Eighteen hundred years ago, the Mishnah, one of Judaism’s oldest law codes or teaching manuals, sketched the outlines of the early Passover Seder.

The Mishnah loosely styled its Seder on the Greek symposium, a banquet served on removable trays (now the Seder plate) to guests who comfortably reclined. The symposium began with dipped hors d’oeuvres, included prayers and finished with stylized questions and answers, often concerning the symbolism of particular foods.Wine flowed. Indeed, symposium means “to drink with.”

In contrast to the symposium, the Mishnah’s Seder assigned a special role to children. They were expected to notice how different the evening was and to ask,“Why?” In case they didn’t, the Mishnah offered parents a series of prompts. Those prompts evolved into the famous “four questions” which are actually four  responses to a single question: “How does this night differ from all other nights?” If you’ve created an evening that stimulates your guests to ask questions, you will have fulfilled one of the original and most important goals of the Seder!

haggadah Section: -- Four Questions
Source: David Arnow, New Israel Fund 2006