These Halachos (except for passages found in [* ]) are copied from Rabbi Blumenkrantz's book

"The Laws of Pesach"

The Order of The Seder

Chapter Nine

Some Important Information for the Seder

C. Some Important Information for the Seder


We have learned that the Torah required a father to relate the story of the Exodus to his son. Therefore, there is an obligation upon a father to see that his child, who is capable of understanding the story of Yetzi'ass Mitzrayim, should hear the Hagadah.

The minimum age of such a child will depend upon the level of his development and understanding. Normally, a child of five or six should be capable, to some degree, of understanding the story of Yetzi'ass Mitzrayim.

Concerning this and the other mitzvos which apply on the Seder nights, the obligation applies equally for boys and girls.

1. A child:

a) Who has reached the age of chinuch (i.e. old enough to understand something of what we tell him about the redemption from Egypt) should drink the 4 cups front a cup that holds a Reve'es. However, it is not necessary for the child to drink as much as an adult, but he can drink a Melo loogmov, a cheek-full. (Mishna Brurah 473:47). This is based on the opinion of Tosafos (Pesechim 107a). The calculation of a cheek-full varies between 1/2 fl. oz and 1 fl. oz. According to my Rebbi, Rabbi Feinstein zt"l, a cheek-full is 3/4 fl oz..

As for the child, the suggestion would be that he drink between 1/2 to 3/4 fl. oz.

b) Who can eat bread is required to have a Kazais of matzo.

c) Who has the ability to understand the story of Yetziass Mitzrayim must be kept awake at least until after Avodim hoyinu

Note: Many parents keep the children up at the Seder only until they have recited Ma Nishtanah. They send them off to sleep after that, before the children have heard an answer to their questions. The mitzvah is "v'ehigadto levincho" relating the story of the Exodus - which should be done as an answer to the questions of Ma Nishtanah. With the children not hearing (nor understanding) the answer to the questions of Ma Nishtanah, the father has not fulfilled properly the mitzvah of Seepur Yetzi'ass Mitzrayim. The Talmud relates that Rabbi Akiva would never say that it is time to leave the Bais Medrash -- except for Erev Pesach, in order to see that the children would go to sleep by day, to prepare themselves to be up at night during the Hagadah. This emphasizes the importance of the children being present at the Seder (and understanding) at least for the minimal requirement.

The matzo you choose should be as thin as possible in order to properly comply with the requirement that the matzo be eaten in a span of 3-4 minutes preferably, and in no more than 9 minutes.

2. If there is no one who can check the romaine lettuce, or even the regular lettuce (for those who use regular lettuce for morror), then one must use grated horseradish for morror.

3. All males are required to drink the wine and eat the portion of matzo in a reclining position. Otherwise, the Brocho is considered to have been said in vain.

4. One should better not use different wines during the meal at the Seder so that he should not have to make Hatov v’hameitv and it would look as if he is adding to the four cups. (Mishna Brurah O"H 175. 6).

5. When reclining, one leans slightly to the left side (not to the right, since the right hand is used for eating). We recline to the left side in order to prevent food from entering the windpipe and endangering the person, which could happen when leaning to the right. This rule applies to a left-handed person as well as right-handed person. Children at their father's home must also recline. Reclining is optional for women.

If one ate a Kazais of matzo without reclining, one must eat another piece, and recline. If one did not recline when drinking the four cups of wine, one, would not drink again, as this would give the impression that one is adding to the four prescribed cups. If one forgot to lean while drinking the second cup of wine one may repeat this cup while leaning, as in any case, one may drink wine during, the meal which follows the second cup.

6. As mentioned above, the Kazais of matzo and morror must be eaten in; span of 2 to 4 minutes, but not more than 9 minutes. Since eating definitely involves ingesting, and does not necessarily involve chewing, we suggest that people continue to chew the matzo, without swallowing, until their mouths are full to capacity. Thus, the time from which one is considered to have begun eating is deferred.

7. If grated horseradish is used for morror, it must be pure, and not "vinegarized".

Grated horseradish may be prepared before Shabbos but should be stored in an air-tight plastic bag or any other tightly closed container. According to the Vilna Gaon, the horseradish should not be grated until resuming home from shul and then it should be kept covered until the beginning of the Seder, when it should be spread on a plate weaken its strength. Other Poskim hold that it may be ground and uncovered earlier because it will retain sufficient strength of morror.

8. Washed leaves of romaine lettuce may be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, but the water which accumulates must be discarded within 24 hours. The best to do is to punch holes on the plastic bag so that the water does not accumulate

9. The Afikomen should be eaten before midnight.

The information in this section applies to 5764/2004 only

There are 3 opinions concerning the calculation chatzos (midnight).

a) 12 hours after midday (This is the majority opinion). [According to Rabbi Feinstein, zt”l , and the Aruch Hashulchan who are of the opinion that midday is always constant, i.e. 1:00 PM -midnight would then be 1:00 AM. According to those authorities whose opinion is that midday is variant, Chatzos this year (5764-2004) would be at 12:56 am. This is so because midday on Erev Pesach, is 12:56 PM.

b) Six (6) hours after Tzais hakochovim (MG"A 476:4). [According to this opinion, Chatzos this year would be 2:21 am, since the earliest Tzais Hakochovim is at 8:21 PM.] If we consider Rabbeinu Tam's Tzais Hakochavim that is 8:48 PM, chatzos according to this opinion would be at 2:48 AM.

c) Half of the time between Tzais hakochovim and daybreak. [This year Tzais hakochovim is 8:21 PM on Wednesday. Earliest daybreak Thursday morning is at 4:48 am. There are 8 hours and 27 minutes in between. Half of that is about 4 hours and 14 minutes. Now add the 4 hours and 14 minutes to 8:21 PM and Chatzos would be approximately 12:35 am].

For all practical purposes we follow the first opinion (opinion [a]) since this is the majority opinion. However, if a person is in a situation where he would not be able to eat the Afikomen before the 12:56 am chatzos, he could be lenient and go to the later chatzos of 2:21 am, or as a last resort, to 2:48 am.

All the above is based on New York Times.

10. We would like to emphasize that the Seder table should be prepared as soon as possible, so that the Seder can begin as soon as the men return from Shul. Undue delay in starting the seder should be avoided because the Afikomen (the final piece of matzo at the conclusion of the meal) has to be eaten before chatzos (midnight). Additionally, we desire to have even the younger children remain at, and participate in, the festivities at least until the beginning of the meal. For this reason, it is advisable to put the children to sleep during the day, so that they will be able to remain awake at night.

11. Women are also required to recite the Haggadah (including Hallel) and eat the Afikomen. If for health reasons a woman is unable to remain at the table during the entire seder, she should stay at least for kiddush, then return when the family reaches the passage "Rabban Gamiliel omer", and remain until the drinking of the second cup. if possible, she should also be present when the ten plagues are recited.

12. Sefaradic Customs:

There are some areas in which Sefaradic Jews (Syrians Iranians Iraqis etc.) differ from Ashkenazi Jews in compliance with the Pesach laws.

a) Most Sefaradic Jews eat all or some of the following foods on Pesach; beans, peas, corn, egg matzo.

Syrians eat fresh green peas and other fresh kitniyos but they do not eat any dry Kitniyos. The Moroccan community. for the most part, forbade the use of rice and dried beans on Pesach. Fresh green beans they permitted. The Spanish community does not eat rice because of the necessity of checking through the rice to make sure that no grain is mixed in to it.

b) Ashkenazim are not permitted to use glasses which have been used throughout the year without undergoing some type of kashering for Pesach. while Sefardic Jews, in general, merely have to clean their glasses thoroughly.

c) Sefardic women are required to recline while eating or drinking the required foods during the Seder.

d) In the past, all Sefardic communities were lenient concerning the use on Pesach of glass utensils, which were used all year round. However, today there are opinions amongst Sefardic authorities that require some Hag’alah (purging) even for glass utensils, especially if they were used over the fire or with hot water. The minimum Hag’alah they require is to soak the glass utensils for 72 hours in cold water while changing the water every 24 hours.

e) Corningware, which is a combination of glass and other materials, is considered like earthenware for Pesach purposes. Therefore, it cannot be koshered.

f) There are some contemporary Sefardic authorities who are of the opinion that a person should avoid Hag’alah (purging of utensils), and instead, should buy new utensils in honor of Pesach.

g) Some Sefardic communities do not eat corn on Pesach. Some eat dry beans, others do not. As for egg matzos, there are many communities that refrain from eating them (Kaf Hachayim).

h) Pure rice is permitted. However, some require that it be checked three times before it is used. (Chazon Ovadia)

Weeks before Pesach, the women begin to prepare the rice for Pesach. Rice has to be examined very carefully to see that there is no wheat between the rice. The rice is scrupulously checked between the kernels three times on top of a clean white tablecloth to make sure there is no wheat chef. After it has passed the rigid inspection, it is packed away in plastic bags to be kept for Pesach. Great importance is attached to rice because it was a staple food amongst many Sephardic countries.

i) In Morocco certain families would not eat black olives in the month of Nissan. HaSh-m took the Jews out of Mitzrayim in the month of Nissan. They were commanded to REMEMBER that time, and our sages teach us (Horios) that eating olives brings out forgetfulness, which would stop the Jew from remembering his redemption in the month of Nissan. (It is interesting to note that our sages teach us that olive oil helps the memory. It is for this reason that people who like olives put some olive oil over them so that one overrides the effect of the other, and the effect of the olive is neutralized.)

j) On Erev Pesach in some Sefardic communities, every male and female "first born" attends the shacharis in Shul in order to participate in the Siyum so that they can participate in the Seudah Shel Mitzvah which will free them from fasting. Otherwise they must fast. Immediately after the Siyum everyone waits and the Birchas Hagofen is made over wine since this is a Seudas Mitzvah. Then cake is given to everyone. This cake is eaten and may also be taken home for the first-born infants, first-born daughters, and for any first born who may not have been able to personally attend the Siyum.

For many Sefardim, the fact that they have partaken of the Seudas Mitzvah through the eating of this piece of cake (whether or not they attend the Siyum) frees them to eat throughout the day.

k) The Cup of Eliyahu is not a Sefardic custom; however, amongst some Sefardim it was adopted from the Ashkenazi tradition and is included on the Seder Table.

l) Hiding (and removing by the children) the Afikomen is not a custom among Sefardim. However, some Sefardim have been influenced by the Ashkenazic community and introduced it in their homes.

13. It is customary to adorn the Sealer table with roses and other flowers (Chaim L 'Rosh). 14. The Ari Zt "l was careful only to eat on a four legged table.

15. There are those who have a custom to light an extra large candle for the Seder and they call it the "Ma Nishtano Licht" (BN"Y). In general the candles at the Seder Table should be a little larger than the regular Shabbos candles so that they burn throughout the entire Seder'. Do not use very large candles as they may, G-d forbid, cause problems, especially, if after the Seder, everyone is going to sleep. Regular Shabbos candles are packaged 72 to a box; the large Shabbos candles are packaged 36 to a box. The candles used for Pesach should not be larger than the Shabbos candles packaged 36 to a box.

16. If someone is thirsty, the thirst quenching beverage should be brought to the table before Kiddush. Then, after Kiddush they may partake of the drink without a beginning Brocho and without an ending Brocho. If the drink was not at the table, then after Kiddush the person should get the drink, but they must make a beginning Brocho and if they had at least 3 fluid oz., they must make an ending Brocho.

17. The Hagadah should not be recited leaning or laying down on a boudoir chair (Pri Magodim 473:29). Even the blessing of Borei Pri Hagofen should be recited sitting properly (upright) and only lean when actually drinking (Birkei Yosef 14).

18. The way in which we pour the wine from the cup when we say Dom, v'oesh, Vsimros Oshon, when we mention the 10 plagues and when we say D'zach, Adash, B'achab varies from custom to custom. Some use the pinkie (Minhogim), others use the finger next to the pinkie (the Kmitza finger --Mogen Avrohom), others say with the index finger (Darchei Moshe), and yet others say it should be poured with the cup itself (Shelo Hakodosh). My father, Zichron Tzaddik Livrocho, used the pinkie and I follow his custom.

19. The wine poured out from the cup should not be drunk but poured into the sink. The plate under the cup should be washed off. (There is an opinion that the entire cup of wine should be spilled out after removing the bits of wine (Pesach Mervin -Knesses Hagdola). However, most other opinions disagree (Chok Yaakov 473:37, Shulchan Oruch Harav 473:51, Mishnas Chassidim 11:1, Mishna Brurah Sha'ar Hatzion 473:81 and others) and this is the accepted practice.)

20. If there is a Choson and Sheva Brochos have to be recited, it should be done without introducing an additional cup. So, one can say Sheva Brochos on the Birchas Hamazon cup and then end with Borei Pri Hagofen.

The R'moh suggests that Sheva Brochos be recited on the cup of the choson. To accomplish this the choson should not bentch on his cup but be yoitze with the Birches Hamazon of the head of the table. The Sheva Brochos (really only 6 Brochos) would be recited on the Choson 's cup and the chosen will then say the Borei Pri Hagofen (for the 3rd cup and for the seventh brocho of the sheva brochos) on his own cup and drink it. The kallah should not be given any wine from the kos S'hel Brocho, even though it is customary to do so on a regular sheva brochos) because one is not allowed to have wine between the 3rd and 4th cups.

21, please note the the blessing of Al Hagofen printed at the end of the Haggadah should only be said if one drank the complete cup of at least one of the last two cups of the arba kosos.

22, Mitzvah Matzos prepared for the Seder should not be given to a Goy. (Taz O"H 167)

23, Keeping a Kazais of the matzos mitzvah a whole year in the house or when traveling is a S'egulah for protection. The mitzvah radiates. with G-d’s help, a veil of protection as it is written. "Shomer Mitzvah (if you kept to yourselves a mitzvah) lo yeida dovor rah", my father and mother Zichronam livrocha, kept a small piece of the aifkomen for the above S'egulah.

There are those who consider the keeping of a piece of the Afikomen in the house a Segulah to have children (lmrei noam).

24, There are some authorities that are of the opinion that it is a mitzvah to eat matzo every day of Pesach. (P’nei Yehoshua, Gro and others.)

On to Do It Right On Pesach Night - Shiurim - Measurements

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