1. Yep, There Are Actually Two Seder Nights

While the first Seder night garners much of the attention and fanfare, Jews living in the diaspora actually observe an additional Seder on the second evening of Passover. The practice of extending every biblical holiday (except for Yom Kippur) for another day originates from the era before the calendar was set, a time when the Jewish lunar calendar was determined when the new moon was sighted. However, even after the advent of the fixed calendar, this law was not abolished. As the Talmud writes:

The sages sent [word] to the exiles, ‘Be careful to keep the customs of your forefathers, and keep two days of the festival, for someday the government may promulgate a decree, and you will come to err.’1

The third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, quotes Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, the Ramak, who puts forth an explanation based on the inner dimension of the Torah: the diaspora, unlike the land of Israel, is unable to receive the spiritual emanations of the festivals in a single day; therefore, the festival is spread over two days.2

Read: How Important Is The Second Seder?

2. The Timing of the Seder Really Does Matter

It may be inconvenient, but the timing of many mitzvahs—including those observed on the Seder night—is an integral component to their fulfillment. If performed at the incorrect time, one’s obligation is not fulfilled. As such, it is imperative that all the rituals of the Seder be observed after nightfall.3

Check the Halachic Times in your area

3. Newsflash: There Is Good Wine Available for the Four Cups!

For many, the Seder has been defined by the historical limits of the kosher wine industry. For our parents and grandparents, not much was on offer beyond sweet, rectangular bottles of Manischewitz. However, in the last couple of decades, due to the explosion of the kosher wine industry, the choice for consumers has never been better. Head to your local wine store or kosher market for advice on the best wines for the Seder. (Or shop online if there is no kosher wine available in local stores.)

Read: Artisanal Wine for Passover From a California Wine-Country Rabbi

4. You Do Not Need to Read Hebrew (But It Sure Is Nice if You Can)

That’s right. The mitzvah is to tell the story of our nation’s Exodus from Egypt to your children. If you and your kids are fluent in Hebrew, by all means, tell the story in Hebrew. If, however, your family is more familiar with English (or Mandarin), go ahead and tell the story in the language they do understand.

Read: English Haggadah Text with Instructional Guide

5. The Four Questions Actually Need to Be Answered

After the kids ask the Four Questions, there is a tendency for the adults to move swiftly on, eager to delve into the depths of the Haggadah text (or to get to dinner). However, throughout the recitation of the Haggadah, we must continue to engage the children, have them ask more questions and invite them to share their thoughts and ideas. After all, this is their night, as the Torah commands, “And you shall tell your son on that day.”4

Read: A Night of Questions

6. The Seder Can Actually Be Fun

For some, the Seder feels like a long ordeal of too much Hebrew and not enough food. However, with a little preparation, the Seder can be a fun, enlightening and memorable experience for children and adults.

Read: How to Make a Wild, Wonderful and BIG Seder

7. Passover and Pesach Are Exactly the Same Holiday

Passover is the English translation of the Hebrew word Pesach (פסח), meaning “to skip or pass over.” The source of this name is in the story of the Exodus: when G‑d wrought the final of the 10 Plagues—the Death of the Firstborns—upon the Egyptians, G‑d “passed over” the Israelites to strike only the Egyptians.5 There are, in fact, several additional names given for this festival, Chag HaAviv (the Festival of Spring), Chag HaMatzot (the Festival of Matzahs) and Zeman Cherutenu (the Time of Our Freedom).

Read: What Does Passover Mean?

8. “Gluten Free” and “Kosher for Passover” Are Not Synonymous

It may be easy to assume that “gluten free” denotes “kosher for Passover.” This, in fact, is not the case. Certain oat products, for example, are gluten free but would not be kosher for Passover. Additionally, for something to be considered kosher for Passover, any cooking utensils used must also be kosher for Passover. Simply put, the halachic requirements for food to be kosher for Passover are far more complex and varied than the FDA’s requirements for gluten free.

9. Cleaning the House Is Not Enough

Sure, you need to scrub away any vestiges of chametz (leavened food) from your home, but did you know that you’re not even allowed to own chametz? That’s right, even if it is in a deep, dark closet in the basement. The solution is to store away and then sell any chametz for the duration of the holiday. Arranging the sale can be complex, so you should authorize a rabbi to sell your chametz for you. After the holiday, the rabbi will arrange for the chametz to be sold back.

10. There’s More to Passover Than the Seders

There’s more to Passover than the two Seder nights. In fact, Passover lasts for a full 8 days (7 days in the Land of Israel), during which we keep our chametz-free diet. The last two days, which follow four intermediate days, are known as Shvii shel Pesach (“Seventh of Passover”) and Acharon shel Pesach (“Last of Passover”), respectively. The theme of the first of these two days is the parting of the Sea of Reeds, which occurred in the early hours of the morning of the seventh day. The eighth day is associated with the future redemption. Indeed, the Baal Shem Tov taught that on the final day of Passover, a glimmer of the ultimate redemption is revealed. As the holiday fades, we have the custom to again drink four cups of wine, this time looking to the future.

Read: Moshiach’s Meal: What, Why, and How?

11. Matzah is Not Just the “Poor Man’s Bread”

The Zohar refers to matzah as the “bread of healing and faith.” Matzah, consisting of just two ingredients—flour and water—and not given a chance to rise, is the simplest of foods. It recalls our journey into the desert equipped with faith alone, arrival time unknown. Faith sustained us. When performing a command of G‑d, we draw down emanations of His Divine light. Since this is the only mitzvah we physically ingest, we are utterly consumed by this process, enabling us to experience a faith that brings to healing.

Read: Bread of Faith

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