Traditional Seder Plate Symbols
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Traditional Seder Plate Symbols
The Paschal Lamb reminds us that the Holy One, praised be God, passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt.
The Matzah is to remind us that before the dough our ancestors prepared for bread had time to rise, God revealed the might, power and presence of God unto them and redeemed them.
The Bitter Herbs are to remind us that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt.
In gratitude for the miracles which God has performed for our ancestors and for us from the days of old to this time, we raise our cups of wine and together we say:
Therefore, we should¬ thank and praise, laud and glorify, exalt and honor, extol and adore God who performed all these miracles for our ancestors and for us. God brought us from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity, from darkness to great light, and from bondage to redemption.
Let us, then say...
Why do we eat much on this night and others eat little?
Why do we eat the unleavened bread and throw our leavened bread away instead of donating it to the food pantry?
Why do we dip our food into sauce and salt andcharosetwhile others may not even havea crumb to dip?
Why do we lay back, relax and eat the food that comes to us so easily while others work to buy bread for their family?
The Pesach story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery and oppression. The sound of the breaking of the matza sends us into that fractured existence, only to become whole again when we find the broken half, the afikoman, at the end of the Seder.
This brokenness is not just a physical or political situation: It reminds us of all those hard, damaged places within ourselves. All those narrow places from which we...
Once upon a time, during a famine our ancestor Jacob and his family fled to Egypt where food was plentiful. His son Joseph had risen to high position in Pharaoh’s court, and our people were well-respected and well-regarded, secure in the power structure of the time.
Generations passed and our people remained in Egypt. In time, a new Pharaoh ascended to the throne. He found our difference threatening, and...
Maimonides urged us to care for our bodies so that we would be free to concentrate our energies on God. In the modern world, one of the greatest threats to our physical health is mental stress. Stress causes insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression, memory impairment and countless other complications. As women, we are particularly vulnerable to the stress caused by multiple and...
Why should we be conscious of the people who we consider strangers?
Why are human beings treated as if they are disposable based on their living circumstances?
Why is it important to reach out to individuals who don’t have the same rights as us?
Despite what we hear about the working conditions, why do we still support the industries?
As we remember this struggle, we honor the midwives who were the first Jews to resist the Pharaoh. our legends tell us that Pharaoh, behaving in a way common to oppressors, tried to get Jews to collaborate in murdering their own people. He summoned the two chief midwives, Shifra and Pu'ah, and commanded them to kill newborn Jewish males at birth. He threatened the midwives with death by fire if they failed to follow...
Rumi, the Persian poet of the soul, understands the meaning of love in this way:
Your task is not to seek love
But merely to seek and ﬁnd all the barriers
That you have built against it.
The same can be said of freedom; we build barriers against it, barriers born of fear-fear of death, fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear...
This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become...
Pineapple- Pineapples by nature are sweet and sour, so too is life if you face the effects of depression and anxiety. The pineapple has a hard and prickly shell that one must work through to receive the rewards of its sweet and acidic fruit. Let this be a symbol of those locked in the inner shell of depression, anxiety or any other illness that detracts from the joys of living life to the fullest. “May the source of...
The question of why we eat maror would at first glance appear to be an obvious one. When I probe a little deeper, however, two questions emerge for me. First, why would I want to evoke pain and suffering on a night when I want to feel celebratory? My second question goes to the ritual itself. How is eating lettuce or horseradish supposed to help me experience or relate to the bitterness of slavery? No matter how much...
I will redeem you... ...
Emboldened to welcome refugees into our communities, may we remember that true welcome is not completed upon a person’s safe arrival in our country but in all the ways we help people to rebuild their lives. As God provided for our needs on the long journey from slavery to the Promised Land, let us give the refugees in our communities the tools they need not just to survive but to...
The Voice of a Sexual Assault Survivor
What I do remember is waking up the next morning in a strange room, alone, cold, mostly naked and confused. In a panic I got my clothes together. My heart sank into my stomach as I looked down at the blood-stained sheets. I was so frightened I didn’t know what to do. I was hurriedly “pushed” out the door by the guy who lived in the...
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In every generation, we all should feel as though we ourselves had gone forth from Egypt, as it is written: “And you shall explain to your child on that day, it is because of what God did for me when, I, myself, went forth from Egypt.” (Exodus 13:8)
We end our Passover Seder by saying in unison:
May slavery give way to freedom.
May hate give way to love.
May ignorance give way to...
Who knows 13? I know 13. 13 are the attributes of God
12 are the Tribes of Israel
11 are the stars in Joseph’s dream
10 are the commandments
9 are the months before birth
8 are the days to the brit milah
7 are the days in a week till Shabbat
6 are the orders of the Mishnah
5 are the books of the Torah
4 are our matriarchs
3 are our forefathers
2 are the...