Setting the Table
This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.
Setting the Table
- One should set his table before Yom Tov so that one can eat the Seudah right after Tzet HaKochavim.  One doesn’t actually have to start the Seder right after Tzet but the table should be set so it’s possible to start right away. 
- One should set the table with nice utensils according to what one can afford. 
- One should set the chairs so that it is possible to lean properly while eating and drinking. 
- One should distribute candies to the children so that they ask about the differences on the night of peasch. 
Preparing the food
- If Yom Tov falls out on Shabbat, one should do the Melacha of Borer to prepare food before the Seder because the meal isn't immediately connected to the beginning of the Seder. 
- On Shabbat, it is considered Borer to take the small bugs attached to the Maror leaves, however it is permissible if one take a bit of the leaf with the bug. Nonetheless, it isn't considered Borer to remove a large worm that stands independent of the leaf. 
Seder Plate (Kaarah)
- Not everyone at the Seder needs to have their own three Matzahs and it’s enough that the one running the Seder has three Matzahs, however, in order that there be enough for everyone to receive a Kezayit from a broken matzah and a Kezayit from a whole matzah the one running the Seder should have the required amount of whole and broken matzahs. Some, however, argue that everyone should have their own three matzot so that there is enough so that each person have enough matzah for the mitzvah.
- The Kaarah should be set with the three Matzot, Maror, Charoset, Karpas, and two cooked dishes (in commemoration of the Pesach and Chagigah Korbanot) and the minhag is to use a roasted shank bone and an egg. However, some have the practice of only using two Matzot. 
- Preferably the Kaarah should be set so that one doesn’t need to pass over one mitzvah to do another mitzvah and so one should put the Karpas is the highest/closest place because that’s the first mitzvah of the night. Afterwards, should be the Matzah, then the Maror, and finally the cooked dishes. However, some say it doesn’t matter where the cooked dishes or Maror are. 
Kos Shel Eliyahu
- Many have the practice of pouring an extra glass of wine and leaving it at the table, referred to as the kos shel eliyahu 
- One should immerse the kos of eliyahu used for the seder night without a beracha. 
- Ashkenazim have a practice to wear a kittel for the seder.
- A mourner doesn't wear a kittel. Some say that the minhag is that a mourner does wear a kittel for the seder.
- One shouldn't bring the kittel into the bathroom.
- Gemara Pesachim 109a explains that the seder table should be set before Pesach so that a person can start the meal right away so that the children don't fall asleep. Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 472:1 codify this as the halacha. Aruch HaShulchan 472:2 adds another reason why we should have the table set before Yom Tov is to have the table set for many hours before a meal like the tables of kings.
- Mishna Brurah 472:1 explains that it’s not precise when S”A writes that the table should be set so that one can start right after it gets dark rather it means that it should be possible to start then. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach part 2, pg 5) concurs. However, Or Samech (Hilchot Chametz UMatzeh 7:3) suggests that since Matzah is compared to Pesach, just like Pesach is supposed to be eaten right after Tzet so too the Matzah is supposed to be eaten right after Tzet.
- Tur and S”A 672:2. Mishna Brurah 472:5 adds that one should nice utensils even though during the rest of the year one should refrain from using the best utensils because of Zecher LeChurban (to commemorate the destruction of the temple; Zecher_LeChurban).
- Tur and S”A 472:2
- Shulchan Aruch 472:16 based on Peschim 108
- Halichot Shlomo (Pesach, pg 215-6) writes that since Borer is only permitted when done immediately before a meal, concerning the Seder it is forbidden because the meal comes so long after the preparations, and it wouldn't be considered as doing Borer for eating immediately.
- Semirat Shabbat KeHilchata (3 note 102)
- Rav Schachter on OU Pre-Pesach Webcast 5771 between minutes 90 and 91
- Igrot Moshe 5:16:4
- S”A and Rama 473:4 say that such is the minhag. The gemara in Pesachim 116a says that based on the pasuk of lechem oni, the matza should be broken and not whole, just like poor people's bread. Rif Pesachim 25b and Rambam Hilchot Chametz umatza 8:6 both rule that based on that there is no lechem mishna and we only have one whole and one broken. Tosafot Pesachim 116a "ma darko shel ani biprusa" says that we need to fulfill both lechem oni and lechem mishna so there is a requirement to have three matzas, two whole and the broken one. Shulchan Aruch 473:4 rules like tosafot. The Biur Hagra 473:4 rules like the Rambam because by having three you don't fulfill lechem oni.
- Haggadah of the Roshei Yeshivah (pg 14) records Rav Moshe's minhag to only use 2 matzot in accordance with the opinion of the Gra. See previous footnote.
- Rama 473:4 says that one should arrange the Kaarah so that one doesn’t pass over the mitzvoth. Mishna Brurah 473:36 says in name of the Chok Yacov that it doesn’t matter where the Karpas is because it’s not a mitzvah (as it’s only a zecher lemikdash). Mishna Brurah (Shaar Tzion 473:33) brings a machloket whether the Maror has to be placed in the order so as not to place over it.
- Chok Yaakov Siman 480
- Rav Osher Weiss
- Taz 472:3, Mishna Brurah 472:12
- The Rama 610:4 presents 2 reasons for wearing a kittel: to mimic the angels and to remember the day of death. The Taz 472:3 writes that a mourner doesn't wear a kittel for the first reason. Mishna Brurah 472:13 writes that the mourner doesn't wear a kittel but if he doesn't one shouldn't protest.
- Dirshu 472:17 citing Rav Shlomo Zalman (Halichot Shlomo p. 136)
- Mishna Brurah 610:18