Before beginning the Seder, it is important to make sure that you have everything necessary. No Seder table is complete without the following:
1) Three Whole (unbroken) Matzot - which should be covered by a cloth. One should make certain that the matzah is marked Kosher for Passover.
2) Wine (grape juice) and Wine Glasses - All participants should be given a glass or cup from which to drink the required Four Cups of Wine (wine is preferable, grape juice if necessary). Of course, only Kosher for Passover wine or grape juice should be used.
3) The Seder Plate - It is traditional to place the following items on a special Seder Plate as a way of “beautifying” the mitzvot of the Seder. The items should be placed as diagramed below:
- Bay’tza (Roasted/Hardboiled Egg) - The egg is included as a symbol of the cycle of life because of its round shape.
- Z’roa (Shank Bone) - The offering brought to the Temple on Passover was a lamb. Because we do not have the Temple today, we place the shank bone of a lamb or the bone of another kosher animal or fowl on the Seder Plate, to symbolize that offering.
- Maror (Bitter Herbs) – Bitter herbs are part of the Seder to remind participants of the bitterness and pain of slavery.
- Karpas (Vegetable) - A vegetable, usually a piece of celery, parsley or potato, which is dipped in salt water as required for the Seder ritual.
- Charoset - A tasty mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples that represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to build Pharaoh’s cities (recipes may vary by community).
- Chazeret (Bitter Vegetable) Chazeret is a bitter vergetable, like lettuce or celery, which is sometimes placed on the Sedar Plate to remind us of the bitter lives of the Israelites as slaves.
4) Salt Water -- in which to dip the karpas. Salt water reminds us of the tears of the Jewish slaves. Usually, the salt water is not placed on the Seder Plate, but near it.
5) Elijah’s Cup -- Toward the end of the Seder, this cup is filled with wine, the door is opened, and Elijah the prophet, the harbinger of the Messianic age, is invited to come to the Seder, and hopefully, begin our final redemption.
6) Miriam's Cup -- A Miriam's Cup is a new ritual object that is placed on the seder table beside the Cup of Elijah. Miriam's Cup is filled with water. It serves as a symbol of Miriam's Well, which was the source of water for the Israelites in the desert. Putting a Miriam's Cup on your table is a way of making your seder more inclusive. It lets people know that at your table, the words of girls and boys, women and men, are welcome. It is also a way of drawing attention to the importance of Miriam and the other women of the Exodus story - women who have sometimes been overlooked but about whom our tradition says, "If it wasn't for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt" (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b)
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