Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, , at sacred-texts.com
§ 1. It is not lawful for any individual to eat aught on the eve of the Passover, from about the time of מנחה till after dark; even the meanest in Israel shall not eat until they have arranged themselves in proper order at ease round the table; a person shall not have less than four cups of wine, even if they be given to him from the fund devoted to the charitable support of the very poor.
§ 2. When the first cup has been poured out, the blessing of the festival must be said, before that on the wine is said. Such is the
dictum of Beth Shammai; but, according to Beth Hillel, the blessing on the wine is to be said before that on the festival.
§ 3. Herbs and vegetables are then to be brought: the lettuce is to be immersed, and part eaten thereof, until the eating of the unleavened-bread; then מצה, or unleavened cakes, are to be placed before him, as also lettuce, חרוסת 1 and two kinds of cooked food, although the חרוסת is not strictly obligatory; but R. Eleazar bar Zadok says it is obligatory. During the existence of the Holy Temple, the paschal sacrifice was then also placed before him.
§ 4. A second cup of wine is then poured out; and the son shall then enquire of his father [the cause of this ceremony], and when the son's mental faculties are insufficient, the father is bound to instruct him in the following manner: "Wherefore is this night distinguished from all other nights? That on all other nights we may eat either leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night it must be all unleavened; on all other nights we may eat any kind of herbs, but on this night we must eat bitter herbs; on other nights we may eat meat, either roasted, boiled, or cooked in different ways, but on this night we must eat roasted meat only; 2 on all other nights we immerse what we eat once, but on this night twice." And according to the powers of comprehension of the child, thus his father is bound to teach him: he shall first inform him of the dishonour [of our ancestors], and conclude with the reading of the favourable and laudatory passages; he shall explain the passage, "Laban, the Syrian, had nearly caused my father to perish," &c. (Deut. xxvi. 5), till the end of that section.
§ 5. Rabbon Gamaliel says, "Whosoever does not mention [explain] three things on the Passover, has not fulfilled his duty. These are,—the Paschal sacrifice, the unleavened-cakes, and bitter herbs. The Paschal sacrifice is offered because the Lord passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt; the unleavened-bread [is eaten] because our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt [before they had time to leaven their dough]; and bitter herbs are eaten, because the
[paragraph continues] Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt. It is therefore incumbent on every person, in all ages, that he should consider as though he had personally gone forth from Egypt, as it is said, 'And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did for me in Egypt' (Exod. xii. 27). We are therefore in duty bound to thank, praise, adore, glorify, extol, honour, bless, exalt, and reverence Him, who wrought all these miracles for our ancestors and us; for He brought us forth from bondage to freedom, He changed our sorrow into joy, our mourning into a feast, He led us from darkness into a great light, and from servitude to redemption,—let us therefore say in His presence, Hallelujah!' [sing the Hallel]."
§ 6. How far is the Hallel then to be said? According to Beth Shammai, till "He maketh the barren woman," &c. [the end of Psalm cxiii.]; but Beth Hillel say till "the flinty rock into a fountain of waters" [end of Psalm cxiv], and they are to close with a blessing for redemption. R. Tarphon says, "This is the form. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hast redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt," without any further closing blessing. R, Akivah says [in continuation to the preceding], "Thus mayest thou, O Lord our God, and the God of our ancestors, bring us to the peaceable enjoyment of other solemn feasts and sacred seasons which approach us, that we may rejoice in the rebuilding of thy city and exult in thy service, that we may there eat of the paschal and other sacrifices," &c. until, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, who hast redeemed Israel."
§ 7. A third cup of wine is then poured out, and the grace after meals is said. After pouring out the fourth cup he shall finish thereon the Hallel, and say the blessing on the songs [of praise] 3 A person may drink as much as he likes between the first [two] glasses, but not between the third and the fourth.
§ 8. It is unlawful to conclude the eating of the paschal sacrifice with a dessert. If any of the company fall asleep during the meal, they may eat of the paschal sacrifice afterwards; but when the whole company have fallen asleep, they may not eat again thereof [when they wake]. R. Jose says, "If they are only drowsy, they may eat it, but if they fall fast asleep, they may not eat of it [afterwards]."
§ 9. The paschal offering does, after the hour of midnight, render the hands unclean. 4 Sacrifices which are rejected [פגול], or that have remained beyond their prescribed time [נותר], do also render the hands unclean. Whosoever has said the blessing on the paschal offering, is not bound to say that on the [festive] offering, but whoever has said the blessing on the festive offering is bound to say it on the paschal offering also. Such is the dictum of R. Ishmael; but R. Akivah says, "Neither of these absolves from the obligation of saying the other blessing."
123:1 Cheroset is a kind of mixture or compound, made with dates, raisins, and other fruit, with vinegar, to commemorate the lime, &c., with which our ancestors were forced to labour in Egypt. It is also a kind of sauce [compare our note, chap. II. § 8]. The ancients were accustomed always to dip their food in something of this kind.
123:2 This part was said during the existence of the Temple, when the paschal sacrifice was eaten roasted.
124:3 That is, the psalms of praise, or "Hallel;" this blessing is נשמת כל חי, "The breath of ail living," &e., and יהללוך, "All thy works, O Lord, shall praise thee," &c.
125:4 This will be explained in Treatise Yadaim.