Before we conclude this series of articles on the fulfillment of the mitzva of telling the story of yitzias mitzrayim, I would like to offer a few practical seder tips.
Keep It Moving
I don't mean to rush the important parts, but how many children of all ages need to ask the Ma Nishtana, and in how many languages? Past a particular age, say 27, they should be discouraged, or made to say it as a group. Have as much prepared beforehand as possible. My father-in-law, Rav Moshe Ganz, has all the romaine lettuce portions pre-measured in plastic bags. Work out the seating beforehand and make sure all the fighting over who sits where is decided before seder night. Placecards can be an effective device.
The more you can make the points apply to your children, the more effective they will be. Remember that they have to feel like they came out of Egypt. Use midrashim and stories to develop the ideas in the haggada.
Try making points that can be opened up for discussion. Ask questions and give candies to the younger children. Play up the afikomen negotiations. Older children can be assigned pieces of the haggada to prepare beforehand.
Remember the Little Ones
They might not be able to follow the older children's questions, so occasionally call them over and tell them a little story or midrash. Preschoolers love to tell over what they learned and to show their pictures. When the appropriate part comes, call them over to show their pictures.
Watch the Clock
If you want to have the afikomen by midnight, you have a limited amount of time for the seder, the matza, the marror and the seudah. Pace yourself. It's unlikely you'll have enough time for all the things you want to say, all the songs you want to sing and all the things you want to eat. Something is going to be cut out. Decide beforehand what is essential to you and what could be eliminated if need be.
Nirtza is the Destination of the Seder
When we reach the end of the seder, we are in a position to experience Hashem's outpouring of love. Enjoy the songs, but don't lose the spirit of kedusha that should pervade this very solemn and joyous time.
There's only One Seder
There are people in chutz laaretz who think there are two half seders. Some things today, some things tomorrow. The first seder is not a preview and the second seder shouldn't be a repeat performance. If you live in Chutz LaAretz, you have to work twice as hard and prepare two sederim educationally.
A smile is contagious. The more you work to make sure that you are having a wonderful time, the more everyone else will.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you and your family and all klal yisroel a Chag kasher visomayach.
The Fours Sons Series
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