Three of the Symbols of Passover


Rabban Gamliel returns us to the foods before us, the relics of the first Seder, storehouses of memory from our suffering and our redemption. He taught that all those who do not speak of three symbols on Pesach had not fulfilled their obligation to tell the story. These are: Pesach, Matzah, and Marror.

Participant (Raise the shank bone):

The Pesach , or Pascal Lamb, which our ancestors ate during the time the Great Temple stood in Jerusalem; For what reason was it eaten?

They ate the Pesah because the holy one, Blessed be He, “passed over” the houses of our ancestors in Mitzrayim , as it is written in the Torah: “And You shall say, ‘It is the Passover offering for Adonai, who passed over the houses of the Israelites saving us in Mitzrayim but struck the houses of the Egyptians on the Israelites final night in Mitzrayim . A roasted shankbone,, called a zeroah, is used to represent the Pesach on the Seder Plate. Zeroah also means arm; some say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God.

Participant (Raise the matzah):

Why do we eat Matzah ?

Matzah commemorates the bread which our forefathers were compelled to eat during their hasty departure from Mitzrayim. There was insufficient time for the dough of our ancestors to rise when the holy one, Blessed be He, was revealed to us and redeemed us. As it is written in the Torah, “And they baked the dough which they brought forth out of Mitzrayim into matzah, cakes of unleavened bread, which had not risen, for having been driven out of Mitzrayim they could not tarry, and they had made no provisions for themselves.”

We began our Seder with three matzot. We use three matzot to represent the three religious groupings of the Jewish people: Kohen, Levi and Yisroayl. They are placed together to indicate the unity of the Jewish people. In unity, we find our strength and power to survive.

Participant (Raise the maror):

Why do we eat Maror , bitter herbs?

We eat Maror because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Mitzrayim. As the Torah states, “And they embittered their lives with servitude, with mortar and bricks without straw, with every form of slavery in the field and with great torment.” It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for embittered is mei-re-ru, the root of the word maror.

In addition to the Maror , the Seder Plate contains a second bitter herb, Chazeret (raise the Chazeret ), that will soon be used to in korech, or the Hillel Sandwich, which consists of matzah and a bitter herb and sometimes charossett.


While not discussed by Rabban Gamliel, we will also speak of the remaining two symbols on our Seder Plate: the Roasted Egg and the Charossett.

(Raise Roasted Egg.)  The Roasted Egg reminds us of the seconded offering brought to the Temple on Passover. It was known as the "Festival Offering," for it was brought on each of the three festivals - Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot.  The roundness of the egg also represents the cycle of life — even in the most painful of times, there is always hope for a new beginning. In our family, it is traditional to eat a hard-boiled egg as an appetizer before our main meal.

(Raise the Charossett) This is the Charosett; it is made to resemble the mortar with which our forefathers made bricks for the building of Egyptian cities.

haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu