The Order of the Seder at the Passover Meal

At the Passover meal, traditionally the meal is eaten and the story of Passover told in a certain order, called a Seder. The word "Seder" means "order" and refers to the steps of the order of the Seder meal itself. The symbolic foods are eaten as the story is told. Seder dinners are held all over the world, following much the same order. The book used to follow the order is called a Haggadah.

Name and Description of Each Step

  • Kadeish: Blessing sanctifying the day said over the wine, drinking the first cup of wine.
  • Urchatz: Washing the hands (without a blessing).
  • Karpas: Dipping parsley into salt water and eating it.
  • Yachatz: Breaking the middle matzo (of three), and the leader hides half for finding in step 12.
  • Maggid: Retelling the Passover story, the 4 Questions and the second cup of wine.
  • Rachtzah: Washing the hands (with a blessing).
  • Motzi: Blessing before eating.
  • Matzo: Blessing before eating matzo (matzo is eaten).
  • Maror: Blessing, and then eating bitter herb.
  • Koreich: Eating a "sandwich" made of maror on matzo with charoset.
  • Shulchan Oreich: Eating the Passover meal.
  • Tzafun: Finding and then sharing the afikoman (hidden matzo from step 4).
  • Bareich: Reciting the blessing after the meal and drinking the third cup of wine.
  • Hallel: Songs and praises to God for festivals, with the fourth cup of wine.
  • Nirtzah: Conclusion of the Seder meal.

Included in the Seder are traditional questions and answers, discussions and prayers. The meaning of freedom is a key point in the Passover Seder, and God's role in freeing the Hebrew slaves from Egypt is considered key. There are elements added to keep the kids involved and interested.

Did you know that years ago there was not an official order of the Seder? People wanted a structure so the prayers, important themes for discussion and symbolic foods would always be included. The Haggadah was developed in the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, but the exact time is unknown. It was developed as a means to creating a structure for the Passover Seder, and, although many different Haggadah versions exist, the order of the Seder is consistent in them.

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A Seder plate is central to the Passover Seder. It sits as the centerpiece of the table, and is referred to a number of times during the Seder itself.

A symbolic element of the two Passover meals, known as Seders, is the four cups of wine. Wine, in Jewish tradition, is a symbol of joy, but the four cups of wine at the Passover Seder have additional meanings.

The Passover Seder is designed with children in mind. The Four Questions, in fact, are specifically assigned to the youngest child present who is able to recite them. In history, children's questions were always encouraged because the Seder is meant to be for teaching children, and each other, the meaning of freedom and gratitude.

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