Continuing with our examination of Pesachim as per the Daf Yomi cycle, the Seder commences with Kiddush recited over the first cup of wine. Whereas Kiddush may be recited before nightfall on Shabbat, it must be recited after nightfall on Seder night. Unlike Shabbat and Yom Tov, on Seder night there is a requirement that each participant drink from his own cup. When reciting the Kiddush one should remember that the same cup of wine is serving a dual function of Yom Tov Kiddush and the first cup for Seder night.
Shehecheyanu, the blessing for sanctified time, is recited on both Seder nights. The minimum amount of wine in the cup should be a revi’it, which according to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein is between 3.3 and 4.42 fluid ounces. In case of difficulty, the last three cups may contain a minimum of 3 ounces. The wine may be diluted with water but the mixture should not exceed the ratio of 3.5 cups of water to one cup of wine.
A person who would become sick from wine may, instead, choose any of the following beverages in the following descending order of halachic preference: wine mixed with grape juice, wine mixed with water, grape juice or raisin wine.
Following Kiddush comes rachatz, as the baal haseder’s hands are washed without reciting the blessing of Al Netilat Yadayim and the karpas is dipped in salt water and eaten. Yachatz is next, with the breaking of the middle matzah in two pieces (signifying poverty), the larger of which is put aside for the afikoman and the smaller piece used later for the eating of matzah and marror.
We now come to maggid, and the Haggadah is recited until one arrives at rachtzah and motzi matzah. At this point hands are washed with the blessing and the baal haseder lifts up the two and a half matzot and recites the Hamotzi Lechem blessing. The bottom matzah is then let go and the blessing of Al Achilat Matzah is recited and the kezayit of matzah is eaten in silence before midnight. After the matzah, the marror, dipped in charoset, is eaten, first separately without matzah in accordance with the opinion of the sages, and then together with matzah – korech –in sandwich form in accordance with the opinion of Hillel.
When we arrive at Shulchan Orech, the meal should be eaten in reclining position and finished before midnight so that the afikoman, like the Korban Pesach it signifies, may be eaten before midnight. Nothing should be eaten after the afikoman. The third cup is drunk with a blessing after Grace after Meals. The fourth cup is filled and Hallel is then recited without a blessing.
Nirtza, reminiscing about Exodus concludes the Seder. Because Seder night is called Lel Shimurim, the night in which God guards over us, no bedtime prayers are recited.