The Passover Seder:
1. Kadesh: Sanctifying the Wine
2. Ur’chatz: Washing the Hands
3. Karpas: Dipping the Vegetables
4. Yachatz: Breaking the Matzah
5. Maggid: Telling the Story
6. Rachtzah Netilat Yadayim: Hand Cleansing
7. Motzi Matzah: Eating Matzah
8. Maror: Eating the Bitter Herb
9. Korech: Eating the Hillel Sandwich
10. Shulchan Orech: Eating the Meal
11. Tzafun: Eating the Afikomen
12. Barech: Blessing After the Meal
13. Hallel: Songs of Praise
14. Nirtzah: Conclusion of the Seder
Overview of the Seder:
The Hebrew word seder means “arrangement” or “order,” and refers to an orchestrated ceremony or liturgy with a number of distinct phases or steps. For instance, a Shabbat Seder will define liturgy for a Shabbat ceremony, whereas a Pesach (Passover) Seder will define liturgy for observing a Pesach ceremony. A Passover Seder refers to a ceremonial meal that includes symbolic foods and the reciting of the story of Passover known as the Haggadah (which means the “telling”). [The Passover Seder occurs on Erev Pesach, the evening of Nisan 14 (which then becomes Nisan 15 during the Seder ceremony at sundown). The material presented here provides you with the standard Hebrew blessings and prayers found in a Passover Haggadah.]
The Traditional Seder Plate:
The Seder Plate is the central object of the Passover table. The seder plate has six dishes around a bowl of salt water where each dish contains a food that is used while telling the story of Passover during the reading of the Haggadah. These foods include:
- Beitzah -A roasted egg
- Karpas -Parsley (or vegetable)
- Ze’roa -Roasted shank bone
- Charoset -Chopped apples and nuts
- Maror -Bitter herb (horseradish)
- Chazeret -Romaine lettuce
The ‘Sacrifice’ is the Seder Meal:
In addition to these ceremonial eaten foods, the Seder includes a kosher meal that is eaten later in the ceremony. The Seder itself starts after the woman of the house performs the candle lighting blessing. The father of the house then leads the other guests through the meal, reciting the various blessings and reading from the Haggadah. Others at the table, including children, are involved in the ceremony. During the Seder, the whole household takes on the sanctity of the Temple where the “sacrifice” becomes the Seder meal. Four cups of wine are drunk during the Pesach Seder, remembering the four promises of Adonai given to Moses (Exodus 6:6-7):
Promise #1. I will bring you out (Cup of Sanctification).
Promise #2. I will free you (Cup of Deliverance).
Promise #3. I will redeem you (Cup of Redemption).
Promise #4. I will take you as my own people (Cup of Restoration).
Preparing for the Passover Seder:
Preparing for a Passover Seder involves cleansing your house of all chametz, cooking a kosher meal for the guests, and setting the seder table with special Passover dishes (it is customary to use your most beautiful silver, dishes and tableware for Passover). For the Seder table you will (minimally) need the following items:
Item #1. Holiday Candles.
Item #2. Kosher wine and wine cups for each person.
Item #3. Matzah – 3 sheets for use with the Afikomen ceremony.
Item #4. A Seder Plate with all the necessary items (see list above).
Item #5. A wine cup for Elijah.
Item #6. Afikomen bag (matzah tosh).
Item #7. Salt water for dipping.
Item #8. A hand washing basin and towels for washing.
Item #9. A Haggadah for each person.
Item #10. A “kittel” (white robe) for the Seder Leader.
Item #11. Pillows (for reclining).
Item #12. The Tanakh (for reading selected verses)
Lighting the Candles:
Passover holiday candles are lit by the (eldest) woman of the house no later than eighteen minutes before sundown on Nisan 14 (on Erev Pesach). After kindling the candles, she waves her hands over the flames three times (as if welcoming in the holiday), and covering her eyes with her hands (so as not to see the candles burning) says: “Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who sanctifies us with Your commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light (of Shabbat and) of the holiday.”
Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu:
“Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who sanctifies us with Your Commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light (of Shabbat and) of the holiday.”
“Barukh attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha-olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehadlik ner shel (shabbat v’shel) yom tov.” [If Pesach occurs on Shabbat, you insert “Shabbat v’shel” before the ending to yield: “Shabbat v’shel yom tov.”]