Seder in Bnei Brak-- by Gil Student, from

Haggadah Section: -- Four Questions

Sukkah 27b tells the story of R. Eliezer chastising his student R. Ilai for visiting his mentor on the holiday. R. Eliezer was of the view that part of the Biblical mitzvah of enjoying the holiday is remaining in one’s house. He said, “I praise the lazy who do not leave their houses on the holiday.”

R. Tzvi Hirsch Chajes, in his glosses to Sanhedrin 32b, asks that if that is the case, why does the Haggadahtell of a time during which R. Eliezer spent the Passover seder in Bnei Brak with R. Yehoshua, R. Elazar, R. Akiva and R. Tarfon? Should he not have felt obligated to remain in his house in Lod?

R. Yehiel Mikhel Epstein, the author of the Arukh Ha-Shulhan, asks this question in his commentary to the Haggadah and points to the Gemara at the very end of Makkos (24a-b). That passage describes how a number of those sages were distraught over the destruction of the Temple and R. Akiva found ways to encourage and inspire them by reminding them of the inevitable redemption. This communal seder, R. Epstein suggests, was a continuation of that discussion in which the sages discussed the future redemption in the context of the Passover story. Perhaps one could call it a group session of mutual encouragement (yes, I am taking liberties in how I portray R. Epstein’s answer). This, R. Epstein suggests, particularly noting the thanks that was due to R. Akiva, overrode the obligation to remain in one’s house.

R. Reuven Margoliyos, in his Margoliyos Ha-Yam (Sanhedrin 32b:18), offers an historical explanation. The Gemara (Sukkah 23a) tells of a time when Rabban Gamliel and R. Akiva had to build a sukkah on a boat. Later (41b), the Gemara tells of a time when Rabban Gamliel, R. Yehoshua, R. Elazar ben Azariah and R. Akiva were on a boat and had only one set of four species for Sukkos. Similarly, the Mishnah (Ma’aser Sheni 5:9) tells of a time when Rabban Gamliel had to take tithe from produce by stating, from a boat, that the part belonging to Levites belonged to R. Yehoshua and the part belonging to the poor belonged to R. Akiva. It is important to note that the Rambam explains that this happened right before Passover, the zeman ha-bi’ur for ma’asros.

R. Yitzhak Halevi (Doros Ha-Rishonim, part 3 volume 5 ch. 19 = volume 4 pp. 275-278) explains that when the Roman emperor Domitian was killed, the elderly and sickly senator Nerva succeeded him as emperor. His ascension to the throne happened on September 18th, 96 CE. Nerva was known as being sympathetic to Jews. When the sages of the Mishnah learned of the change of regime in Rome, and that the new emperor was extremely ill, they immediately traveled to Rome. Given the time of the year of Nerva’s crowning, it is understandable why they were on a boat during the holiday of Sukkos. Their haste, due to Nerva’s poor health, explains why they were not fully prepared for the holiday and had only one set of four species that they had bought at an extravagant price. (Their haste was well-advised, as Nerva died a mere 14 months after taking the throne, less than a year after the rabbis returned home.)

Evidently, their eventful stay in Rome, which is mentioned in many places throughout rabbinic literature, lasted around six months and they returned immediately prior to Passover. Perhaps, R. Margoliyos suggests, they arrived at the port in Jaffa right before the onset of the holiday and quickly went to R. Akiva’s nearby home in Bnei Brak to spend the holiday. R. Eliezer, therefore, was not home for the holiday due to circumstances beyond his control. (Rabban Gamliel might have been absent from the communal seder in Bnei Brak because of his duties as Nasi or in order to allow his colleagues to recline, which they would not be permitted to do if he were in attendance.)

Inspired to create
your own Haggadah?

Make your own Haggadah and share with other Seder lovers around the world

Have an idea
for a clip?

People like you bring their creativity to when they share their ideas in a clip

Support Us
with your donation

Help us build moments of meaning and connection through
home-based Jewish rituals.


contributor image
Esther Kustanowitz
4 Haggadahs44 Clips
contributor image
JQ International
1 Haggadah40 Clips
contributor image
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
5 Haggadahs109 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah13 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah78 Clips
contributor image
Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
1 Haggadah36 Clips
contributor image
American Jewish World Service
1 Haggadah44 Clips
contributor image
3 Haggadahs57 Clips
contributor image
Repair the World
12 Clips
contributor image
5 Haggadahs48 Clips
contributor image
Be'chol Lashon
2 Haggadahs27 Clips
contributor image
PJ Library
1 Haggadah17 Clips
contributor image
Jewish World Watch
3 Haggadahs42 Clips
contributor image
Secular Synagogue
10 Clips
contributor image
1 Haggadah9 Clips
contributor image
The Blue Dove Foundation
20 Clips
contributor image
24 Clips
contributor image
Jewish Emergent Network
1 Haggadah22 Clips

Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.

Haggadot by Recustom, is a free resource for all backgrounds and experiences. Consider making a donation to help support the continuation of this free platform.

Copyright © 2024 Custom and Craft Jewish Rituals Inc, dba Recustom, dba
All Rights Reserved. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. EIN: 82-4765805.