The Passover Haggadah: “Why is this night different than all other nights?” Welcome to MaNishtanah.Com — a free, online Passover Haggadah for your Passover Seder.

Kadeish (blessings and the first cup of wine)

Kadeish is the Hebrew imperative form of Kiddush. This Kiddush is a blessing similar to that which is recited on all of the festivals, but also refers to matzot and the exodus from Egypt. Acting in a way that shows freedom and majesty, many Jews have the custom of filling each other’s cups at the Seder table. The Kiddush is traditionally said by the father of the house, but all Seder participants participate by reciting the Kiddush and drinking at least a majority of a cup of wine.

Ur’chatz (washing of  hands)

Partakers wash their hands in preparation for eating wet fruit and vegetables, which happens in the next stage. Technically, according to Jewish law, whenever one partakes of fruit or vegetables dipped in liquid, one must wash one’s hands, if the fruit or vegetable remains wet. However, this situation does not often arise at other times of the year because either one will dry fruits and vegetables before eating them or one has already washed one’s hands, because one must also wash one’s hands before eating bread.

According to most traditions, no blessing is recited at this point in the Seder, unlike the blessing recited over the washing of the hands before eating bread. However, followers of Rambam or the Gaon of Vilna do recite a blessing.

Karpas (reminder of the sweat and tears)

Each participant dips a sprig of parsley or similar leafy green into either salt water (Ashkenazi custom said to serve as a reminder of the tears shed by their enslaved ancestors), vinegar (Sephardi custom) or charoset (to represent the mortar).

Yachatz (breaking of the middle matzah)

Three pieces of matzah are stacked on the seder table; at this stage, the middle matzah of the three is broken in half.  The larger piece is hidden, to be used later as the afikoman, the “dessert” after the meal. The smaller piece is returned to its place between the other two pieces of matzah.

Magid (relating the Exodus)

The story of Passover, and the change from slavery to freedom is told.  At this point in the Seder, Sefardic Jews (from North African) have a custom of raising the Seder plate over the heads of all those present while singing. Moroccan Jews sing “Bivhilu yatzanu mimitzrayim, halahma anya b’nei horin” (In haste we went out of Egypt [with our] bread of affliction, [now we are] free people), Algerian Jews sing “Ethmol ‘ayinu abadim, hayom benei ‘horin, hayom kan, leshana habaa bear’a deYisrael bene ‘horin” (Yesterday we were slaves, today we are free, today we are here -in exile-, next year we will be in Israel free”.)