The Fifth Question

By Geoffrey Paul
April 12, 2011

Is there no end to Jewish ingenuity (or the ability of some to see a way of making a dollar or two)? I ask because someone has sent me the ultimate in Pesach marketing. You will know, of course, that at the Seder table it is the custom to lean, in recognition of the fact that free men (and women), in contradistinction to slaves, can relax in the comfort of their homes and eat, as apparently did the aristocracy of Talmud times, tilted comfortably to the left, as on a chaise longue. Leaning left, it seems, is better for the digestion than leaning right. Ha! But, what if you live in the modern world, where the possiblity is that your chairs do not have sides which will support you when you lean? What then? Never fear! Our redoubtable friends of the hairy headgear have come up with an attachable arm which will fit (guaranteed to fit) on the left side of any chair at all. So there you are. No problem – except, of course, if you happen to have rather large goblets for your four cups of wine and, in your absolute freedom, you momentarily lean right......


Jenni Frazer

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:27

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Whatever happened to the hessebet? (I am not sure of the spelling...) It used to be the case that the person conducting the seder would have his chair stuffed with pillows so that he had no alternative but to lean. This practice seems rather to have fallen out of favour but I recommend it as a cheaper alternative to attachable and detachable arms.

Geoffrey Paul

Wed, 04/13/2011 - 09:35

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I think it fell out of favour when smaller homes and rooms dictated smaller tables and chairs - try stuffing pillows into today's dining chairs or even something more comfortable and they'll either end up on the floor or make it impossible for the celebrant to sit down unless he/she uses a stool to ascend the mount....


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