This post covers questions and answers for the following topics:

  • anything pre-seder (e.g. search for chameitz)
  • Kadeish (please include all general wine/cups questions here to make it easier to organize, but any that are specific to particular cups should go in their sections)
  • Urchatz
  • Karpas
  • Yachatz

Each answer here should cover one question and its answer(s), following this template. There is no need to cover all answers in your work; choose the subset of content that you think works best for this project. Follow these style guidelines.

If you use a suggestion from this list, be sure to cross it off the list so no one else does redundant work.

Important: The body of your answer should contain only the proposed content, ready for import into the final document. Use comments for any additional information. Attach a comment indicating the section your contribution is intended for and if there are others where it could also go.

Voting: If you down-vote a submission, please leave a comment saying what needs to be changed. Or edit; this is meant to be collaborative.

Please complete submissions by Monday, March 18 so we have time to compile the supplement in time for the sedarim.

Thank you all. Ready, set, go. :-)

6 Answers 6


What questions from the Passover Seder do people really want answers to?

We asked: The Passover Seder, by design, is full of questions. The question and answer format is meant to awaken the curiosity of the participants. As a result, the Hagada includes the Four Questions at the beginning, the "Who Knows One?" song at the end, and many strange practices to elicit spontaneous questions from the children. Numerous commentators and contemporary editions of the Hagada have added their own questions and answers to the mix.

It seems, though, that to get people to think more deeply about the Seder, it would be helpful to collect questions that contemporary Seder-goers, taking into account whatever they already know about the Seder and everything surrounding it, actually want answers to. How can we find which questions meet this standard?

We answered: An excellent place to go for real questions that people have actually posed about almost any topic in Judaism is the online Jewish Q&A community — Mi Yodeya.

Mi Yodeya (whose name comes from the "Who Knows One?" song mentioned above) is the Jewish corner of a wonderful network of Q&A sites called Stack Exchange. Founded by computer programming writers Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood, Stack Exchange has developed a unique model for bringing together experts and learners around a topic and getting them to post high-quality questions and answers on that topic. Through open access, massive peer review, and a careful focus on clear, specific questions and answers, Stack Exchange has spawned successful Q&A communities on topics from electrical engineering to the English language.

Judaism has always placed a high value on well-posed questions and answers and on sharing one's knowledge, and not just in the Hagada. The vast, complex realms of Jewish law and tradition and the interpretation of Jewish texts provide rich fodder for endless questions that fit the Stack Exchange pattern of being specific and answerable based on available evidence. So, it seemed natural to create a Stack Exchange community that deals with Judaism — Mi Yodeya.

Over the past few years, the community at Mi Yodeya has asked and answered more than six thousand questions about all kinds of Jewish topics, including many about various aspects of Passover. This year, we decided to share a select group of questions related to the Passover Seder in a new format — this Hagada supplement. Herein, we offer real questions that people genuinely wanted to see answered along with an array of answers from the diverse perspectives of our community members.

When you read these questions and answers, imagine that you're listening in on a conversation among your friends, perhaps around a Seder table. You'll notice different friends pronouncing Hebrew differently or sticking to English. One may be well-versed in Chassidic sources, while another is particularly fond of medieval commentators, and a third is strictly interested in the legal rulings of the Talmud. Even when matters of Jewish law are discussed, the aim of the conversation is to learn together, not to tell each other what to do, so you know that you'd better talk to your own rabbi before acting on any legal statements you hear.

You may even be inspired to join into the conversation. You are quite welcome to! Each question has a web address printed at the bottom that will lead you to the original Q&A post on Mi Yodeya. If you follow it, you'll find additional answers that we couldn't fit here, links to sources and related information, and the records of many community members working together to continuously improve each others' contributions. If you want to contribute an additional answer, you can do so right there. If you are inspired to ask a follow-up question, just find the "Ask Question" button at the top, and you'll be off and running. As soon as you add your new question or answer, you'll be enriching the Internet with your particular expression of Jewish curiosity or knowledge.

Also, we would be very interested to hear any feedback you may have on any aspect of this project as a whole. If you have participated on Mi Yodeya at least once, you'll be able to leave feedback in public through the project's home page. You can also email us at Mi.Yodeya@gmail.com. This is our first publication for print, but hopefully not our last, so anything you can tell us to help us make future publications even better would be a much-appreciated gift.

But first, we hope this Hagada supplement enhances your thinking about the Seder and even your actual Seder experience. Enjoy!


Contributors to this Introduction:

  • This probably would profit from a great deal of editing. Please critique, cut, add, rewrite, etc. If you do so, please add your username to the Contributors list.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 17, 2013 at 7:30

Why do we link Shabbat with the Exodus from Egypt?

Isaac Moses's four-year-old son asked: Why do you say "Mitzrayim" in Kiddush every week? "Mitzrayim" is a Pesach word!

Isaac Moses elaborated: In other words, why do we refer to Shabbat as "commemorating the Exodus from Egypt"? Isn't it really all about God's completion of Creation?

Tack-on question: Once you've established that Shabbat is linked both to Creation and to the Exodus, why is the terminology in Kiddush for these links slightly different? Shabbat is called "זִכָּרוּן לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵשִׁית" - "a memorial to the deed of Creation" and "זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם" - "commemorating the Exodus from Egypt".

Alex said: On a literal level, there's the idea that the Exodus -- which the entire Jewish people experienced, and in which G-d manipulated and subverted nature as He pleased -- serves as proof that G-d originally created that same natural order out of nothing.

Perhaps, then, that also explains the different terminology of זכר vs. זכרון. Shabbos is a זכר, a remembrance, of the Exodus, because it is something that the people who first received this mitzvah remembered personally (and could transmit this to us, their descendants); whereas it is only a זכרון, a memorial, of Creation, since that is something that we know of only by tradition.

See Kuzari 1:11ff; also discussed by the commentaries to Exodus 20:2 and Rabbeinu Bechayei to Deut. 5:15.

Jewish Jon added: God's taking the Jews out of Egypt was the first time God intervened with the natural order since creation. Acknowledging that God took us out from Egypt and changed the natural order is testimony that God created it, too. Alternatively, referencing that God took us out of Egypt, changing the natural order, is testimony that God created, and continues to actively play a role in the world. Not only that, but He did it for us. The leaving of Mitzrayim is also symbolic of nationhood, which led to religion together as a nation, without which there would be no commandment of keeping the Sabbath.

Barry said: The talmud in Pesachim (117b) states: צריך שיזכיר יציאת מצרים בקידוש היום

One must mention the exodus from Egypt during Kiddush. This is derived from Scripture.

I once saw a pilpul explanation from Rabbi Jonathon Eibuschutz. It is written that Jews were to be exiled for 400 years (counted from Isaac's birth), and a second verse states 430 years. What happened to the extra 30 years?

The decree was intended for the six days of the week only. Pharoah had them work on the Sabbath as well, which was 1/7th more than originally decreed. 1/7th of the 210 years of enslavement equals exactly 30 years. Thus the Sabbath was instrumental in allowing the Jews to leave Egyptian bondage earlier. Therefore it is mentioned in the Kiddush.

Original question: mi.yodeya.com/q/485


  • Isaac Moses mi.yodeya.com/u/2
  • Alex mi.yodeya.com/u/37
  • JewishJon mi.yodeya.com/u/80
  • Barry mi.yodeya.com/u/71
  • 1
    Kadeish? [15char] Mar 8, 2013 at 1:59
  • This actually might be more appropriate to save for a year when a Seder happens on Shabbat. +1 anyway
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 8, 2013 at 5:06

How can I make an engaging seder?

Double AA asked: I'm going to be at a seder this year with other adults who are all relatively familiar with the text and structure of the haggadah. Most have heard many of the classic divrei torah many times. I'm looking for a way to "spice up" the seder.

Has anyone been to a seder with similar company and found it to be a new and invigorating educational experience? What techniques did they use? Longer divrei torah? Shorter divrei torah? Themed divrei torah? What about pausing the haggadah in the middle and switching texts to: Chumash? Talmud Pesachim? Shulchan Aruch? In what other unique ways can I "cause us to view ourselves as if we ourselves had left Egypt" and get involved in the seder?

Monica Cellio asked: I sometimes find myself at a seder where most of the people are not interested in the religious content -- the seder to them is a family reuinion with traditional elements. All of the attendees are teens or adults.

I have already (mostly) found ways to fulfill my own halachic obligations in such a setting. What, if anything, can I do to liven up this kind of seder and pique others' interest? Should I bring midrashim that aren't in the haggadah (maybe people like stories)? Should I ask questions (that I'm prepared to then answer if needed) about the haggadah? Can I somehow make the theme of redemption more personal, in a way they could relate to? (How?)

Double AA asked: And what about the beginners? I'm going to be at a seder this year with young children who are familiar with the basic structure of the haggadah. Some will likely have some of the classic divrei torah prepared for them to say. I'm looking for a way to "spice up" the seder.

Has anyone been to a seder with similar company and found it to be a unique and effective educational experience? What techniques did they use? Quick interesting divrei torah? Themed divrei torah? Skits? Games? What about pausing the haggadah in the middle and switching texts to: Chumash? A picture book about korban pesach? In what other unique ways can I "cause the children to ask questions" and involve them in the seder?

Eytan Yammer said: It seems like you wanted some practical tips. I have run many successful sedarim with differently engaged Jews. There are a couple of things that I do to engage people who may not be initially interested in sharing their thoughts.

  1. Go around the table and have everyone finish a sentence "slavery is..." "freedom is..."

  2. Do some prep work and print out a different quote for each person at the table. It can be from literature, torah, art, whatever. Last year I chose several about the value of stories telling stories. At the beginning of the seder I give each person a few minutes to read the passage and then ask them to speak up if it applies or if they find it relevant to the discussion taking place later in the seder.

  3. when you prepare think of questions more than answers. If you ask people and really listen to their answers they are much more likely to engage than if you tell them divrei torah.
  4. It may also be worthwhile to email the attendees a short essay/dvar torah/food-for-thought questions a week or so before the sedarim so that they come to the seder more prepared.
  5. There are some people who will connect more through art than through reading and words. Before Yom Tov print out several depictions of the four sons or the splitting of the sea and pass them around the table. People who are artistic will love that you are reaching out to them where they are as opposed to presuming that they must come to you.

The more prepared you are the better you will be able to direct the conversation without taking it over.

jake said: A few ideas:

  • Get into "round-table" discussions related to the Exodus somehow, in which everyone is encouraged to voice their opinions on the subject at hand. For example, citing the midrash about how the redemption was deserved by the Jews for not changing their "Jewish" attire and names can incite a socio-historical discussion about the role of assimilation in Jewish history. The ten plagues can incite a philosophical discussion about Pharaoh's free will. The passage about God directly redeeming the Jews (not by angel or messenger) can incite a theological discussion about God's providential role in general. There are so many topics one can relate to the haggada, and sometimes you'd be surprised at who has strong opinions about certain subjects.
  • A lot of singing. People who attend the seder for ritualistic purposes often want to hear the "classic traditional" songs (i.e. "Ha lachma anya", "Mah Nishtana", "Avadim Hayinu", "Dayenu" etc.) Find someone with a voice who knows the tunes and have him/her lead the singing.
  • For those who get bored in the middle, have the table sprinkled with stuff to do, like those kind of trinket-puzzles that can take time to solve, or little toys that are fun to play with. (You'd be surprised how much stuff you can find that can be indirectly "passover-related", e.g. pyramid puzzles, hopping frogs, wind-up locusts, etc.) This usually works to occupy kids and even bored adults.

Andrewmh20 said: As a person who has had numerous seders with young children I would highly recommend they be given the opportunity to act out the yeztiah story if they are so inclined; perhaps during Shulchan Orech.

Also, maybe for the 10 plagues you can use different manipulatives to show each of them (or act them out).

If a child has a D'var Torah they learned in school, let them say it and be excited to share with everyone else, and have everyone else appear excited to hear from them.

Really though, I think the skits work best to make the seder "more interesting" and to involve everyone.

Seth J said: If everyone is respectful and well behaved, I wouldn't be too surprised if they'll go along with the "let's all take turns reading" approach. They might not get through the entire thing, and you may find yourself reading the rest on your own during dinner, but give it a shot and see how far you can get with them. A lot of times people, after going through the Haggadah for the first time (or first time in a long time) look back at it and say, "Wow, that was actually a lot more interesting than I expected/remembered".

That, and good wine.

Madeleine said: Make it clear from the start if there is anything, anyone wants to know, he should jump in and ask. Arrange some sort of signal ahead of time to recognize an interruption in the reading, so that they can easily ask their question in a timely manner. It could be a something like snapping of the fingers, a clap, whatever, to just attract attention of whoever is reading. The answer(s) generated should keep people interested, laughing, and more comfortable to ask additional questions.

Original questions:
Advanced Seder Advice
Seder advice when with people who aren't interested?
Beginners' Seder Advice


  • I'm attaching this here because it's pre-seder reading, not something to be used during the seder itself. But it might belong as an appendix instead. Mar 10, 2013 at 19:50
  • I vote for pre-. Chronologically, we prepare for the Seder before we do it.
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Mar 10, 2013 at 20:52

What do the haggadah section titles mean and where do they come from?

Ari A asked: What are the litteral translations of the different section titles of the haggadah? That is, what exactly do kadesh, urchatz, etc. mean?

Seth J asked: What is the historical origin of the section titles of the Haggadah?

msh210 said: The meanings are:

  • Kadesh is the masculine imperative: make kidush! (or: sanctify!) It's also a bare infinitive.
  • Urchatz or r'chatz is the masculine singular imperative: (and) wash!
  • Karpas is a matter of much discussion, but it's some sort of vegetable.
  • Yachatz is the masculine singular third-person future-tense transitive: He will divide.
  • Magid is the masculine singular present tense: I/you/he tells.
  • Rochtza is a non-finite form: wash/washing.
  • Motzi is the masculine singular present tense: I/you/he removes.
  • Matza is non-chametz bread.
  • Maror is some kind of vegetable.
  • Korech is the masculine singular present tense: I/you/he wraps.
  • Shulchan orech is the masculine singular present tense: I/you/he sets a table. It could also mean "a table sets (something)" but that seems less likely.
  • Tzafun is a participle (an adjective formed from a verb): hidden.
  • Barech is the masculine singular imperative: bless! It's also a bare infinitive.
  • Halel is the masculine singular imperative: praise! It's also a bare infinitive. It also seems to be a noun: praise.
  • Nirtza is the masculine singular present or masculine singular third-person past tense: I am/he is/it is/you are/he was/it was accepted/wanted.

Alex said: Machzor Vitry (sec. 65) attributes the origin to Rashi. piyut.org.il says that it has also been attributed to R. Shmuel of Falaise, one of the Tosafists (mid-13th century), but that the true authorship is unknown.

(It was actually originally just one of a lot of mnemonics for the order of the Haggadah composed by various rishonim. Another one, from Maharam Rothenburg, is printed in Hagahos Maimonios in the standard editions of Rambam, end of Hil. Chametz Umatzah. R. M.M. Kasher's Haggadah Shleimah has these two plus a dozen or so others. Apparently this one won out because of its simplicity and brevity.)


Original questions:
Translation of haggadah section titles
Origin of Haggadah Section Titles (Kadesh Urchatz, etc.)


  • pre-seder (at the list/song) Mar 17, 2013 at 17:24

Does everyone wash?

Gershon Gold asked: I have heard different minhagim regarding washing at Urchatz. It seems that in some families everyone washes and in others only the Baal HaBayis or seder leader does. Does anyone have sources as to the different minhagim or know of any others?

Yahu said: The opinion of most poskim (as per Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 158, 4 and Biur HaGra 12) is that one must wash without a beracha before eating a food that has been dipped in one of the halachic "drinks" (wine, blood, oil, milk, dew, honey, and water) and has not been dried.

In the Magen Avraham there he does bring in the name of the Lehem Hamudos that there are those who do not wash for dipped foods based on an opinion of the Baalei Tosafos.

Based on all the above the custom at the Seder depends on the family's tradition regarding this halacha:

Sefardim and many Ashkenazim: Everyone washes for Urchatz but without a berachah.

Some Ashkenazim: Just the one leading the Seder washes as a way of evoking questions from the children. (As per SA OC 473 6 B'er Heiteiv 17)

Original question: Urchatz - does everyone wash?

  • urchatz (removed that from title because it'll be in that section and have a heading for that) Mar 17, 2013 at 19:37

Nozir and the four cups of wine

jutky's son asked: A nozir is not allowed to drink wine (or grape juice). How can he fulfill the mitzvah of drinking four cups of wine at the Passover seder?

WAF and Alex answered: An article on haoros.com lists many of the standard sources and their silence on this question, and adds that it is equally askable regarding kidush on shabas. It then concludes with a suggestion (in the name of a chain of Rebbes from Lubavitch) that since mitzvos lav lehanos nitnu — the commandments were not given for derivation of pleasure — the wine that a nazir drinks to fulfill his obligation on the night of Pesach is not included in the prohibition against his [pleasurable] drinking of grape products. However, the same author (R. Yehudah Leib Groner) revisits this in the next issue of the journal, and brings various sources that seem to indicate that a nazir indeed may not drink wine for the arba kosos.

Sources: http://www.haoros.com/archive/index.asp?kovetz=920&cat=9&haoro=2

Alex added: If he can indeed drink wine for this purpose, then that's that.

Otherwise, though: there are opinions that even for the Four Cups one can use chamar medinah (a beverage used as the national drink of importance, e.g. mead in those days) — Rema to Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 483:1. Now, a nazir is permitted to drink those; he's prohibited only to consume grape products. So he might be able to use chamar medinah for his Four Cups.

Original question: Nozir and four cups of wine

  • Kadesh. I removed beer as an example and appended "in those days" to the mead example.
    – msh210 Mod
    Mar 18, 2013 at 2:27

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