On the first two nights of Pesach it is incumbent upon each of us, men and women alike, to perform the following five basic mitzvot:
The eating of matzah on the first and second nights of Pesach while reclining on the left side. MATZAH SHEMURA IS REQUIRED on the first two nights of Pesach for the fulfillment of the mitzvah. The wheat used in these special matzot is guarded from the moment of harvest from any water or moisture that would cause the wheat to swell and makeup it hametz. The matzah is then baked by hand by Jews who know the importance of this mitzvah.
Relating the story of the exodus from Egypt, as it says: “You should relate to your son (the story of Pesach) on this night.” Women and children are also required to perform this mitzvah. It is essential that the important sections of the Haggadah should be translated and explained for anyone who may not understand the context of the Haggadah.
Drinking four cups of wine while reclining to the left. If one’s health does not permit the drinking of wine, he may dilute the wine with grape juice.
Eating marror (Romaine lettuce). Care should be taken that the lettuce leaves are checked very carefully for any insects.
Reciting the Hallel. In Arvit of erev Pesach both men and women should say full hallel with a berachah.
The Seder Procedure
Kiddush is recited over the wine. At least just over half of a 3.04 oz. cup of wine should be drunk. When drinking it, it is customary to recline as a sign of freedom. The word Kiddush means to make holy; the first step of the Seder is to create an awareness of holiness and an atmosphere of joy.
Washing the Hands
The Washing of Hands - three times consecutively on each hand from a cup. The blessing is not recited. The ritual washing of the hands parallels to that of the priests in the temple. The intent is to purify oneself before eating.
Dipping a Vegetable
Less than an ounce of any vegetable is dipped into salt water and then eaten. The blessing, Borei Peri Ha’adamah, is recited before eating. When making the Bracha, one should also be conscious to cover the marror. A vegetable is a symbol of spring and regeneration. (One of the names of Pesach is the Festival of the Spring). The salt water represents the tears of the Jewish people who suffered in Egypt. The dipping process was instituted in the Seder to arouse the children’s curiosity and stimulate them to ask questions.
Breaking the Matzah
The middle matzah is broken and the larger half hidden for use in the Afikomen. The reason is so we will recall the hardships of our forefathers in Egypt—that all they had to eat was broken, unleavened bread.
Reciting of the Haggadah
No matter how knowledgeable we are about Passover, the retelling of the story of the Exodus heightens our awareness and stimulates our consciousness. After the story is completed, the second cup of wine should be drunk.
Washing of the Handss
The hands are washed ritually again as in item 2, but this time with a blessing.
Eating the Matzah
Matzah is called the bread of faith because it reminds us of the faith that our forefathers displayed in journeying out of Egypt, without packing food, confident of G-d’s help. Everyone must eat at least one ounce of matzah, which is eaten in a reclining position.
Eating of the Marror
The Marror symbolizes the bitterness of our forefathers’ lives in Egypt. It is dipped into, and then shaken free of the Charoset, which in color and composition reminds us of the mortar used to make bricks in Egypt. At least one ounce should be eaten.
A sandwich of matzah and marror is eaten, commemorating the way Hillel used to celebrate Passover during the time of the Bet Hamikdash. The sandwich is eaten while reclining.
A festival meal, replete with many delicacies is enjoyed. We are asked to be excessive in the use of food, wine, dishes, and silverware to demonstrate our joy at our freedom.
The Afikomen is eaten after the meal in commemoration of the Pesach sacrifice. At least one ounce of matzah should be eaten in a reclining position.
The Grace after Meals is recited over the third cup of wine, thanking G-d for His blessings to us.
The Hallel (praise of G-d) is recited, recalling the many miracles that Hashem performed for us. Then the final cup of wine is drunk.
The efforts of man are completed and G-d accepts our Seder service