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Our eating of maror and talking about slavery might [...] carry with it a lesson about the negative power of shame. I don’t like sharing my stories of pain or difficulty. They often feel like stories of failure. It often feels like my pain is a result of my inadequacy in managing my life or lack of success. If I were a better person, more capable, wiser, more powerful, my story would be all about happiness. Sadness becomes associated with failure. By including the pain and humiliation in our national story of birth and redemption we are reminding ourselves that pain, sadness, and difficulty are part of everyone’s story. I don’t need to paper over it or pretend it’s not there. My challenge is to include fully the hard parts of my story, both individually and nationally, and still feel joy and gratitude. Our plates include bitter herbs right next to the matza and the wine.
--Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield
In a world where so much time is devoted to social media and our "personal branding", it can be difficult to be open about the bitterness in our lives. What are some of the bitter truths about our lives that we don't like to share with people?
Now take a kezayit (the volume of one olive) of the maror. Dip it into the Charoset, but not so much that the bitter taste is neutralized. Recite the following blessing and then eat the maror (without reclining):
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מָרוֹר.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al achilat maror.
Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has taught us the way of holiness through commandments, commanding us to eat the bitter herb.
Welcome to Sinai. As you have just crossed the Red Sea, you have had to make many hard choices: freedom or slavery? Pettiness or tolerance? Materialism or life. In many ways, we are in shock of our recent actions. We find ourselves reflecting on what we’ve done. Did we really just leave Egypt? Did a band of slaves—no—ex-slaves really push the leader of one of the greatest empires of our time to let his workforce...
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...
The beginning of the seder seems strange. We start with kiddush as we normally would when we begin any festive meal. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it.
What’s going on here?
It seems that the beginning of the seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we...
Mah Nishtana: What's New? What significant change has occurred in your life since this time last year? Name one meaningful piece of news.
Elijah's Cup is passed around as each guest speaks. A blessing or toast concludes the round.
Avadim Hayinu: Our Slavery. Identify the problem. What enslaves you today? What's holding you back from being freer, happy, and...
by Lisa/Leah Russ
I dreaded passover growing up. It seemed boring and oppressive and... dreadful with the emphasis on DREAD. I never really named it, but felt somewhere in my hungry gut that this wasn't a great place to be...my grandparents’ overheated undersized apartment in Queens, with these flat books in our hands, these hollow songs, this jelly on my fish.
A couple of years ago I was at a...
There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up the meal… and win a prize.
We eat matzah in memory...
On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.
The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of...
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,...
More Clips from Jessica Belding
Sometimes I lay under the moon
And thank God I'm breathing
Then I pray: Don't take me soon
'Cause I am here for a reason
Sometimes in my tears I drown
But I never let it get me down
So when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around because...
All my life I've been waiting for
Olam chesed yibaneh עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָנֶה
I will build this world from love... yai dai dai
And you must build this world from love... yai dai dai
And if we build this world from love... yai dai dai
Then G-d will build this world from love... yai dai dai
Hava nagila venis'mecha