Seder Night

Overview of the Seder
Date Uploaded: 
Sunday 26th March 2017


Begin the Seder service by declaring the holiness of the holiday.  Kiddush is made over a full cup of wine and many homes have the custom for all males over bar-mitzvah to make their own kiddush.

This is the first of the Four Cups drunk during the course of the Seder.  While drinking each cup, we recline to the left to publicise the fact that we are free people.  In earlier times only free people were allowed to recline while eating.


Everyone washes their hands in the usual way of washing before a meal but without the blessing.

Since the next step in the Seder requires us to dip a vegetable into water, Jewish law requires us to wash our hands.


Everyone takes a small piece of parsley, onion, or boiled potato depending on family custom and dips it into salt water.  Before eating, the blessing over vegetables is recited.  This dipping is a further act of our freedom and also piques the curiosity of children present at the Seder.

The salt water is also representative of the tears cried in Egypt during slavery.


The Seder leader now breaks the middle matzah.  The larger part is put aside to be used for the Afikomen later in the Seder.

Besides this being a further act to encourage the children to ask questions, it symbolically recalls the Splitting of the Red Sea by G-d for the Jewish people when they left Egypt.


At this point in the Seder, the second cup is filled and the Seder plate is moved aside.  The youngest present asks the most famous of questions Ma Nishtanah - Why is this night different from all others?

The Maggid section of the Hagaddah forms the main bulk of the Seder service and covers a brief history of the Jewish people from their journey into Egypt to their final redemption together with the Ten Plagues.


Toward the end of Maggid, the second cup of wine is drunk whilst reclining.

Now the hands are washed in preparation of eating matzah - this time with the appropriate blessing.


Take all three matzahs together and recite the blessing Hamotzi.  Then release the bottom matzah leaving only the top matzah and broken middle matzah in in your hands.  Make the special blessing Al Achilat Matzah  - this blessing is for the mitzvah of eating the matzah.  Each person should then be given a piece from each matzah, which should be eaten whilst reclining.  It is important to have a supply of matzah nearby to supplement the one and half matzahs already on the table.


Take a ‘kazayit’ of maror, usually horseradish, and dip it into the charoset.  Shake off any excess and make the blessing Al Achilat Maror.  Eat without reclining.  The bitter taste of maror recalls the bitter times that we had to endure in Egypt.


Take the so far unbroken bottom matzah and break off two pieces.  Take an amount of lettuce, dipped in charoset, and put it between the two pieces of matzah.  The sandwich should be eaten whilst reclining.

Shulchan Aruch

The festive meal is now served beginning with the egg and salt water.


After the meal, the hidden Afikomen is now revealed and eaten reclining as a symbol of the pascal lamb in Temple times.


The third cup is poured and grace after meals is recited.  Afterwards, drink the third cup and fill Elijah’s Cup and open the door.  Our own fourth cup is filled at this point.  Elijah the prophet visits all houses on Seder night.  He will of course announce the future redemption.


Praise to G-d for all the wonderous acts He does for us.  After Hallel drink the fourth and final cup whilst reclining.


Next year in Jerusalem.