THE 15 STEPS OF THE SEDER
- Kadesh – The Blessings
Sit down to recite Kiddush over a glass of wine. This counts as the first of the Four Cups of wine. We say a special Shehechianu blessing which covers all the various mitzvot of Seder night.
Recline to your left and drink if not the full cup then at least a majority of the cup of wine.
- Urchatz – Wash Your Hands
Everyone washes their hands in the manner of washing for bread, but WITHOUT a blessing. It is customary to bring the leader of the Seder a bowl and cup so he can wash at the table.
- Karpas – The Opening “Dip”
Everyone should have a small piece of Karpas vegetable which they will dip into salt-water. Options include radish or potato. This symbolises spring, as Passover is the “holiday of spring”.
One should try not to eat too much (I know it’s difficult!).
Before eating, a blessing is recited and this blessing will also cover the Marror eaten later.
- Yachatz – Break the Middle Matzah
The leader of the Seder breaks the middle matzah in two. The smaller piece is put back in between the other two matzahs. The larger piece is wrapped up and becomes the Afikomen to be eaten right at the end of the Seder.
Traditionally the children should try to “steal” the Afikomen from the leader and hide it, so that they will be encouraged to remain awake till the end of the Seder when the Afikomen is needed.
- Maggid – Recounting the Exodus Story
Refer to your Haggadah book for a full list of what is customarily recited at this point. This is a list of titles to some of the popular highlights (refer to your Haggadah book for their full text).
Ha Lachma Anya – This is the Bread of Affliction
Uncover the three Matzahs and raise them for all to see whilst reciting the paragraph. Then cover the three Matzahs and pour the Second Cup of wine.
The Four Questions
It is customary for the youngest person at the Seder to recite the Four Questions.
Avadim Hayeenu – We Were Slaves
Uncover the three Matzahs before reciting this.
Vi-Hee She-Amda – G-d Redeemed Us
As an expression of joy, cover the three Matzahs and raise your wine glass while reciting this. Then uncover the three Matzahs and leave them uncovered for the duration of the Exodus story.
Dip your “pointer finger” in the wine and spill a total of 16 drops – three for “blood, fire and pillars of smoke,” ten for the plagues, and another three for the three-word mnemonic “detzach, adash, be-achav”. Every time one of these are mentioned, spill a drop. This reminds us that our cup of joy is not complete because people had to die for our salvation.
After all the drops have been spilled, the cup should be refilled.
Dayeinu – It Would Have Been Enough
It is customary to sing the Dayeinu paragraph responsively.
Pesach, Matzah, Marror – The Pascal Offering, Matzah, Bitter Herbs
Recite the paragraphs corresponding to the Pascal offering, Matza and Marror (bitter herbs). When you reach the Matzah paragraph, lift the Matzahs as you recite it. When you reach the Marror paragraph, point to the Marror on the Seder plate as you say recite it.
Lifikach and the Second Cup – Therefore We Give Praise
Cover the matzahs, raise the cup of wine, and recite the paragraphs of joy aloud and joyfully.
Keep the cup raised and make a blessing on the wine, drink at least a majority of the cup without interruption and don’t forget to recline to the left.
- Rachtza – Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands in the same manner as you did earlier at Urchatz, but this time recite the blessing usually recited when washing for bread.
It is customary to bring the leader of the Seder a bowl and cup so he can wash at the table. From this point onward, we try not to talk until we have eaten the matzah.
If you can, try not to get involved in any side-talk until after you’ve finished eating the Marror (bitter herbs) and the Korech sandwich (steps 7-9).
- Motzi – Making the First Blessing on the Matzah
The leader lifts all three Matzos from the Seder plate and recites the Hamotzi blessing.
- Matzah – Making the Second Blessing and Eating the Matzah
Aside for the regular Hamotzi blessing on bread, we recite a second blessing over matzah.
You may remember that on Shabbat we dip the Challah bread into salt. However, at the Seder we do not dip the matzah in salt, so that we can taste the matzah entirely by itself.
Make sure that everyone receives enough matzah. Each person should eat roughly two thirds of a square matzah, or one half of the hand-made round matzah.
Since there is probably not enough to give everyone the full amount from the leaders matzahs, give everyone at least a small piece of both these, supplementing it with other matzah.
Recline to your left and eat the Matzah without speaking and interruption.
- Marror – Bitter Herbs
You can use either pure horseradish (not “red horseradish” which is actually a mixture of beets and horseradish), or Romaine lettuce or a mixture of both. If horseradish is used, take 2 heaped tablespoonsful, if Romaine lettuce is used, take a couple of large leaves.
Dip the Marror into the Charoset as an “antiseptic” to dilute the harsh effects of the Marror.
Recite the blessing, which also relates to the Marror that what will be eaten in the “Korech- sandwich” coming up next.
Eat the Marror without interruption. You DO NOT recline while eating the Marror.
- Korech – Sandwich (of Matzah and Marror)
Take the bottom matzah (from the original three) and make a sandwich with the Marror.
For this use smaller amounts. Take one-third of a square matzah, or one-fourth of a round matzah, and one leaf of Romaine lettuce, or one heaped tablespoon of horseradish.
Dip the sandwich into the Charoset. There is no blessing. Recline to your left and eat the sandwich without interruption.
Say the paragraph of “Remembrance of the Temple.”
- Shulchan Orech – The Meal
What everyone has been waiting for, the festive Passover meal! We don’t serve roasted meat, to distinguish our meal from that of Temple times when the “Pascal lamb” was eaten roasted.
It is traditional to begin the meal with an egg, which symbolizes the Chagigah (Festival) offering which was offered in the Temple.
I know this may sound crazy, but for some families the Seder can last till 2 or 3 am. The actual meal should preferably end before midnight, in order to eat the Afikomen by that time.
Eat away but make sure to leave some room for our special Seder desert…
- Tzafon – The Afikomen Desert
For dessert, in case you haven’t had enough yet, we serve Matzah!
The leader should find the larger half of the Matzah that was broken in Step 4 and that the children hid and give everyone at least one small piece from it and make up the remainder from other matzahs.
Give each person roughly two thirds of a square matzah, or one half of a hand-made round matzah. If by this point it’s too difficult for you to eat that much, then eat half that amount.
The Afikomen is eaten while reclining to the left and without interruption.
This should be the last thing we eat tonight (aside for the remaining two cups of wine), unless you need a drink of water.
- Barech – Bless (“Grace After Meal”)
Fill each other’s wine glass for the Third Cup to drink at the conclusion of Grace.
The master of the house leads, but everyone lifts their wine glass and joins in reciting “Grace”.
After grace, make a blessing on the Third Cup of wine and don’t forget to recline to the left while drinking at least a majority of the cup.
Pour the Fourth Cup and also an extra cup for Elijah the Prophet.
Open the front door to the house and say Shefoch Chamascha (found in your Haggadah book).
- Hallel – Singing Praise
After closing the door, the Hallel prayers (praises of God) are recited while holding the Fourth Cup of Wine. Refer to your Haggadah book for the prayers.
At the conclusion of the Hallel prayers, the Fourth Cup of wine is drunk. Recite a blessing on the wine and don’t forget to recline to the left and drink at least a majority of the cup.
- Nirtza – The Conclusion
Sing songs like “Chad Gadya” and “Who Kows One”. Refer to your Haggadah book for a full list. We finish the Seder with the declaration “Next Year in Jerusalem.”