The word Seder means “order.” While order can be oppressive when it
suppresses creativity and choice, order can also be a liberating source of
In the first chapter of Genesis, the world is fashioned out of chaos, each
stage of Creation providing the foundation for the next. First light bursts out
from darkness; then the waters appear, followed by trees and plants; then
animals, from small to large; and finally, human beings. The organizing
principle of Creation is itself a promise of the goodness inherent in the
world. Rather than eliminating chaos, the natural order contains it,
channeling its creativity and vitality to support all life.
Likewise, democratic societies are built on order. The three branches of
government, each playing a distinct role, create a delicately balanced
structure. Were one branch to overpower the others, the resulting imbalance
could return our society to chaos. From a Jewish perspective, this system
underscores the belief that no human is above the law, and that the social
contract protects humanity from our worst instincts.
The order of the Seder reflects the innate human desire to create order out of
chaos. Each step in the Seder has its place. We begin with a welcome, then
explain the purpose of the gathering, enjoy a sacred communal meal, and
close with thanksgiving and hope for the future. Within this fixed order,
there is still room to tell stories, to discuss, and most important, to ask
questions. Chaos is not eradicated but contained, its energy channeled into
creative rituals and engagement.
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