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Chapter 119:3
Laws of the Seder

3. Afterwards, [each person] should wash his hands without reciting the blessing (1), and then dry them. [The person leading the Seder] should cut a piece of the "karpas" (2) for himself and for all the members of his household. Each person should receive a piece [of the vegetable which is] less than a "k'zayis" in size (Lit: "like an olive") (3).

The pieces are dipped in salt water and the blessing "borey pri ho'adomoh" is recited. While reciting this blessing, one should have in mind that it should also apply to the marror (a vegetable to be eaten later in the evening). One should also eat the "karpas" while reclining on one's left side (4).

Afterwards, one takes the middle matzah and divides it into two portions, placing the larger portion next to him so that it can be used later as the "afikoman". It is customary to wrap the afikoman in a cloth to recall [Exodus 12:34]: "Their left-over dough was wrapped up in their clothes." There are some who place the matzah in the cloth on their shoulders to recall [the manner in which our ancestors] left Egypt.

The afikomon takes the place of the Pesach sacrifice. Therefore, the greater portion of the matzah should be used for it. The smaller portion should be returned to its place on the Seder plate. The matzos should be uncovered slightly and the plate lifted up. We then say the passage beginning "Ho Lachmah Anya... " ("This is the poor man's bread") until its conclusion with "next year we will be free people."

[Certain versions of the Haggodoh read] "K'ho lachmoh anya... " [instead of "Ho lachmah anya..."]. According to these versions, the passage continues, "..acholu avhosono..." [rather than "di acholu avhosono..."].

FOOTNOTES:

(1) That is, the blessing for washing one's hands - "Al Netilas Yadayim." There is a halacha that before eating (with one's hands) any food that has been washed or dipped in water (and is still wet), one has to perform the same ritual washing that one would perform before eating bread. However, many authorities rule that this halacha only applied when the Beis Hamikdash (Temple) was standing; nevertheless, even these authorities rule that this washing must be performed on Pesach, as an additional means of arousing the curiosity of the children.

(2) See HY 118:2

(3) Volume of approximately one fluid oz, 28.8 cubic centimeters.

(4) Many authorities do not require one to recline while eating the karpas. Unless one's custom is to the contrary, it is preferable to recline.

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