Peninei Halakha

Close this search box.
Peninei Halakha > Pesah > 16 – The Seder Night > 02. Preparing for the Seder

02. Preparing for the Seder

As noted, one of the two key objectives of the Seder is to transmit the tradition of the Exodus to our children. In order to keep younger children alert, we do many unusual things at the Seder: we dip vegetables in liquid twice, wash our hands twice, and give the appearance of beginning the meal before suddenly starting to recite the Hagada. In addition, the mitzvot of eating matza, drinking four cups of wine, and reclining also prompt the children to ask: “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

The Sages also instruct one to give nuts and candy to small children at the beginning of the Seder, so they see yet another change and ask: “Why is this night different?” (SA 472:16). It is good to give them small candies throughout the recitation of the Hagada, keeping them alert and happy.

An effort is made to buy new clothes for the children and the entire household before Pesaḥ, in order to make everybody happy. Indeed, the mitzva to be joyful applies to each of the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesaḥ, Shavu’ot, and Sukkot), and it is therefore a mitzva to buy clothes and jewelry for the women and girls, give young children candy and nuts, and serve meat and wine to men at each festival (SA 528:2-3). However, we are even more careful about buying new clothes for Pesaḥ, because wearing them for the Seder evokes a special sense of excitement for this exalted night.

It is proper to set the table and arrange the Seder plate before evening, so that kiddush can be recited as soon as possible after the Ma’ariv prayer. In this way, there is no wasting of the precious time when the children are still alert and can still participate in reciting the Hagada, eating the matza, and drinking the wine. However, kiddush should not be recited before tzeit ha-kokhavim (the appearance of three distinct stars), because kiddush must be recited at a time when matza can be eaten, i.e., the night of the 15th of Nisan. Moreover, the kiddush wine is the first of the four cups, and one must drink all four cups at night (ibid. 472:1; MB ad loc. 4).

When setting the table, one should put out comfortable chairs so that participants will be able to recline. Le-khatḥila, the table should be set with the finest silverware and dishes. During the course of the year, we refrain from setting the table with overly attractive kelim, in remembrance of the Temple’s destruction, but on Shabbat and holidays we do everything we can to enhance the table’s beauty (SA 560:2; MB ad loc. 5). On the Seder night, it is a mitzva to beautify the table with the absolute best kelim, and this, too, is an expression of freedom and joy (SA 472:2; MB ad loc. 6).

Chapter Contents

Order Now
Order Now

For Purchasing

in Israel
Har Bracha Publications
Tel: 02-9709588
Fax: 02-9974603

Translated By:
Series Editor: Rabbi Elli Fischer

The Laws of Shabbat (1+2) - Yocheved Cohen
The Laws of Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Women’s Prayer - Atira Ote
The Laws of Pesach - Joshua Wertheimer
The Laws of Zemanim - Moshe Lichtman

Editor: Nechama Unterman