Selected Seder Laws

Compiled by Rabbi Harari



The holiday of Passover commemorates and celebrates God's liberation of B’nei Yisrael from Egypt.  The holiday begins on the fifteenth day of Nissan and concludes eight days later in all locales outside of Israel.  When the Temple stood, the Jews would offer their Passover sacrifice on the fourteenth day of Nissan and would gather at night to partake of the offering, eat the massah and maror, and recite the Seder.

Below please find selected laws relating to the Seder:


The kiddush of the Seder may be recited only after set hakokhabim (the appearance of the stars). This is approximately 35 minutes after sunset.


Men and women are obligated to drink four cups of wine at the Seder. Each cup must hold a minimum of approximately 3 ounces of wine. It is preferable to use red wine, but grape juice may be used in its place. If these are unavailable, white wine may be used.


All four cups of wine must be drunk while reclining towards the left side. It is preferable to drink the entire cup of wine, but one satisfies his/her obligation by drinking the majority of the cup.


The cup should be rinsed carefully and filled by someone other than the person drinking the wine. This magnifies the feeling of liberation that one must feel on Passover night.


All should answer amen to the kiddush recited by the leader of the Seder but should not say baruckh hu ubarukh shemo. Sheheyanu is recited in the kiddush of both Seder nights.


The Sephardic custom is to recite the blessing on the wine only on the first (kiddush) and third (Barekh) cups.

Both men and women are obligated to hear the story of the exodus from Egypt on Passover night. Those who do not understand Hebrew should read the Haggadah or have it translated to them in a language familiar to them. It is important not to rush the recitation and study of the Haggadah. Families should use it as an opportunity to analyze and discuss the exodus and Torah-related issues with their children.
The massot are raised during the recitation of Ha lahma anya. The ke'arah (tray) is removed so that the children will be bewildered and begin to ask questions. After Mah nishtanah, the ke'arah is returned and the Haggadah is recited with the massot uncovered.
When the paragraphs He she'amedah and Lefikhakh are recited, the massot are uncovered and the cup of wine is raised.
It is customary to lift or point to the massah and maror with the recitation of Massah zeh and Maror zeh. When Pesah she-hayu aboteinu okhelim is recited, however, one should not lift or point to the shankbone.
Mossi Massah
After the ritual washing of the hands, the leader of the Seder raises all three massot as he pronounces the Ha-mossi blessing, and then releases the bottom massah before reciting Al akhilat massah.
It is preferable to eat two kazeitim - one for Ha-mossi and one for massah. This is equivalent to approximately 2 ounces. One who is unable to eat this quantity should eat at least one kazayit (1 ounce) of massah at this point.
The massah must be eaten while reclining to the left. It is preferable to eat the massah without mixing it with anything else. If this is impossible, one may dip it in water and then eat it.
Both the massah and the maror should be eaten before hasot (approximately midnight).
The custom of the Syrian community is to use Romaine lettuce for maror. Great care should be taken to soak the maror and remove any tiny insects. Escarole or endives may also be used.
Before reciting the blessing on the maror, it is dipped briefly in haroset (crushed dates, often with dates, nuts and wine) and then shaken off.
One must eat a minimum of one kazayit of maror. This is eaten without reclining. The blessing of boreh peri ha-adamah is not recited, since it is assumed that the blessing said previously on the karpas (celery) covers the maror as well.
In order to re-enact Hillel the Elder's performance of the misvot of massah and maror, a sandwich of maror and massah is made, dipped in haroset and eaten in a reclining position.
Shulhan Orekh
Prior to the actual eating of the festive meal, the egg (in remembrance of the korban hagigah) and the shankbone are eaten.
One should be careful to leave room for the afikomin, which follows the meal.
© Kol Israel Congregation