הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא seems to link a few topics on one paragraph.

1) The nature of Matzah.

2) The invitation to the poor.

3) Hope for the future to be in Israel and Free.

What does the invitation have to do with the first statement regarding the nature of מצה?

What does the last statement of "that next year we should be in Israel" have to do with the previous points?

What unifies all these ideas together?

הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִּי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם כָּל דִּכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכוֹל כָּל דִּצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח הָשַׁתָּא הָכָא – לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל הָשַׁתָּא עַבְדֵּי – לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין.


4 Answers 4


There are several points that can be made about this. First, this emphasizes that we are still in galus. If we were free and bringing the karban Pesach, we could not have said this. Additionally, we are making our guests feel better because they see us using "poor man's bread" and it might appear that we cannot afford better. On the other hand, a poor man at the rich man's table would also feel bad.

"Ha Lachma Anya": Rav Moshe Shternbuch - Now You Invite Guests, After Kiddush?

Rav Moshe Shternbuch answers that the guest are already sitting at our table but they feel really badly about what is going on. They were invited for the Seder by a man who is also poor. He sits Seder night with "poor man's bread" on his table. Chazal instituted Ha Lachma Anya to allay the fears of our poor guest. We tell him that we are not poor. The poor bread is simply a remembrance to the days when we were in Mitzrayim.

We then tell him that we have plenty of food to go around and enough to feed him as well, without giving up our own rations. Therefore, "Kol Dichfin Yeisei V'Yeichol" all the hungry guests are welcome to eat in comfort.

To top it all off we tell him that he should not feel like a pauper at the rich homeowner's table. "Hashata Avdei", we are all really slaves in this galus. "L'Shana Haba B'Arya D'Yisroel", next year we should all rejoice together in Eretz Yisroel

Another point is that in order to show that we have been freed, we invite people because a slave owns nothing and can invite no one without stealing from his master. Thus, even though we might be poor and eating "lechem oni" we are still free and we are eating that which belongs to us and which we obtained honestly.

Understanding ‘Ha Lachma Anya’

The Ritvah in his commentary to the Haggadah suggests that on the night of the Seder every person must envision as if he or she left Mitzrayim that night. One must feel as if he was just freed from slavery. A slave owns nothing. Only a free man can own things. A slave can never invite someone to his meal. Therefore, before we begin our first meal as free men, we declare that we would like to invite whomever would like to come. Even though we know that no one can hear us, we make the declaration to demonstrate to ourselves that we were just freed from slavery.

Another point is we are saying that we acknowledge that part of the mitzvah of matzah is to ensure that everyone is able to partake of the matza. We therefore announce that we have invited others to be part of the group and we have done our best to ensure that everyone can eat. If somehow someone cannot, we have been ready to have them join our group.

Alternatively, the Vilna Gaon says that the mitzvah of matzah is connected to the mitzvah of tzedakah. The Yerushalmi in Bava Basra says that there is an inyan to give maos chitin before Pesach to enable people to acquire matzah. Based on this we can suggest that the reason why we make an open invitation at the onset of the Seder is because the mitzvah of matzah requires us to ensure that others will have matzah as well. The passage begins with the words Ha lachma anya, which means this is the poor man’s bread [that our fathers ate in Mitzrayim] referring to the matzah. As we mention the matzah, it is imperative that we invite others to join, as the mitzvah of matzah demands.

While it would have been too late to ask anyone to join us for the korbon Pesach, the "kol dichfin" used to be said just before the shechitah of the korbon Pesach. While we can no longer do that, we are announcing that if the korbon Pesach were instituted we would be shechting for a group and we want people to join us in a group for the zecher lekorbon.

Ha lachma anya continues by stating, “Kol d’tzrich yeisei v’yifsach – whoever needs should come and eat the korban Pesach. Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

Perhaps this invitation is not meant for poor people alone, but for anyone, even someone with the means to eat his own korban. The reason for this is because there is a dispute in the Mishnah in Pesachim 91a whether one may shecht a korban Pesach for an individual or if it must be shechted for a group of people. We pasken that the korban Pesach may be shechted for an individual. However, the Rambam writes in Hilchos Korban Pesach (2:2) that ideally one should shecht the korban Pesach only for a group of people, not for an individual. It is conceivable that it is for this reason that we declare an open invitation to join in the eating of the korban Pesach.

Finally, the last statement is summing up everything that was said before with the hope that in the future we will be able to fulfill all the thoughts of what we have just said in the best way, by having a group join with us for the korbon Pesach and we will indeed be free under the rulership of Hashem.

במהרה ביםינוּ

  • The question is what unifies the ho lachmo. Not all your answers unlike my simple one do this.
    – newcomer
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 7:16
  • @newcomer I did not delete the answers. I do not even see them as "deleted answer". Ping a moderator to ask what happened. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 19:10
  • @newcomer In that case if you cannot put in a comment, you should put in as an answer but flag to ask a moderator to transfer as a comment. I am not a moderator and would have nothing to do with this. Ping one of the moderators such as DoubleAA Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 19:20

The Netziv points out that while there was a Temple, the Seder revolved around the Passover sacrifice. Then they arrived in Babylonia (speaking Aramaic), and looked around and said, wait a minute, what Biblical obligations do we still have tonight? Well, telling the story, but what object? The only remaining tangible, Biblically-obligated item is the matza. So that became the new focal point of the Seder.

This is the poor bread of our ancestors. When there was a Passover sacrifice you had to be in on the list as of the time it was slaughtered, but now that that's gone, you could show up right now and still have as much of a Passover as we're having. We yearn for a time when we can do it the old-fashioned way again.


A logical answer:

  1. This bread reminds me that I come from a poor background.
  2. So I am sensitive to what the poor man is experiencing,
  3. so I will invite him to mine. (It is also Imitatio dei והלכת בדרכיו because G_d help me in my bad times).
  4. As I remember that G_d help me, I internalize the Idea that he is able to help again.
  5. And I hope that with the help of G_d, for the coming year I will come back to Jerusalem.

Not necessarily are they all one thing. Perhaps they are two or three separate announcements made before he Seder so it became consolidated and printed as one paragraph. We find examples of the opposite as well, when the Rosh Hashanah Machzor separates parts of Shmoneh Esrei because of how they are printed the rest of the year to make room for Yaaleh Veyavo and Ve'al Hanissim.

The Shibolei Halekket brings a couple of approaches. He mentions the idea that these represent Pesach, Matzoh and Maror. He also quotes his Rebbe, Reb Yeshaya, that Kol Dichfin alludes to the fact that the Matzoh must be eaten on an empty stomach, that we weren't allowed to eat Erev Yom Tov.

Additionally, a possible approach is that originally they would take the table away so that the children would ask that we didn't even start eating yet. The Ritva relates that the Ramban gave the Children the Matzoh and took it away. This is how he understands the Gemara which mentions grabbing the Matzoh.

Therefore, since we don't take away the table and we don't give out Matzoh, we announce a grand invitation so that it should be clear that the Seuda is about to begin.

This comes together as follows: We are about to say Maggid which is supposed to be over the Matzoh, so we point it out before beginning. And now that it is time to begin Magid and Mah Nishtanna, we announce the beginning of the Seuda as if we are about to begin eating, so that the children will ask about not having started the meal. Once we mention the Korban Pesach (or at least its Seder and Zicharon) it is only fitting to finish that off with the hope that we will be doing the real thing next year.

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