The Jewish Passover Seder Meal

Here is your Passover 2009 guide to the seder meal.
What are the Passover traditions for the special Passover seder?
How do you set up the Passover seder plate?

Passover seder meal

Passover Traditions
The Order of the Passover Seder Service

* General Note: Whenever we eat or drink during one of the acts of the Passover Seder, the leader of the Seder should give to each person present the required amount(s) of wine, matzoh or bitter herbs.

The Passover Seder Meal
Kadesh -- the Benediction

The Seder meal Passover service begins with the recitation of Kiddush, proclaiming the holiness of the holiday. This is done over a cup of kosher for Passover wine, and on this evening it is the first of four cups of Passover winethat we all drink, reclining on our left side, at the Passover Seder meal.

The Four Cups of Passover Wine at the Seder Meal

Two of the explanations of the four cups:

Four expressions of freedom or deliverance are mentioned in the Torah in connection with our liberation from Egypt (Ex. 6:6,7).

The Children of Israel, even while in Egyptian exile, had four great merits:

(1) they did not change their Hebrew names; (2) they did not change their Hebrew language; (3) they remained highly moral; and (4) they remained loyal to one another.

Wine is used because it is a symbol of joy and happiness.

Why We Recline
at the Passover Seder Meal

When drinking the four cups of Passover wine, as during most of the acts of the Seder meal, we lean on our left side to emphasizethe fact that we are free people. In ancient times only free people were allowed to recline while eating.

Ur'chatz --
Purification for the Seder Meal

We wash our hands in the usual prescribed manner of washing before a meal, but without the customary blessing.

The next step in the Seder, Karpas, requires dipping food into water. Such an act calls for purification of the hands by washing, beforehand. This observance is one of the first acts designed to arouse the child's curiosity.

Karpas --
the Appetizer of the Seder Meal

A small piece of onion or boiled potato is dipped into salt water and eaten. Before eating, the blessing over vegetables is recited.

The dipping of this appetizer in salt water is an act of pleasure and freedom which further arouses the curiosity of the child.

The four-letter Hebrew word karpas when read backwards connotes that the 600,000 Jews in Egypt (the Hebrew letter samech=60, times 10,000) were forced to perform back-breaking labor (the other three Hebrew letters spell perech -- hard work).

The salt water represents the tears of our ancestors in Egypt.

Yachatz -- Breaking the Matzoh
at the Passover Meal

Passover 2008-Matzoh at the Passover seder meal

The middle matzoh of the three placed on the Seder plate is broken in two. The larger part of the matzo is put aside for use later as the Afikomen. This unusual action not only attracts the child's special attention once again, but also recalls G-d's breaking the Reed Sea asunder, to make a path for the Children of Israel to cross on dry land.

The smaller part of the middle matzah is returned to the Seder plate. This broken middle matzah symbolizes humility and will be eaten later as the "bread of poverty."

On the first Passover seder night, it is the Matzoh of Faith.At the second seder meal, it is the Matzoh of Healing.Meditate on this when you eat

Maggid -- the Haggadah

The Passover Story
At this point the poor are invited to join the Seder; the Seder plate is moved aside; a second cup of wine is poured; and the child, by now bursting with curiosity, asks the time-honored question:

"Mah Nish-tah-no Hah-lailo Ha-zeh Me-kol Hah-leilot?" What makes this night different from all other nights?

(1) On all nights we need not dip even once; on this night we do so twice!

(2) On all nights we eat chometz or matzah, and on this night only matzah!

(3) On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night morror!

(4) On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline!

The child's questioning triggers one of the most significant mitzvot of Pesach and the highlight of the Seder ceremony: the Haggadah, the telling of the story of the exodus from Egypt. The answer includes a brief review of history, a description of the suffering imposed upon the Israelites, a listing of the plagues visited upon the Egyptians, and an enumeration of the miracles performed by the Al-mighty for the formation and redemption of His people.

Rochtzoh --
Washing before the Seder Meal

After concluding the first part of the Haggadah with the drinking of the second cup of Passover wine (reclining), the hands are washed -- this time with the customary blessing, as usually done before eating bread.

Motzie Matzah -- Eating Matzah

Taking hold of the three matzos, the broken one between the two whole ones, recite the customary blessing before eating bread. Then, letting the bottom matzoh drop back on the plate, and holding the top whole matzoh with the broken middle one, recite the special blessing ". . . Al Ah-chi-las Matzah."

Then break at least one ounce from each matzoh and eat the two pieces together, reclining.

Morror -- the Bitter Herbs of the Passover Seder Meal

Take at least 3/4 ounce of the bitter herbs. Dip it in the charoset, then shake the latter off and make the blessing ". . . Al Ah-chi-las Morror."

Eat without reclining.

Korech -- the Seder Meal Sandwich

In keeping with the custom instituted by Hillel, a great talmudic rabbi, a sandwich of matzoh and morror is eaten.

Break off two pieces of the bottom matzoh, which together are at least one ounce. Again take at least 3/4 ounce of bitter herbs and dip them in charoset, then shake the latter off, and place them between the two pieces of matzoh, say: "Kein Asah Hillel. . ." and eat the sandwich reclining.

Shulchan Oreich --
the Seder Meal Passover Feast

The Passover meal is now served. We begin the Passover meal with a hard-boiled egg dipped into salt water.

A Rabbi was once asked why Jews eat eggs on Pesach. "Because eggs symbolize the Jew," the Rabbi answered. "The more an egg is burned and boiled, the harder it gets."

* Note: The chicken neck is not eaten at the Seder.

Tzofun -- "Out of Hiding"
The Afikomen

After the meal, the half matzah that had been "hidden" -- set aside for the afikomen -- "dessert," is taken out and eaten. It symbolizes the pascal lamb that was eaten at the end of the Passover meal.

Everyone should eat at least 1-1/2 ounces of matzah, reclining, before midnight. After the Afikomen, we do not eat or drink anything except for the two remaining cups of Passover wine.

Bairach --
Blessings after the Passover Seder Meal

A third cup of wine is filled and the Grace after Meals is recited. After reciting the Grace, we recite the blessing for wine and drink the third cup while reclining.

Now we fill the cup of Elijah and our own cups with wine. We open the door and recite the passage that symbolizes an invitation to the Prophet Elijah, who is the harbinger of the coming of Moshiach, our righteous Messiah.

Hallel -- Songs of Praise

At this point, having recognized the Al-mighty, and His unique guidance of His people Israel, we go still further and turn to sing His praises as L-rd of the entire Universe.

After reciting the "Hallel," we again recite the blessing for wine and drink the fourth cup, reclining.

Nirtzoh -- Acceptance

Having carried out the Passover Seder service properly, we are sure that it has been well received by the Al-mighty. Then we say:

"Leh-shah-na Hah-bah-ah Bi-ye-ru-sha-la-yim"-- Next year in Jerusalem!

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Are you looking for a good Passover recipe?

You'll find delicious, interesting, vintage, kosher for Passover recipes here - and what would a Passover meal be without yummy, sweet macaroons

and other lovely kosher for Passover dessert recipes?

Passover seder meal macaroon recipe

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