1. What does the word ‘seder’ signify?
The night of Pesach is indeed very different from all other nights of the year. It is steeped in holiness and abounds with mitzvos, both Torah and rabbinic, and is rich in customs and traditions. Every detail is of great significance and one should perform each step meticulously, knowing that no part of the procedure is trivial. The word ‘seder’ means order, indicating that the entire evening follows a set order, arranged by the Sages with holy inspiration and invested with hidden meanings and deep interpretations.
2. What are the main steps of the seder?
There are fifteen main steps, each of which has a special name. These names form a simple rhyme, thus becoming a memory aid to fulfilling the mitzvos of the evening in the correct order. They are:
Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz,
Maggid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzo,
Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech,
Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah.
Many have the custom to announce each step with its name at the appropriate time.
3. What are the main mitzvos of the seder?
There are two Torah mitzvos – eating matzo and relating the story of the slavery and Exodus. There are three main rabbinic mitzvos – drinking four cups of wine, eating maror and reciting hallel.
4. What should be placed on the table before commencing the seder?
- The seder plate with all the necessary items.
- A bowl of salt water.
- The wine and grape juice.
- A cup and a Haggadah for each participant.
- Elegant items of silver to decorate the table.
- Flowers, to provide a pleasant fragrance.
5. Should the father bless the children before commencing the seder?
Yes, this should be done as on Friday night. Indeed, the night of Pesach is particularly appropriate for blessing the children, since it was on this night that Yaakov Avinu received the blessings from his father Yitzchok Avinu.
6. Are women obligated in all the mitzvos of the seder?
Yes. Although these are time-bound mitzvos, women are obligated since they too experienced the terrible slavery and miraculous redemption. In addition, the Jewish people were redeemed in the merit of the righteous women.
7. Are children obligated in all the mitzvos of the seder?
Children who have reached the age of chinuch (five or six) should try to fulfill all the mitzvos of the seder. Since their obligation is rabbinic, smaller quantities may be used for the mitzvos:
- The cup of grape juice (or wine) must contain the minimum quantity of 86cc (approx. 3 fl. oz.), but it is sufficient for them to drink a cheekful.
- For the three mitzvos of eating matzo (hamotzi, korech, afikoman) they can be given a small kezayis (10 grams), which should be eaten within nine minutes.
- For the two mitzvos of eating maror (maror and korech) they can be given a small kezayis (lettuce covering an area of 8” x 4”), which should be eaten within nine minutes.
- Boys who have reached the age of nine or ten should be taught to recline while drinking the wine and eating the matzo. According to some opinions, they should be taught from the age of six.
- Children should be encouraged to remain at the seder table at least until the end of the meal and if possible until after the fourth cup of wine. It is for this reason that the Sages instituted many unusual procedures during the seder, to arouse the interest of the children and hold their attention during the evening. The Torah requires a father to relate the story of the slavery and Exodus to his children, and the Haggadah emphasizes this by describing the four types of sons whom one may have to address. Some parents make the mistake of sending the children to bed after reciting the ma nishtana before they have heard the answers to their questions. It is advisable to see that the children sleep well on erev Pesach, in order that they will have the strength and enthusiasm to remain awake during the seder.
Kadesh – Recite Kiddush
8. Should the matzos be covered or uncovered during Kiddush?
They should be covered. The rule throughout the seder is that the matzos should be uncovered except when the wine is held. The reason is that matzo is a more important food than wine, and it should be covered when special attention is given to the wine.
9. Who recites Kiddush at the seder?
Some families have the custom that only the leader of the seder recites Kiddush and the other participants fulfill the mitzvah by listening. Some have the custom that everyone recites Kiddush together, including the women and children.
10. Should all the participants hold the wine during Kiddush?
Yes. All the participants should hold the wine during Kiddush, whether they are listening or reciting it.
11. Should women who have the custom to listen to Kiddush and have already recited the shehecheyanu b’racha when lighting candles say ‘amen’ to that b’racha during Kiddush?
Yes. The reason is that the b’racha recited when lighting candles refers only to the Yom Tov, whereas the b’racha recited during Kiddush refers to all the mitzvos of the seder.
12. Should women who have the custom to recite Kiddush and have already recited the shehecheyanu b’racha when lighting candles repeat that b’racha during Kiddush?
No, the b’racha must not be recited twice. If they prefer, they may delay reciting the shehecheyanu b’racha until during Kiddush.
13. What should one think about before reciting (or listening to) Kiddush?
- One should have in mind to fulfill two mitzvos:
- The mitzvah of Kiddush.
- The mitzvah of drinking the first of the four cups of wine.
- One should have in mind that the shehecheyanu b’racha applies to the Yom Tov and to all the mitzvos of the seder.
- Men should remember that they must recline when drinking the wine. They should also have in mind that they would like to drink another cup if they forget to recline .
14. How much of the cup must be drunk?
Ideally, one should drink the entire cup, even if it contains more than the required amount. If this is not possible, it is sufficient to drink the majority of the cup.
15. How quickly must one drink the cup?
- Ideally, one should drink the cup without pausing.
- If this is not possible, one may stop once for a short pause during the drinking.
- If this too is not possible, one fulfills his obligation if he drinks the required quantity within four minutes.
16. What if a man forgets to recline?
- If he had in mind to drink another cup, he should do so immediately without speaking. If he accidentally spoke, he should not repeat any brachos before drinking again.
- If he did not have in mind to drink another cup, he should not drink again.
17. May one eat after Kiddush?
A healthy person should not eat any food before the meal except for the karpas. A sick or weak person may eat a small amount of food after Kiddush, except a vegetable. He should recite an after-b’racha before continuing with urchatz. Children may eat any amount of food, but not a vegetable.
18. May one drink after Kiddush?
One may have any drinks other than wine and grape juice between Kiddush and urchatz. Before Kiddush, one should have this in mind, and preferably place the drink on the table. The b’racha shehakol should not be recited over the drink. If he did not have this drink in mind, he should restrict himself to water, and recite the b’racha shehakol.
Urchatz – Wash the hands
19. Why are the hands washed now?
Although the meal is not yet served, the hands must be washed before eating the karpas. The reason is that one is required to wash hands without a b’racha before eating a food that has been rinsed or dipped in a liquid and is still moist. Some people are lenient about this throughout the year, relying on the opinions that say that this was necessary only in the time of the Temple. On the seder night everyone is particular to fulfill this mitzvah, since it is a time of extreme holiness. In addition, the children will notice something unusual and will be aroused to ask questions.
20. Who should wash hands at urchatz?
All the participants should wash their hands. In some families, only the leader of the seder washes his hands. Some have the custom that the leader of the seder has his hands washed by one of the children, in order to show freedom and royalty.
21. How should the hands be washed?
All the rules regarding washing for bread apply (e.g. removal of rings), except that a b’racha is not recited.
22. What if a person mistakenly recited the b’racha?
A person who recited the b’racha on the washing of the hands should eat a kezayis of karpas. Even though this quantity is eaten, an after-b’racha should not be recited.
23. Is it permitted to talk after washing the hands?
Care should be taken not to speak after the washing until the karpas is eaten, unless the talking is connected to the performance of the mitzvah.
Karpas – Eat the vegetable
24. Why do we eat karpas?
In order to stimulate the children to ask questions, since it is unusual to eat vegetables before the meal. The letters of the word karpas (כרפס) when reversed read,ס’ פרך alluding to the 600,000 Jews (ס’) who toiled in hard labor.(פרך)
25. Why is the karpas dipped in salt water?
This is also one of the four questions asked by the child (ma nishtana). One answer is to stimulate the children to ask questions by doing something unusual. Another answer is that we dip in order to demonstrate our freedom, since it is the manner of royalty to eat their food in this way.
26. Who should dip the karpas?
There is no standard custom. Some find it convenient for the leader of the seder to dip several pieces of karpas into salt water before distributing them.
27. How much karpas should be distributed?
Each person should be given a piece less than a kezayis, i.e. less than 30cc.
28. Should one hold the karpas with a fork or with one’s fingers?
The karpas should be held with one’s fingers, since according to some opinions there would be no requirement to wash one’s hands when eating with a fork. This is particularly important for those who use potato for karpas.
29. Who should recite the b’racha over the karpas?
The main custom is for each person to recite his own b’racha.
30. What should one think about before reciting the b’racha over the karpas?
Before reciting the b’racha borei p’ri ha’adamah, one should have in mind that this b’racha should include the maror that will be eaten later in the seder.
31. Should one recline when eating the karpas?
One is not obligated to recline but one may. The prevalent custom is to eat it without reclining.
32. What should be done with the remaining karpas?
It may be removed, but some have the custom to leave a piece of karpas on the seder plate until the meal. The salt water may be removed.
Yachatz – Break the middle matzo
33. Why is the middle matzo broken?
The Torah refers to matzo as ‘the bread of the poor’ (Devarim 16: 3), and a poor man usually eats pieces of bread, being unable to afford a whole loaf. The middle matzo is chosen since the special b’racha recited on the matzo (al achilas matzo) refers specifically to this matzo.
34. What should be done with the two pieces?
The smaller piece is returned to the seder plate and the larger one is wrapped up in a cloth and put aside to use as afikoman. The smaller piece should be at least a kezayis, and it is therefore advisable to select a large matzo for the middle matzo.
35. What if the larger piece will not provide the minimum quantity of matzo for afikoman for all of the participants?
Since this piece is usually not sufficient for all the participants, extra pieces of matzo should be prepared specifically for the afikoman.
36. Why do the children hide the afikoman?
It is a custom for the children to take the afikoman and hide it when the leader of the seder is not watching. This is to encourage the children to remain awake until the end of the meal when the afikoman is eaten.
Maggid – Relate the story of the Haggadah
37. What should one think about before beginning the narrative of the Haggadah?
Everyone should have in mind to fulfill the obligation to relate the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The mitzvah is fulfilled by relating three basic ideas:
- The wickedness of the Egyptians and the terrible sufferings that they afflicted upon the Jewish people during the long years of slavery.
- The miraculous plagues that Hashem brought upon the Egyptians, and the punishments meted out to them measure for measure.
- Thanks and praise to Hashem for the wonderful acts of kindness that He performed for the Jewish people, redeeming them from bondage and choosing them as His special nation.
All these aspects are elaborated upon during the recital of the Haggadah.
38. What if a person does not understand the text of the Haggadah?
The mitzvah is not fulfilled by mere recital of the Haggadah if the words are not understood. Those who are not familiar with Hebrew are strongly advised to spend time before Pesach studying the Haggadah, in order to turn the seder night into a deep and meaningful experience. It is a tragedy that so many people expend vast amounts of time and energy in preparing the house for Pesach, but are unable to find meaning and joy at the seder night. In any event, the leader of the seder must ensure that everyone understands at least the most essential sections of the narrative.
39. Which sections of the narrative are the most important?
- The ten plagues.
- From the section that begins ‘Rabbi Gamliel used to say’ until the second cup is drunk.
40. Must everyone recite the Haggadah or may one just listen?
Either method is acceptable as long as one understands what is being said. Most people follow the custom to recite the Haggadah if they are fluent in Hebrew.
41. Should anything be held when saying ‘ha lachma anya’?
The leader of the seder should hold the broken middle matzo and show it to everyone. Some have the custom to hold all three matzos, while some have the custom to hold the entire seder plate with the matzos.
42. What is done after saying ‘ha lachma anya’?
- The matzos should be removed from the table, or at least moved away from the leader of the seder. This is to arouse the interest of the children who should ask why the food has been removed before eating any of it. The father will then reply that we may not eat the meal until we relate the story of the Exodus.
- The second cup of wine is filled. This too should motivate the children to ask why we are having more wine before the meal.
- From this point until the second cup is drunk, it is forbidden to have any food or drink. Children may eat and drink freely.
43. Who should say ma nishtana?
The custom is for the youngest child capable of asking the questions to do so. If the child is hesitant, his father may assist him. If there are no children present, his wife or any of the participants should ask the four questions.
44. Should everyone repeat ma nishtana before continuing the Haggadah?
This is unnecessary, but some have the custom to do so.
45. What is done after saying ma nishtana?
The matzos should be returned to their place in front of the leader of the seder and left uncovered during the narrative. The story of the slavery and Exodus is now related in detail.
46. How much time should be spent on narrating the story of the Exodus?
For most people it is sufficient to recite the standard text of the Haggadah pausing occasionally to elaborate on the essential sections. Analyses of the text are out of place at this stage, and a person should quote Midrashim and commentaries that describe the slavery and the miracles. It is important to explain the story to the participants according to the level of their understanding. In particular, one should try to hold the attention of the children during the narrative by describing the story as vividly as possible. One should keep an eye on the time, since every effort must be made to eat the afikoman before halachic midnight. As a rough guide, one should complete the narrative of the Haggadah and drink the second cup of wine approximately two hours before halachic midnight. If there is time to spare, one may expound on the story during the meal.
47. Does a convert recite the entire narrative?
Although some parts of the story do not seem to apply to a convert (e.g. we were slaves etc.), he should say the entire narrative. The reason is that his Jewish soul was enslaved in Egypt.
48. Should one recline during the narrative?
No, one should sit upright with awe and respect.
49. When does one spill out drops of wine?
- When saying the wordsדם, ואש, ותמרות עשן .
- When enumerating the ten plagues.
- When saying the three acronymsדצ”ך, עד”ש and באח”ב.
Thus a total of sixteen drops are spilled.
50. How should the wine be spilled?
Using the index finger. Some have a custom to use the little finger and some use the ring finger. If a person is too sensitive to use his finger, he should spill out the drops by tilting the cup.
51. What should one think about when spilling the wine?
That Hashem should protect us from such terrible plagues and bring them upon our enemies.
52. What should be done with the spilled wine?
It should be thrown away, since an impure spirit rests on it. For this reason, one should not use shmitta wine.
53. Should the cups be refilled?
If necessary they should be refilled before saying ‘Rabbi Gamliel etc.’
54. Should anything be held when saying ‘This matzo etc.’?
Yes, the leader of the seder should hold up the broken middle matzo.
55. Should anything be held when saying ‘This maror etc.’?
Yes, the leader of the seder should hold up the maror.
56. Should anything be held when saying ‘The korban Pesach etc.’?
No. The shankbone is not held, since this would appear as if he is dedicating it as the korban Pesach. However, the custom is to look at the shankbone.
57. What should one think about when saying the paragraph ‘In every generation etc’?
He should try to visualize himself in Egypt enduring harsh slavery, and then being redeemed miraculously by Hashem.
58. When should the wine be held?
If possible, the wine should be held from the start of the paragraph ‘Therefore we are obligated to thank etc.’ until the wine is drunk. The matzos should be covered during this time. If it will be difficult to hold the wine for this length of time, one should hold the wine from the start of hallel. If this is also difficult, it is sufficient to hold the wine from the start of the b’racha ‘asher ga’alanu’.
59. What should one think before drinking the wine?
- To fulfill the mitzvah of drinking the second of the four cups of wine.
- If he intends to drink wine or grape juice during the meal, he should have in mind to include it with the b’racha recited on this second cup (see question 172).
- Men should remember that they must recline when drinking the wine.
60. What if a man forgot to recline?
He should immediately drink another cup without a b’racha.
Rochtza – Wash the hands
61. Why are the hands washed again now?
Although the hands were washed at the beginning of the seder (urchatz), they are now washed again before eating the matzo. The b’racha al netilas yadayim is recited. If a person is sure that his hands have not become tamei since the first washing, he should deliberately make his hands tamei before washing now. This can be done by touching one’s shoes or scratching one’s scalp.
62. What should be done before washing the hands?
- The leader of the seder should announce that one may not speak after washing the hands until after korech, unless it concerns the mitzvos.
- He should inform everyone about the next few steps of the seder, and tell them the relevant laws.
- Each person should be given a piece of matzo weighing at least 25 grams in preparation for the mitzvah of eating matzo (see question 19). Children may be given 10 grams each.
- The steps rochtza, motzi, and matzo should be announced.
- Some have the custom to ask one of the children to wash the hands of the father, in order to demonstrate freedom and royalty.
Motzi, Matzo – Two brachos are recited on the matzo
63. What should one think about before the brachos are recited?
- The leader of the seder should have in mind to include everyone else with his brachos.
- Everyone else should have in mind to fulfill his obligation by listening to the brachos.
- To fulfill the Torah mitzvah to eat matzo on the first night of Pesach.
- The brachos should also apply to the korech and afikoman.
- The men should remember to recline while eating the matzo.
64. Should the matzos be covered with a cloth?
Yes, they should be covered while the b’racha of hamotzi is recited.
65. Why are two brachos recited over the matzos?
The first b’racha is the regular b’racha of hamotzi recited over bread or matzo. The second b’racha – al achilas matzo – is recited for the mitzvah of eating matzo on the night of Pesach.
66. Which matzos are held?
All three matzos should be held for the first b’racha, after which the lowest matzo is released. The remaining two matzos are held for the second b’racha.
67. How should the matzos be broken?
Ideally, the two matzos should be broken simultaneously.
68. How should the matzos be distributed?
- The leader of the seder should take for himself 15 grams from the top matzo and 15 grams from the middle one. Both pieces should be eaten together.
- Everyone else should be given a small piece from the top matzo in addition to the prepared piece of 25 grams that was distributed before washing . Both pieces should be eaten together.
69. Should the matzo be dipped in salt?
The main custom is not to dip it in salt.
70. How quickly should the matzo be eaten?
As quickly as possible, but in no more than two minutes. If this is difficult, it may be eaten within four minutes. This is measured from the time that one begins to swallow the matzo. One should nevertheless not eat in a state of frenzy or with voracity, but rather with dignity and joy as one fulfills the commandment of Hashem.
71. What if one’s mouth is too dry to swallow the matzo?
One may drink a little water with it to facilitate swallowing.
72. What if a man forgot to recline while eating the matzo?
He must eat another kezayis while reclining. No b’racha is recited, but care should be taken not to speak before eating this matzo.
73. What if one ate the matzo without intention to fulfill the mitzvah?
One should eat another kezayis with the correct intention. No b’racha is recited. In chutz la’aretz on the second night, one is not required to eat another kezayis.
Maror – Eat the bitter herbs
74. How much maror should be eaten?
- If lettuce is used, one should eat a quantity that covers an area of 8” by 6” (20cm x 15cm).
- If grated horseradish is used, one should eat 27cc if possible. If this is difficult, it is sufficient to eat 17cc (approx. one heaped tablespoon).
75. May one combine lettuce and horseradish to make the required amount?
Since both are suitable species, one may combine them. Some have the custom to do this in order to feel some bitter taste, since the lettuce is not usually bitter.
76. How quickly should the maror be eaten?
As quickly as possible, but in no more than four minutes. This is measured from the time that one begins to swallow.
77. Why is the maror dipped in charoses?
Certain species of maror contain a dangerously bitter juice, and in order to neutralize this the maror is dipped into sweet charoses. In addition, the charoses is a reminder of the mortar used by the Jewish slaves.
78. Is thick charoses suitable for dipping?
Although the charoses is initially made thick to resemble mortar, it should be diluted considerably at this stage by adding more wine, making it suitable for dipping. The wine is also a reminder of the Jewish blood that was spilled copiously during the years of hard labor.
79. Should the entire portion of maror be dipped in charoses?
No, it is sufficient to dip some of it.
80. Who should recite the b’racha for the maror?
The custom is for each person to recite his own b’racha.
81. What should one think about before reciting the b’racha of al achilas maror?
- The b’racha should also apply to the korech.
- To fulfill the rabbinic mitzvah of eating maror.
82. What if one ate the maror without the intention to fulfill the mitzvah?
He should preferably eat another kezayis.
83. Should one recline while eating maror?
One does not recline, since the maror is a reminder of slavery and not of freedom.
84. What if a person is chokingח”ו over the horseradish?
He should immediately drink some hot water. This is a proven remedy.
Korech – Eat the sandwich of matzo and maror
85. Why do we eat matzo and maror together?
Although the vast majority of Sages said that matzo and maror should be eaten separately, it was the opinion of Hillel that they should be eaten together. On the seder night, we wish to fulfill both opinions and therefore we eat them first separately and then together.
86. Which matzo should be used?
The bottom matzo. Since this is usually not sufficient for everyone, the leader of the seder should distribute to each person a small piece from this matzo and supplement it with other matzo to make the required quantity.
87. How much matzo should be used for korech?
Each person should have 15 grams.
88. How much maror should be used for korech?
The same as for maror.
89. Should the maror be dipped in charoses?
There are different customs, but the main custom is to dip it.
90. Should the maror be placed on the matzo or between two pieces of matzo?
The custom is to place the maror between two pieces of matzo.
91. Is a b’racha recited over the korech?
No, but a paragraph is said beginning with the words זכר למקדש כהלל. Although some opinions prefer the recital of this paragraph after eating the korech, the widespread custom is to recite it before eating the korech.
92. How quickly should the korech be eaten?
As quickly as possible, but in no more than four minutes. This is measured from the time one begins to swallow.
93. Should a man recline when eating the korech?
94. What if he forgot to recline?
He does not need to eat another korech.
Shulchan Orech – Eat the Yom Tov meal
95. What should be served first?
The egg from the seder plate is distributed, dipped in salt water by some. Others do not eat this egg. Some have the custom to serve additional eggs.
96. Why are eggs eaten at the meal?
See Preparations for the Seder question 42 .
97. Should fish be served?
Some have a custom to eat fish, as a reminder that Hashem miraculously provided the Jewish women with fish, when they drew water for their exhausted husbands in Egypt.
98. Are there any restrictions relating to the meal?
- Roast meat or poultry should not be served (see question 65). The shankbone should also not be eaten.
- One should not eat excessively. Overeating may cause drowsiness and one will not be able to conclude the seder successfully. One must also remain with some appetite for the afikoman at the end of the meal.
- One must leave sufficient time after the meal to eat the afikoman before halachic midnight.
- If a dessert is served, one should avoid a fruit whose b’racha is borei p’ri ha’adamah since this raises a doubt whether the b’racha over the karpas includes such a dessert.
99. Should a man recline during the meal?
It is praiseworthy to do so, but not a requirement. Most men do not, since today we are not accustomed to recline, and it is difficult to eat comfortably and joyously in such a position.
100. Should one drink wine during the meal?
According to some opinions, it is a mitzvah to drink some wine during the meal in honor of Yom Tov.
101. Does the charoses require a b’racha if eaten during the meal?
- If the charoses is eaten together with matzo or other food, a b’racha is not required.
- If it is eaten on its own, a b’racha is required. If the fruit is recognizable the b’racha is borei pri ha’eitz, but if the fruit is not recognizable, the b’racha is shehakol.
Tzafun – Eat the afikoman
102. What does ‘afikoman’ mean?
It means dessert. The last item of food eaten at the seder meal is a piece of matzo called the afikoman. The word ‘tzafun’ means hidden, since the matzo is put away at the beginning of the seder, and reserved for afikoman.
103. Why is afikoman eaten?
In the days of the Temple, the last item of food eaten at the seder meal was the korban Pesach. Today, matzo is eaten instead, as a reminder of the korban Pesach.
104. Which matzo is eaten?
The piece of the broken middle matzo that was put aside at the beginning of the seder. Since this is usually not sufficient for everyone, the leader of the seder should distribute to each person a small piece from this matzo and supplement it with other matzo to make the required quantity.
105. How much matzo should be eaten?
If possible, each person should eat two kezaysim (30 grams). If this is difficult, he may eat one kezayis (15 grams).
106. Why are two kezaysim required?
In the days of the Temple, the korban Pesach was eaten together with matzo. Therefore, we eat one kezayis of matzo to remind us of the korban Pesach and another kezayis to remind us of the matzo that was eaten together with the korban Pesach.
107. Is a b’racha recited over the afikoman?
No, but one should have in mind to fulfill the mitzvah of eating the afikoman. Before eating the afikoman, some have a custom to recite a description of how the korban Pesach was prepared and eaten.
108. Should a man recline when eating the afikoman?
109. What if he forgot to recline?
- If he has not yet washed his hands for mayim acharonim, he should eat another afikoman if this is not too difficult.
- If he has already washed hands for mayim acharonim, he should not eat another afikoman.
110. What is the latest time for eating afikoman?
Effort should be made to eat the afikoman before halachic midnight. Nevertheless, if this time passed, the afikoman should still be eaten.
111. What if the afikoman cannot be found?
Other shmura matzo should be eaten instead.
112. What if one forgot to eat the afikoman?
- If he has not yet bensched, he should eat the afikoman immediately. This is even if he has already washed mayim acharonim.
- If he has bensched but not yet drunk the third cup of wine, he should wash hands without a b’racha, recite hamotzi, eat the afikoman and bensch again.
- If he has already drunk the third cup of wine, he should proceed as in the previous case, except that he should bensch without a cup of wine. This should be done even if he has already drunk the fourth cup of wine.
113. May one eat anything else after the afikoman?
No, the afikoman must be the last food eaten at the seder, so that the taste remains in the mouth for the rest of the evening.
114. What if a person ate something after the afikoman?
He must eat another afikoman if possible.
115. May one drink anything after the afikoman?
Aside from the last two cups of wine one may drink water. Indeed, it is recommended to drink water after the afikoman if one is thirsty, since a person should not bensch while he is thirsty. One should preferably refrain from any other drinks, but in a case of great need one may drink tea, seltzer or mildly flavored soda. Coffee should not be drunk.
Barech – Bensch
116. When is the third cup of wine poured?
Before bensching. If necessary, the cups should first be rinsed.
117. Should one wash hands for mayim acharonim?
Even if a person is lenient about this during the year, he should be particular to wash hands for mayim acharonim at the seder, since it is a night of extreme holiness.
118. Who should lead the bensching?
If there are three men present, the custom is for the head of the household to lead the zimun. If there is an important visitor, he may be given this honor.
119. What should one think before bensching?
- To fulfill the Torah mitzvah of bensching.
- To fulfill the rabbinic mitzvah of drinking the third of the four cups of wine.
120. Should everyone hold the wine during bensching?
According to some opinions, everyone should hold the wine. According to other opinions, this is necessary only when there is no zimun.
121. When may the wine be put down?
Ideally, the wine should be held throughout the entire bensching until it is drunk. If this is difficult, it may be put down after ‘al yechasreinu’, and picked up again before reciting the b’racha over the wine.
122. Should a man recline when drinking the wine?
123. What if he forgot to recline?
He should not drink again.
124. What if a person forgot to say ya’aleh ve’yavo (or retzei on Shabbos)?
If he began the fourth b’racha, he must repeat bensching. If he realized after drinking the wine, he should repeat bensching with another cup of wine. However, the wine should not be drunk after bensching, but should be used for the fourth cup.
125. What is done after drinking the third cup?
- The cups are refilled with wine.
- An extra cup is filled, known as the cup of Eliyahu Hanavi. (Some have the custom to fill this cup before bensching.)
- The door is opened and the paragraphשפוך חמתך is recited. (Some have the custom to fill the fourth cup after this paragraph.)
126. Who should fill the cup of Eliyahu Hanavi?
The custom is for the leader of the seder to fill it. It should be a large and especially beautiful cup.
127. What is the meaning of this cup?
- It is a symbol of faith, that just as Hashem redeemed the Jewish people from the slavery in Egypt, so too will He send Eliyahu Hanavi to announce the final redemption from exile.
- It represents the fifth cup of wine corresponding to the fifth expression of redemption – “I will bring you to the promised land” (Shemos 6: 8). Since there is a dispute whether this cup should be drunk, it is left until Eliyahu Hanavi can give us the final ruling.
128. What should be done with the wine from the cup of Eliyahu Hanavi?
Many have the custom to leave it covered on the table overnight and use it for Kiddush on Yom Tov morning. Others pour it back into the bottle.
129. Why is the door opened for שפוך חמתך?
In order to remember that Hashem protects the Jewish people on this night. In the merit of our faith in Hashem, we hope to be worthy to witness the coming of Moshiach, and the punishment of the nations who deny the existence of Hashem.
130. Is שפוך חמתך recited sitting or standing?
The custom is to recite it while standing.
Hallel – Recite the hallel
131. What should one think before reciting hallel?
To fulfill the mitzvah of reciting hallel.
132. Are women and children obligated to recite hallel?
Women are obligated to remain at the seder for hallel and the fourth cup of wine. Children (aged five or six) should be encouraged to do so if possible.
133. Should one leave matzo on the table during hallel?
Some have the custom to do so.
134. Should one hold the cup of wine during hallel?
If possible, it is preferable for everyone to hold the cup during hallel until the wine is drunk. When reaching the verse ‘I shall raise the cup of salvation’, the cup should be raised slightly.
135. Should one recline during hallel?
No. One should sit upright with awe and respect.
136. Should any verses be recited responsively?
If there are at least three people present, including one’s wife and children, the verses ofהודו and אנא should be said responsively, as is done in shul. The leader of the seder should recite these verses and the others should respond.
137. What is the correct order for the different sections of the hallel?
The regular hallel is followed by twenty-six lines ofכי לעולם חסדו and then by .נשמת There are different customs about when to say the paragraphיהללוך . The main Ashkenaz custom is to recite it in its usual place after the regular hallel, but without the concluding b’racha. The paragraphישתבח is concluded with the regular conclusion of hallel, i.e.מלך מהולל בתשבחות . Some have the custom to conclude ישתבח in the same way that it is said during shacharis.
138. What if one mistakenly concluded יהללוך with its b’racha?
He should continue as usual, but the paragraph ofישתבח should not be concluded with a b’racha (i.e. stop before the word ברוך).
139. What should one think before drinking the fourth cup?
To fulfill the mitzvah of drinking the last of the four cups. Effort should be made to drink a reviyis in order to recite the after-b’racha.
140. Should a man recline when drinking the fourth cup?
141. What if he forgot to recline?
He should not drink again.
142. Should everyone recite the after-b’racha al hagefen?
This b’racha is recited only if one drinks a reviyis. When reciting the b’racha, one should have in mind that it also applies to all the other three cups of wine.
143. What if a person is unable to drink a reviyis?
- If he drank a reviyis for the third cup of wine, he should recite the b’racha al hagefen.
- If he did not drink a reviyis for either the third or fourth cup, he should listen to someone else who is reciting the b’racha and have in mind to be included.
144. What if one forgot to include חג המצות in al hagefen (or רצה on Shabbos)?
The b’racha should not be repeated.
145. Is there a time limit for the fourth cup?
According to some opinions, one should try to drink the fourth cup before halachic midnight.
Nirtzah – The Seder is accepted
146. Is one obligated to say the final part of the Haggadah?
After the paragraphחסל סידור פסח , the final part of the Haggadah comprises songs of praise to Hashem. Since these songs were added later, a person who is completely exhausted is not obligated to say them.
147. What is the meaning of the song ‘chad gadya’?
This song should not be understood literally. It is explained by some of the greatest commentaries as an allegorical story imbued with hidden meanings and deep secrets. The Vilna Gaon interprets the song to be a detailed account of the history of the Jewish people from the days of Yaakov Avinu until the time of Moshiach.
148. Why do some people recite Shir Hashirim after the seder?
According to the Midrash, Shir Hashirim is an allegorical song describing the mutual devotion between Hashem and the Jewish people. Many of the verses refer to the miraculous Exodus from Egypt.
149. May one retire to bed immediately after the seder?
There is a mitzvah to remain awake as long as possible to study the laws of Pesach and to continue relating the miracles of the Exodus. If a person is overcome by sleep he is exempt. Similarly, if he will not be able to daven shacharis properly without a good night’s sleep, he may retire to bed.
150. Should one recite the entire bedtime shema?
The custom is to recite only the first paragraph of shema and the b’racha hamapil. The reason is that the remaining verses are usually said as a protection from danger. On the seder night, this is unnecessary, since it is a night of Divine protection.
In the merit of our fulfillment of the mitzvos of the seder, may Hashem watch over and protect the entire Jewish nation, and speedily bring Moshiach and the final redemption.
Second seder in Chutz La’aretz
151. Are there any differences at the second seder in chutz la’aretz?
- The seder table must not be arranged until nightfall. If it is motzai Shabbos, the women should say boruch hamavdil bein kodesh lekodesh before beginning any work.
- When reciting the Haggadah and when eating the matzo, one should have in mind to fulfill a rabbinic mitzvah.
- For the first kezayis of matzo one may be lenient to eat 15 grams (see question 21). Nevertheless, the leader of the seder should eat 15 grams from the top matzo and 15 grams from the middle matzo. A sick or elderly person may be lenient to eat 10 grams if necessary (see question 19).
- Some have the custom not to hurry to eat the afikoman before halachic midnight.
- One may have any non-intoxicating drinks after the afikoman.
- One may retire to bed immediately after the seder.
152. Should a visitor from chutz la’aretz conduct a second seder in Eretz Yisroel?
Yes. The seder should be conducted exactly the same way as in chutz la’aretz.
153. Should a visitor from Eretz Yisroel join the second seder in chutz la’aretz?
- If he is living alone or with close family, he is not required to participate in the second seder.
- If he is living with close family but there are other visitors present, or he is living with other people, he is required to participate in the second seder.
154. How should such a visitor participate in the second seder?
He should participate fully in the entire seder, except that he should not recite the following brachos.:
- Kiddush (indeed he must recite havdalah in private before the seder begins).
- Borei p’ri hagafen on the second and fourth cups of wine.
- Asher ga’alanu on the second cup of wine.
- Al achilas matzo and al achilas maror.
- The b’racha at the conclusion of hallel (i.e. yishtabach).
Instead, he should ask one of the participants to include him with these brachos. According to some opinions, he should recite the b’racha al hagefen after the first cup and recite borei p’ri hagafen on the second cup.