We have answered the four traditional questions, but there are still more questions to be answered.
There are other special foods on our Seder plate:
a bone (z'roa) or a beet,
a roasted egg (beitsah)
and, many people's favorite, the sweet condiment (haroset).
Why are they here?
Z'ROA - SHANKBONE OR BEET
Z'ROA can mean a shankbone - the bone of a forelimb - or a vegetable.
This lamb's bone is the symbol of the ancient shepherd's festival of Pesah or Passover.
It was celebrated at the time of the full moon in the month lambs and goats were born. At that time, each family would sacrifice a young lamb or goat at a spring feast. Jews ended these sacrifices when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed.
Since z'roa also means vegetable, a beet can be used instead of an animal bone on the seder plate.
The Jewish people are very diverse, so the rabbis who wrote the Talmud acknowledged this vegetarian alternative.
BEITSAH - EGG
Why do we have a beitsah on the seder plate?
Beitsah is the egg of life, a symbol of the birth of the young in spring. Each of us begins as an egg and grows to adulthood. The egg reminds us of our evolutionary past and of the gifts of human inheritance. But the egg is fragile. It represents potential that can be destroyed. Left alone, its life would perish.
Growing life needs warmth and love and security, guidance, hope, and vision. To achieve their full potential, human beings need the support and encouragement of family and community. Beitsah symbolizes the fragility and interdependence of life.
[All who so desire may now eat a piece of egg.]
TAPPUZ - ORANGE
Why have we added an orange to our seder plate?
We place this fruit among our ceremonial foods as a symbol of our efforts to make sexual minorities feel acknowledged in our community. We recognize the contributions made by these family members and friends.
By inviting and welcoming all with open hearts and open minds, we celebrate diversity and freedom. We put an orange on our seder plate as a new symbol of liberation around sexuality and gender roles.
[All may eat a piece of orange.]
HAROSET - CONDIMENT
Why do we eat haroset?
Fruits, nuts, spices, and wine are combined to make this sweet condiment. Being the color of clay or mortar, it reminds us of the bricks and mortar used by slaves - Jews and others - in building the Pharaohs' palaces and cities. Yet the taste of haroset is sweet, and thus reminds us of the sweetness of freedom.
Let us now all eat haroset on a piece of matsah.
We now make a little sandwich - called a "korekh" or a "Hillel sandwich;" tradition credits Rabbi Hillel with creating this sandwich 2000 years ago. By eating some bitter herb (maror) and some haroset between two pieces of matsah, you can taste the "bittersweet" meaning of Passover.
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