Friday, April 14, 2006

The one-day-yom-tov person's guide to the second seder

I do one day of yom tov, and so does my family, but we still had a seder on the second night, because why not. There's no reason not to have a festive meal during chol hamo'ed Pesach, and eat matzah and maror and sing songs and tell the story of the Exodus. (Likewise, I've been to a number of great meals on the second night of Sukkot, when I considered it chol hamo'ed.) In addition to the required seder on the first night, a seder can happen on any night of Pesach. The Hillel haggadah, On Wings of Freedom, recognizes the reality that sedarim often happen during chol hamo'ed, and includes the omer counting text for all the nights of Pesach, as well as a note before kiddush saying "On the first or second night, say:".

The whole extended family has the big seder on the first night, but my parents want to host a seder too, so they've been having one on the second night for the last few years. And I think second seders can be useful for solving all kinds of dilemmas - e.g., having the seder with one side of the family each night, or having a different style of seder each night. That said, I would also be fine with one seder, since the second night has no special status.

While there are reasons that having two seders is beneficial, the second seder should perhaps ideally take place on the 7th night, when (a) it is yom tov, and (b) it is more feasible to be in an entirely different city than one is in on the first night. I have long lamented that I'll never get to have a seder with my non-Chicago friends, because we're all in our respective ancestral homes for the beginning of Pesach. But, in theory, (once I start actually kashering for Pesach rather than taking the easy way out) we could have sedarim with our families on the 1st night, and a seder in the city where we live on the 7th night. I'm not sure how well this would work in practice, because I'm not sure anyone (including me) has the energy for a seder after 6 days of this. But it's a thought.

What changes should a one-day-yom-tov person be aware of when attending a seder on the second night?
  • For the first cup, I just say "borei p'ri hagafen" and don't say the rest of kiddush, since it's not the beginning of a yom tov.
  • I (silently and inconspicuously) say havdalah for the end of yom tov (hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol) with whichever cup is appropriately timed. This year, the first and second cup happened while it was still light out, so this should have happened with the third or fourth cup. Except that it slipped my mind, so I did it after the seder.
  • I'm ok with saying the blessing ga'al Yisrael with the second cup. We always need redemption.
  • I don't say al achilat matzah or al achilat maror, since it's only a commandment on the first night.
  • I don't say yom shekulo tov in birkat hamazon. (However, ya'aleh v'yavo is still said during chol hamo'ed.)
  • There's no requirement about eating nothing else after the afikoman (other than the third and fourth cups), since it's not a "real" seder. So I noshed on the leftovers while we were cleaning up.
  • Otherwise, everything else, from "Arise My Love" to "Chad Gadya", is pretty much the same.
This year, for the first time, we used A Different Night on both nights, finally putting the old CCAR haggadah to rest. I endorse A Different Night, but note that it is Unix to other haggadot's Windows. The old haggadah was linear, so it was easy to pick up and go straight through, and do the same seder every year. The new haggadah can do much more, and there are opportunities to have varied seders each year with the same haggadah, but the leader should be cautioned that advance preparation is necessary in order to use it effectively. Not that there's anything wrong with that; I know which one I prefer.


  1. as is not unusual i have the same practice of enjoying second sedarim though i don't view them as required. it is a nice chance to make seder with other friends in addition to family.
    it should be noted that many second seders start, as BZ pointed out, before the end of the first day of hag. if you ar emoving from one day of hag to the other, than the second day starts at sunset. if however you are moving from full hag to hol hamoed, then the first day of hag is not over until three stars (think shabbat). this creates a potential asymetry that should be noted.
    an advantage of the second seder on hol hamoed is that it gives those who don't drive on shabbat/hag the chance to have a festive meal in the home of someone who is celebrating full hag who is not within walking distance. the issue, is that you are likely to arrive late to the seder if you only set out driving after havdalah.

  2. Not all of us were in our ancestral homes for the first days. Some of us were in our parent's ancestral home while our parents were in what they considered their true ancestral home. Just sayin.'

    (I have no answer to, "Are you going home for yom tov?" Where is home, really?)

  3. Hmm. I, too, kept one day of Yom Tov this year, because I am currently a Ben Eretz Yisro'eil. (For what it's work, I'm actually a Ben Yerusholayim, so the sheluhhim definitely could have reached my apartment in time to inform me of Yom Tov.) However, on the second night, some Chutznik friends of mine invited me to their second seider. I accepted, because I think that סעודת חול המועד is an important mitzvo, and that this would probably be the way for me to get the most lavish סעודת חול המועד that evening.

    I waited until Yom Tov was over (for me), and then took the bus over to Qatamon. I arrived at the seider in time for the meal. I said בורא פרי הגפן, and המוציא. I ate the meal with my friends. When the meal was over they ate 'afikômon, and I ate a piece of mattzo. (Why not?) We all bentsh'd over a cup of wine, because it's a mitzvo to do so, especially when there is a quorum present for zimmun. I left either during Halleil, or right after Halleil, and took the bus back home.

    (And I never really do hard-core melokho on חולו של מועד, so keeping one day didn't feel so weird, anyway.)