How To

The Seder night, when family and friends gather together to commemorate our redemption from slavery in Egypt, is more than just a festive meal–the Seder is a crucial vehicle for understanding the Exodus. For those experiencing the Seder night for the first time, or as a reference for those who want a refresher, the following is an outline of what to expect:

 

YOM TOV – The First Festival Days

Passover is a 7 day (8 days outside of Israel) holiday. The first day (first two days outside of Israel) are Yamim Tovim – days which are observed with the same rules as the Sabbath. (Cooking from an existing flame and carrying, however, are permitted).

Candle lighting

Shabbat and all Jewish holidays always begin the evening before. When Passover begins on Saturday night (immediately following Shabbat), candles are lit no earlier than one hour after sunset on both the first and second night of Yom Tov.

Because one may not create a fire on Shabbat or Yom Tov, the candles must be lit from a pre-existing flame. For this reason, many people light a yahrtzeit candle (25 hour candle) before Shabbat, or leave a burner lit on the stove before Shabbat.

The procedure for lighting candles for a holiday varies slightly from Sabbath candle-lighting:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu Melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel [Shabbat v’] Yom Tov.

Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of the [the Sabbath and] Yom Tov [festival].

Evening services are held in the synagogue.

The Seder

Changes in the morning synagogue service

The Festive Lunch

Mincha, the afternoon service is recited with the special Festival Amidah (and the special insertions for Shabbat, when applicable).

Havdalah

At the conclusion of the second day of Yom Tov, Havdalah, separating holy days from week days, is recited in the evening Amidah. This Havdalah is followed by the formal Havdalah, which consists of only the blessing over grape juice (HaGafen) and the Havdalah blessing (HaMavdil), which can be found in the prayer book

One may not prepare on the first day of Yom Tov for the second day of Yom Tov. One should wait until after nightfall to set the table, prepare the Seder plate, or any other activity not meant for the enjoyment of the first day itself.

Chol HaMoed – The Interim Days

Passover is a 7 day holiday (8 days outside of Israel). The first day and the last day (first two days and last two days outside of Israel) are Yamim Tovim – days which are kept like Sabbath (Cooking from an existing flame and carrying, however, are permitted). The in between days are known as Chol HaMoed – weekday of the festival.

The Last Two Days

Candle lighting

On Friday night, insert the bracketed words:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu Melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel [Shabbat v’]Yom Tov.

Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of [the Sabbath and] Yom Tov (festival).

On the last days of Passover one does not add the additional blessing, sheh’heh’cheh’yanu, as one does on other festivals.

 

Evening services are held in the synagogue.

A festive meal is eaten, preceded by the Festival Kiddush, ritual washing of the hands and Ha’Motzee, which is made over two whole matzot. The meal is followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…”, in honor of the holiday, and the Harachamon for the festival.

Because Yom Tov and Shabbat overlap, be sure to include all the Shabbat additions on Friday night and Saturday. On Saturday night, the festival Kiddush is altered to include Havdalah for the conclusion of Shabbat.

Changes in the morning synagogue service

During Shacharit, the morning service, the Festival Amidah is recited.

Hallel

Hallel is a collection of Psalms that are recited on the festivals and Rosh Chodesh (the new month). Only the Half-Hallel is recited after the first (two) days of Passover.

Hallel can be found in the siddur (Jewish prayerbook).

The Torah Reading

Yizkor – The Memorial Service

A festive meal is eaten, preceded by the daytime festival Kiddush, ritual washing of the hands and HaMotzee, which is made over two whole matzot. The meal is followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…”, in honor of the holiday and the Harachamon for the festival.

Mincha, the afternoon service is recited with the special Festival Amidah (and the special insertions for Shabbat, as well as including the weekly Torah reading for Shabbat Mincha, when applicable).

Havdalah – At the conclusion of the second day of Yom Tov, Havdalah, separating holy days from week days, is recited in the evening Amidah. This Havdalah is followed by the formal Havdalah, which consists of only the blessing over grape juice (HaGafen) and the Havdalah blessing (HaMavdil), which can be found in the prayer book.