Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 16 April 2022 / 15 Nissan 5782

Seder Insights: Understanding Urchatz, Comprehending Karpas

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
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Have you ever wondered why, during the annual Pesach Seder, when we dip the Karpas vegetables in saltwater to symbolize our ancestor’s tears while enslaved at the hands of the cruel Egyptians, we precede it by washing our hands (Urchatz)? Isn’t handwashing exclusively reserved for prior to ‘breaking bread’? And furthermore, why is this only performed at the Seder? Is there a specific message this action is meant to portray?

All About the Children

The answer to these questions might depend on a difference of understanding. The Gemara in Pesachim (114b) asks why at the Pesach Seder we perform two dippings, i.e. Karpas into saltwater and later the Maror into Charose s. The Gemara succinctly answers ‘Ki Heichi D’lehavai Hekeira L’Tinokos, in order that there should a distinction for children.’ Both Rashi and his grandson, the Rashbam, as well as the Rokeach, explain the Gemara’s intent,[1] that this act is performed in order so that the children should ask why we are performing this unusual and uncommon action on Leil Haseder, as this action serves as a ‘hekeira tova’, an excellent distinction. This is one of the ways we ensure that the Seder Night’s Mitzvah of ‘Vehigadta Le’vincha,’ retelling the story of our ancestors’ exile, enslavement, and ultimate redemption and exodus from Egypt, is properly performed.[2]

But a question remains. Which exact action is the one that is meant to evoke the children’s questions? The answer may surprise you. The Bartenura and Tur specify that it is not the seemingly odd act of handwashing for vegetables that is peculiar,[3] but rather the timing of the dipping. They assert that it is unusual to dip food items at the beginning of a seudah. Most other days we also dip, but in the middle of the meal. In other words, the only change we do to evoke children’s questions is to perform the dipping right then.

What then of the seemingly atypical handwashing just for vegetables? Isn’t that an uncharacteristic change from the ordinary? ‘No,’ they would respond, ‘one certainly would have to wash his hands before dipping his vegetables.’

Drip and Dip

But in order to properly understand this, we must first digress to a different Gemara in Pesachim (115a). Rabbi Elazer teaches in the name of Rav Oshia “any food item that is dipped in a liquid (davar hateebulo b’mashkeh) requires handwashing before eating.” On this statement, Rashi and Tosafos (among others) differ as to the correct understanding of his intent.

Rashi and the Rashbam maintain that this ruling is still applicable nowadays, as it is similar to the requirement to wash before eating bread, while Tosafos is of the opinion that this law is only relevant during the times of the Beis Hamikdash, as it is conditional to Taharos, Ritual Purity, which in this day and age, is unfortunately non-applicable.[4] Although the Maharam M’Rottenberg, and several later poskim are of the opinion that one may indeed rely on the lenient view,[5] it should be noted that the majority of halachic authorities including the Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, Rema, Vilna Gaon, Chayei Adam, Shulchan Aruch Harav, Ben Ish Chai, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mishnah Berurah, Kaf Hachaim and Chazon Ish,[6] hold that even nowadays one should do his utmost to be vigilant with this and wash hands before eating a food item dipped in liquid.[7]

The lenient opinion is taken into account, however, and that is the reason why according to the majority of poskim, this washing is performed without the prerequisite blessing, as opposed to the washing before eating bread.[8] This is due to the halachic dictum of “Safek Brachos Lehakel”, meaning that in a case of doubt regarding the topic of brachos, we follow the lenient approach and do not make the blessing, to avoid the possibility of making a blessing in vain.

This all ties in to our Seder. In fact this, explains the Tur and Abudraham, and echoed by later authorities, is the reason why we wash Urchatz prior to dipping the Karpas into saltwater.[9] As this action is classified as a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh, it requires handwashing before eating. Although the Rambam, Tur and Abudraham, as well as the Levush and VilnaGaon, aver that Urchatz actually necessitates a brachah of Netillas Yadayim,[10] conversely, the vast majority of poskim conclude that we do not make the Netillas Yadayim brachah at this Seder handwashing,[11] but rather exclusively at Rachtzah immediately prior to Motzi-Matzah. This is indeed the common custom.[12]

The Chida’s Chiddush

The Chida, in his Simchas HaRegel commentary on the Haggada,[13] explains that this is the background, as well as the reason for the added ‘vav’ by Urchatz at the Pesach Seder, as it is the only one of the Seder Simanim that starts with that conjunction. We find a parallel by the brachah that our patriarch Yitzchok Avinu bestowed on his son Yaakov (Bereishis, Parshas Toldos Ch. 27: verse 28), ‘V’Yitein L’cha’ – ‘And Hashem should give you’. According to Chazal and cited by Rashi,[14] the extra conjunctive ‘vav’ means ‘yitein yachzor v’yitein’ – that Hashem should continually and constantly give.

Likewise, the Chida explains the extra ‘vav’ in Urchatz. The Baal Haggada is transmitting a message to us. Just as during the Seder we all wash before dipping a vegetable in salt water, that extra ‘vav’ is telling us - ‘rachatz yachzor v’rachatz’ – that we should continue to wash our hands, anytime we want to eat a food dipped in liquid, year round.

The Chasam Sofer and his son-in-law, the Chasan Sofer, write in a similar vein in their Haggada, that Urchatz is meant to serve as a tochacha (rebuke) and yearly reminder to those who are lackadaisical with the observance of this halacha, in order to remind everyone that this applies year round as well. Indeed, the Taz actually writes similarly, and concludes that at least during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva one should be stringent. The Ben Ish Chai remarks comparably when discussing Urchatz, that praiseworthy is one who is careful with this handwashing year round.[15]

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l adds that the ‘Vav’ is connecting ‘Urchatz’ to ‘Kadesh’ – meaning ‘Kadesh Urchatz’ – (as a command) that we should be mekadeish ourselves and continue to wash for food items dipped in liquid – even if we were previously generally not stringent with this all year round.[16]

The Medium is the Message

Yet, it is important to note that other poskim take an alternate view. Rav Yaakov Reisher in his Chok Yaakov argues[17] that since the great Maharam M’Rottenberg, as well as the Lechem Chamudos and Magen Avraham among other poskim, ruled leniently with washing before eating a food item dipped in liquid following Tosafos’ precedent, and most people do not follow the opinion mandating it nowadays, this simply cannot be the reason why we perform Urchatz at the Seder.

Rather, he explains that the Gemara’s intent with stating that Urchatz is performed in order that there should a distinction for children to ask, is that the handwashing itself for eating dipped vegetables is what is out of the ordinary, not the timing of the washing. According to this understanding, it is the Urchatz itself that is essentially the “hekker,” highlighting that something different than the norm is occurring, to enable children to ask what is different on Seder night. Meaning, although most do not wash before eating a dipped item year round, at the Seder we do; and that is the atypical action we do to arouse the interest of the children.

Not a Daas Yachid (lone dissenting opinion), this understanding of Urchatz is also given by the Abarbanel, both the Chayei Adam and Aruch Hashulchan seem to favor this explanation, and it is cited by the Mishnah Berurah in his Shaar Hatziyun as well.[18]

Alternate Views

On the other hand, the Levush understands Urchatz somewhat differently. He explains that the dipping of Karpas at the Pesach Seder is due to ‘Chovas (or in some editions ‘Chibas’)HaRegel, extra obligation or devotion for the Yom Tov.’ Ergo, the handwashing is specifically performedat the Seder, as due to its inherent holiness, ‘we go the extra mile’ to strive for an increase in purity, as opposed to year round, when in his opinion, it would not be mandated.[19]

Vayaged Moshe, the renowned classic sefer on the Haggada, after citing several authorities who discuss the extra intrinsic Kedusha of Leil HaSeder, writes that perhaps this can be seen by the ‘Vav’ in ‘Urchatz.’ He explains (in the exact opposite approach of the Chida’s) that the ‘Vav’ is connecting ‘Urchatz’ to ‘Kadesh’ – meaning ‘Kadesh Urchatz’ – (as a command) that specifically at the Seder, due to the added inherent Kedusha of Leil HaSeder, we should be mekadeish ourselves by washing before dipping our vegetables – even though we would not need to the rest of the year.[20] [21]

An alternate, yet somewhat similar, interpretation is offered by the Netziv, Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin zt”l, venerated Rosh Yeshiva of Volozhin.[22] The Seder reminds us of the eating of the Korban Pesach that took place when the Beis Hamikdash stood. Therefore, we follow the same halachic requirements at the Seder that were in place during the Temple era. Everyone agrees that at the time of the Beis Hamikdash there was an obligation to wash hands for dipped food items, and therefore, at the Pesach Seder we do so as well, regardless of whether or not we actually fulfill this year round.

Rav Yishmael Hakohen maintains an analogous distinction.[23] He explains that earlier generations were indeed stringent with Ritual Purity and hence certainly washed their hands before dipping vegetables. Since “Minhag Avoseinu B’Yadeinu” we follow in our ancestors’ footsteps by performing the Seder as accurately as possible as they did. Hence, our mandated washing Urchatz at the Seder irrespective of our actions the rest of the year.

A slightly similar, yet novel explanation is given in the Zichron Nifla’os Haggada.[24] He explains that generally speaking, people are lenient year-round with this pre-dipping handwashing following Tosafos’ understanding, that this washing is intrinsically only relevant during the times of the Beis Hamikdash, as it is conditional to Taharos, Ritual Purity. Yet, he explains, when the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt, we will also be required to offer and eat the Korban Pesach on Seder Night, in addition to our obligation of eating a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh. As such, if we would not be makpid on washing beforehand at the Seder, people may not realize the import of the new situation and not wash before dipping the Karpas. However, at that point, with the Beis Hamikdash standing, the intricacies of Ritual Purity will once again be ‘back in play.’ As such, if one would eat his dipped Karpas without the Urchatz pre-wash, he will have made himself ‘pasul’ (invalidated) from being able to eat Kodshim, including the Korban Pesach. Hence, explains the Zichron Nifla’os, although year-round such washing may be currently deemed unnecessary, it is nonetheless mandated on Leil HaSeder.

Another idea, cited by the Rema in his Darchei Moshe,[25] is that the Haggada is akin to a Tefillah, that we relating thanks and praise to Hashem for everything he has done for our ancestors and us. Therefore, immediately prior to the recital of the Haggada we wash our hands in preparation without a brachah similar to the requirement before davening.

One more interesting explanation, suggested by Rav Reuven Margoliyus,[26] is that this washing is performed at the very beginning of the Seder night ‘derech cheirus’, to show that we are doing so as free people and nobility, who are accustomed to washing their hands prior to eating even a small amount. This is opposed to slaves, who do not have the rights or ability for such extravagance, but rather ‘eat their bread with sweat.’ This ‘nobility’ reasoning would seem to fit well with the minhag many perform of ‘serving’ the Baal Habayis for Urchatz, by bringing him a wash basin and washing his hands.[27]

Divergences of Dipping

Interestingly, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l, the former Chief Rabbi of Yerushalayim, opines that the dispute among Rishonim whether only the head of the household is supposed to wash Urchatz or if everyone at the Seder does as well (the most common custom) might be dependent on this debate of why the handwashing at the Seder was instituted.[28] According to the majority opinion that Urchartz was enacted due to the halacha of davar hateebulo b’mashkeh, then everyone would be mandated to wash.

However, according to the opinions that this handwashing is only performed on Pesach at the Seder, it is possible that only the head of the household need wash Urchatz, as that should be deemed sufficient enough to arouse the interest and subsequent questions of the children.

Practically, as mentioned previously, the most common custom is that everyone washes Urchatz.[29] Yet, a notable minority minhag, performed mainly by many of Germanic / Dutch origin, as well as Sanz, Lelov, and Satmar Chassidim, is that only the head of the household wash.[30] So it is remarkable that this modern divergence of minhagim might actually depend on how Poskim understood the brief statement of the Gemara regarding children’s questions.[31]

Finger Food?

Another interesting machlokes that might depend on which hekker the Gemara intended is how to dip the Karpas into the saltwater. If the reason Urchatz was mandated is due to the halacha of davar hateebulo b’mashkeh, then it stands to reason that if one used a fork or other utensil to dip and not actually getting ‘ones’s hands dirty’ then many poskim would hold that handwashing is technically not required.[32] On the other hand, if the washing prior to dipping is considered the unusual action of Seder night, then we should perform Urchatz regardless of utensil.

Practically, although there are contemporary authorities, including Rav Moshe Sternbuch and Rav Nissim Karelitz,[33] who maintain preference for dipping the Karpas by hand in order that it should satisfy all opinions, nonetheless, due to the other understandings of Urchatz’ s role, many poskim rule that even if one used a fork for the dipping, we should still perform the handwashingprior.[34] Just another insight into the seemingly simple and straightforward, yet remarkable Urchatz.

How Do You Karpas?

Now that we explained the “Why” and “How” of Karpas, this leaves the “What,” as in which vegetable should be used. It is interesting that the Mishnah in Pesachim did not tell us a specific vegetable, with the Gemara explaining that if stuck, we may even use the Maror for Karpas as well.[35]

Although Rashi, the Rambam, and Tur tell us that any vegetable may be used for Karpas,[36] and conversely the Maharil, Arizal, and seemingly the Shulchan Aruch, understanding “Karpas” to be referring to a specific vegetable with that name,[37] yet, many sefarim cite “Petrozil” or “Petreshka” (presumably parsley, as “Petrozilia” is called in modern Hebrew) as the vegetable of choice, with the Aruch Hashulchan commenting that “we don’t know what it is.”[38]

Other popular options used over the generations include onions, radishes, scallions, and even cucumbers.[39] The main point is that its proper brachah be a “Borei Pri Ha’adama” so that it should exempt repeating this brachah again when it is time for Maror.[40]

Strictly Celery

However, it seems that the two most prevalent vegetables, at least nowadays, are celery and potatoes. Celery is considered an excellent choice, as the Chasam Sofer relates, his rebbi, Rav Nosson Adler did much research in tracking down the Maharil’s elusive “Karpas” vegetable, and his findings were that it is none other than celery. The Chasam Sofer writes that therefore that is what he used as well for Karpas. The Machatzis Hashekel writes similarly, that he was told by a “Great Man” (presumably Rav Adler) that after much research in Medical books, “Karpas” is truly none other than celery. The word he uses to identify it – “ipiya” or “ipuch,” is also cited as such in earlier sefarim, including the Bartenura in classifying “Karpas.”[41]

Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky, in his annual Luach Eretz Yisrael, writes that in Eretz Yisrael the “Mehadrin” use “Karpas” that is known by its Arabic name. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach fills us in that he was referring to celery. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch cites a preference for celery as well, and this is the minhag of many, including the Mareh Yechezkel, and later, Rav Yisrael Yaakov Fischer.[42]

Pontificating a Perchance for Potatoes

The other common “Karpas”, perhaps the most common, is potatoes. Cited by the Aruch Hashulchan and Misgeres Hashulchan, it is the minhag in Belz, Skver, and Spinka, and many Gedolim, including Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, and Rav Moshe Sternbuch, were known to use potatoes as Karpas.[43]

Yet, there are those, including chassidim of Sanz, Bobov, and Kamarna who will not use potatoes for Karpas. This can be traced back to the famed Yismach Moshe, Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, rebbi of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz.

In his Tehillah L’Moshe, the Yismach Moshe writes that he used to use potatoes for Karpas, but then heard that the great Rav Naftali of Ropschitz made a Shehakol brachah on it (and hence would not be fitting for Karpas). He writes that he found that the Aruch, Rav Nosson M’Romi (literally, of Rome; d. 1106), when referring to the proper brachah of mushrooms and other food items that do not actually get their nourishment from the earth and consequentially their brachah being Shehakol, translates them as “Tartuffel.” Not familiar with the archaic word, the Yismach Moshe maintained that the Aruch must have been referring to “Kartuffel,” colloquially known as the potato.[44]

Although there are different rationales for this,[45] this idea is also found in several other sefarim, and there are prominent authorities who therefore made a Shehakol brachah on potatoes.[46] On the other hand, the facts do not seem to corroborate that potatoes should be classified in the same category of mushrooms, as potatoes not only grow and root in the ground, but they also get their nourishment from the ground, as opposed to mushrooms and their ilk. Several contemporary authorities point out that it is highly unlikely, if not outright impossible, for the Aruch, who lived in Europe in the eleventh century, to have been referring to “Kartuffel”(potatoes) as the proper translation for mushrooms, as tubers were unknown on that continent until almost five hundred years later![47]

In fact, according to the Tiferes Yisrael, this act of Sir Francis Drake’s, of introducing potatoes to the European continent, merited him to be classified as one of the Chassidei Umos Ha’Olam, as over the centuries potatoes have saved countless lives from starvation.[48]

Moreover, in modern Italian, “tartufo” still translates as “truffle,” the prized underground fungus,[49] and not a potato. Therefore, the vast majority of authorities rule that the proper blessing on the potato is indeed “Borei Pri Ha’adama,” and hence, it is still the preference for many as “Karpas.”

Urchatz Everyday!

Back to Urchatz, the Chida, in his Simchas HaRegel Haggada, continues that although many are aware of the halacha of davar hateebulo b’mashkeh, they do not realize that it even applies to something as ubiquitous as dipping cake into coffee![50] One might contend that the connection between vegetables in saltwater to tea biscuits in coffee seems tenuous, but actually, according to the majority of authorities, from a halachic perspective they are remarkably similar.

So the next time you get that dunkin’ urge, it might be prudent to be conscientious by following the Haggada’s hidden exhortation, and head to the sink before diving in to your cup-of-joe.

Thanks are due to my 12th-grade Rebbi in Yeshiva Gedolah Ateres Mordechai of Greater Detroit, Rav Yitzchok Kahan, for first enlightening me to this passage of the Chida’s.

This article is dedicated L’iluy Nishmas Maran Sar HaTorah Harav Shmaryahu Yosef Chaim ben Harav Yaakov Yisrael zt”l (Kanievsky), this author’s beloved grandmother, Chana Rus (Spitz) bas Rav Yissachar Dov a”h and uncle Yeruchem ben Rav Yisroel Mendel (Kaplan) zt”l, and l’zechus Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah teikif u’miyad!

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author:

Rabbi Spitz’s recent English halacha sefer, “Insights Into Halacha - Food: A Halachic Analysis,” (Mosaica/Feldheim) has more than 500 pages and features over 30 comprehensive chapters,

discussing a myriad of halachic issues relating to food. It is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.

[1] Rashi and Rashbam (Pesachim ad loc. s.v. dilma), Rokeach (483).

[2] Meaning, the children will ask “Why is this night different than all other nights?” – a.k.a. ‘The Mah Nishtana’ – and we respond with “Avodim Hayinu” and the retelling of our nation’ origins. This is in line with the Torah’s referring to the Seder as “Ki Yishalcha Bincha” – when your children will ask, “Vehigadta Le’vincha,’ – you will tell your childr, meaning, recite the Haggada. Interestingly, the Mishnah’s version of the Mah Nishtana regarding dipping (Pesachim 116a) is slightly different than ours, as it asks that we generally dip once and not twice, as in the Mishnaic period it was common to dip during a meal. However, by the Gemara’s time this was no longer prevalent so it amends the Mishnah’s version of Mah Nishtana to “afilu paam echas,” that we generally do not dip at all during a Seudah. Either way, we can ask, well, if this is the question that children ask, then what is the actual answer that dipping shows? The Bach (O.C. 473: 8 s.v. v’loke’ach; and later cited by the Pri Megadim ad loc. Mishbetzos Zahav 7) cites three diverse solutions: 1) That we are showing Derech Cheirus, that free men dip before a Seudah to whet the appetite. 2) It serves as a small taste, as the Seder’s Seudah is much later, after Haggada and Hallel, so we should not sit so long without eating anything. 3) Citing the Maharal M’Prague (Gevuros Hashem Ch. 50), that the first dipping before the Seudah shows that the second dipping by Maror, is performed exclusively for the Seder Night’s special Mitzvah of eating Maror; otherwise, as many people dip during their meals, it would not appear out of the ordinary. The Taz (ad loc. end 7 s.v. u’me’od) offers an alternate approach, that the fact that the first dipping is performed prior to the Seudah shows that it is not actually performed as part of the Seudah, so too, it proves that the second one, Maror is also not performed as part of the Seudah but rather for its unique Mitzvah. On the other hand, the Pri Chodosh (ad loc. 6 s.v. Rashbam) raises the point that everyone knows that there is a different Mitzvah of dipping and eating Maror that is performed much later on in the Seder, well after the ‘answer’ of ‘Avadim Hayinu.’ He therefore suggests that perhaps the main purpose of Karpas is for the children to ask questions, irrelevant of the answer or whether it actually answers that exact question. Once the children realize early on in the Seder that there are actions out of the ordinary being performed on Leil HaSeder, they will notice and ask the purpose of all of them, and thus enable the Mitzvah of ‘Vehigadta Le’vincha’ to be performed in the optimal manner.

[3] Bartenura (Pesachim Ch. 10, Mishnah 5) and Tur (O.C. 473: 6). Many later authorities, including the Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 14) and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 105) understand the Gemara this way as well.

[4] Rashi(ad loc. s.v. tzarich), Rashbam and Tosafos (ad loc. s.v. kol). See Maharsha (ad loc.) for explanation.

[5] Including the Maharam M’Rottenberg (cited in Tashbatz Kattan 99 and Tur ibid.), Rashbat (cited by the Mordechai on Pesachim 34a), Baal HaItur (Aseres HaDibros Matzah U’Maror pg. 134b, third column), Maharil(Hilchos Hahaggada, pg. 14a s.v. darash Maharash; explaining that this handwashing on Pesach is essentially a ‘chumra b’alma meshum srach Terumah, ul’didan ha’idna ain shayach’; thanks are due to R’ Yisroel Strauss for pointing out this essential source), Maharshal (Yam Shel Shlomo on Chullin, Ch. 8: 18), Lechem Chamudos (Divrei Chamudos on the Rosh, Chullin Ch. 8: 41), Levush (O.C. 473: 6), Magen Avraham (O.C. 158: end 8), Ateres Zekeinim (O.C. 158: 4, end s.v. oh hapri), Chok Yaakov (O.C. 473: 28), and Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 158: 4 and 5). The Yaavetz (Mor U’Ketziah 158 end s.v. v’ha) is also melamed zechus for those who are lenient with this. On a more contemporary note, Rav Moshe Sternbuch (Hilchos HaGr”a U’minhagav 135; pg. 149-150) adds a compelling reason for the common custom of not washing. He cites that the Brisker Rav zt”l explained that the handwashing necessitated for a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh is not for the same reason as the washing for bread. Whereas for bread we wash due to the need for Kedushah, on the other hand, for a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh all that is necessary is to have ‘yadayim tahoros’, but not necessarily is an actual maaseh to make them tahor required. Hence, since nowadays we generally make sure that our hands are not ‘halachically dirty’ (as we make sure to wash our hands in many situations throughout the day – see Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 4: 18), it is sufficient for these halachos and handwashing is technically not actually mandated. The Kozoglover Gaon, Rav Aryeh Leib Frommer HY”D (Shu”t Eretz Tzvi vol. 1: 32) and Rav Shalom Messas (Meshash) zt”l (Shu”t Shemesh U’Magein vol. 2: 45) also defended the common practice not to wash before eating dipped food items. See also footnote 7.

[6] Rambam (Hilchos Brachos Ch. 6: 1), Tur (O.C. 158: 2 and 473: 6), Shulchan Aruch and Rema (O.C. 158: 4), Biur HaGr”a (O.C. 158: 4 s.v. b’lo brachah and Maaseh Rav 81), Chayei Adam (vol. 1, 36: 4), Shulchan Aruch Harav (O.C. 158: end 3), Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Tazria 19), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (40: 17), Mishnah Berurah (O.C. 158: 20), Kaf Hachaim (O.C. 158: 13 and 25), and Chazon Ish (O.C. 25: 14 & 15 s.v. kasav b’M”B). The Chazon Ish and Steipler Gaon were known to be very stringent with this - see Orchos Rabbeinu (5775 edition; vol. 1, pg. 153-154, Dinei Netillas Yadayim V’Seudah 6 and 7). See also next footnote.

[7] Other authorities who hold this way include Rabbeinu Yonah (Brachos 41a s.v. kol), the Rosh (Chullin Ch. 8: 10), the Knesses HaGedolah (Shiyurei Knesses Hagedolah, O.C. 158 Hagahos on Beis Yosef 3), Matteh Yosef (Shu”t vol. 2, 18: 19 - who uses extremely strong terms against those who are lackadaisical with this), Taz (O.C. 473: 6; who concludes that at the very least one should be makpid during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva), Chida (Birkei Yosef, O.C. 158: 5), Shlah (Shaar Ha’Osiyos 81b, haghah), and Ba’er Heitiv (O.C. 158: 11). See also Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 2, Ch. 9, pg. 253, footnote 184) which quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l as maintaining that even though in previous generations many were lenient with this issue, adding that the Chayei Adam, in his hesped for his son (titled ‘Matzeves Moshe’) stressed that the niftar was a tzaddik and illustrated this by stating that he was makpid to always wash his hands before dipping food items into liquid, implying that even in his time and place it was an uncommon procedure, nevertheless, nowadays we should definitely do our utmost to fulfill this halacha. Likewise, Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt”l is quoted (Kovetz M’Beis Levi vol. 17, pg. 17, 3) as sharing a similar assessment, that although the common custom seems not to be makpid, nonetheless, it is indeed preferable to strive to do so. Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l (Chazon Ovadia vol. 1 - Pesach, Hilchos Leil HaSeder pg. 32, Urchatz 1) likewise stresses that since the majority of poskim, including the Shulchan Aruch, hold that one need be makpid year-round, ‘b’vaday hachi naktinan.’ For more on this topic, as well as which Gedolim over the ages were or were not makpid, see Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Brodt’s Bein Kesseh L’Essor (Ch. 9, pg. 148 - 153).

[8] Beis Yosef, Shulchan Aruch, and Rema (O.C. 158: 4), Taz (ad loc. 6), Chayei Adam (vol. 1, 36: 4), Shulchan Aruch Harav (158: 3), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (40: 17), Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 158: 5), Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parshas Tazria 17), Mishnah Berurah (158: 20), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 13; citing ‘the Acharonim’). However, the Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGr”a ad loc. 11 and Maaseh Rav 81) and several others actually do mandate a brachah on the washing for a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh. See next footnotes.

[9] Tur (ibid.),Abudraham (Seder HaHaggada s.v. u’le’achar).

[10] Tur and Abudraham (ibid.), with the Tur adding that although the Maharam M’Rottenberg and Baal Ha’Itur (ibid.) are of the opinion that nowadays it is not necessary, nevertheless, as the Gaonim, as well as Rashi, as quoted by Rav Shmayah, mandate it, the ikar is to make Netillas Yadayim by Urchatz. The Rambam (Hilchos Chametz U’Matzah Ch. 8: 1) rules this way as well. The Levush (O.C. 473: 6) and Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGr”a ad loc. 30 and Maaseh Rav beg. 191; also cited in Shaar Hatziyun ad loc. 70) also rule this way by Urchatz. Interestingly, in the famous 1526 Illuminated Prague Haggada, it cites that Urchatz should be recited with a brachah. Thanks are due to Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Brodt for pointing this out. See his article titled ‘The 1526 Prague Haggadah and its Illustrations’ (Ami Magazine, Issue 313; April 5, 2017 / 9 Nissan 5777; Double Issue pg. 143). Yet, it is important to note that there is a practical difference between the shittos of the Levush and Gr”a. The Gr”a maintains that Urchatz shares the same status as any davar hateebulo b’mashkeh, which in his opinion is obligated in handwashing with a brachah. However, and quite conversely, the Levush maintains that generally we rule that nowadays a davar hateebulo b’mashkeh does not require handwashing. It is only at the Seder, due to Chovas HaRegel (some editions have ‘Chibas HaRegel’) that we do so by Urchatz. Accordingly, since we are performing this handwashing especially for the Seder, it requires the full status of the Gemara’s ruling and therefore, in his opinion, does require Netillas Yadayim as well. See also footnote 19. On the other hand, theTaz (ad loc. end 7 s.v. u’me’od) questions the Tur’s (and Levush’s) ruling, as by Pesach he mandates Urchatz with a brachah, whereas year-round rules one does not make the brachah for such handwashing at all. The Taz states that it is inconceivable that the same action for the same purpose can require a brachah parts of the year, whereas other times not. Interestingly, in his Darchei Halacha glosses to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (119: 8), Rav Mordechai Eliyahu writes that those who generally follow the rulings of the Rambam should wash with a brachah for Urchatz, and not like the common halachic consensus. Interestingly, Rav Yitzchak Isaac Tirna (Tyrnau) in his Sefer HaMinhagim (Minhag HaPesach) cites both sides of this machlokes regarding Urchatz with a brachah or not, with no clear ruling. Even more interesting, is that the Haghos ad loc. (89) succinctly adds that this very same machlokes applies year round regardingdevarim hateebulo b’mashkeh.

[11] Maharil (Seder Hahaggada), Beis Yosef (O.C. 173: 6 s.v. u’mashekasav Rabbeinu) and Darchei Moshe (ad loc. 12), and conclusively ruled in Shulchan Aruch (ad loc.), and followed authoritatively by the Bach (ad loc. s.v. ul’inyan halacha), Taz (ad loc. 7), Elyah Rabbah (ad loc. 23), Hagahos Mohar”a Azulai (on the Levush ad loc. 6), Malbushei Yom Tov (ad loc. 3), Pri Chodosh (ad loc.), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 19), Pri Megadim (Mishbetzos Zahav ad loc. 6), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 130, HaSeder B’Ketzara 4, s.v. Urchatz), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (119: 3), Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parshas Tzav 31), Mishnah Berurah (473: 52), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 18), and Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 106). This is also cited lemaaseh in most Haggados. There is also some discussion as to if one eats less than a kezayis of dipped Karpas if he may be lenient with washing with a brachah according to the opinions who mandate it. One can posit that this idea is logical, as the Rambam, Abudraham, Levush, and Vilna Gaon (ibid.), who all mandate Urchatz with a brachah, also hold that one should eat a kezayis of Karpas(as less than a kezayis is not true “achillah” – eating). Therefore, it would stand to reason that if one eats less than that amount, washing with a brachah is not necessitated. In his Shaar Hatziyun (ad loc. 70) the Mishnah Berurah adds that although the Vilna Gaon maintains to eat more than kezayis as well as make the brachah of Netillas Yadayim at Urchatz, nonetheless, he would agree that if one would eat less than a kezayis, then he should not make the Netillas Yadayim brachah. On the other hand, the Tur also mandates washing with a brachah but writes that eating a kezayis in not necessary. Most Rishonim, including the Maggid Mishneh, Hagahos Maimoniyos, and Rosh (ad loc.), as well as the Beis Yosef, Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 15), and Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 18), maintain that a kezayis is not necessary, as even eating a small amount would arouse the interest of the children. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (ad loc. 6) rules this way lemaaseh, to specifically eat less than a kezayis. The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 53), echoing the Maharil (Minhagim; Seder HaHaggada ibid.) and his talmid, the Matteh Moshe (625), and ruling like the Magen Avraham (ad loc. 18) and Taz (ad loc. 8), concludes that it is preferable not to eat a kezayis of Karpas not to enter a question of whether a brachah acharonah would be mandated. However, although the Magen Avraham and Taz agree that one should not eat a kezayis of Karpas, they differ as to the proper halacha if one would actually do so, whether a brachah acharonah would be mandated. Although a Machlokes Rishonim between the Ri (Tosafos ad loc. 115a s.v. v’hadar) and Rosh (Pesachim ad loc. Ch. 10: 26) against Rashbam (Pesachim 114b s.v. peshita; see Tur O.C. 473 and 475 on this machlokes), the Taz seemingly holds that one would be required to in such an eventuality (and not as the Ba’er Heitiv ad loc. 18 quotes him as agreeing with the Magen Avraham), whereas the Magen Avraham maintains that it is a safek, and therefore even if done, we would not recite a brachah acharonah. Ultimately, the Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 56) sides with the Magen Avraham, that if one would eat more than a kezayis of Karpas, he would not make a brachah acharonah. Although the Bach (ad loc.) cites a possible solution to fulfill both sides of this debate, the Chok Yaakov (ad loc. 29) questions its applicability. To further complicate matters, the Vilna Gaon, in his Biur HaGr”a (ad loc. v’aino mevareich) writes that according to the Rema, it should come out that we should make a brachah acharonah after Karpas (and not as most Poskim understood). However, in Maaseh Rav (191) it is recorded that the Gr”a would not make a brachah acharonah, even after eating a kezayis of Karpas. This is also cited as the Vilna Gaon’s own personal hanhaga in the Chavas Daas’ Maaseh Nissim Haggadah with Hanhagos of the Vilna Gaon (Vilna; 1864 / 5624 edition; while stating that the Chavas Daas held to wash without a brachah and eat less than a kezayis, like most poskim). The Chazon Ish (cited in Orchos Rabbeinu, 5775 edition, vol. 2, pg. 95, Hanhagos Pesach M’Maran HaChazon Ish, 20) would also eat a kezayis of Karpas without a brachah acharonah. There is also some debate as to the Ben Ish Chai’s final opinion if one ate a kezayis of Karpas whether he should make a brachah acharonah – see Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parashas Tzav 32), Od Yosef Chai (Parashas Tzav 7), and Rav Yaakov Hillel’s Luach Dinim U’Minhagim Ahavat Shalom (Leil Pesach, footnote 569). For more on this topic, see Shaar Hatziyun (ad loc. 70), Biur Halacha (ad loc. s.v. pachos m’kezayis), Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 19), Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. end 106 and 158: 20), and the Mekoros U’Biurim to the recent Weinreb edition of Maaseh Rav (191: footnote 58, pg. 210; who concludes “tzarich iyun”).

[12] Another interesting question is whether “heseibah – reclining,” is required by Karpas. Also a machlokes, with the Abudraham (ibid.) requiring it and theRambam (Hilchos Chometz U’Matza, Ch. 8: 2) implying it, whereas the Shibolei Haleket (218) and Matteh Moshe (625) writing that it is not performed. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (119: 3) writes to do so, but the Chida (Birkei Yosef O.C. 473: 14) and Ben Ish Chai (Year 1 Parashas Tzav 32) argue that it is not necessary. The Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 114) concludes that either way is acceptable – “Nahara Nahara U’Pashtei.” Practically, it is recorded that Rav Yisroel Yaakov Fischer (Halichos Even Yisrael, Moadim vol. 1, pg. 164: 3) did not recline when eating Karpas, whereas Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (Hanhagos Rabbeinu pg. 214: 97) was not makpid to do so – some years he did and others he did not.

[13] The Chida’s Simchas HaRegel Haggada - in the end of his passage explaining Urchatz.

[14] Midrash Rabba (Parshas Toldos, Ch. 66: 3), cited by Rashi (ad loc. s.v. v’yitein l’cha).

[15] Haggada of the Chasam Sofer and Chasan Sofer (Urchatz), Taz (O.C. 473: 6), and Ben Ish Chai (Year 1 Parshas Tzav 31).

[16] Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 2, Seder Leil Pesach, pg. 253, Orchos Halacha 184).

[17] Chok Yaakov (473: 28). See also footnote 5.

[18] In the Abarbanel’s Zevach Pesach (end; Dinei HaSeder), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 130, HaSeder B’Ketzara 4, s.v. Urchatz), Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 473: 18), and Shaar Hatziyun (ad loc. 69). Interestingly, in his Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 51), the Chofetz Chaim implies conversely, like the basic understanding of the Tur and most commentaries, that the Urchatz handwashing is due to the halacha ofdavar hateebulo b’mashkeh.

[19] The Levush (O.C. 473: 6) understands Urchatz differently than the other two main opinions. He explains that since the dipping of Karpas at the Pesach Seder is due to “Chovas HaRegel” and is considered a “Tevillah shel Mitzvah” we should therefore to strive for an increase in purity and that is why the handwashing is performed, even though the rest of the year it is deemed non-mandatory; quite the opposite of the Chida’s and Chasam Sofer’s understanding. Rav Shmuel Avigdor zt”l (Haggada shel Pesach im Pirush Maharsha; cited in Bein Kesseh L’Essor, Ch. 9, pg. 152-153), the Pri Megadim (ad loc. Mishbetzos Zahav 6; although he implies that it should thus apply equally to every Yom Tov, due to the dictum of ‘Chayav L’Taher Atzman L’Regel’) and Shlah (Shaar Ha’Osiyos ibid.) understand Urchatz akin to the Levush. The Taz (ibid.) also mentions the idea of being more stringent at the Seder due to Chovas Haregel [however, as mentioned previously, he ultimately concludes that it is preferable to be makpid year-round, and at least during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva]. This understanding is also cited by the Kozoglover Gaon (Shu”t Eretz Tzvi vol. 1: 32 s.v. amnam), and later by Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (Halichos Shlomo ibid.). For more on this topic, as to Urchatz being mandated due to the inherent extra-Kedusha of the Chag, seeBein Kesseh L’Essor (Ch. 9, pg. 152-153). In a sort-of similar vein, the Maharil (Seder HaHaggada) writes succinctly that a ‘Rechitzah Gemurah’ (without a brachah) is necessitated to ensure that our hands remain pure when dipping the vegetables, as liquid makes an item huchshar l’Tumah (enabled to become Tamei).

[20] Vayaged Moshe (16: 1). This sefer, an incredible compilation of Dinei V’Minhagei Leil HaSeder, was originally written by Rav Moshe Yehuda Katz HY”D, who was murdered in Auschwitz. The manuscript was later edited by his nephew Rav Chaim Yehuda Katz, and published by his brother Rav Yehoshua Katz. Since first being printed over 50 years ago, Vayaged Moshe, a perennially popular, yet, hard-to-find sefer, a new updated (eighth) edition was just published last month.

[21] This author feels it is important to note that not every Posek or commentary ties the unique conjunctive ‘Vav’ in Urchatz with the halachos of ‘davar hateebulo b’mashkeh.’ For example, in the Shem M’Shmuel’s Haggada (pg. 17a s.v. Kadeish Urchatz), he cites an explanation from his father, Rav Avraham Borenstein, the illustrious Avnei Nezer. He asks why the order at the Seder is ‘Kadeish Urchatz’ and not the other way around. Generally speaking, we ‘wash’ in order to properly prepare ourselves for ‘Kadeish’ – sanctifying ourselves. To borrow the phrase “Why is this night different than all other nights?” The Avnei Nezer explains that during Yetzias Mitzrayim our ancestors were redeemed even though they were technically not worthy of Geulah at the time. Similarly, at the Seder we are able to tap into the inherent spirituality of the day and ‘jump’ and reach higher levels of Kedusha than we ordinarily could, even without proper preparation. [A similar elucidation is given in the Zichron Nifla’os Haggada (pg. 9b s.v. v’achar).] An entirely different, yet halachic explanation for this interesting turn of phrase is given by Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l (Machzor L’Chag HaPesach Siach Sifsoseinu pg. 683, footnote; thanks are due to my talmid Rabbi Rafi Wolfe for pointing this out). Rav Chaim explains that the conjunctive ‘Vav’ in Urchatz is connected to Kadeish to teach us that washing for Karpas must take place soon after Kiddush, in order to ensure that the Kiddush is considered Kiddush B’Makom Seudah, as Karpas is the beginning of the actual Seudah. The halachic issues of the obligation of Kiddush B’Makom Seudah were detailed at length in a previous article titled “More Common Kiddush Questions” Kiddush B’Makom Seudah.”

[22] In the introduction to the Netziv’s Imrei Shefer commentary on the Haggada. Thanks are due to Rabbi Yaakov Luban for providing me with this important source. In his words: ‘This thought of the Netziv takes on even greater significance if we accept the position of the Rosh (Pesachim Ch. 10: 34), that the Afikoman matzah is eaten in place of the Korban Pesach. Accordingly, one can suggest that at the Pesach Seder we not only remember the Korban Pesach as a historical event last practiced 2,000 years ago. Rather, when we eat the Afikoman, we replicate the experience and feel the excitement of eating the Korban Pesach in Yerushalayim in the close proximity of the Beis Hamikdash. As we relive this experience we feel compelled to wash Urchatz, just as we did in the days of old.’

[23] In his sefer Shevach Pesach (cited by Vayaged Moshe 16:2 s.v. v’hinei). The Vayged Moshe refers to Rav Yishmael as “HaGaon HaSefardi Rebi Yishmael Hakohen z”l.”

[24] Zichron Nifla’os Haggada (pg. 11a-b s.v Kadeish Urchatz and ulefi aniyus daati). The Zichron Nifla’os Haggada was written by Rav Elazar ben Rav Zev Wolf Hakohen, Av Beis Din of Sokatchov, and son-in-law of Rav Yaakov of Lissa, renowned author of Chavas Daas, Nesivos Hamishpat, Derech Hachaim, and other essential works.

[25] Darchei Moshe (O.C. 473: beg. 12). Washing before Tefillah (and without a brachah) is based on Gemara Brachos (15a) and ruled accordingly in Shulchan Aruch and Rema and main commentaries (O.C. 92: 4 and 5).

[26] In his Haggada (as cited in sefer Haggada V’Aggadata pg. 81).

[27] This was the minhag of the Chasam Sofer (cited in his Haggada pg. 43) in order to show ‘Derech Cheirus’ and aristocracy. Rav Moshe Feinstein (cited in his Haggada pg. 100) was noheg this way as well. For more on this minhag, see Vayaged Moshe (16: 5), Rav Asher Weiss’s Haggada shel Pesach Minchas Asher (pg. 30, Urchatz 3), Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Pesach vol. 2, Ch. 81: 10), and Rabbi Yaakov Skoczylas’s Ohel Yaakov (on Hilchos U’Minhagei Leil HaSeder, pg. 51: 2 and footnote 5).

[28] Mikraei Kodesh (Pesach vol. 2: 39, pg. 142). This logic is also later cited in Minhag Yisrael Torah (vol. 3, pg. 133-134: 14), and Ohel Yaakov (on Hilchos U’Minhagei Leil HaSeder, pg. 51, footnote 4). Although there does not seem to be a direct dispute regarding whether everyone at the Seder or just the head of the household wash by Urchatz, it is implied by their specific writings. For example, the Rambam (ibid.) when discussing the customs of the Seder, uses plural tense (lashon rabbim) for almost all of the minhagim, except Urchatz, which he uses the singular tense (lashon yachid), implying that in his opinion only the one leading the Seder need to wash. Similarly, the Shibolei Haleket (218) writes “natel habaki,” the expert takes (the Karpas). On the other hand, from the way the Ritva (Pesachim, Seder Hahaggada), Maharil (Seder Hahaggada), Abudraham (Seder HaHaggada s.v. u’le’achar), and Mordechai (Pesachim 37b; cited by the Beis Yosef ibid. s.v. u’mashekasav v’lo) discuss the topic, it is clear that they are of the opinion that everyone should be washing.

[29] As aside for the aforementioned Rishonim, is also explicitly cited by the Seder HaYom (Seder Tefillas Arvis V’Kiddush [shel Pesach] s.v. achar), Misgeres Hashulchan (on the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 119: 3), and Chakal Yitzchak Haggada (pg. 59). See also Vayaged Moshe (16:2), Halichos Even Yisrael (Moadim vol. 1, pg. 163, Urchatz 1 and footnote 6), Haggada shel Pesach of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (pg. 109), Haggada shel Pesach Chazon Ovadiah (‘Urchatz’; at the end of Sefer Chazon Ovadiah vol. 1 - Pesach), Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Pesach vol. 2, Ch. 81: 11), and Ohel Yaakov (ibid; citing Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l and others).

[30] This is cited as the proper minhag in Sefer Minhagei Amsterdam (new edition, Ch. 3: 6, 4; pg. 52), as well as the minhag of Rav Shalom M’Neustadt (Minhagei Maharash, 302: 3; also cited by his talmid, the Maharil, Seder Hahaggada ibid.; although the Maharil himself seems to side with his other Rabbeim who mandated everyone washing Urchatz – the Mahari Weil and Mahari Segal; see also Leket Yosher vol. 1, pg. 88, and Shu”t V’Drashos Mahari Weil 193). Thanks are due to R’ Avraham Schijveschuurder for pointing out several of these important sources. This is also cited as the proper minhag in Moreshes Machon Ashkenaz’s Madrich L’Minhag Ashkenaz Hamuvhak (pg. 33, Urchatz), stating that although in Ashkenaz the general minhag is not to be makpid on washing for a ‘davar hateebulo b’mashkeh’ year round, nonetheless at the Seder, only the Baal HaBayis does, “derech serara” (meaning in a royal manner). In Rav Asher Weiss’s Haggada shel Pesach Minchas Asher (pg. 30, Urchatz 5) he cites this as Minhag Sanz, following the precedent of the Divrei Chaim and Kedushas Yom Tov. See also Vayaged Moshe (16: 2), Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Pesach vol. 2, Ch. 81: 11, and footnote 20 and 21), Minhag Yisrael Torah (ibid.), and Ohel Yaakov (ibid.) who cite different minhagim on this. Sanz, Satmar, Lelov, and Ziditchov, as well as Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt”l, maintain that only the Baal Habayis needs to wash, and that this was also the personal hanhaga of the Chasam Sofer, while Belz, Gur, Ropshitz, Spinka, Skver, Boyan, and Chabad hold everyone washes. Vizhnitz minhag is that only once one is married does he wash for Urchatz.

[31] An additional possible rationale for leniency that not everyone wash even though all are dipping and eating the vegetable (cited by the Vayaged Moshe ad loc. s.v. v’daas), is that it is unclear in halacha if handwashing is indeed mandated for eating less than a kezayis of a vegetable. Although, as mentioned previously, the Shulchan Aruch’s conclusion is to wash Urchatz and eat less than a kezayis of Karpas, nonetheless the earlier Tashbetz (Yavin Shemuah, Maamar Chometz, 35a end s.v. tanya; cited by the Chida in his Birkei Yosef, O.C. 158:7, and later the Kaf Hachaim ad loc. 20) maintains that ‘davar hateebulo b’mashkeh pachos m’kezayis lo bae’i netillah,’ handwashing is unnecessary when eating less than a kezayis. Indeed, the Mishnah Berurah (Biur Halacha 473: 6 s.v. pachos) cites both sides of this debate, ultimately concluding “tzarich iyun l’dina.”

[32] Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt”l (Mikraei Kodesh ibid.) makes this distinction as well. Rav Yaakov Emden (Mor U’Ketziah 158 end s.v. v’ha) writes leshittaso regarding a ‘davar hateebulo b’mashkeh’ that those who dipped with a fork or spoon are not required to wash their hands. Many other authorities rule similarly regarding a ‘davar hateebulo b’mashkeh’ that is always eaten with a spoon (or fork etc.), including the Taz (O.C. 158: 9), Shulchan Aruch Harav (ad loc. 3), Derech Hachaim (Din Netilas Yadayim L’Seudah 5), Chayei Adam (vol. 1, 36: 8), Magen Giborim (Shiltei Hagiborim 7), Aruch Hashulchan (O.C. 158: 12), and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 26). However, see Kaf Hachaim (ad loc. 23) who cites several authorities who differ and rules that even though there is what to rely upon, nevertheless one should be stringent and wash his hands. This machlokes of understanding between the Yaavetz and Kaf Hachaim (citing Mekubalim) is extant in many issues of handwashing, including the one mandated in-between milk and meat and also regarding Mayim Acharonim. An alternate approach, given by several Poskim including the Pri Megadim (Y”D 89 S.D 20), is that even if not required me’ikar hadin, nonetheless, optimally one should still wash his hands after eating a dairy product with a fork, as handwashing does not usually entail too much effort. This topic is discussed at length in this author’s recent English halacha seferFood: A Halachic Analysis’ (pg. 9-11, 25-26, 312-313). Interestingly, this machlokes seems to be originally based on different understandings of a debate amongst Tannaim (Nedarim 49b; thanks are due to R’ Baruch Ritholtz for pointing this out) regarding whether it is more proper to eat die’sah (porridge) with one’s fingers or a ‘hutza,’ a sliver of wood. The Yaavetz understood that this topic was only relevant in their time, as they apparently did not have proper eating utensils. Accordingly, nowadays, when everyone uses cutlery, this debate would seem somewhat irrelevant. Others, however [see Maharsha and Ben Yehoyada (ad loc.), and Bnei Tzion (vol. 3, O.C. 181: 9; from Rav Ben Tzion Lichtman, Chief Rabbi of Beirut, Lebanon approximately seventy-five years ago)], seem to understand that the Tannaim did generally have spoons, but in that instance did not have them readily available. Thus, the Gemara’s discussion was only regarding when spoons were not available, debating whether it was preferable to use fingers or a wood chip in such an instance. Following the latter approach would seemingly unsubstantiate the Yaavetz’s proof from this Gemara. Remarkably, the earliest use of forks as cutlery in Rabbinic literature seems to be from Rabbeinu Chananel (990-1053) in his commentary on Bava Metzia (25b s.v. pi’ homnick), which was first published as part of the famous Vilna Shas by the Brothers Romm, in the 1870s and 1880s. To describe the Gemara’s ‘homnick’ (or ‘hemnick’), he explains that it is a two-pronged fork, similar to a ‘mazleig,’ which he elucidates is a three-pronged fork that ‘Bnei Yavan’ use to hold pieces of meat and help cut them with a knife, as an aid for eating without touching the food with one’s hands. As implied from Rabbeinu Chananel’s terminology that using a fork was a novelty even in his days, it seems that his phraseology can be used as proof to Rav Yaakov Emden’s understanding of the Tannaic debate in the Gemara Nedarim, some 700 years later. Thanks are due to Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein, author of ‘Lashon Hakodesh: History, Holiness, and Hebrew,’ and ‘God versus gods’ for pointing out the location of this comment of Rabbeinu Chananel’s.

[33] Haggada shel Pesach Moadim Uzmanim (pg. 58; see also Shu”t Teshuvos V’hanhagos vol. 2: 116 and Hilchos HaGr”a U’Minhagav 135; pg. 150 s.v. uvmakom acher) and Chut Shani on Hilchos Pesach (Ch. 17: 16); cited in Ohel Yaakov (ibid. pg. 52: 3 and footnote 6).

[34] See Mikraei Kodesh (ibid.), Haggada shel Pesach Minchas Asher (pg. 30, Urchatz 7), Netei Gavriel (Hilchos Pesach vol. 2, Ch. 81: 5), and Ohel Yaakov (ibid.). Also, the fact that this issue is not even raised by the majority of poskim proves that they were of the opinion that it should not factor lemaaseh regarding Urchatz.

[35] Mishnah Pesachim (114a), Gemara (114b-115a). For what to do practically if only Maror is available for both Karpas and Maror, see Rambam (Hilchos Chometz U’Matza, Ch. 8: 12), Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 475: 2), Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 28), and Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 2, Pesach, Ch. 9: 27).

[36] Rashi (Pesachim 114a on the Mishnah), Rambam (Peirush HaMishnayos, Pesachim Ch. 10, Mishnah 3 and Hilchos Chometz U’Matza, Ch. 8: 2), and Tur (beg. O.C. 473).

[37] See Magen Avraham (ad loc. 4) and Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. 19) famously citing the Maharil (Minhagim, Seder HaHaggada), to use “Karpas,” which stands for “60 Parech,” the 600,000 Jews who suffered Avodas Parech – backbreaking labor in Mitzrayim. The Shulchan Aruch (ad loc. 4) writes similarly to the Rokeach (ibid.), to take “Karpas or Yerek Acheir,” implying that “Karpas” itself is the name of a vegetable. In his earlier Beis Yosef (ad loc.) he cites the Agur quoting the Mahari Mulin, who specifically used “Karpas.” He writes this more explicitly in his Maggid Meisharim (Parashas Tzav, Ohr L’Gimmel shel Pesach; bottom right corner of pg. 41b) that it is more of a Mitzva to use ‘Karpas’ than other vegetables. The Arizal is quoted as stating similarly (Shaar Hakavannos, Drush 6; cited in Vayaged Moshe ibid. 20), that one should specifically search for and use ‘Karpas’ and not any other vegetable.

[38] See for example, Maharil (ibid.), Magen Avraham (ad loc. 4; although he questions this choice), Chok Yaakov (ad loc. 12), Elyah Rabba (ad loc. end 27), Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 130, HaSeder B’Ketzara 3), the Chavas Daas’ Maaseh Nissim Haggadah with Hanhagos of the Vilna Gaon (Karpas), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (118: 2), and Aruch Hashulchan (ad loc. 10). Rav Akiva Eiger (ad loc. s.v. v’ani) points to the Yerushalmi in Sheviis (beg. Ch. 9), cited by the Tosafos Yom Tov in Shabbos (Ch. 9, Mishnah 5), that states that “Karpas Shebineharos” is “Petrosilinen.” The Aruch (erech ‘Karpas’) cites this as well in his definition of ‘Karpas.’ Interestingly, the Taamei HaMinhagim (Inyanei Pesach, hagahah 517) writes that in Arabic, “Petrosilin” are called “Karpas.”

[39] All of these vegetables are cited by various Poskim through the ages, including the Chayei Adam, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and Aruch Hashulchan (ibid.). For a full listing and their various customs, as well as potential issues raised by others for using each specific vegetable [for example, is it generally eaten raw or cooked, or is it perhaps ‘sharp’ so rather used for Maror (see Chochmas Shlomo ad loc. 5), etc.], see Vayaged Moshe (ibid.) at length. Regarding the different vegetables for Karpas, see also Shu”t Tirosh V’Yitzhar (117), Shu”t Kinyan Torah B’Halacha (vol. 4: 53), and Shu”t Lehoros Nosson (vol. 3: 24). The idea of using cucumbers for Karpas seems to be more recent, as Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach is quoted as sometimes using cucumbers (Halichos Shlomo, Moadim vol. 2, Pesach, Ch. 9: 28), and the Strasbourger Rav (Shu”t Kinyan Torah B’Halacha ibid. s.v. ulifi aniyus daati) maintaining a preference for it; yet, if my memory serves me correctly, Rav Dovid Feinstein is quoted in the ArtScroll Kol Dodi Haggada as maintaining a preference for green vegetables for Karpas, and hence specifically “not using cucumbers.”

[40] Hence one should also have kavanna when making the Ha’adama brachah on Karpas, that it should cover Maror as well. Although many commentaries discuss this, see Mishnah Berurah (473: 20 and 54) for a succinct explanation. If one did not have this specific kavanna by Karpas, he still would not repeat Ha’adama when eating Maror (see Kaf Hachaim ad loc. 113).

[41] Shu”t Chasam Sofer (O.C. 132, end s.v. odos), Machatzis Hashekel (O.C. 473: 4), Bartenura (Sheviis Ch. 9, Mishnah 1). See also Shu”t Lehoros Nosson (vol. 3: 24, end 2) as to the distance the Chasam Sofer would go to procure celery for his rebbi for Karpas. The Chasam Sofer adds that the “ipiya” (or “ipuch” as the Maharil writes) perhaps stands for “Keil Poel Yeshuos Attah.”

[42] Luach Eretz Yisrael (Nissan, Aleph D’Pesach), Halichos Shlomo (Moadim vol. 2, Pesach, Ch. 9, footnote 197), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (118: 2), Mareh Yechezkel Haggada (end; cited in Vayaged Moshe ibid. 4; that in Eretz Yisrael celery is truly called “Karpas” in Arabic like the Chasam Sofer), Halichos Even Yisrael (Moadim vol. 1, Pesach, pg. 164: 1).

[43]Aruch Hashulchan (ibid. 10), Misgeres Hashulchan (118:1), Chakal Yitzchak Haggada, Vayaged Moshe (ibid. 7), Shu”t Lehoros Nosson (ibid. 6), Halichos Shlomo (ibid.), Hanhagos Rabbeinu (ibid.), and Haggada Moadim U’Zmanim (ibid.).

[44] Aruch (Erech Petter), cited in Tehilla LeMoshe (hakdama to Yismach Moshe al Tanach, vol. 3:pg. 12a). See She’arim Metzuyanim B’Halacha (118: end 4). Thanks are due to Rabbi Nosson Wimer of Kiryat Sanz, Netanya for pointing this out.

[45] This topic is discussed at length in this author’s recent English halacha seferFood: A Halachic Analysis,’ in a chapter titled ‘The Halachic Adventures of the Potato.’

[46] Likutei Mahariach (vol. 1, Seder Birkas Hanehenin pg. 182b), Maharam Ash(Zichron Yehuda pg. 23b s.v. al esrog), Shulchan HaTahor (204:3 and Zer Zehav 2), Otzar Hachaim (Parashas Vayelech, Mitzvas Birkas Hanehenin), Pischa Zuta (Birkas HaPesach 12:3), Minhagei Kamarna (pg. 25:97). See also Shu”t Divrei Yatziv (O.C. vol. 1:82), Shu”t Migdalos Merkachim (O.C. 18), and Shu”t Shraga HaMeir (vol. 6:119).

[47] Shu”t B’tzeil Hachochma (vol. 4:83), Shu”t Mishnah Halachos (vol. 6:39 and 40), and many of the Poskim whose teshuvos on topic are printed in the recent Teshuvos HaPoskim (11; pg. 143-170). See also Shu”t Igros Moshe (O.C. vol. 3:63), who also defines the potato as such. Interestingly, although another famous Ashkenazic Rishon, the Maharil (Hilchos Erev Yom Kippur, Seudah Hamafsekes, 8; cited by the Elyah Rabba, O.C. 608:9, and Kaf Hachaim, ad loc. 41), quoting his Rebbeim, mentions that a good way to cool off and get nutrition before a fast day is by soaking a so-called “erd-apple,” another common colloquialism used for the potato, in water and eating it, he could not possibly have been referring to our potatoes which were not extant in Europe for another several hundred years. Additionally, he refers to it as a “pri,” and not a vegetable. As an aside, soaked raw potatoes also does not seem to be one of the usual manners which potatoes are nowadays enjoyed.

[48] Tiferes Yisrael (Avos Ch. 3: Mishnah 14, Boaz Beg. 1). Thanks are due to Rabbi Elchanan Shoff for pointing out this fascinating source.

[49] Thanks are due to my uncle, Rabbi Avrom Baker, for pointing this out.

[50] See also Orchos Rabbeinu (5775 edition; vol. 1, pg. 153, 154, and 159 Dinei Netillas Yadayim V’Seudah 6, 7, and 27) which records that the Chazon Ish and Steipler Gaon were known to be very stringent with this halacha, and always washing before dipping cake into tea, eating washed fruit, and even fruit taken from the fridge that is slightly damp.

Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda.

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