A Step by Step Guide to Leading the Pesach Seder, Reviewed by Harav Shmuel Felder

If one isn’t well and feels any of the halachos will be difficult to fulfill, consult with your Rov

  1. The Seder table should be set Erev Pesach, so the Seder can begin at night as quickly as possible.
  2. For the seder you will need: Matza, wine and kos, kaara plate, maror and charoses, karpas and salt water, zeroah bone, and a cooked egg – and food for the Shulchan Aruch meal.
  3. As soon as Maariv is finished, get ready to start the Seder. Married men should put on their kittel (there are different customs regarding an avel and during the first year of marriage).
  4. There are different customs how to arrange the items on the kaara plate. The three matzos should be covered during kiddush.
  5. Some have the custom to give nuts or nosh (chocolate chips are recommended) to the children to keep them awake and involved throughout the Seder.
  6. קדש: Kiddush should not be made until nightfall. If possible, someone should pour the cup for the בעל הבית. Have in mind that with kiddush you are fulfilling the mitzvos of קידוש and דכוסות. Kiddush is made with “שהחיינו“, with no bracha achronah recited afterwards. The whole cup [or at least most of it] should be drunk while leaning to the left side.
  7. ורחץ: wash hands in preparation of eating karpas. No brachah is recited.
  8. כרפס: dip the karpas in saltwater, make the brachah “בורא פרי האדמה” [have in mind that the brachah is also on the marror], and eat the karpas – most do not lean while eating it. Only eat less than a kzayis of karpas, so no brachah achronah is required.
  9. יחץ: crack the middle matzah. The larger half is wrapped and given to someone to hold onto until אפיקומן. Some first put it on their shoulder.
  10. מגיד: have in mind, or say, that you now intend to fulfill the mitzvah of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim. Before or after each paragraph, the בעל הבית [or others] should explain what is being recited.

הא לחמא עניא: lift the matzah [or the kaara which contains the matzos]. Afterwards, some have the custom to move the matzos to the far end of the table [or removed completely] so the children should inquire as to why they are being moved and not eaten. They should be answered that we cannot eat before doing the mitzvah of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim.

The second cup is poured.

מה נשתנה: If children are present, they ask the מה נשתנה questions. If not, an adult should ask the questions.

The kaara matzos are returned to their place, where they should remain uncovered during magid.

During “והיא שעמדה” the כוס should be raised, until “מצילנו מידם”. So too, it should be raised from “לפיכך אנחנו” until “גאל ישראל“. During these times, the matzos should be covered.

When saying “דם ואש ותמרות עשן” it is customary to spill out a drop of wine from the כוס with one’s finger, and so too by the ten maakos and “דצך עדש באחב”.

At “מצה זו” lift the cracked matza. So too by “מרור זו” lift the maror. By “פסח” do not lift anything.

When drinking the second כוס lean to the left side.

  1. רחצה: wash hand and make the brachah “על נטילת ידים“.
  2. מוציא מצה: hold the three matzos, the cracked one in middle. Make the brachah “המוציא לחם מן הארץ“. Allow the bottom matzah to slip to the table. Make the brachah “על אכילת מצה“. Have in mind that the two brachos are each going on each of the two top matzos. [Have in mind that the brachah”על אכילת מצה” is also going on the כורך and אפיקומן].

The בעל הבית takes a kzayis of each of the top two matzos to eat. He should also give two kzayis of matza to everyone else [although the mitzva requires only one kzayis, we eat two, if possible, because some say our shiur of kzayis is only half the true shiur.]

The matza must be eaten leaning.

One should have in mind when eating matzah that they are fulfilling Hashem’s mitzah to eat matzah.

In order to eat the matza all as closely together as possible, it is preferred to begin by chewing as much matza as possible without swallowing, and only begin swallowing when no longer able to chew more matza.

One should not talk about anything unrelated to the seder until after כורך is eaten.

  1. מרור: dip the maror into charoses, remove it quickly, and shake off the charoses that came up with the maror.

Make the brachah “על אכילת מרור” and eat at least a kazayis of the maror. Do not lean while eating it. If possible, the entire kazayis should be eaten together.

One should have in mind when eating maror that they are fulfilling the mitzah to eat maror.

  1. כורך: wrap matzah [from the bottom of the three matzos] around maror, and eat them together. The maror should be dipped into chasosos, as above. There should be a kzayis of matzah and a kzayis of maror. It should be eaten leaning. Before eating it, say “זכר למקדש כהלל וכו‘”. Some say it after eating the korach.
  2. שלחן ערוך: some begin by eating the hardboiled egg from the karah [dipped in saltwater].

Eat a large meal, but leave appetite for the אפיקומן. Do not drink too much wine, for risk of falling asleep and not completing the Seder. Do not drink wine that will require making a “הטוב והמטיב“. We do not eat roasted meat Pesach night.

Eat the אפיקומן, and do not eat any food after it. It should be eaten before חצות.

  1. ברך: Pour the third kos [wash it first, if it got dirty during the meal], bench, make a “בורא פרי הגפן“, and drink the third cup while leaning, [if one did not lean, do not drink an additional cup]. If there are three [or more] men present, it is customary that the בעל הבית lead the benching.
  2. הלל: pour the forth cup and the כוס של אליהו . Open the front door and say “שפוך חמתך“. Say the remainder of the הגדה. It is preferred to complete הלל and drink the fourth cup before חצות. Drink the cup while leaning [if one did not lean, do not drink additional cup].
  3. At the second seder, count ספירת העומר.

לשנה הבאה בירושלים!!

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