The Two-Minute Haggadah : A Passover service for the impatient, by Michael Rubiner
Thanks, God, for creating wine. (Drink wine.)
Thanks for creating produce. (Eat parsley.)
Overview: Once we were slaves in Egypt. Now we're free. That's why we're doing this.
1. What's up with the matzoh?
2. What's the deal with horseradish?
3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?
4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?
1. When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.
2. Life was bitter, like horseradish.
3. It's called symbolism.
4. Free people get to slouch.
A funny story: Once, these five rabbis talked all night, then it was morning. ( Heat soup now. )
The four kinds of children and how to deal with them:
Wise child—explain Passover.
Simple child—explain Passover slowly.
Silent child—explain Passover loudly.
Wicked child—browbeat in front of the relatives.
Speaking of children: We hid some matzoh. Whoever finds it gets five bucks.
The story of Passover: It's a long time ago. We're slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh is a nightmare. We cry out for help. God brings plagues upon the Egyptians. We escape, bake some matzoh. God parts the Red Sea. We make it through; the Egyptians aren't so lucky. We wander 40 years in the desert, eat manna, get the Torah, wind up in Israel, get a new temple, enjoy several years without being persecuted again. ( Let brisket cool now. )
The 10 Plagues: Blood, Frogs, Lice—you name it.
The singing of "Dayenu":
If God had gotten us out of Egypt and not punished our enemies, it would've been enough. If he'd punished our enemies and not parted the Red Sea, it would've been enough.
If he'd parted the Red Sea—( Remove gefilte fish from refrigerator now. )
Eat matzoh. Drink more wine. Slouch.
Thanks again, God, for everything. SERVE MEAL.
A word about God: everyone has his or her own understanding of what God is. For some people, there is no God, while for others, God is an integral part of their lives. While we may not agree on a singular concept of God, we share a common desire for goodness to prevail in the world. And this is the meaning of tonight: freedom winning out over slavery, good prevailing over evil.
Please consider the source of benevolence in your life, be it God, or a belief in humanity, and hold that source in your hearts as we move through the evening.
Nothing on the Seder table is selected randomly; each item has it’s purpose and often it’s specific place. The Seder plate holds at least six of the ritual items that are discussed during the Seder: the shankbone, maror, charoset, karpas, salt water, orange, roasted egg, and boiled egg.
(to the tune of “Frère Jacques”)
Hard Boiled Egg
Karpas and Charoset
One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shankbone (called zeroah), which commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God (the Hebrew word zeroah can mean “arm”). Many vegetarians use a roasted beet instead. This isn’t a new idea; the great Biblical commentator Rashi suggested it back in the eleventh century.
MAROR (BITTER HERB)
Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but people are called to look at their own bitter enslavements.
There’s nothing further from maror than charoset (“cha-ROH-set”), the sweet salad of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon that represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks.
Karpas is a green vegetable, usually parsley (though any spring green will do). Karpas symbolizes the freshness of spring. Some families still use boiled potatoes for karpas, continuing a tradition from Eastern Europe where it was difficult to obtain fresh green vegetables.
Salt water symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement, though paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for purity, springtime, and the sea.
The tradition of putting an orange on the seder plate in is a response to a less evolved rabbi who told a young girl that a woman belongs on a bimah as much as an orange on a Seder plate. The orange is now said to be a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, whether they be gay, straight, male or female.
The roasted egg (baytsah) is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which was performed in the days of the Second Temple. Another popular interpretation is that the egg is like the Jewish people: the hotter you make it for them, the tougher they get.
BOILED EGG (TO EAT)
May we reflect on our lives this year and soften our hearts to those around us. Another year has passed since we gathered at the Seder table and we are once again reminded that life is fleeting. We are reminded to use each precious moment wisely so that no day will pass without bringing us closer to some worthy achievement as we all take a moment to be aware of how truly blessed we are.
Our faith gives us many holidays to celebrate throughout the year and they are all times for self reflection, gently guiding us to a better path in life. We are each given a chance to reflect on our past year; to think about where we have been and how we will live our lives in the year to come. We reaffirm our commitment to lead good and meaningful lives, promoting peace wherever we go.
Why do we eat only unleavened bread?
When the Jews left Egypt it was in great haste. The dough had no time to rise. In our rush to escape slavery, we gave up on yeast.
Why do we eat bitter herbs?
Because the lives of the Jews in Egypt were bitter with hard labour. The bitter taste helps us to feel the pain of our ancestors under slavery, and the pain of so many people today who are enslaved. We dip our greens the first time to taste the bitterness.
Why do we dip the herbs twice?
We dip the greens in salt water as a symbol of rebirth, the bitter herbs in the haroset because the despair of slavery was sweetened by the promise of freedom. We dip once to taste the bitterness of slavery, to remind us of the pain that our ancestors endured before escaping to freedom. We dip again to remind ourselves that bitterness is a bad habit.
Why do we recline?
Reclining at the table was the sign of a free person - so we commemorate the freedom of Passover.
October 1, 2017
November 5, 2017
February 14, 2018
"Dayenu" is a song all about appreciating what we have and what we’ve been given. It is easy to get lost in the great lists of things we don’t have and the demands we are always fighting for. However, we should take stock of what we do have and appreciate those gifts, because it's possible we could have much less or nothing at all.
If I had only one pair of shoes and not two, dayenu! If I had a tiny apartment and not a house, dayenu! If I had a only two meals a day to eat and not three, dayenu!
The traditional "Dayenu" recounts everything the Israelites were thankful for as they left Egypt. The message is that just one of these events that led to their freedom, "it would have been enough." We'll only sing a few of the verses, but you can read the translated text of the full song below.
Ilu ho-tsi, ho-tsi-a-nu, Ho-tsi-anu mi-Mitz-ra-yim Ho-tsi-anu mi-Mitz-ra-yim Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been taken out of Egypt, it would've been enough!)
Chorus: Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-ye-nu Da-ye-nu
Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough!)
Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough!)
Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would've been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would've been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would've been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would've been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would've been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.
This laden history has often contributed to some of our families' inability to accept the idea of intermarriage. We acknowledge that Jewish people have struggled and been enslaved in the past and we stretch to transform this defeated posture. We also know that sometimes our own enslavement or emotional bondage prevents us from being open to hearing each other in our marriage. Loyalties to families of origin need to be honored, unless they prevent us from creating true intimacy. Bitter places are stuck places, and we commit ourselves tonight to moving beyond our own positions to find new points of intersection and connection.
Tonight we dip our bitterness in the sweetness of charoset. Charoset, the sweet mixture of fruits and nuts, symbolizes the mortar of the bricks of the Israelites. It is also the mortar of commitment and interdependence that enabled the Jewish community to survive through those centuries of oppression. It is the building blocks of hope and tradition, which are sweet. We take our maror of fear, and by dipping it into the sweetness we create a new model that honors the fear and suffering yet holds out hope for the future.
By blending our maror and charoset, we acknowledge the blending of faiths and traditions that sit around this table here tonight. We know it is not always sweet and it is not always bitter, but that life is a mixture of both. Just as our taste buds are designed for sweet, salty, sour and bitter, so we taste the range of textures of our relationships. By our dipping tonight we bring together the bitter and the sweet for something new to emerge.