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Necessities that Have to Be Prepared for the Seder

Necessities that Have to Be Prepared for the Seder

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Matzah

Unleavened bread, flour and water that have not been left unattended for more than 18 minutes. Because of the many details involved in baking matzah, it is customary to use matzos that have been prepared under strict Rabbinical supervision.

At present, there are two types of matzos available: matzos that are made by machine, and handmade Shemurah matzos. There are two advantages to the use of the latter: First of all, by and large, the handmade matzos are prepared under more careful supervision. Secondly, the matzos eaten at the Seder must be prepared with the intention that they be used to fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah on Pesach night. According to many views, operating a machine with this intention is not sufficient. Also, the round shape of the Shemurah matzos is of profound mystical significance.

As will be explained, at three points in the Seder, it is necessary to eat at least a kezayis (a measure formally described as the size of an olive, and traditionally determined as one ounce; 25.6 grams) of matzah. (Certain opinions require even a larger quantity to be eaten.) Everyone participating in the Seder must partake of at least this amount on each of the Seder nights. This requires a large quantity of matzah. Ample provisions should be prepared before the Seder begins. The matzos used for the Seder plate must be whole.


Wine

During the Seder, each of the participants are required to drink four cups of wine on both Seder nights. According to many opinions, grape juice is acceptable, but most Rabbis suggest mixing at least a small quantity of wine with the grape juice. Each cup must contain at least a reviis, approximately 3.5 fluid ounces. The wine and/or the grape juice must be certified kosher for Pesach by qualified Rabbinic source. In this instance as well, ample provisions should be prepared before the Seder.


Marror

As will be explained, at two points in the Seder, it is necessary to eat bitter herbs. The Talmud mentions five vegetables that are acceptable. The two most commonly used today are horseradish (chrain) and romaine lettuce. The Lubavitch custom is to use romaine lettuce and horseradish together on both occasions.

A kezayis of marror must be eaten on both these occasions by all the participants in the Seder on both Seder nights. Therefore, in this instance as well, it is necessary to prepare ample provisions before the Seder. Before the Seder begins, and preferably before the holiday, one should check the romaine lettuce to make sure that there are no bugs or insects on it.


Charoses

A mixture of ground apples, pears and nuts which is placed on the Seder plate and to which red wine is added during the Seder.


Karpas

A vegetable placed on the Seder plate. It is customary to use raw onion or boiled potato.


A shankbone

To be used as the zeroa for the Seder plate. The prevailing Lubavitch custom is to use the neckbone of a fowl, and to make a point of removing almost all its meat to avoid any resemblance to the Paschal sacrifice.


A hard-boiled egg

To be used as the beitzah on the Seder plate. It is customary to eat this egg at the beginning of the meal, so eggs should be prepared for both Seder nights.


Saltwater

The karpas is dipped in saltwater. If the Seder is held on Friday night, it is preferable to prepare the saltwater before sunset.1


Lots of happiness for the privilege of being able to hold a Seder, the openness to absorb the message of Pesach, and the faith that just as G‑d redeemed us from Egypt, He will also redeem us from our present exile in the near future. These spiritual qualities are fundamental for a Seder to be successful.

Footnotes
1.
Shulchan Aruch HaRav 473:19; see Shulchan Aruch HaRav 321:3.
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