My Journey Through the Haggadah- Rachtza
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My Journey Through the Haggadah- Rachtza
Prior to eating any food or drinking any liquid, we are commanded by our Sages to bless the Almighty who provides us with food and drink. Although it is man who plants and reaps, it is the Almighty's design that what we plant grows into fruit, vegetables and vegetation that is the basis of all life. The blessing varies the blessing for fruit grown on trees, ends with "who creates the fruit of the trees", while the blessing for vegetables grown on the ground, ends with "who creates the fruit of the ground". Food that is neither fruit nor vegetables, such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs etc., and liquids, apart from wine, have their own blessing, which ends "by whose word all things exist". Food made of any of the five species of grain such as for example cake or pasta, have their own special blessing “who creates all kinds of food”
However, bread is of such importance called "the staff of life” that it has its own blessing, and ends "who brings forth bread from the earth". Bread is considered such an essential part of all meals that the Sages have decreed that the blessing on bread includes all the food that we eat in that meal.
Wine which is an important part of our lives in that we sanctify the Sabbath and Festivals with wine and is an essential part of the wedding and circumcision services, of all liquids has its own blessing which does not mention wine, but ends "who has created the fruit of the vine". Incidentally, the blessing for grapes from which wine is made is the standard one for fruit of the tree.
The table on which we eat our meals is compared to the Altar in the Temple and we give thanks to the Almighty for providing the meal we eat on it. By eating bread with the meal, we make what we eat into a “proper meal” as it were, as distinct from a snack. In the Temple of old the Priest would wash his hands before eating the Terumah, (the gift of the grain given to the Priest) To stress the importance of this “proper meal”, and to commemorate the action of the priest we also wash our hands, prior to the blessing we make over the bread. Washing the hands prior to a “proper meal” converts the blessing over bread into a blessing over all the individual foods and types of food we eat in that “proper meal”
This washing of our hands before a meal is called in Hebrew, נטילת ידי (‘netilat yadayim’) and is done by pouring water from a vessel twice (some say 3 times) over each hand in turn making the special blessing which appears next in the Haggadah. Between this blessing and the two which we make next, one over the Matzah as bread and one which we make only on the Seder night on eating Matzah in accordance with the commandment to eat Matzah, there should not be any distraction such as talking or untoward or unnecessary gesturing.
Is there really any reason for a sprig of parsley to be on the Seder Table? What is the connection between karpas and the Jewish People leaving Egypt?
Winter, with its bleak landscape and cold, short days, can lead to gloom and despondency.
In contrast, spring breeds hope. Seeds that have been frozen in the earth haven't died, and in the spring they re-awaken. Even when all is cold and dark,...
If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human...
Passover is a holiday with many different themes. This breadth ensures that no two seders will ever be exactly alike and encourages each of us to engage equally, whether this is the first or hundredth seder you’ve attended. It also challenges each of us to connect to the seder on a personal, individual level. The themes offered are just a sampling, what other themes are you drawn to?
Following the framework of the Four Questions of the Passover haggadah, we ask four alternative questions for discussion. These questions are meant to spark conversations that can happen throughout the seder.
Read this narrative aloud and then discuss the question below.
“When I found out I got into the University, I immediately called...
by Joshua Ratner, Rabbis Without Borders
One of my favorite parts of the Passover seder is the singing that takes place after we finish eating. There are so many great, fun songs, from “Ehad Mi Yodeah” to "Chad Gadya."Perhaps my favorite song is “Dayenu.” The words are fairly easy to sing in Hebrew, and the chorus is so catchy that even those who don’t know Hebrew can easily join in. But beyond its...
“An Invitation to a Plant-Based Meal”
Adam Gorod, Jewish Veg. D.C.
Our food choices during the Exodus were so much simpler. We could subsist on manna alone. Free of animal products, manna was a bread from heaven with a taste like coriander seed. Today the options—even during Passover—are more varied. Any number of Kosher-for-Passover items sit in the curated displays of...
There have been many suggestions as to Judaism's most fundamental concept. Here's my candidate: In each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim.
Rav Kook says each of us took something from that experience that the world needs before it can be fully redeemed. Our father Abraham knew well how to argue with God, but he didn't argue when told his descendants would be slaves for...
Immediately following birkat hamazon (grace after meals) we drink the third of four cups of wine. We pour the fourth cup which will be for the upcoming completion of Hallel. We also pour a fifth cup that is situated in the middle of the table called Kos Shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s Cup).
This cup is left undrunk until such time as the halakhic question is answered: Do the Jews in Israel drink the fifth cup which...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry....
Tonight we gather together to celebrate Passover, our holiday of freedom. We will eat a great meal together, enjoy (at least!) four glasses of wine, and tell the story of our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. We welcome our friends and family members from other backgrounds to reflect with us on the meaning of freedom in all our lives and histories. We will consider...
The bitter herbs serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the grocery store, where does your food come from? Who picked the sugar cane for your cookie,
or the coffee bean for your morning coffee? We are...
By Rabbi Melissa Klein, Rabbi Joanna Katz, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Rabbi Jo Hirschmann, Susan Kaplow, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell
This year, we add a padlock and a key to our seder plate.
Those of us who are blessed to live in our own homes tend to associate locks and keys with protection and access. Many of us have homes that keep us safe and that allow us to go in and out as we please. In contrast, for more...
The next item on our plate is the karpas: the vegetable representing spring. Many families use a green leafy vegetable because the green makes people think about freshness, coming alive, being healthy- all the wonderful things that go along with freedom. But when families do not have enough resources they can't always get fresh fruits and vegetables. When our family lived in Eastern Europe it was also...
More Clips from Yekutiel Atkins
At the end of the meal, we eat the Afikomen. This is the piece of the middle Matzah, which was broken in half and put away until now. Traditionally this has probably been "stolen" by somebody, most likely the youngest child and has to be “ransomed” because without it the Seder is unable to continue. The Master of the house will therefore, have to ‘bribe’ by a promise of a present to the...
We have now concluded the whole of the Seder celebration according to the regulations and precepts that have been laid down for us by our teachers. We have invited those who are needy to join us in our celebration. The children have asked why is this night different from all other nights. We have reviewed our history beginning with Laban who tried to stifle our faith almost at its...