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