ואתי לאימנועי מלמיעבד פסחא או דילמא סמוך למנחה קטנה תנן ומשום מצה דילמא אתי למיכלה למצה אכילה גסה
and he will end up refraining from performing the Paschal lamb? Or perhaps we learned this halakha in the mishna as pertaining to the time adjacent to the lesser minḥa, and the reason for the prohibition is due to matza. If one eats shortly before nightfall, perhaps he will come to eat the matza as an act of excessive eating, when one forces himself to eat despite the fact that he has no desire to do so.
אמר רבינא תא שמע אפילו אגריפס המלך שהוא רגיל לאכול בתשע שעות אותו היום לא יאכל עד שתחשך אי אמרת בשלמא סמוך למנחה קטנה תנן היינו רבותיה דאגריפס
Ravina said: Come and hear a solution from a baraita: Even King Agrippa, who regularly eats every day at nine hours, i.e., three hours before sunset, on that day of Passover eve, he may not eat until dark. Ravina infers from this baraita: Granted, if you say that we learned in the mishna that it is prohibited to eat adjacent to the lesser minḥa, this is why his actions are accounted to the greatness of Agrippa, as he refrained from eating despite the fact that the prohibition had not yet gone into effect.
אלא אי אמרת סמוך למנחה גדולה תנן מאי רבותיה דאגריפס חל איסור עליה מעיקרא אלא סמוך למנחה קטנה תנן
However, if you say that we learned in the mishna that one may not eat adjacent to the greater minḥa, what is the greatness of Agrippa? The prohibition against eating had already taken effect at the outset, right after midday. Rather, it must be that we learned in the mishna that it is prohibited to eat adjacent to the lesser minḥa, and Agrippa was praised for changing his regular routine, despite the fact that he was not obligated to do so.
סוף סוף מאי רבותיה דאגריפס הא מטיא ליה זמן איסורא מהו דתימא תשע שעות לאגריפס כארבע שעות דידן דמי קא משמע לן
However, the question still remains: Ultimately, what is the greatness of Agrippa? The time of the prohibition had arrived. Although the ninth hour begins shortly before the prohibition goes into effect, Agrippa’s meal would presumably extend into the time when it is prohibited to eat, and therefore it was indeed prohibited for him to start his meal at the regular time. The Gemara answers: Since Agrippa was accustomed to eating in the afternoon, it might have been thought that he should be permitted to eat at this hour on Passover eve as well. Lest you say that since Agrippa would not eat during the morning like most people, nine hours for Agrippa is considered like four hours for us, the baraita therefore teaches us that we do not distinguish between Agrippa and anyone else in this regard.
אמר רבי (יוסי) אבל מטביל הוא במיני תרגימא רבי יצחק מטביל בירקי תניא נמי הכי השמש מטביל בבני מעיין ונותנן לפני האורחים
Rabbi Yosei said: It is prohibited to eat a proper meal from minḥa time onward; however, one may dip and eat types of refreshments, e.g., fruit or meat that do not constitute a full meal and will not fill one’s stomach. The Gemara relates that Rabbi Yitzḥak would dip and eat vegetables. That opinion, that it is permitted to snack after minḥa time on Passover eve, was also taught in a baraita: During the afternoon of Passover eve, the waiter may dip vegetables in the intestines of the animals that had been slaughtered in preparation for the Festival meals and place them before the guests who had registered for the Paschal lamb. This was done to whet their appetites, so they would eat the Paschal lamb and matza that evening with greater relish.
ואף על פי שאין ראיה לדבר זכר לדבר שנאמר נירו לכם ניר ואל תזרעו אל קוצים
The baraita continues: And although there is no absolute proof for this matter, there is an allusion to this matter, as it is stated: “Break up for yourselves a fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns” (Jeremiah 4:3). This verse teaches that one must undertake preparations to achieve positive results. Similarly, one should eat a small amount in the afternoon to enable him to consume more in the evening.
רבא הוה שתי חמרא כולי מעלי יומא דפיסחא כי היכי דניגרריה לליביה דניכול מצה טפי לאורתא אמר רבא מנא אמינא לה דחמרא מיגרר גריר דתנן
The Gemara relates that Rava would drink wine the entire day of Passover eve, so as to whet his appetite to enable him to eat more matza at night. Rava said: From where do I say it, that wine whets the appetite? As we learned in a mishna: