Stealing the Afikoman

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May one steal the Afikoman on the night of the Seder?

Some[1] communities are accustomed to have the children steal the Afikoman on the night of the Seder and hold it ransom until the father redeems it with a promissory gift of some kind.[2] Other[3] communities however specifically avoid doing so due to resemblance of the stealing prohibition, and so is the Chabad custom to avoid this Minhag.[4]


[1] Many Ashkenazi communities

[2] Source: Chok Yaakov 472/2; Aruch Hashulchan 472/2; Mishneh Halachos 11/393; See Pesachim 109a “Chotfim Matzos Beleil Pesachim”, and as explained in Rambam Chameitz Umatzah 7/3, Sefer Hamichtam, Nimukei Yosef 109a it means “They grab/steal Matzos from each other”; Other Rishonim however explain this Gemara differently

The reason: This custom is followed as an incentive to keep the children awake. [Chok Yaakov ibid; Gemara ibid] There is no stealing prohibition involved being it us done as a holy custom, and is as if it is taken with consent of the father. [See Sukkah 45a regarding stealing Esrogim out of Simcha; Rama O.C. 695/2 regarding Purim; C.M.  378/9 regarding damages by Simchas Chasan Vekallah; Asei Leha Rav 6/35]

[3] Tzans; Beis Avi 3/26; Halichos Shlomo 9 footnote 210; Orchos Chaim Spinka 473/19; Most Sefardi communities don’t steal the Afikoman

[4] Hagada Shel Pesach of Rebbe “Afikoman”: “In the Rebbe’s home we are not accustomed to grab the Afikoman, and to mention the Mamar Chazal in Brachos 5b regarding tasting the taste of stealing”

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