Imagine yourself in Biblical Israel. Come the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nissan you would travel to the Temple in Jerusalem and make your sacrifice of the Paschal (Passover) Lamb. You would then camp out on one of the beautiful hills of Jerusalem on pleasant Spring night, light a bonfire, eat the roasted lamb with Matzah and Maror (bitter herbs), and retell the story of the Exodus. The Romans ruled Judea from about 40 BCE and had to put down several revolts. In the year 70 ACE, fed up with the revolts, the Romans completed a longstanding siege of Jerusalem by destroying the Temple. Gone was the system of worship centered on sacrifice and controlled by the Priests (Kohanim). If Judaism was to survive, its new religious leaders, the Rabbis (teachers), needed to focus the nation on a new form of worship, independent of sacrifices. When developing a method to celebrate Passover, they borrowed the structure of a Greco-Roman symposium (feast or banquet with much talk and discussion) and filled it with teachings and symbols that became the foundation of our Seder. Over the centuries customs were added and others were lost, but the core remains the same. The Seder ritual continues to evolve to meet our current needs but at its core are the 15 steps designated by these early Rabbis.
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