that he had heard from R' Yaakov Kamenetsky  that when there is a contradiction between the Mishna Brura and the Biur Halacha, then halacha is an accordance with the Mishna Brura; the Biur Halacha is R' Yisrael Meir speaking to us in learning.  One caveat; when the Biur Halacha ends by saying you can rely on this or that kula in a difficult situation, he means that l'halacha.

I immediately wondered of the same would apply to a contradiction between the Sha'ar HaTziun and the Mishna Brura.  I asked about that, and was told that the Sha'ar HaTziun is R' Yisrael Meir's own explanation of the psak of the Mishna Brura.  Like mermaids, there just aren't any contradictions.

For example. in 477, sk 4, the Mishna Brura says that after the fact you realize that you hadn't eaten the afikomen while reclining and if it's really too hard on you, then you don't have to eat another k'ayis.  [Earlier, 472, sk 22, the Mishna Brura has said one is not allowed to eat two afikomens, yet here he not only allows it, but even more or less encourages it (by exempting you only if it is too hard); this is before bentching (Igros Moshe)/while still chewing (R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach)/before taking your mind of it (Shoneh Halachos) -- I love my Dirshu.  But anyway, that's not the point.]  The Sha'ar HaTziun (sk 4, just by chance, as it were) on the spot notes that Rashi is of the opinion that the eating of the afikomen is, in fact, the primary fulfillment of the mitzvah m'd'oraisa to eat a k'zayis of matzah.  "Ah-ha!", that I, "I've found my mermaid!"

Then I thought again (almost always a good idea, especially before opening one's mouth and certainly before closing one's mind).  Had the Mishna Brura concluded with that statement, then that would be the p'sak halachah.  Had the Bi'ur Halacha made that statement, that would have been speaking in learning just so you know the Mishnha Brura knew those shitos when he paskened otherwise.  Now that it is in the Sha'ar HaTziun, however, I realized he is explaining just how b'di'avad that b'di'avad actually is.  You better be pretty darn sure it is too hard to eat another k'zayis; after all, you are betting your soul that we don't pasken like Rashi (and the Rashbam).  You'll certainly have your day (ie, eternity) in court, but the Mishna Brura is just making a PSA and letting you know who the prosecution will be calling as expert witnesses.

I sometimes wonder which my grandchildren will discover first; that I am not all knowing or that I am not so fun.


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