1. Kadesh — Kiddush
Blessing the wine at the start of the meal. On Friday, the biblical section specific to the Sabbath is added. On Saturday evening, add the Havdalah section separating sanctity of Sabbath from the sanctity of holy day.
Washing preparation for eating vegetable entree (Karpas). Since the need for such washing was questioned, no blessing is required. It is good to go around to each of the participants, pouring water over the hands from a pitcher into a bowl.
3. Karpas — Spring vegetable
Any vegetable that is not bitter may be eaten. Common vegetables used are celery, parsley, onion, or potato. Dipped in salt water for purification and seasoning they remind us of the vegetation of spring, or the baby boys cast in the Nile, or the tears shed by the slaves. The blessing said is the usual benediction of thanks before eating any vegetable.
Break the middle matzah into two parts. Take larger part, wrap it in napkin and save for the conclusion of the meal. Try — but not too hard — to keep it from being stolen by the children because it must be available for the end of the meal.
Ready to eat, the hands are washed before the meal, as is required at any meal. It is similar to the previous hand-washing, but now all wash with the usual benediction as the hands are dried.
The first food at the meal is the matzah, the unleavened bread. The usual blessing over bread, Hamotzi, is recited. However, before eating the matzah, a second blessing thanking God for the requirement to eat matzah is recited.
Small pieces of horseradish are dipped into haroset (a sweet paste symbolic of mortar) to indicate that overemphasis on material things results in bitterness. Before eating it, a blessing thanking God for this requirement is recited. Some people mix ground horseradish with charoset.
In ancient times, the Talmudic scholar Hillel ate the three symbolic foods (lamb, matzah, and bitter herbs) together so that each mouthful contained all three. Thus the symbols of slavery and liberation were intermingled. Now that we do not have the Paschal lamb, we eat just the matzah and horseradish in a “Hillel sandwich.” No special blessing is said, but we do read the words recalling Hillel’s practice.
The joyous feasting gives us the feeling of human fellowship in harmony with God.
Now the afikomen. Either someone has “stolen” it, or parents can hide the afikoman when it is first put aside (Step 4) and let the children look for it during the meal to win a prize.
This is the usual “bentschen,” grace after meals, including, of course, thankfulness for the Passover holiday. Fill the cup before this grace and drink the third cup at its conclusion, with the usual “bore p’ri hagafen” blessing.
At this point in the seder, we open the door For Elijah, who by tradition is the forerunner of the Messiah, the harbinger of hope. Sing “Eliyahu Ha-navi.”
The rest of the evening is given over to hymns and songs. The Hallel is completed, and all join in singing songs: Adir Hu, Had Gadya, etc.
With the traditional formula, the seder is concluded, and the we sing L’Shana HaBa’ah B’Y’rushalayim [Next Year in Jerusalem].
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