Halacha Club

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried

Chapter 118 : The Preparation for the Seder


You should do your best to obtain choice wine to perform the mitzvah of drinking the Four Cups. If red wine is available, that is, of the same quality as white wine, and its kashrus is as reliable as white wine, the red wine is preferred for the Four Cups, for it is said, "Look not after wine when it is red," (Proverbs 23:31) indicating that wine is most desirable, when it is red. In addition, because it reminds us of the blood, which flowed, when Pharaoh slaughtered innocent Jewish children. In backward and ignorant countries, where people, make slanderous accusations, Jews refrain from using red wine on Pesach.


For the first dipping, which is called karpas, many people follow the custom of using parsley, but it is better to use celery, which tastes good when raw. Best of all is to use radishes.


For maror (bitter herbs), it is customary to use horseradish, which, may be grated, because it is very sharp; but you should take care that it does not lose its strength completely. It should be grated, when you return home from the synagogue. (see Ch. 98:3 that the grating should be in an unusual manner). On Shabbos, it is forbidden to grate the maror, but you should grate it before night, and keep it covered until nightfall. However, it is preferable to use chazeres, lettuce, which is easier to eat, and it is called maror, because when it stays in the ground for a long time, the stem becomes bitter. You can also fulfill the mitzvah with la'anah, (an herb called wormwood). (Alashin and charchevina [mentioned in the Mishnah], are not found in our region). All the species, with which you can fulfill the mitzvah (of eating maror), may be combined to make up a kazayis, and you may fulfill your duty with either the leaves or the stems, but not with the roots, that is not with the little roots, that branch out in all directions. But the large root, out of which the leaves grow, although it is hidden in the ground, is considered a stem. Nevertheless, it is better to use the leaves and the stem that is out of the ground, because some authorities hold that the part that grows in the ground is called "root." The leaves are valid only if they are fresh, but the stems are valid whether they are fresh or dried out, but not when they are cooked or pickled.


The charoses must have a thick consistency to recall the mortar from which our forefathers had to make bricks. When you are ready to dip the maror into it, you should add a little wine or vinegar to make it soft to represent the blood, and for the additional reason that it should become fit to dip something into it. The charoses should be made from fruits that symbolize the Jewish people; for example: figs, for it is said, "The fig tree has produced its green figs," (Song of Songs 2:13); nuts, because it is said, "I went down to the garden of nuts" (ibid. 6:11); dates, because it is said, "I will ascend the palm tree" (ibid. 7:9); pomegranates, because it is said, "Like a slice of pomegranate" (ibid. 6:7); apples, to commemorate what is written, "Beneath the apple tree aroused you," (ibid. 8:5) where the women gave birth to their children without pain; and almonds, (shekeidim, singular shakeid), because the Holy One, blessed is He, watched diligently (shakad) to end our bondage. You should put spices in it, that look like straw, such as cinnamon and ginger, that are not finely ground, and have straw-like strands in them, to recall the straw, the Jews used to knead into the mortar. On Shabbos, you should not pour the wine and the vinegar into the charoses, for it must be done in an unusual manner, by putting the charoses into the wine or the vinegar. The salt water, (even when Yom Tov does not occur on Shabbos)8 should be prepared on erev Yom Tov). If you do prepare it on Yom Tov, you should do it in an unusual way, by pouring the water first, and adding the salt later.


After the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, the Sages ordained that there should be two cooked foods on the table, during the reciting of the Haggadah, one to recall the Korban Pesach, (Passover sacrifice), the other to recall the Korban Chagigah (Festival sacrifice), which were offered in the times when the Beis Hamikdash was standing. It is customary that one of the foods should be meat, from the shoulder section, to recall that the Holy One, blessed is He, redeemed Yisrael, with an outstretched arm. It should be roasted on fire, to recall the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice), which was roasted on fire. The second food should be an egg,11 because an egg, in the Aramean language is beiah, that is to say, the Merciful One desired (ba'ei) to redeem us with an outstretched arm. You may prepare the egg, either roasted or boiled, but you must do the roasting or boiling on erev Yom Tov, while it is still daylight. If you forgot to do it (on erev Yom MO, or if that day occurred on Shabbos, you should roast or boil it at night, but then you must eat it on the first day of Yom Tov. The same goes for the second night; you should roast it or boil it (at night), and you must eat it on the second day of Yom Tov, for you are not permitted to cook on the first day of Yom Tov for the second day, and neither on a Yom Tov for a weekday. Now, since it is customary not to eat roasted meats on the two nights of the seder, you should, therefore, eat the shoulder meat on Yom Tov during the day. Even if you roasted it on erev Yom Tov, you should not throw away (the meat) afterwards, but you should put it into the food that is cooked on the second day and eat it on the second day.


You should prepare your seat [at the table] while it is still daytime, with the nicest pillows you can afford, placing them in such a way that you can recline and lean on the left side. Even a left-handed person should recline on the left side. You should also prepare the seder plate while it is still day, in order that immediately on returning home from the synagogue you can begin the seder without delay.


Although during the year, it is best to be moderate in displaying fine tableware, so that we remember the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, nevertheless, on the night of 11-sach. it is good to set the table with as many beautiful things as are within your means. Even vessels not used for the meal should be placed on the table for elegant decor, to symbolize freedom.


The seder plate is arranged in this manner: You place three matzos on the seder plate. you cover them with a beautiful cloth, you place the shankbone on your right side, and the egg on the left; the maror, over which you say the berachah, you place in the center: the charoses, you place below the shankbone; the karpas below the egg, and the maw, that is eaten together with the matzah, you place in the center; as in the diagram: egg shankbone maror (for berachah) karpas charoses maror (for korech)


The wine cups must be whole, without any defect, thoroughly rinsed, and they must hold no less than a revris.


It is our custom to wear a kittel (a white robe), which should also be prepared, while it is still day. A person, in mourning, God forbid, should not wear it, but he is required to recline. However, if he has observed no mourning at all before Yom To•, as, for example, if the funeral was held on Yom Tov, then, it is customary that he should not recline. But he must recite Halkl, because the saying of Hallel is mandatory.


A son. at his father's table, is required to recline, but a student, in the presence of his Rehbe, is not required to recline.