THE ANONYMOUS HAGGADAH - Urchatz
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THE ANONYMOUS HAGGADAH - Urchatz
The Leader of the Seder only, now washes his/her hands from an ewer into a bowl held
by another celebrant, wiping them dry on a hand towel. We have accepted the need for
leadership, we wash the leaders's hands. This small, formal act of service is a symbol of
our recognition of their leadership. This is an ancient Jewish ritual in and of itself.
At this point in the Seder, washing the hands has a specific purpose other than to
punctuate and elect. It is a statement of purpose, an elevation from the mundane. It
symbolizes the wish to be relieved of the bondage of self. Before the Cohen (priest) could
perform any of his duties in the Temple, he had to wash his hands and feet from the
copper urn in the courtyard. Silently he prayed as we do before we begin the Seder.
"Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Your will. Make me an
instrument of Your purpose, take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear
witness to those I would help of Your power, Your love and Your way of life".
The Washing of hands refers back to the Great Copper Urn and further back to the Jewish
women and the mirrors they used in Egypt. That was the prime example of an action that
served Hashem's purpose. The way water flows between the fingers as it passes over the
hands leaving them cleansed, copies the action of lust as it flows through the body. Water
always tries to shed its energy and come to rest after doing so. So too do the sensations of
lust and longing.
When we eat dry foods, washing the hands is not necessary. But as soon as liquids are
involved, as with the ritual of KARPAS we are about to perform when we will dip
vegetables into salt water, we must prepare our hands by washing them. It is easily
explained in terms of hygiene and cleanliness. But in light of what we just said, it attains
a far deeper significance. Whenever hunger, lust or the expression of any of our needs
comes over us, we beg Hashem to help us express His will. We ask Him to ensure the lust
or the hunger washes over us passing through our fingers. Leaving us cleansed the way
washing our hands does.
Washing of hands, (before the advent of theories regarding hygiene) is a singularly
Jewish ritual with no counterpart in any contemporary or adjacent cultures and religion.
Greeks and Romans had no such symbolical actions in their lives. So its real meaning is
closely reflected in the metaphor "I wash my hands of it ".
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 when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE ACTIVIST CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the...
With the second cup of wine we remember God’s promise to save the Israelites from the forced labor of the Egyptian taskmasters. With this cup we turn our thoughts to those in our community who have been forced back into the underground economy. We think about the returning citizens among us who so desire a fresh start and a family- sustaining job, but who are forced by society’s discrimination...
I write this year’s Prologue as Israel is going to the polls to decide whether to replace its present right-wing prime minister with the Zionist Union, a center-left political alliance. Whatever the outcome, chances are that Israel’s recent history of fractured politics and short-lived coalitions will probably continue. But why am I writing about Israel? you might ask. Aren’t there enough issues here at home for...
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...
“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state--it is to receive pleasure afforded by an amusing act or a spectacle.... Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions.
As we celebrate the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, we remember that there are 60 million displaced people around the world, people fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish, refugee resettlement organization, helps refugees find ways to live in...
“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...
It’s eight o’clock on a festive eve
The Haggadah sons shuffle past
They are wise, and wicked, and simpleton And one who doesn’t know how to ask
The wise son says “Dad, wontcha call on me.” I know the Torah and the codes
They’re good and they’re sweet
And I know ‘em complete
The others might as well take a doze. La-di-die-diddy-die. . .
Sing us a song you’re...
We Won't Get Fooled Again: Helping Teens Identify Pharaoh
A boy is tricked into being part of a game with other boys only to find out that he is the target of mockery and abuse. A girl is happy to be included as a "friend" at a lunch table until she finds it was only a ploy to get back at another girl. A boy is "hit on" as part of a practical joke. A girl is lured into an unwelcomed physical...
Imagine you are standing on the bank of the sea of reeds and you look forward and all you see is water. Suddenly, you look behind you and you see the Egyptian army quickly approaching you. The Israelites pled to Moses and Moses spoke to God. God told Moses, raise your staff over the water and I will split the seas. So Moses did, and nothing happened.
Suddenly a man named Nachshon started walking into the water. ...
The Seder is all about answering questions. But one question remains unanswered, and that’s the most important question – Why? We are taught, “ In every generation, each person must see him/herself as if s/he were redeemed from Egypt.” But why? Why return to Egypt year after year? Why re-taste the bitterness of slavery? Ask the Torah – What difference does this experience...
More Clips from Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons & Significant Others
Taking a very small piece of vegetable, less than the size of an olive, we dip it in salt
water and eat it.
This whets our appetite physically and intellectually. Even the child in us wakes up
asking to be told the meaning. The KARPAS signals our bodies it is time to eat, it is after
all an hors d'oeuvre. We snap alert,...
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. There is...
Why is this Haggadah different?
More than any Jewish book of prayer or study written since the close of the Bible 2500
years ago, the Haggadah has resisted attempts to change its format or content.
The reasons are immediate and apparent to anyone who has enjoyed a Seder conducted
by someone who knew what they were doing. The impression that remains is...