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.
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.
The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the children of...
The Paschal Lamb reminds us that the Holy One, praised be God, passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt.
The Matzah is to remind us that before the dough our ancestors prepared for bread had time to rise, God revealed the might, power and presence of God unto them and redeemed them.
The Bitter Herbs are to remind us that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in...
My Angry Self – Violent and oppressive things are happening to me, thepeople I love and people I don’t even know. Why can’t we make the people inpower hurt the way we are all hurting?
Expressing our anger, releasing our anger, knowing and claiming our anger is an important step in the process of liberation, but hatred and violence can never overcome hatred and violence. Only love...
Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, which Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself. (The Jewish obsession with food is...
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children or our contacts when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE REVOLUTIONARY CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
Empower him always to seek pathways...
The olive branch is a universal symbol of peace, associated with the dove in the story of Noah's Ark and the Flood.
Olive trees mature slowly, so only when there was an extended time of peace, with agriculture left undisturbed, could the olive tree produce its fruit.In 2008, Jewish Voice for Peace promoted putting an olive on the seder plate as part of its Trees of Reconciliation project, which sought to donate...
From singing Dayenu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our people's journey. Yet we must never confuse these way stations with the goal. Because it is not yet Dayenu. There is still so much to do in our work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.
When governments end the escalating production of devastating weapons, secure in the knowledge that they will not be necessary, Dayenu.
When all women and men...
by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Horseradish is hard to find in the hinterlands outside Gallup NM. On this dry bit of Earth, next to what's left of Navajo/Hopi/Zuni lands, Pesach was clearly going to be a new experience. I had taken the year off from Brandeis to join the Global Walk for a Livable World 1990, figuring the truest education would be to "get up and walk the land" (Gen. 13:17), and to "serve and...
Read and Discuss
The Three Levels of Oppression: Ilan Gur Ze'ev
The First level:
In our opinion, the first level of oppression, primitive oppression, is expressed by inflicting aggressive force (physical violence) in order to force someone to act against their will and interest. Uprising against this kind of oppression is possible...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as theBread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake inthe hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol ofwretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry. There...
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews whokept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jewshave affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
According to the Book of Exodus, there was a famine in the land of Canaan (later known as Israel). Because of this famine, the Hebrew patriarch Jacob traveled with his extended family of 70 to Egypt to both live inbetter conditions and be with his son Joseph. Joseph’s wisdom had impressed the Pharaoh of Egypt to the point that he was appointed Viceroy of Egypt, which was second in power only to the Pharaoh.
Why is there no orange on our Seder plate?
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put...
A HEBREW LESSON ON THE ROOT-WORD S-D-R
How is the festival meal of Passover different from the meal eaten at other holiday celebrations? For one thing, the Passover repast is consumed in the context of a scripted dramatic arrangement, a (seder), from the Hebrew verb (le-sadder), "to arrange."
There are, to be sure, similar arrangements in Jewish ritual and textual life. The daily prayer book, which...
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...