My Halachic Questions:

  1. Does everyone (adults) at the seder have to read the haggadah to themselves? (non-sefard) I have heard the Rema requires it, are any mattir?
  2. Can the leader of the seder paraphrase items in maggid - or does each word have to be recited verbatim? Specifically the many derashos are difficult for most to follow while said inside (w/o zoning out).
    (The Shulchan Aruch OC 473:7 says that after Avadim Hayinu is said then "וקורא כל ההגדה" which would make it seem that it's a din in קריאה (reciting).

Background: My seder experience (40+ years) has been that when someone goes into "recital" mode, all in attendance tune out (true outside of the seder - e.g. does anyone listen to each word of the Shabbos kiddush being "recited", it all becomes "yada, yada, yada, "Hagefen" "Amen - let's drink then eat" Given the above "reciting" does not promote questions/conversation at the seder. Quite the opposite is squelches it. Couple that with the requirement to recite it on your own, thus less time to focus on "hey why Do we do ... tonight?" and just go into "read this to discharge my obligation then eat". To combat this I have tried to have a flowing discussion, where based on the level of those at the seder the ideas in the hagaddah are woven into discussion instead of reciting verbatim. (I never knew if that's halachically acceptable, so I'm asking now.) In addition, this year we have spouses of my children, who for sure will not agree to such an approach if I don't have a legitimate source to back it up (and even then who knows). The problem with that is that Questions and discussion arise when people see others interested, it some at the seder see others in "recite then eat" mode, they will want to follow (a seder seems to follow the Least Common Denominator - i.e. who ever is going to eat first, the rest follow.) Not to mention, the implied "you're not actually getting the mitzvah unless you also recite the hagaddah word for word" Hence, I'm NOT asking for ideas to spice up the seder, but purely from a halachah point of view, how much leeway is given to gear the seder to those in attendance. And do attendees have to "recite"?


  • 2
    Why would everyone have to read it? The mitzva is to tell the story over; do they have to then tell it back to you??
    – Double AA
    Apr 7, 2020 at 14:36
  • Why would the whole thing have to be recited uninterruptedly anyway, such that people would tune out and not ask questions? At my sedarim, and I suspect many other people's as well, people can ask questions or start discussions at the breaks between paragraphs. (At my sedarim, too, we have each person around the table in turn say a paragraph out loud while the others recite it quietly, which also helps keep people engaged.)
    – Meir
    Apr 7, 2020 at 18:10
  • I've done the everyone reads to themselves and take turns out loud. This works well as a group effort to fulfill a mitzvah of reciting. And if reciting is the goal, works very well. However if the goal is a group Q/A "discussion" then it falls short (albeit with the an occasional Q or maybe even 2)
    – Chaim
    Apr 7, 2020 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


The Chaye Adam, brought and agreed with by the Mishna Berurah (473:64), writes that a maid who must spend the Seder in the kitchen should make sure to be present for at least "Rabban Gamliel etc.", as this is required to fulfil one's obligation.

The rest - (surprisingly including the Talmudic mah nishtana, avadim hayinu, mithchla ovdei avodah zarah, arami oved avi) seem to be not required. He does lechatchila require the maid to come in for the whole hagada, but the strict halacha would seem to only need the bit about which we say "לא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ".

Note that the CA is talking about Maggid. Kiddush is explicitly required, and he's unclear whether she would have to pick up from the Hallel component of Magid.

Whether your situation would justify adopting such a leniency is doubtful, but there is a clear technical basis for leaving things out. As with anything on the internet, CYLOR before doing anything.

  • Note: most think more things are required, even in Maggid, than this answer shows, but it is correct in principle that not everything is. Please be careful before omitting anything.
    – Double AA
    Apr 27, 2020 at 1:14
  • @DoubleAA Added in bolded CYLOR! I personally heard from my Rav a longer list (as I recall: sha'la uteshuva; mah nishtana, maschil b'gnus; avadim/ovdei, and Rabban Gamliel) and I was very surprised by the CY/MB. But it's certainly a significant source.
    – AKA
    Apr 27, 2020 at 16:55
  • thanks, the "irony" is that I ended up needing to be quarantined (Covid) and ending making my own seder. Though IY"H it's good to know for next year. I seems that not much can be "skipped" and that even paraphrasing would be doubtful
    – Chaim
    Apr 27, 2020 at 19:54
  • @Chaim refuah shelema!
    – Double AA
    Apr 28, 2020 at 2:52
  • thanks, BH seems to have subsided
    – Chaim
    Apr 28, 2020 at 21:22

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