Afikoman which means “that which comes after” or “dessert,” is half of the piece of matzo which is broken at the early stage of the Passover Seder. This is set aside and is eaten as dessert after meal.
Back in the era of the First and Second Temples, the afikoman was the last thing eaten during the Passover Seder. It also served as a substitute for the Korban Pesach. According to the Gemara (part of the Talmud which contains rabbinical commentaries and analysis of the Mishnah), it is forbidden to eat other food after consuming the afikoman so as to keep the taste of matzo in our mouths.
During the Yachatz ritual, the leader of the Passover Seder takes a piece of the matzo and breaks it into two. A portion of the matzo is set aside later to be eaten during Tzafun (12th part of the Seder). This portion, the afikoman, is wrapped with a table napkin and is hidden. It is also a custom to hide the afikoman so that the kids at the Seder can steal it and demand for a reward.
After the meal, the leader of the Seder gives pieces of the afikoman to each person present. The afikoman should be eaten before midnight following the tradition of eating the Korban Pesach before midnight in ancient Jewish practice.
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