These four questions form the central theme of all Seder meals during Passover and refer to how and why Passover is different from all days of the year. These questions are traditionally given to the youngest child in the family at the Seder table to be read aloud. The traditional format of the story is that there is one question with four clauses. The main question is "why is this night different from all other nights?" This story is then continued with the story about The Four Sons. This is an effort by early Jewish communities to encourage the future generation children and youth to be aware of their traditions and history.
The Four Important Questions:
1. Why do we eat only Matzah on Pesach and not all kinds of breads and crackers like other nights? When Pharaoh finally ordered Jews to get out of Egypt after the tenth plague, they were in such a hurry to get away from slavery that they had no time to let their dough rise and bake their bread, so they took the raw dough with them on their journey and baked it into hard crackers called Matzah in the hot dessert. That is why we eat only Matzah on this day to remind us of their struggles.
2. Why do we eat bitter herbs or Maror at our Seder? Maror or the bitter herbs are eaten to remind us of the bitterness of slavery and harsh and cruel ways in which Israelite people were treated as slaves under the Pharaoh in Egypt.
3. At our Seder, why do we dip the parsley in salt water and the bitter herbs in charoset? Parsley represents new life and spring while salt water represents tears of Israelite slaves and how hard they worked in Egypt. Parsley dipped in salt water that represents new life that emerged from the tears and hardship of the Israelite slaves. Charoset has a coarse texture like clay used to make bricks for the Pharaoh's buildings.
4. Why do we lean on a pillow while eating tonight and do not sit straight like other nights? Leaning on a pillow signifies the comforts of freedom. As slaves, our ancestors had little comforts, so we lean on a pillow to assert that we are free now and we can sit straight or lean on a pillow as much as we like.
Discussion Question: What other questions about the uniqueness of the Seder can you think of?
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