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Practical Seder Guide

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Seder » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Moses would love to guide you through your Seder, and he hopes it won't take forty years. For the sake of brevity this article will only give you a practical step by step guide for the Seder; it does not mentions the reasons for what we do. The name of each Step is hyperlinked to its reason. See additional links throughout, and at the end of, the article. 

Seder Ingredients:

To begin the Seder you will need a Seder Plate (which includes a shank bone, an egg, bitter herbs, Charoset, an onion or potato, and 3 Matzahs), salt water, wine and/or grape juice (enough for four cups per person), more Matzah, and Haggadahs.

Set up the Seder Plate, give everyone a wine glass and Haggadah, and we are ready to begin.

Step 1: Kadeish

Fill your cup1 with wine/grape juice, stand up, hold the cup in your right hand2, and recite the Kiddush from the Haggadah. Upon completion sit down, recline slightly to your left, and drink the wine.3

Step 2: Urchatz

It's time to wash your hands in ritual fashion. Fill a wash cup of water and pour it over your right hand 3 times, then do the same on your left hand. Do not recite a blessing.

Step 3: Karpas

Take a small4 piece of onion or celery5 , dip it in the salt water and recite the blessing "Baruch atta Ado-noy Eh-lo-hay-nu Me-lech ha-oh-lam, Boray pe-ree ha-ada-mah." [Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.] When reciting this blessing have in mind the bitter herbs you will eat later for the Maror and Koreich sandwich. Eat the small piece of vegetable (without reclining).

Step 4: Yachatz

Take the middle Matzah from the Seder Plate and split it into two pieces. Put the smaller piece back in the Seder Plate, and divide the larger piece into five pieces. Place the five pieces together and put them away for the Afikoman.6

Step 5: Magid7

It's story time. Fill your cup with wine for a second time (although we aren't about to drink it just yet). Have the children8 ask the Ma Nishtana - Four Questions. Follow the instructions in the Haggadah for when to pick up/put down the wine, cover/uncover the Matzah etc. (A full English translation of the Haggadah including the Four Questions and instructions can be found on passover.net). The story concludes with the blessing over wine. Recline slightly to the left and drink the second cup of wine.

Step 6: Rachtzah

Time for the ritual washing of the hands for bread Matzah. Follow the same procedure as Step 2, only this time when done say the blessing "Baruch atta Ado-noy Elo-hai-nu Melech ha'olam asher kid-sha-nu b'mitz-vo-tav v'tzi-vanu al Netilat Yadayim." [Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded concerning the washing of the hands.]9

Step 7: Motzi

Hold the two and 1/2 Matzahs in the Seder Plate and recite the blessing "Baruch atta Ado-noy Eh-lo-hay-nu Me-lech ha-oh-lam, Hamotzee lechem meen ha-aretz." [Blessed are you, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.]

Footnotes

  • 1. Out of respect for the Seder it is preferable to have a full cup for each of the four cups of wine. It is better to use a small but full cup, rather than a large but only partially full cup. The cup must hold a minimum of 2.9 fluid oz.
  • 2. Whenever we speak of the right hand, we are referring to your stronger (writing) hand. If you are left handed your "right hand" is on the left side.
  • 3. One should drink at least 1.5 oz. from each of the four cups of wine. It is even better to drink most of the cup, and ideally one should drink the entire cup. It is therefore wise to use a small cup and drink the whole thing rather than a large and only drink some of it.
  • 4. Due to the complex laws of After Blessings the piece you eat should be no larger than 0.60 oz.
  • 5. Some people use an parsley or potato.
  • 6. Some have a custom that the children steal or find the Afikoman and get a reward for this. This keeps the kids involved.
  • 7. This step of the Seder is pretty self explanatory. This link offers insight into the eternal meaning of the story.
  • 8. If there are no children present an adult should ask the Four Questions.
  • 9. Other than reciting the following blessings, one should not talk from after this blessing until actually taking a bit of Matzah.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » Passover » Seder » Laws and Rituals

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.
Grace After Meals
Biblically mandated prayer, consisting of four blessings, recited after eating more than an ounce of bread.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Haggadah
Text read at the Passover Eve feasts. The Haggadah recounts in great detail the story of our Exodus from Egypt.
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.
Matzot
(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.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Elijah
A legendary prophet who lived in the 8th century BCE, and saved the Jewish religion from being corrupted by the pagan worship of Baal. He never died, he was taken to heaven alive. According to Jewish tradition, he visits every circumcision and every Passover Seder table.
Maror
Bitter herbs consumed at the Passover Seder, commemorating how the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors.
charoset
A mixture of ground fruit and nuts, flavored with a splash of red wine. During the Passover seder, the maror (bitter herbs) are dipped into the Charoset.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.
Afikoman
The larger portion of the broken middle matzah on the seder plate. The afikoman is eaten towards the end of the seder. In many families, it is traditionally "stolen" by the children and "ransomed" by the parents with the promise of a gift.