|Written by Rabbi Shmuel Brazil|
In the Sheilos and Teshuvos Maharshal 88 that one places the Afikoman under a pillow. The Tur says that we wrap up the Afikoman to symbolize the passuk משארותם צרורות בשמלותם . Being so we have a double wrapping for the Afikomen, one around its body and then another by being placed under the pillow. What does this imply? The Afikoman symbolizes the Acharis Hayamim the days immediately preceding the final geulah. The minhag at the Seder Night is for the child to steal the Afikoman and then ask for a redemption in exchange for its return. This symbolizes that in these last days preceding Moshiach the world will be enveloped with a double darkness as the passuk says אנכי הסתר אסתר. Just as the thief works at night and nevertheless is successful, so too Klal Yisrael will have to be oveid Hashem through the thickness of the galus darkness and with that merit ask for Hashem to be redeemed.
To elaborate just a little on this we find that Yaakov desired to reveal the end of days but it was hidden from him. The merashim explain that it really was revealed to him however not in the way he desired. Hashem revealed to Yaakov that the geulah will come specifically in the darkest period of tests that we can imagine. The reason being, that there will be such a display of teshuvah of individuals returning to the fold that in order not to take away from free choice, there has to exist a double darkness in the world. During this period even the slightest degree of teshuvah can make an unimaginable affect. This is symbolized by the Tzafun matzah which is a broken piece and not complete. Yaakov Avinu revealed that the geulah will come right at the time of the greatest darkness which covers over the greatest light. He strengthened us by showing that this darkness can be penetrated as the Baal Hatanya explains that even though the gemarrah says (Sanhedrin 97) that Moshiach will come with total unawareness from Yisrael, this only means that the nature of the times will be so. However, it is yet possible to break through that nature and cloak of hiddenness and thereby help bring about the geulah.
We begin the Haggadah by saying הא לחמא עניא. The letters of הא are the acronym of the passuk הסתר אסתר the double covering of darkness that will precede the final geulah. In Mitzrayim after Yaakov passed away, Am Yisrael found themselves in a double concealment as Chazal write שנסתמו עיניהם ולבם מצרת השעבוד that both their hearts and eyes were concealed with a void of spiritual clarity. Yet from the darkness came the light as the passuk says (Bereishis, 47,23) הא לכם זרע that amidst the “hey” of the double concealment, will spiritual growth and redemption come. (the gematriah of הא לכם זרע plus the 8 letters equals מצרים עה"כ).
The Mekubalim write that the Afikoman should be hidden between two pillows again which points to a double covering. The reason given is to hint to a gematriah where two time כר (pillow) plus the aleph of Afikoman is gematriah אמת. This gematriah has direct bearing on our explanation above. The Mishna says Sotah 9,15 that truth will be נעדרת hidden, at the time of Moshiach. Another explanation of this word נעדרת is flock rendering the interpretation that truth will not be popular amongst the masses but rather with a few groups alone sprinkled here and there. The Afikomen represents that even during this time of utter darkness, where truth does not reign anywhere in the land and only being found with a few tiny chaburahs, one can nevertheless can choose to be part of those few and contact the awaiting light that lies beneath it.