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
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..."].
(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.