The Seder Plate

Haggadah Section: Introduction

The Seder Plate

Think of the Seder Plate as a “combination plate” dinner that formed the meal in ancient days. The foods were not merely symbolic, but were eaten—from the plate. As the Seder menu changed, the foods on the Seder Plate required explanation. (clockwise from the upper-right-of-center)

Zeroa (shankbone), represents the Passover offering made in Temple times. It will be explained during the Seder. At vegetarian Seders it has become customary to use a red beet instead. No classic prooftext exists for the use of a beet. Some people refer to Talmud Bavli Pesachim 114b. However, this comment actually deals with rice (!) and beets as additional foods at the meal itself—not a symbolic food on the Seder Plate. Nonetheless, the blood-red color of the beet serves as a metaphoric stand-in for the blood of the lamb shank. I suggest scoring and roasting a beet with its greens.

Beitzah (boiled or roasted egg), represents the holiday offering made in the days of the Temple. It plays no role in the Seder. It will be explained during the Seder.

Maror (bitter herbs), though possibly horehound, it is usually a piece of unground horseradish, represents the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.11 It will be explained during the Seder.

Charoset a mixture of chopped nuts, apples and wine (and other wonderful ingredients) represents the clay the Jews used to make bricks for the Egyptians.12 It will be explained during the Seder.

Chazeret another bitter herb, usually ground horseradish, or a bitter lettuce such as endive. It plays no role in the Seder, and will not be explained.

Karpas  any green vegetable (parsley, celery—some traditions suggest a boiled potato), represents the new

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Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.

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