Preparations For The Seder

  1. The poskim stress the importance of starting the Seder as soon as possible upon returning home from Shul after nightfall. (It should not begin before nightfall, however.) The reason that we wish to begin the Seder promptly is in order that the children should still be awake and in order to eat the Afikomen in the proper time. Indeed, it is a mitzvah to run home from Shul in order to quickly begin the Seder, even though normally one may not run on Shabbos and Yom Tov. (see Netai Gavriel Pesach 2:60)
  2. It is for this reason that the Seder table (including the wine, Kiddush cups, Matzah, Marror, Charoses etc.) should be prepared before Yom Tov in order to facilitate commencing the Seder immediately upon returning home from Shul after nightfall. (S.A. 472:1) (In a later halacha we will iy”h discuss when to assemble and bring the Ka’arah to the table)
  3. When feasible, all the preparations should be done by adult Jews and not by non-Jews or Jewish minors. (see M.B. end of 477) It should be noted that the Chasam Sofer would set the table himself before leaving to Shul. (Minhagei Chasam Sofer 10:11) Indeed, many tzadikim would perform the preparations themselves and not rely on others to perform the mitzvah. (See Netai Gavriel Pesach 2 page 274)
  4. The Mishnah Berurah (472:6) writes, “Although during the entire year it is best to minimize use at the table of elegant vessels (i.e. exquisite silver) in order to recall the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, on the Seder nights it is a mitzvah to set the table with the finest vessels, in the manner of free men and royalty.”
  5. As a sign of our freedom, when a person dines on many of the items on this night he is required to eat and drink in a reclining position (heseiba), in the manner of free men and royalty. The preferred position for reclining is that while seated near the table, he leans to the left, with a pillow or cushion to support his head. (M.B. 472:7) Therefore, pillows and cushions should be prepared by each seat before Yom Tov. (see Haggadah Shel Pesach Minchas Chein page 61) It is preferred that the pillow be prepared by someone other than the master of the house. (Haggadah Shel Pesach Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l Hebrew)
  6. The cups used for Kiddush should be rinsed prior to use. (See M.B. 271:44) The Chaya Adam (130:1) writes that that the rinsing of the cups, as the other preparations, should be done before Yom Tov. However, others write that the cups should be washed immediately prior to Kiddush. (Mateh Moshe 615 and Tashbetz Maamer Chametz)
  7. The Shulchan Aruch (472:15) writes that one should distribute candies and nuts to the children before the Seder in order to keep them awake. In the Rav Chaim Kanievsky Haggada is states that Rav Chaim would distribute the candies and nuts in adherence to the view of the Shulchan Aruch. However, many do not adhere to this Halacha. (For a justification of the common practice see Minhag Yisroel Torah)
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