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What time can I start my Seder?

by Mrs. Shaina B. Lipskier

  

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The Seder cannot begin before nightfall.1

The Mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine and eating the Matzah cannot be fulfilled until the night of the 15th of Nissan has arrived.2 This sometimes means that the seder cannot commence until eight or nine o'clock at night -- depending on your location, and also this largely depends on whether daylight saving time is in effect yet. Click here to find out the exact time of nightfall for any location in the world. 

Encourage the children -- and maybe even the adults -- to take a nap on the afternoon prior to the seder, so all should be fully awake to experience the seder and the personal liberation from Egypt which it offers.

After all, the Seder is all about kids. It is a hands-on, educational experience, using tangible props and visuals, all to relate an ancient story so modern in its lessons. The focus is on the children, and we would like for them to be around so that they can ask the Four Questions. So while we can't start before nightfall, we shouldn't start much after that either.

See also Is there a time limit to the Seder?

Footnotes

  • 1. Shulchan Aruch Orech Chayim 472:1
  • 2. See Taz ibid.

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Holidays » Passover » Seder
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Holidays » Passover » Seder » Laws and Rituals

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Matzah
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Seder
Festive meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday of Passover (In Israel, the Seder is observed only the first night of the holiday). Seder highlights include: reading the story of the Exodus, eating Matzah and bitter herbs, and drinking four cups of wine.