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How do I speed up the start of the Seder?

How do I speed up the start of the Seder?



I have a question regarding the Passover seder. It is written that the Seder should commence as soon as everyone comes home from the evening service in the synagogue, so that the small children should not fall asleep. In my house, however, my husband and sons spend so much time putting together their seder plates, that the children are already fast asleep before the seder begins. Which is preferable? Rush up setting up the seder plate so that the kids can be up for the seder, or deliberately arranging the seder plate, and in the process allowing the children to fall asleep?

Please enlighten,



Dear Puzzled,

You have a very valid point, considering that the children's participation in the seder is of paramount importance, a consideration which trump all others. After all, the entire mitzvah of reciting the Haggadah is predicated on the verses:1 "If your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the ordinances, which the L-rd our G‑d has commanded you?' You shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the L-rd took us out of Egypt with a strong hand...'"

Nevertheless, your husband and sons should be commended for their wish to meticulously follow all the seder traditions — including the custom of personally arranging the seder plate upon returning from synagogue.

Welcome to one of the many paradoxes of the Passover Seder! Clearly, we want to protect the purity of the process, but we also don't want to put our precious ones to sleep.

I would suggest that perhaps you can reduce the tension between these competing priorities by preparing all the ingredients of the Passover plate in advance. This way, they are all ready for your husband and sons to simply be placed in their proper places, without unduly delaying the recitation of Kiddush.

If possible, a long nap for the children before the Seder will help them stay up — and give all the adults some restful time to finalize the Seder preparations.

Best wishes for a Kosher and happy Passover!

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger for

Rabbi Eliezer Danzinger, first content editor for, is the translator and editor of several important chassidic texts. He also serves as the Jewish chaplain for York Central Hospital, and for numerous Federal prisons. Rabbi Danzinger currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with his wife, Yehudis, and their children.
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Lillie weldin providence Forge, VA. USA April 27, 2012

question? Why do you use a "-" in the place of the "o" in Lord and God? Reply

Stephen Weinstein Camarillo, CA via February 13, 2011

Simple solution Set up the seder plates before going to synagogue, so that they are already set up when you come home, and can start the seder immediately. Reply

Levi Bookin Jerusalem April 8, 2009

How do I speed up the start of the Seder? I don't understand YY's reaction. The question is a practical one and so is the answer. Reply

Jessica Kantor LA, CA March 20, 2007

Great answer Just wanted to thank you rabbi for a great and down-to-earth answer. Reply

YY Brooklyn, NY March 18, 2007

C'mon rabbi, you can do better than that! Very blah answer Reply

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