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"In every generation, each person must feel as if he personally had come out of Mitzrayim (Egypt), as the Torah says: "You should tell your child on that day, 'When I left Mitzrayim, Hashem did miracles for me .....' "
.............[The Pesach Haggadah]

NOTE: This is just a very basic introduction. There are many complex laws regarding Pesach, and a competent authority should be consulted with any questions.


Seder Tray
It is customary to use our most beautiful silver, dishes and tableware. At the head of the table, in front of the person leading the Seder, is the Seder plate and a matza bag that holds the three matzot. Seder TrayOthers use a Seder plate that looks like a three-tiered structure that holds three matzot with a place for 6 items on its roof.

The 6 items have special meanings.

  1. Z'ro'a - A Roasted Bone (roasted chicken wing or shank bone) to remind us of the Pesach offering that was brought in the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) on the afternoon before Pesach. Its meat was roasted and eaten at the Seder meal. (We may not eat the z’roa (or any roasted meat) at the Seder because it would seem like we are eating the meat of a Korban offering, which we may only do when we have the Beit HaMikdash). The word z’roa means “arm.” This reminds us that with an “outstretched arm” Hashem took us out of Egypt


  2. Beitzah - A roasted hardboiled egg to remind us of the Chagigah (Festival offering) that was brought in addition to the Pesach offering, on the afternoon before Pesach.and its meat was also roasted and eaten at the Seder Meal.
    Eating an egg is the classic sign of mourning. It is the first meal that a mourner eats after a funeral. At the Seder the egg reminds us that, although we are celebrating our freedom, we still mourn the loss of our Beit HaMikdash and our consequent inability to offer the Korban Pesach (Paschal sacrifice). This is especially significant in light of the fact that the first Seder night always falls out on the same night of the week as Tisha B’Av (9th of Av) – the day of destruction of our Beit HaMikdash. It is also an exhibition of mourning for Avraham Avinu who passed away erev Pesach.
    Furthermore, according to the Chasam Sofer, eating an egg is a reminder that the more the Egyptians "cooked" us, the stronger we became. The egg is an anomaly. Most foods become softer the longer they are cooked. The egg, on the other hand, becomes harder. So the Jewish people, the more they oppress us, the stronger we become. The egg also represents birth. Thus, we eat an egg on Pesach to recall that it is the night of the birth of the Jewish people.

  3. Maror

  4. Chazeret

    Two types of bitter herbs (vegetables).

    We eat bitter herbs twice during the Seder.

    1. once by themselves as MAROR
    2. the second time with matzah as KORECH

    Two kinds of bitter vegetables are placed on the Seder plate. Most people use romaine lettuce (whole leaves or the stalks) and raw horseradish (whole or grated). Either may be used for MAROR or KORECH.

  5. Charoset - a mixture of ground apples, nuts, ginger, cinnamon, and red sweet wine. The look and feel of mortar symbolizes the bricks and mortar which we were forced to use when we were slaves in Egypt. We dip the Maror into the Charoset.

  6. Karpas - A vegetable, other than maror, (most use boiled potato, celery or parsley), which is dipped into salt water and eaten.

    To remind ourselves of the sweat and tears we shed as slaves, we place a bowl of the salt water near the Seder plate. It should be prepared before Yom Tov.


We take three whole Matzot and place them one above the other, either in a napkin/matza cover or in a special compartment under the Seder plate.
The three Matzot represent the three categories of the Jewish people; Kohain, Levi and Yisroel. They also represent our three Fathers - Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov in whose merit we were taken out of Egypt.

In addition to the three matzot, we should prepare an extra supply of matzah so that each person will be able to eat at least the minimum required amount, each time matzah is eaten at the Seder.

We eat Matzah at least three times during the Seder,

  1. By itself as MATZAH
  2. With MARROR as KORECH
  3. By itself as TZAFUN (the Afikoman), at the end of the meal.

These three portions should be MATZAH SHMURAH, a special matzah made from wheat that was designated for the mitzvah of matzah and was guarded against moisture from the moment it was cut from the field. During the rest of the meal, and Pesach for that matter, any matzah especially prepared for Pesach may be eaten.


At the Seder, everyone drinks four cups of wine from their own wine cup. At the end of KADDESH, MAGGID, BARECH, and HALLEL sections of the Haggadah, each person is obligated to drink a cup of wine. The wine cup, should hold a minimum of 98cc (3.3 oz.).

Though red wine is preferable, if someone is not able to tolerate wine, they may use grape juice instead. Either way, red is preferred. Red alludes to the blood spilled by Pharaoh, the blood of the first Plague, and the blood the Jews put on their doorposts. It is preferable to drink the entire cup or at least most of the cup.

There are many reasons given for the drinking of four cups of wine on the Seder night, one of which is;

Four different terms of deliverance are cited in the book of Shemot (Exodus) (6:6-7).

"...and I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from your bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments. And I will take you to me for a people..."
"Vehotzeti, Vehitzalti, Vega'alti, Velakachti,

RECLINING We are required to lean to our left side, during the drinking of the wine and eating of the matza, as a symbol of freedom. Like the olden days, when rich people used to lounge on pillows and special couches.

We are supposed to act in a way that shows majesty and freedom - therefore, each person's cup is filled by someone else.

As they represent slavery, we do not lean when we eat the maror (bitter herbs).



The text of the Pesach Seder is written in the Haggadah.

The Pesach Seder consists of 15 steps conducted in an organized way throughout the evening so that all the mitzvot of Pesach will be performed properly. The steps were named either by Rashi - Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (ben Yitzchak) in the 11th century or by one of the French Baalei Tosefot, Rav Shmuel of Falaise.

The ORDER of the Seder is:


Recite the Kiddush.


Wash the hands before eating Karpas.


Eat a vegetable dipped in salt water.


Break the middle matzah and hide half for Afikoman.


Tell the Pesach story.


Wash the hands before eating matzah.

Motzi Matzah

Say Hamotzi and the special bracha for the matzah and then eat the matzah.


Eat the bitter herbs.


Eat a sandwich of matzah and marror.

Shulchan Orech

Serve and eat a festive meal.


Eat the Afikoman.


Recite Birchat Hamazon (Grace after Meals).


Recite the Hallel (Psalms of praise).


Pray that Hashem accepts our mitzva.

We recite the Kiddush over wine and drink the first cup of wine while seated and reclining on the left side.

We also recite the Shehechiyanu bracha (blessing) thanking Hashem for bringing us to this day.

We wash our hands, by pouring water from a cup, twice on each hand, beginning with the right, as if washing for matzah, however we do NOT make a bracha, in preparation for eating the Karpas.

Urechatz falls into the category of some of the strange things we do at the Seder in order to perk up the curiosity of the youngsters.

We take a small piece of karpas, (potato or other vegetable other than marror), and dip in salt water.

We then make the bracha "borei-pri-ha'adama," (keeping in mind that the bracha also apply to the marror, to be eaten later), and eat the vegetable. Dipping into salt water reminds us of the salty tears and sweat we shed during our long bondage in Egypt. Like Urechatz, this strange doing will also prompt the "why"'s.

(Split the Matzah)
We break the middle matzah in two, wrapping the larger portion and putting it aside for later use as the Afikoman.

This is what you kids have been waiting for.

They try to "steal" the Afikoman, and later negotiate a kings ransom for its return. Kids, Take my advice, don't ask for too much, you really don't have to eat that particular matzo for the Afikoman, any piece will do, so go easy.

(The Retelling)
A retelling of the story of the how Hashem saved us from slavery in Egypt and the first Pesach / Passover.

The head of the household explains the story so that everyone can understand.

This is the main part of the Seder: The discussion of the departure from Egypt and the meaning of Chairut (freedom). Though there is a formalized text, feel free (no pun intended) to ask any question you like.


(The Bread of
The first paragraph of Maggid describes the Matzah, with an invitation to all who are hungry to come and share our food. It is a custom that many families have at their Seder at least one guest who has nowhere else to go.

We pour the second cup of wine. before the Ma Nishtana.


(The Four
For a print version of the Ma Nishtana click here.

The youngest person at the Seder table asks the 4 questions.

  • Why is this night different from all other nights?

  • On all other nights we eat all kinds of chametz or matzah, why do we eat only matzoh tonight?

  • On all other nights we eat any kinds of vegetables, why do we eat marror (bitter herbs), tonight?

  • On all other nights we don't usually dip one food into another, why tonight - twice? We dip the karpas vegetable in salt water and the maror in Charoset?

  • On all other nights we eat either sitting or leaning, why do we lean on a pillow tonight?



"Had Hashem not taken us out from Egypt, all of us would still be slaves to Pharoh."


Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were all sitting in Bnei Brak, retelling the story about the miracles of the redemption from slavery when one of their students came up and said, "It is morning and time to recite the Shema" (the prayer, "Hear O Israel the L-rd our G-d the L-rd is One").

All these men, sages who clearly knew the Redemption story inside and out, yet they spent the whole night talking about it. Not only that - they got so involved in the discussion that they didn't notice that it was already morning.

Rabbi Elazar Ben Azariah was a renown leader and scholar, who was elected Nassi (leader) of the Jewish people at the age of eighteen. The Sages feared that as such a young man, he would not be respected. Overnight, his hair turned grey and his beard grew so he looked as if he was 70 years old.

The four sons in the Haggadah represent the four main types of people, a wise man, a wicked man, a simple man, and a man who does not know how to ask.

The wise man relates to the laws of Pesach in order to learn them; the wicked man dissociates himself from Bnei Yisroel (the community of Israel) and disdains the laws of Pesach; the simpleton wishes to know generally what is special about Pesach; and it is our duty to explain and interpret to he who does not know how to ask.

Why do we take out a little wine with our little finger as we repeat the Ten Plagues. The reason is that we don't want our cups to be full when we tell about other people's pain. It is wrong to rejoice when other people die - even bad people.

We have to remember that we are all Hashem's creations. Therefore we take off a little wine, a little of our happiness, for it could never be complete if it is at the expense of another.


As we approach the last part of Maggid, we reach the most important part of the reading of the Haggadah: Pointing out and explaining the three symbols of the night - PESACH, MATZAH and MARROR. We are told that if someone doesn't actively explain and mention the three above items, they have not fulfilled their obligation of the Seder night.

Pesach - Why did our ancestors eat an offering called Pesach when the Bait Hamikdash still stood? Because Pesach means, literally "to pass over." In Egypt, Hashem passed over the homes of the Jews when He killed the Egyptian firstborn.

Matzah - Why do we eat this Matzah? (pointing to the matzah) Because it reminds us that when the Jews left the slavery of Egypt they had no time to bake their bread. They took the raw dough on their journey and baked it in the hot desert sun into matzah.

Last and not least, Why do we eat Marror? Because Marror reminds us of the bitter and cruel way the Egyptians treated the Jewish people when they were slaves in Egypt.

The end of the recitation is followed by a bracha over the second cup of wine, drinking the second cup of wine while seated and reclining on the left side, and of course, IT'S CHOW TIME !!! But, NOT YET.....FIRST......

the Hands)

This time we wash our hands, by pouring water from a cup, twice on each hand, beginning with the right, and we DO make a bracha in preparation for eating the matzah. This is the standard procedure before eating Matzah at any meal.




(Make a bracha on and eat the matzah)
The head of the house raises all three matzot, making two brachot. The upper two matzot are then broken up and distributed.

To fulfill the Mitzvah of eating matzah on the Seder night, one should eat a kezayit (an amount whose volume equals that of an olive, approximately the volume equivalent of half an egg) from EACH of the top TWO matzot. That means we have to eat a LOT of matzah (you can do this by adding more to the original pieces that are distributed from the Hamotzi). Also - don't forget to eat it while reclining to the left and quickly. (WITHIN TWO TO NINE MINUTES).

Now the FUN begins

(Bitter Herbs)
Each person is given a half egg's volume of Marror dipped into the Charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, which symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews during their slavery. Shake off the charoset. Recite the bracha: "....on eating marror" and eat the maror.

When eating the Marror, which reminds us of the hard labor and bitter slavery, we do NOT recline.

We make a sandwich - using the bottom Matzah eaten in combination with Marror and Charoset.

Rabbi Hillel used to eat the marror together with matzah in a sandwich. In his honor, we eat some maror on a piece of matzah, with some charoset.

This time we eat while reclining to the left.

Of course, by now we are thoroughly ill as we get to...


The Meal
What were we doing until now???
Just kidding.

A festive meal is eaten. There are no particular requirements regarding what to eat at this meal, except to remember to leave a bit of room and appetite for the Afikoman which is eaten at the end of the meal.

Some families eat the hardboiled egg swimming in salt water as a first appetizer of this meal.

It is also customary NOT to eat dry-roasted meat during the Seder meal so as not to imply that we are bringing and eating a "replacement" pesach offering in these days that the Bait Hamikdash is not standing.

Eating the
"Tzafun" means "hidden". At this point it is time to eat the matzah which was "put away" for "dessert." The idea was to keep the children awake and attentive throughout the pre-meal proceedings, waiting for this part. Here they all "wake up" and "children" bargain for the return of the Afikoman and parents and/or guests have to ransom it back.

The Afikoman itself reminds us of the Pesach Lamb which was the last food eaten at the Seder.

It must be eaten before Cha'tzot (6 relative hours after nightfall) around midnight, because that is the deadline for eating the Pesach offering.

We need to get down ANOTHER kezayit (olive's volume) of matzah. Again, the Pesach Lamb was eaten on a FULL stomach, so too we eat the Afikoman, while leaning on the left side. After eating the Afikoman, we must not eat or drink anything except the last two Seder wine cups (or water).


The third cup of wine is poured, and Birchat Hamazon (Grace after Meals) is recited. As after any meal, the Birchat Hamazon is recited, thanking Hashem for all we have received. We add the special Pesach paragraph (Ya'aleh V'ya'vo).

At the end, a bracha is said over the third cup and it is drunk (literally) while reclining to the left side. (or is it falling over)?

The fourth cup is poured.

A fifth cup of wine is poured and placed on the Seder table. This is the Cup of Elijah, an offering for the Prophet Elijah. who will herald the Mosiach (Messiah), and is supposed to come on Pesach to do this.

At this point, the door to the home is opened for a while to invite the prophet Elijah in.

After the wine is poured, the door is opened. It is to express our faith in Hashem that on this night of "Layl Shimurim" nothing will happen to us; others say that it is to allow the prophet Elijah into the house.

There is another not-so-joyous reason for opening the door.

During the Middle Ages when Pesach was also the time for ritual-murder-accusations, Jews were accused of stealing Christian children in order to use their blood in baking of the Matzah. As absurd as it may sound, there were incidents as late as the 19th century resulting in riots and the murder of Jews.

From this source originated the custom to expose our table to all who wish to see.

While opening the door, we call upon Hashem to protect us and "Pour out Your rage on the nations that do not recognize you..."

There is a discussion in the Gemara (Talmud), as to whether a fifth cup should be drunk for the term of deliverance that follows the four terms mentioned above -

"And I will bring you to the land..." ("veheveti")

(Shemot 6:8)

Some rabbis, such as Rabbi Tarfon, used to drink a fifth cup on recitation of the Hallel in Eretz Israel and in Babylon. Today we pour out the fifth cup, which is the cup of Elijah.

We recite the Hallel service.

The Psalms of David that make up the Hallel service read on all of the Yomim Tovim are read in order to finish the evening with praises.

A bracha is then recited over the last cup of wine and it is drunk. (it or we?).

To Be
Accompanied by lively singing is the conclusion of the Seder. This very last section consists of a variety of songs which summarize the faith which has helped us survive until now

Of all the songs, the last, "Had Gadya" is the most famous. It is not just a simple folk song. There are very deep meanings to the song..

After this, we wish those all around the table that next Pesach we will all be in Yerushalayim. In Yerushalayim they say "Wishing to be next year in a REBUILT Yerushalayim," meaning in the peaceful era of the final Redemption, and NOT "Next Year in a Hotel in Miami Beach."

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