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434 ENCYCLOPAEDIA JUDAICA, Second Edition, Volume 1

was 1,030. In addition to engaging in intensive farming (ir-


rigated feld crops, fodder, milch cattle, poultry, carp ponds,
bananas, dates, grapefruit), the kibbutz economy was based
on a large plywood factory, producing principally for export.
It also became a partner in the nearby factory for cellotex and
similar materials. Te prehistoric site of al-Ubaydiyya is situ-
ated near the kibbutz.
[Efraim Orni]
AFIKOMAN (Heb. ), name of a portion of maz z ah
(unleavened bread) eaten at the conclusion of the Passover
evening meal. In most traditions, early in the evening, the
person conducting the seder breaks the middle of the three
maz z ot into two pieces, putting away the larger portion, des-
ignated as afkoman, for consumption at the conclusion of the
meal. Some Yemenites, who use only two maz z ot, break of
a part of the lower maz z ah just at the beginning of the meal.
Te word afkoman, of Greek origin but uncertain etymology,
probably refers to the afermeal songs and entertainment (cf.
TJ, Pes. 10:8, 37d), accompanied by drinking, which was com-
mon afer festive meals in ancient times. Te Mishnah states:
One may not add afkoman afer the paschal meal (Pes. 10:8),
for the paschal meal was not to be followed by customary
revelry (Pes. 119b120a). Tis ruling was later understood to
mean that the paschal lamb should be the last food eaten dur-
ing the evening and, afer the cessation of the paschal sacrifce,
maz z ah replaced it as the last food eaten during the evening.
Tis maz z ah is frst referred to as afkoman in medieval times
(cf. Mah zor Vitry). Tis afkoman has become a symbolic re-
minder of the paschal sacrifce.
In many Ashkenazi communities it is customary for the
children present to attempt to steal the afkoman from the
person leading the seder (who therefore tries to hide it from
them). A favorite time for such a thef is while the leader is
washing his hands before the meal, and the ransom is usually
the promise of presents. Te custom encourages the children
to keep awake during the seder (see Pes. 109a). Tis practice
of stealing the afkoman is, however, nearly unknown in Se-
phardi Jewish communities.
It became a folk custom to preserve a piece of the afko-
man as a protection against either harm or the evil eye, or
as an aid to longevity. Te power attributed to this piece of
maz z ah is based on the assumption, in the realm of folklore
rather than law, that its importance during the seder endows
it with a special sanctity. Tus, Jews from Iran, Afghanistan,
Salonika, Kurdistan, and Bukhara keep a portion of the afko-
man in their pockets or houses throughout the year for good
luck. In some places, pregnant women carry it together with
salt and coral pieces, while during their delivery they hold
some of the afkoman in their hand. Another belief is that
this special maz z ah, if kept for seven years, can stop a food if
thrown into the turbulent river, and the use of the afkoman
together with a certain biblical verse is even thought capable
of quieting the sea. At the seder Kurdi Jews tie this maz z ah
to the arm of one of their sons with this blessing: May you
so tie the ketubbah to the arm of your bride. Sephardi Jews
in Hebron had a similar practice. In Baghdad someone with
the afkoman used to leave the seder and return disguised as a
traveler. Te leader would ask him, Where are you from? to
which he would answer, Egypt, and Where are you going?
to which he would reply, Jerusalem. In Djerba, the person
conducting the seder used to give the afkoman to one of the
family, who tied it on his shoulder and went to visit relatives
and neighbors to forecast the coming of the Messiah.
Bibliography: Maim. Yad, H amez u-Maz z ah, 6:2; 8:9; Sh.
Ar., OH 473:6; 477:17; 418:12; Moshe Veingarten, Haseder Hearukh
(1990), 554562; E. Brauer, Yehudei Kurdistan (1947), 2356; J. Kafh,
Halikhot Teiman (1961), 22; M. Mani, H evron ve-Gibboreiha (1963),
6970; M. Zadoc, Yehudei Teiman (1967), 1812; D. Benveniste, in:
Saloniki Ir va-Em be-Yisrael (1967). 151. Add. Bibliography: J.
Tabory, Te Passover Ritual Troughout the Generations (Hebrew;
1996), 23 n. 49; 6566; 31824; I.J. Yuval, Two Nations in Your Womb:
Perceptions of Jews and Christians (Hebrew; 2000), 24958.
[Dov Noy / Joseph Tabory (2nd ed.)]
AFRICA. Te propinquity of the land of Israel to the Afri-
can continent profoundly infuenced the history of the Jew-
ish people. Two of the patriarchs went down to *Egypt; the
sojourn of the children of Israel in that land lef an indelible
impression on the history of their descendants; and the Exo-
dus from Egypt and the theophany at Sinai, in the desert be-
tween Africa and Asia, marked the beginning of the specifc
history of the Hebrew people. Later, in the time of the judges
and the monarchy, Palestine was periodically occupied by the
Egyptian pharaohs, especially afer Tutmose iii, in their at-
tempts to extend their infuence northward. Important Egyp-
tian archaeological remains have been found throughout Erez
Israel, testifying to indubitable Egyptian infuences in the
background, literature, and language of the Bible. Afer the
destruction of the First Temple in 586 b.c.e. some of the sur-
vivors took refuge in Egypt and the Jewish military colony at
*Elephantine; ample records which survive from the Persian
period seem to have originated at about this time. Tis settle-
ment at Elephantine marked the beginning of the extension of
Jewish infuences toward the interior of the continent, and in
all probability it was not the only colony of its kind.
Intensive Jewish settlement in Africa began afer the
conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century b.c.e.
For the next hundred years or more, Erez Israel was intermit-
tently under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies, alternating
with the Syrian Seleucids; the country naturally gravitated
toward Africa economically as well as politically. Moreover,
in the course of their periodic campaigns north of the Sinai
Peninsula the Ptolemies deported some elements of the local
population to the central provinces of their empire, or brought
there prisoners of war as slaves. According to ancient tradition,
Alexander had specifcally invited Jews to settle in his newly
founded city of *Alexandria, and it is certain that early in its
history they formed a considerable proportion of its popula-
tion. Before long, Alexandria became a great center of Jewish
afikoman