Please wait while we prepare your haggadah...
This may take up to thirty seconds.

by g
Source : webz

Why is this haggadah different from all others? Because it holds the true meaning of Passover—that the liberation of all oppressed and enslaved people is God's will—above all other theological and political concerns.

This isn't the haggadah for Jews or Goyim or atheists or Christians or Fascists or Communists—this is the one for you, you who demands real justice for yourself and all the world. This is the haggadah for the people, all of us, and it was made with the knowledge that so long as one of us is shackled, none of us are free.

Source : A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion

From a Sacrifice to a Symposium

The term "Seder Pesach" once meant the Order of the Passover Sacrifice in the Temple. But after the Temple's destruction in 70 CE, the Rabbis remodeled the Seder after the Greco-Roman symposium ( sym - together, posium - drinking wine). At these Hellenistic banquets guests would recline on divans while servants poured them wine, washed their hands and served appetizers and dips before the meal. In the meantime the symposium host functioned as a talk show moderator. An ancient how-to manual for conducting such a symposium says:

"A symposium is a communion of serious and mirthful entertainment, discourse and actions. It leads to deeper insight into those points that were debated at table, for the remembrance of those pleasures which arise from meat and drink is short-lived, but the subjects of philosophical queries and discussions remain always fresh after they have been imparted." (Athenaeus, Banquet of the Learned , 2nd C)

Thus the Rabbis' prescribed such a banquet for the telling of the Exodus: much wine (four cups); appetizers (celery dipped in salt water); reclining on pillows; having our hands ceremonially washed by others; a royal feast; and most importantly – a philosophical discussion on the story of the Exodus and the issues of freedom versus slavery. The Rabbis wanted Pesach to be an experience of freedom, aristocracy and affluence – thus they chose to mimick the eating habits of their affluent contemporaries.

However, there is a fundamental difference: The Greco-Roman feast was for the rich only, it exploited slaves, it restricted asking questions and exchanging opinions to the ruling class, men only. But at the Pesach Seder all people are invited to eat like royalty, to ask questions and to express opinions, even the spouses and the youngest children. Alongside the wine of the rich, there is the bread of poverty.  The needy must be invited to share our meal. Stylish banquets may easily turn corrupt, but the Seder encourages us to savor our liberty, without exploiting or excluding others. 

Source : Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah
The whole point of the seder is to ask questions. This is your time to ask about things that confuse you, things you don’t understand, or even things you don’t agree with. There really is no is no such thing as a stupid question, especially tonight. 

- Joy Levitt (age 16)

Questions are not only welcome during the course of the evening but are vital to tonight’s journey. Our obligation at this seder involves traveling from slavery to freedom, prodding ourselves from apathy to action, encouraging the transformation of silence into speech, and providing a space where all different levels of belief and tradition can co-exist safely. Because leaving Mitzrayim--the narrow places, the places that oppress us—is a personal as well as a communal passage, your participation and thoughts are welcome and encouraged.

We remember that questioning itself is a sign of freedom. The simplest question can have many answers, sometimes complex or contradictory ones, just as life itself is fraught with complexity and contradictions. To see everything as good or bad, matzah or maror, Jewish or Muslim, Jewish or “Gentile”, is to be enslaved to simplicity. Sometimes, a question has no answer. Certainly, we must listen to the question, before answering. 

Source :

The first cup of wine is poured and the Kiddush is recited.

When the festival occurs on Shabbat, start here:

Prepare the meal of the supernal King. This is the meal of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shechinah.

The sixth day. And the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed. And on the seventh day G-d finished His work which He had made, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it He rested from all His work which G-d created to make.


When the festival begins on a weekday begin here:

Attention Gentlemen:

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are You, G-d, our G-d, King of the universe, who has chosen us from among all people, and raised us above all tongues, and made us holy through His commandments. And You, G-d, our G-d, have given us in love (On Shabbat add the shaded words:) Shabbaths for rest and festivals for happiness, feasts and festive seasons for rejoicing this Shabbat-day and the day of this Feast of Matzot and this Festival of holy convocation, the Season of our Freedom in love, a holy convocation, commemorating the departure from Egypt. For You have chosen us and sanctified us from all the nations, and You have given us as a heritage Your holy Shabbat and Festivals in love and favor, in happiness and joy. Blessed are You, G-d, who sanctifies the Shabbat and Israel and the festive seasons.


When the festival falls on Saturday night add the following:

Blessed are You, G-d, our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the lights of fire.

Blessed are You, G-d, our G-d, King of the universe, who makes a distinction between sacred and profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six work-days. You have made a distinction between the holiness of the Shabbat and the holiness of the festival, and You have sanctified the seventh day above the six work-days. You have set apart and made holy Your people Israel with Your holiness. Blessed are You, G-d, who makes a distinction between holy and holy.


Blessed are You, G-d, our G-d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Drink the cup of wine while seated, reclining on the left side as a sign of freedom.



Source : A Different Night

Jewish law requires the ritual washing of the hands before eating bread. This washing is accompanied by a blessing. But why do we wash before eating the green vegetable and why in this case is no blessing recited?    

Fruits or vegetables dipped in water can acquire ritual impurity (Lev. 11:34). Washing before eating vegetables which have come into contact with water is a hold-over from Talmudic times. In that period many Rabbis attempted to eat all their foods in a state of ritual purity – trying to experience in their daily eating the sense of sacredness associated with the Temple. To emphasize that this is only a pious custom, and not even a rabbinic requirement, no blessing is recited.     

Except for the seder night the custom has fallen into general disuse, even among the strictly observant. But on seder night we wash at the beginning of the evening to create the spirit of a sacred gathering conducted in purity and devotion.

Source : Original

Urchatz   וּרְחַץ

   At this point in the Seder, we're going to pass around a bowl - your job is to wash your neighbor's hands. Unlike traditional Jewish handwashing, no bessing is recited.  Wash hands without reciting the blessing. The need for hand washing before eating vegetables is no longer a ritual requirement, however, it is included here in the traditional Seder.

Source : Alex Weissman,

The karpas, the green vegetable, is the first part of the seder that makes this night different from all other nights. So far, the first glass of wine and the hand washing, though significant, do not serve to mark any sort of difference; they are regular parts of meals. The karpas, however, is not. As a night marked by difference, that difference starts now. Tonight, we celebrate difference with the karpas. Here, difference brings us hope, joy, and renewed life.

We also know that with difference can come pain and tears. We have shed these tears ourselves and we have caused others to shed tears. Some say we dip the karpas in salt water to remind ourselves of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery and then dipped his fabulous, technicolor dream coat into blood to bring back to their father, Jacob. Difference can also be dangerous.

Tonight, we dip the karpas into salt water, and as we taste it, we taste both the fresh, celebratory hope of difference and the painful blood and tears that have come with it.

Together we say:

Brukha at Yah eloheynu ruakh ha'olam boreit p'ri ha'adamah.

You are Blessed, Our God, Spirit of the World, who creates the fruit of the earth.

This clip originally appeared on

Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

By not trusting ourselves and the various voices within us, we keep hidden the better part of who we are.  Many of us were taught early on that it is not safe to be who we really are - that it is not safe to say what is on our minds or in our hearts. But tonight we are free to release, to encounter, to integrate, to evolve and to express.

As Michael Kagan writes, the salt water in which we dip our karpas is the tears and frustration of not being allowed to let go.  Tonight those tears will serve as a ticket to freedom.  As King David said, 'My tears were nourishment for me...'  To move forward, we must inevitably encounter the walls we have built inside; the tears are the struggle to get beyond those walls─not tears of failure but tears of exertion.

Tonight, we dip our desires─the karpas ─into our tears. We indulge in something frivolous, purposeless, pointless, and we fight through the internal barriers that try to prevent us from enjoying it.

Consider sharing something about your inner walls - what do you feel prohibited from doing/feeling/talking about/enjoying?

Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

We all know that we cannot rely on the holiness of our desires all the time.  Tonight is special, different. Tonight it is safe to let go.  But in a week or a month, who knows?  By breaking the middle matzah , we acknowledge that we are still split.  We still cannot ultimately trust that our desires and our necessities, our concerns and our impulses, our inner child and our responsible adult, have become one. There is brokenness here. 

The two pieces of matzah represent two kinds of eating: because we have to and because we want to. One half we will eat soon, in hunger. The other half we will hide─the half that represents desire, enjoyment, fulfillment, luxury.  It is supposed to be eaten on a full stomach, out of desire to eat rather than necessity.

We will hide it because our relationship to it is still uncharted - many of us haven't yet made peace with our desires as portals to the holy.  But we are also giving ourselves a goal. The hidden matzah represents our future, the ultimate future, where we are free to do as we wish, knowing that this is Hashem's wish as well. Our ultimate goal is to bring these two halves together.

This is a moment of brokenness, but it is also a moment of faith.  In allowing ourselves to break, to recognize the split, to admit unfamiliarity, to admit that we are not yet there, we are also expressing faith that the rift can be fixed.  After all, only people who do not believe in healing try to 'keep it together'.  Jews, however, believe in the 'healer of broken hearts'. We believe in the G-d who values nothing higher than a broken vessel. We believe that even when the broken matzah is two, it is one.

Source : A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion
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 want to break to free. In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayim, reminding us of the word tzar, narrow. Thus, in Hassidic thought, Mitzrayim symbolizes the inner straits that trap our souls. Yet even here we can find a unique value, as the Hassidic saying teaches us: "There is nothing more whole – than a broken heart."

SHARE: Pass out a whole matza to every Seder participant, inviting them to take a moment to ponder this entrance into a broken world, before they each break the matza themselves.

Source : Machar

Leader: We have drunk the wine and tasted the special foods of the Passover celebration. They symbolize our attachment to the traditions of our culture, to freedom, and to life. To remind us of these values as we go back out into the world, at the end of our festival meal, we shall return to have a final taste of matzah - our symbol of suffering and liberation, of renewal in nature and humanity.

I am breaking this matzah into two pieces. One half I will return to the table.

[Leader breaks a matzah, sets down half, and holds up half as the afikoman.]

The other half I will wrap in a napkin and save until the end of the meal. This piece is called the 'Afikoman'

Without it the seder cannot end, so I must make sure that it does not get lost. Of course, I am very forgetful, so I may need help finding it if I do misplace it. In fact, I manage to lose it every year - it ends up seemingly "hidden" (tsaphun). So just figure that I'll be asking all you younger folks to help me find it pretty soon.


Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2001), p. 19

Above all, the prophets reminded us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible.

( Ha Lachma Anya ) הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא

הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם. כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח. הָשַתָּא הָכָא, לְשָנָה הַבָּאָה בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְרָאֵל. הָשַתָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין.

This bread of affliction which our ancestors at in the land of Egypt: Let all who are hungry, come eat; all who are needy, come share Passover. Now, we are here, next year in the Land of Israel; now, we are slaves, next year, free people!

Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 115b

Shmuel said: it is written “the bread of affliction” (Deut. 16:3)—bread which elicits conversation.

Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 74b

You cannot compare one who has bread in his basket with one who has none.

Rashi, (France, 11th cent.), commentary thereon

This refers to one who has food today but worries about [food for] tomorrow.

Josef Karo¸ Shulchan Aruch, (Late Medieval law code) “Yoreh De’ah” 250:1

כמה נותנין לעני, די מחסורו אשר יחסר לו. כיצד, אם היה רעב, יאכילוהו. היה צריך לכסות, יכסוהו. אין לו כלי בית, קונה לו כלי בית...וכן לכל אחד ואחד לפי מה שצריך.

How much is it appropriate to give to the poor? “Sufficient for his needs in that which he lacks.” If he is hungry, one must feed him. If he needs clothing, one must clothe him. If he lacks housing utensils, one must provide him with housing utensils… To each person according to what he needs.

Maggid - Beginning

Maggid is considered to be the most important part of the seder because in this part we tell the story of the Exodus and explain the significance of the ritual. The seder was implemented for the purpose of remembering the liberation from Egypt, so we are fulfilling this purpose here. There are three main components of Maggid:

  • Four Questions - traditionally said by the youngest child present
  • Four Children -commentary on the four types of approaches to the questions
  • Telling of the Exodus story including our ancestors slavery in Egypt
Maggid - Beginning
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.

The Haggadah doesn’t tell the story of Passover in a linear fashion. We don’t hear of Moses being found by the daughter of Pharaoh – actually, we don’t hear much of Moses at all. Instead, we get an impressionistic collection of songs, images, and stories of both the Exodus from Egypt and from Passover celebrations through the centuries. Some say that minimizing the role of Moses keeps us focused on the miracles God performed for us. Others insist that we keep the focus on the role that every member of the community has in bringing about positive change.

-- Four Questions
-- Four Questions
Source : A Growing Haggadah

On The Importance Of Questions
The eldest reads:
Nobel Prize winning physicist Isaac Isadore Rabi’s mother did not ask him: “What did you learn in school today?” each day. She asked him: “Did you ask a good question today?”

More Questions
The oldest teenager, or the person older than 19, yet closest to the teen years reads:
Why do the same questions get asked each year?
I probably have more questions than the youngest, why does a child ask the questions?
How come we ask these questions, but you rarely give a straight answer?
Does anyone have other questions to add?

Some Answers
Questioning is a sign of freedom, and so we begin with questions.
To ritualize only one answer would be to deny that there can be many, often conflicting answers. To think that life is only black and white, or wine and Maror, bitter or sweet, or even that the cup is half empty or half full is to enslave ourselves to simplicity.
Each of us feels the challenge to search for our own answers. The ability to question is only the first stage of freedom. The search for answers is the next.
Can we fulfill the promise of the Exodus in our own lives if we do not search for our own answers?
Does every question have an answer? Is the ability to function without having all the answers one more stage of liberation? Can we be enslaved to an obsessive search for the answer?
Do you have the answer?

-- Four Questions
Source : Original

The Four Questions are the questions most commonly associated with the Passover Seder. Though they are thought of as four separate questions, they are really just subsets of the single question: what makes tonight so special? Eventually the Haggadah gives us some answers about that, in the retelling of the Pesach story.

But the Haggadah neglects to ask: what makes us so special? Not us, Jews in the abstract. Us, those of us here tonight! We accept that tonight is particular but do we ever think about the ways in which we are particular ourselves for sitting around this table? For being able to come to the table in the first place? Each of us tonight bears particular privileges that many others don't have, preventing them from doing so.

The Haggadah leads us to ask this question, but won't ask it for us: who is not here? And why?

-- Four Questions
Source : Rabbi Zoë Klein, Temple Isaiah
  • At the four questions, invite anyone at the table to ask any question they have about the seder and the holiday. If no one knows the answer, what a great challenge for later! 
  • At the four questions, ask the children what is the best question they’ve ever asked in school.
-- Four Questions
Source :

Three Questions

There is a Sefardic (Iraqi or Afghani) custom of turning to the person beside you, asking these three
questions, and offering the three brief answers. Try this, and see what opens in you.

 Who are you? (I am Yisrael.)
 Where are you coming from? (I am coming from Mitzrayim.)
 Where are you going? (I am going to Yerushalayim.)

from the Velveteen Rabbi

-- Four Questions
Source :

The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The tradition that the youngest person asks the questions reflects the centrality of involving everyone in the seder. The rabbis who created the set format for the seder gave us the Four Questions to help break the ice in case no one had their own questions. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life. If everyone at your seder is around the same age, perhaps the person with the least seder experience can ask them – or everyone can sing them all together.

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה  

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin chameitz u-matzah. Halaila hazeh kulo matzah.

On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah.
Tonight we only eat matzah.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin shi’ar yirakot haleila hazeh maror.

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables,
but tonight we eat bitter herbs.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּֽעַם אחָת  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעמים

Shebichol haleilot ain anu matbilin afilu pa-am echat. Halaila hazeh shtei fi-amim.

On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables one time.
Tonight we do it twice.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין.  :הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּֽנוּ מְסֻבין

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin. Halaila hazeh kulanu m’subin.

On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining.
Tonight we recline.

-- Four Questions
Source : Progressive Jewish Alliance

Consider these 4 quotes and these 4 questions. Discuss either or both.


1) “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” - Barack Obama

2) “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” - Franklin D. Roosevelt

3) “Were people not in possession of courage, foresight and trust, which are the general conditions of faith, there would be no activity.” - Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

4) “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead


1) How is this economic crisis different from all other economic crises?

2) How will you contribute to the parting of this new Red Sea?

3) Who are the modern-day Israelites? Who are the Egyptians?

4) To truly make change in the world you must live it. What can you do today to make real change?

(Special thanks to Rabbi Lisa Edwards and IKAR for helping to create this.)

-- Four Questions
Source : original

Each of the four questions refers to an essential component of the Pesach Seder.  But actually, as the Talmud presents it, much of what is different tonight is for the sake of being different.  Each of the bizarre movements that we make─covering the matzah and then uncovering it, two kiddushes, two washings, all this talk, leaning, removing the Seder plate, etc.─ is meant to catch our attention: Hey! Something is happening tonight!  Something is different!

And for good reason: tonight offers a special opportunity to grow dynamically, to take a giant leap toward bringing our disparate selves together and our destiny to fruition. If our curiosity is piqued, we will be more attentive to those opportunities.  The Seder is trying to get our attention to let us know that tonight is different. Tonight, so much is possible.

Take a moment to consider what would happen if the normal rules did not apply.  Visualize the new reality, and speak it out if you like.  Consider asking G-d to help you shift on the points where you are stuck. 

-- Four Questions
Source :

Discuss as a group or in pairs at the Seder table:

1. Egypt, “mitzrayim” in Hebrew, comes from the word “tzar”: the “narrow place,” the constricted place. In what way are you personally still constricted? Are you able to see yourself as part of the unity of all being, a manifestation of God’s love on earth? Are you able to overcome the ego issues that separate us from each other? Can you see the big picture, or do you get so caught in the narrow places and limited struggles of your own life that it’s hard to see the big picture? What concrete steps could you take to change that?

2. Do you believe that we can eventually eradicate wars, poverty, and starvation? Or do you believe that no one really cares about anyone but themselves, and that we will always be stuck in some version of the current mess? Or do you think that such a belief is, itself, part of what keeps us in this mess? If so, how would you suggest we spread a more hopeful message and deal with the cynicism and self-doubt that always accompanies us when we start talking about changing the world?

3. What experiences have you had that give you hope? Tell about some struggle to change something — a struggle that you personally were involved in — that worked. What did you learn from that?

4. When the Israelites approached the Sea of Reeds, the waters did not split. It took a few brave souls to jump into the water. Even then, the waters rose up to their very noses, and only then, when these brave souls showed that they really believed in the Force of Healing and Transformation (YHVH), did the waters split and the Israelites walk through them. Would you be willing to jump into those waters today — for example by becoming an advocate for nonviolence or for the strategy of generosity? Would you go to speak about this to your elected representatives? To your neighbors? To your coworkers? To your family?

-- Four Questions

(Adapted from Alida Liberman)

Traditionally, the youngest person present asks:

Why is this night different from all other nights?

1. On all other nights we eat either bread or matzah. Why, on this night, do we eat only matzah?

2. On all other nights we eat herbs of any kind. Why, on this night, do we eat maror, the bitter herb?

3. On all other nights, we do not dip our herbs even once. Why, on this night, do we dip them twice?

4. On all other nights, we eat sitting up. Why, on this night, do we eat while reclining?

A different guest readers each ANSWER:


Matzah is the symbol of our affliction and our freedom. Legend has it that when Moses and his followers fled Egypt, they moved so quickly that the bread they baked did not have time to rise. [Scholars have noted that long before the Jews celebrated Passover, farmers of the Middle East celebrated Khag Ha-matsot, the festival of unleavened bread, at this time of year.]


Tradition says that we eat the bitter herb to remind us of the bitterness of our slavery. We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure. [Scholars inform us that bitter herbs were eaten at the Spring festival in ancient times.]


Tonight we dip herbs twice--greens into salt water, and maror into charoset. The greens remind us that it is springtime, and new life will grow; while the salt water reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves in Egypt. We dip the bitter herb, maror, into the sweet charoset to show us that our ancestors withstood the bitterness of slavery because it was sweetened by the hope of freedom.


In ancient times, slaves ate hurriedly, standing or squatting on the ground. To recline at the table was the mark of a free person. As a sign of our freedom, we lean and relax as we eat and drink.


Reader:We have answered the four traditional questions, but the special foods on our Seder plate leave us with more questions: what is the meaning of the charoset, the roasted shank bone (z'ro-ah), the roasted egg (baytsa), and the orange?

A different guest reads each answer:

Charoset: As well as being sweet, the appearance of the charoset reminds us of the bricks and mortar that the Israelites are said to have made when they built the Pharaohs' palaces and cities.

Shank bone: The bone represents the lamb that was the special Paschal sacrifice on the eve of the exodus from Egypt. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt when visiting plagues upon our oppressors.

Egg: The egg represents new life.

Orange: For thousands of years, an orange had no place on a seder plate, just as some people--such as gay people, and women--found at most a limited place in Jewish life. We now place an orange on the seder plate to show that Jewish life, and indeed our entire society, is more fruitful when all are welcome to fully contribute.

-- Four Children
Source :
So this is Maggid,

The part of the seder where we tell the story

Of leaving Egypt.


We spend more time talking about talking about the story

Then telling the actual story.

Very meta is our haggadah,

With many numbers,

Lots of fours:

Four questions

Four cups of wine

Four children, 

Four ways of asking,

Why is this night different from all other nights? 

The first child, 

Book smart.

The wise child

Knows all the rules.

He's direct,

No messin' around,

This is what you do on Pesach:

Tell the story

Dip the herbs


Drink four cups

Don't eat leavened bread

Ask the questions

Know the answers.

It's obvious. 


The second child,

A smart ass,

Smart and an ass.

Doesn't care about the rules

Unless she knows what they're for,

She wants meaning

And is kind of obnoxious about it

Because sometimes it's hard to ask the next logical question

Without annoying someone.

What does this story mean to you? she asks.

And it comes off as a challenge, but it's not.

She really wants to know:

What does it mean?

So you tell her,

Freedom to be who you are,

To make choices, to seek God whether you find God or not,

To become a person and then a people,

To ask questions. 

The third child,

A beginner,

Doesn't know what to do

Doesn't know why we're doing it

Doen't know that he doesn't know.

A baby!

So you say to him,

We tell a really good story

With a beginning middle and end

And a hero

And a villian

And miracles and dancing and bugs and dead cows and blood,

You'll love it!

And this is why we tell the story:

So we don't forget we were slaves,

So we don't forget what God did for us,

So we don't forget Torah,

And the seder is what we do to remember.

And because we remember

We don't enslave others.

We bask in God's presence.

We study Torah

And we tell stories. 

And then there's the child who doesn't even know that she can ask a question.

Is it because she doesn't care?

Doesn't have a context?

Too assimilated to know how interesting it all is?

Or perhaps no one will let her talk

So she doesn't even try?

Sitting in the back of the bus,

Not allowed to study Torah,

Married at 17,

Popping out babies at 18.

So let's not wait for either of them to say something.

Let's hold out our hands and say,

We were slaves

And now we're not.

And there is so much to know and do

And you can know and do it

And we will help you.

You are inspired,

You just don't know it yet. 


Contrast these four children

With the  Five Rabbis sitting around talking

In Bnai Brak.

Each of the knows the direct meaning.

All of them plumb the depths of the hidden and symbolic.

Any one of them can tell a tale that bridges a gap.

Five out of five are insipired by God's revelations.

They know the rules and the meaning and the stories

And oh my God, are they empowered to talk.

They stay up all night

And talk and talk and talk!

Each one smarter than the other

But in the morning when their students come in,

They still haven't prayed.

Because they can't stop talking.

Hey you guys, say the students,



Why is this night different from all other nights? 

-- Four Children
Source :

The Ballad of the Four Sons

For the Passover Seder

(to the tune of Clementine)

© Ben Aronin, first published in his community haggadah, 1954, used with permission

Said the father to the children
"At the Seder you will dine,
You will eat your fill of matzoh,
You will drink four cups of wine."

Now this father had no daughters,
But his sons they numbered four,
One was wise, and one was wicked,
One was simple and a bore.

And the fourth was sweet and winsome,
He was young and he was small,
While his brothers asked the questions,
He could scarcely speak at all.

Said the wise one to his father
"Would you please explain the laws.
Of the customs of the Seder
Will you please explain the cause?"

And the father proudly answered
"As our fathers ate in speed,
Ate the Pascal lamb 'ere midnight,
And from slavery were freed"

"So we follow their example,
And 'ere midnight must complete,
All the Seder, and we should not
After twelve remain to eat."

Then did sneer the son so wicked,
"What does all this mean to you?"
And the father's voice was bitter
As his grief and anger grew.

"If yourself you don't consider,
As a son of Israel
Then for you this has no meaning,
You could be a slave as well!"

Then the simple son said softly,
"What is this?" and quietly
The good father told his offspring
"We were freed from slavery."

But the youngest son was silent,
For he could not speak at all,
His bright eyes were bright with wonder
As his father told him all.

Now, dear people, heed the lesson
And remember evermore,
What the father told his children
Told his sons who numbered four!

from the April 1998 - Passover Edition Edition of the Jewish Magazine

-- Four Children
Source : Rabbi Jonathon Sacks

As Jews we believe that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education. Freedom is lost when it is taken for granted. Unless parents hand on their memories and ideals to the next generation - the story of how they won their freedom and the battles they had to fight along the way - the long journey falters and we lose our way.

What is fascinating, though, is the way the Torah emphasizes the fact that children must  ask questions. Two of the three passages in our parsha speak of this:

And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?'  then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'" (Ex. 12:26-27)

In days to come,  when your son asks you, 'What does this mean?' say to him, 'With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Ex. 13:14)

There is another passage later in the Torah that also speaks of question asked by a child:

In the future,  when your son asks you, "What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?" tell him: "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. (Deut. 6:20-21)

The other passage in [Parshat Bo], the only one that does not mention a question, is:

On that day tell your son, 'I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' (Ex. 13:8)

These four passages have become famous because of their appearance in Haggadah on Pesach. They are the four children: one wise, one wicked or rebellious, one simple and "one who does not know how to ask." Reading them together the sages came to the conclusion that 1) children should ask questions, 2) the Pesach narrative must be constructed in response to, and begin with, questions asked by a child, 3) it is the duty of a parent to encourage his or her children to ask questions, and the child who does not yet know how to ask should be taught to ask.

There is nothing natural about this at all. To the contrary, it goes dramatically against the grain of history. Most traditional cultures see it as the task of a parent or teacher to instruct, guide or command. The task of the child is to obey. "Children should be seen, not heard," goes the old English proverb. "Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord," says a famous Christian text. Socrates, who spent his life teaching people to ask questions, was condemned by the citizens of Athens for corrupting the young. In Judaism the opposite is the case. It is a religious duty to teach our children to ask questions. That is how they grow.

Judaism is the rarest of phenomena:  a faith based on asking questions, sometimes deep and difficult ones that seem to shake the very foundations of faith itself... In yeshiva the highest accolade is to ask a good question: Du fregst a gutte kashe...

Isadore Rabi, winner of a Nobel Prize in physics, was once asked why he became a scientist. He replied, "My mother made me a scientist without ever knowing it. Every other child would come back from school and be asked, 'What did you learn today?' But my mother used to ask: 'Izzy, did you ask a good question today?' That made the difference. Asking good questions made me a scientist."

-- Four Children
Source :
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?


“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”


“How can I solve problems of such enormity?” Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she is capable of doing.   As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”


“It’s not my responsibility.”Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”


Prompt her to see herself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy.  As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”At this season of liberation, join us in working for the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice. 

-- Four Children
Source : Love and Justice Haggadah, compiled and created by Dara Silverman and Micah Bazant

It is a tradition at the Seder to include a section entitled “the Four Children.” We have turned it upside down, to remind us that as adults we have a lot to learn from youth. From the U.S. to South Africa to Palestine, young people have been, and are, at the forefront of most of the social justice movements on this planet. If there is a mix of ages of people at your seder, perhaps some of the older people would like to practice asking questions, and the younger folks would like to respond:

The Angry Adult – Violent and oppressive things are happening to me, the people I love and people I don’t even know. Why can’t we make the people in power hurt the way we are all hurting? Hatred and violence can never overcome hatred and violence. Only love and compassion can transform our world.

Cambodian Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda, whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge, has written: It is a law of the universe that retaliation, hatred, and revenge only continue the cycle and never stop it. Reconciliation does not mean that we surrender rights and conditions, but means rather that we use love in all our negotiations. It means that we see ourselves in the opponent -- for what is the opponent but a being in ignorance, and we ourselves are also ignorant of many things. Therefore, only loving kindness and right-mindfulness can free us.

The Ashamed Adult – I’m so ashamed of what my people are doing that I have no way of dealing with it?!? We must acknowledge our feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment, while ultimately using the fire of injustice to fuel us in working for change. We must also remember the amazing people in all cultures, who are working to dismantle oppression together everyday.

Marianne Williamson said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of G-d. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of G-d that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

The Fearful Adult – Why should I care about ‘those people’ when they don’t care about me? If I share what I have, there won’t be enough and I will end up suffering. We must challenge the sense of scarcity that we have learned from capitalism and our histories of oppression. If we change the way food, housing, education, and resources are distributed, we could all have enough.

Martin Luther King said: It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.

The Compassionate Adult – How can I struggle for justice with an open heart? How can we live in a way that builds the world we want to live in, without losing hope? This is the question that we answer with our lives.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy. And yet being alive is no answer to the problems of living. To be or not to be is not the question. The vital question is: how to be and how not to be…to pray is to recollect passionately the perpetual urgency of this vital question.

Anne Frank wrote: It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all of my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out."

Each of us bears in our own belly the angry one, the ashamed one, the frightened one, the compassionate one. Which of these children shall we bring to birth? Only if we can deeply hear all four of them can we truthfully answer the fourth question. Only if we can deeply hear all four of them can we bring to birth a child, a people that is truly wise.


Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah.

-- Four Children
Source : Religious Action Center
A discussion can take place regarding with which of the four children each guest identifies most, followed by a consideration of which populations are currently "unable to ask," who might be considered "simple," and more. Examples for a new set of four children may include: One who sees the pain of others and works to relieve suffering. One who cares only about him/herself. One who cares only about other Jews but not other populations. One who doesn't know where to begin.
-- Exodus Story
Source : Telling the Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained


The Torah says we are to speak these words before God and say, “My father was a wandering Aramean. He went down into Egypt and sojourned there. With few in number, he became there a great and populous nation. The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and afflicted us and imposed hard labor upon us. And we cried out to the Lord, the God of our fathers and God heard our cry and saw our affliction and our oppression. He brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with great signs and wonders.”

We will now recount the Passover story. As we read, we will go around the table with each person taking a turn to read a paragraph out loud:

Our patriarch Abraham and his wife Sarah went to the land of Canaan, where he became the founder of “a great nation.” God tells Abraham, “Know this for certain, that your descendants will be strangers in a strange land, and be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. But know that in the end I shall bring judgment on the oppressors.”

Abraham’s grandson, Jacob and his family went down to Egypt during a time of famine throughout the land. In Egypt, Jacob and the Israelites lived and prospered until a new Pharaoh arose who said, “Behold the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Let us then deal shrewdly with them, lest they become more powerful, and in the event of war, join our enemies in fighting against us and gain control over the region.”

The Egyptians set taskmasters over the Israelites with forced labor and made them build cities for Pharaoh. The Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites with harsh labor but the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and the Egyptians came to despise them. Pharaoh ordered, “Every Hebrew boy that is born shall be thrown in the Nile River and drowned.”

God remembered the covenant that he made with Abraham and Sarah and called to Moses, telling him to appear before Pharaoh and demand that the Hebrew people be released from bondage. But Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites. Nine times Moses and his brother Aaron went to Pharaoh, and each time that Pharaoh refused Moses’ request, God sent a plague to Egypt.

After the ninth plague, Moses summoned the elders of Israel and told them to have their families mark their door posts and lintels with the blood of a lamb saying, “none of you shall go out of his house until the morning for God will pass through to smite the first born of the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, God will pass over your doors.”

It is written in the Torah that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh during Moses’ pleas. Finally when God brought down the tenth plague upon them — the death of the first-born of all the Egyptians — a great cry went up throughout Egypt, and Pharaoh allowed Moses to take his people out of the land and deliver them to a new land.

It is written: “And it shall come to pass, when you come to the land which God will give you, according as He has promised, that you shall keep this service to commemorate the Exodus. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say to you, “What mean you by this service?” you shall say, it is the sacrifice of God's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt.”

-- Exodus Story
Source : JWA / Jewish Boston - The Wandering Is Over Haggadah; Including Women's Voices

Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham, the first person to have the idea that maybe all those little statues his contemporaries worshiped as gods were just statues. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.

God had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

Raise the glass of wine and say:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ.

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation there are those who rise against us. But God saves us from those who seek to harm us.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even building pyramids. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

The Passover story is most often associated with the leadership of Moses, but in fact the cycle of protest that culminated in the Exodus from Egypt began with the courageous acts of two women who disobeyed Pharaoh’s decree to murder all Hebrew male babies born in Egypt. These women, Shifra and Puah, practiced a bold and noteworthy profession—midwifery. It was their commitment to preserving human life and their skills as midwives that provided the safe and secret delivery of Hebrew baby boys. That the biblical text actually mentions Shifra and Puah by name suggests the ultimate importance of their role in the liberation of the Israelites.

God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention. 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Dr Maurice M. Mizrahi, Fort Belvoir Congregation, Virginia

Now let's talk about the ten plagues. There was no dipping of fingers in wine. We were much too refined for that! My mother would walk up to my father with a large bowl and a glass of water. My father would recite the plagues one by one, and for each plague he would pour a bit of wine in the bowl from a special large wineglass, and my mother would pour a bit of the water. It was all done under the table - nobody was supposed to look at the "plagues" for fear of being "contaminated"! Then my mother, without looking directly at the bowl, and with the rest of us looking in another direction, would go to the bathroom and flush the "plagues" down the toilet! I remember fear traveling down my spine...

The wine was said to represent justice and the water mercy. Justice tempered with mercy is how God is operates in the Jewish tradition.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Various

One day when Moses was taking care of his sheep, he saw a burning bush and heard a voive coming from the bush. It was the mighty voice of God. God told Moses to go back to Egypt and free the Jewish Slaves from cruel Pharaoh.

So Moses listened to God an he returned to Egypt and demanded that pharaoh release the Hebrews from bondage. Pharaoh refused! As a result God sends ten plagues upon Egypt. Pharaoh promised to free the Jewish slaves, but then he refused again when the plagues subsided.

1. Blood - The waters of Egypt are turned to blood. All the fish die and water becomes unusable.

2. Frogs - Hordes of frogs swarm the land of Egypt.

3. Lice - Masses of gnats or lice invade Egyptian homes and plague the Egyptian people.

4. Wild Animals - Wild animals invade Egyptian homes and lands, causing destruction and wrecking havoc.

5. Blight - Egyptian livestock is struck down with disease.

6. Boils - The Egyptian people are plagued by painful boils that cover their bodies.

7. Hail - Severe weather destroys Egyptian crops and beats down upon them.

8. Locusts - Locusts swarm Egypt and eat any remaining crops and food.

9. Darkness - Darkness covers the land of Egypt for three days.

10. Death of the Firstborn - The firstborn of every Egyptian family is killed. Even the firstborn of Egyptian animals die.

The tenth plague is where the Jewish holiday of Passover derives its name, because while the Angel of Death visited Egypt it "passed over" Hebrew homes, which had been marked with lambs blood on the doorposts.

The Jewish slaves were not affected by any of the plagues. It was the last, and the most fierce plague, the slaying of the first born, that finally made the Pharoah surrender, and allow the Jewish people to leave Egypt.

However, the Egyptians soon chased after the Jewish slaves on horseback and nearly caught up with them when the Jews were stranded at the Red Sea. At that point, Moses was commanded by God to lift up his staff, and the waters parted. The slaves safely passed through the sea, and the pursuing Egyptian army was drowned. The Jewish people were free!!!!!

Moses told the Jewish people to celebrate Pesach every year to remember that once they were slaves in Egypt, and now they are free. That is why we celebrate Pesach today.

As we recite each of the Ten Plagues, we dip out a drop of wine from our wine cup. When human beings suffer, even evil human beings, our joy cannot be complete.A full cup is the symbol of complete joy. Though we celebrate the triumph of our sacred cause, our happiness cannot be complete so long as others had to be sacrificed for its sake. We shall, therefore, diminish the wine in our cups as we recall the plagues visited upon the Egyptians, to give expression to our sorrow over the losses which each plague exacted.

We now recite the list of the ten ancient plagues, pouring off wine as each one is mentioned.Each additional drop of wine we now pour out of our cups is hope and prayer that people will cast out the plagues that today threaten everyone everywhere they are found, beginning in our own heartsGod brought Ten Plagues upon the Egyptians, and they were:

Blood - Dam ... Frogs - Tzefardeah ... Lice  - Kinim ... Beasts - Arov ... Blight - Dver ... Boils - Sh'himHail - Barad ... Locusts  - Arbeh . .. Darkness - Hoshekh ... Death of the Firstborn - Macat B'khorot.

-- Ten Plagues
Source :

The Plagues happened at the same time as a massive volcano eruption. The volcano Santorini sent ash in to the air effecting the surrounding area. The ash is found in Cairo and the Nile River, proven by testing the composition of the ash. This volcanic eruption happened between 1500-1650BC while the Plagues happened between 1400-1550BC. So it fits there. 

1st Plague. River ran red LIKE blood. But there is a common algae plume called the Red Tide. This makes the river, or any water, look red like blood. Why did this happen? The ash changes the PH level of the river allowing the algae to bloom. 

2nd Plague. Frogs. The algae is killing fish. Fish eat frog eggs. No fish, record number of frogs. Frogs can't live in polluted water and so leave the river. 

3rd and 4th Plague. Lice and flies. The translation can actually be lice, fleas, gnats, or midges. But you have riverfull of dead fish, and now dead frogs. This brings the insects of the 3rd and 4th Plague. 

5th Plague. Pestilence. Flies, dead frogs, dead fish, easy enough no? 

6th Plague. Boils. Certain types of flies that bite can leave behind boils. The bites get infected, they turn in to boils. 

7th Plague. Fire and Hail. Ash in the air causes a mixture of ash and water. The ash, very high in the air, causes the water to freeze so when it falls it is hail and not rain. The fire? I saw this amazing picture in Nat. Geo. of a volcanic eruption. There was red lightning. It was amazing to see bright red lightning. Why is it red? Chemicals in the ash makes red lightning. So fire in the sky, and hail. 

8th Plague. Locusts. Locusts come about when the ground is very damp. They bury their eggs in the sand about 4-6 inches. After record amount of hail the ground would be very wet allowing the locusts to form. 

9th Plague. Darkness. Ash in the air. After am eruption in 1815 there was darkness for 600 kilometers. After Krakatoa it was dark for even farther for days. 

10th Plague. Death of First born. In Egypt the first born was king. They would be the one to lead the family after the father died. When food was scarce the first born ate first and some times was the only one to eat. After locusts ate every thing there was only grain locked in vaults. The hail got it wet, locust feces, it made it moldy. And so when only the first born ate, they were the only ones killed by moldy grain. 

-- Ten Plagues
Source :

The haggadah teaches, "In every generation, every individual should feel as though he or she had gone out of Egypt." Now comes the tough question: "What will we do with our memories of slavery?" Will we use them to renew empathy or vegeance? As free people, the choice remains ours. but history suggests that the urge for vengeance often proves irresistable. Passover should renew our capacity for empathy.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Opressed people can not remain oppressed forever." But it is also true that opression has been with us forever. In fact, the fight for freedom often ends with one repressive regime's replacement by another.  The French Revolution, with its slogan, "liberty, fraternity, equality," produced a reign of terror more brutal that even that of the worst french kings. The Russian Revolution gave birth to a totalitarian state, more coercive than most autocratic czars. And in Africa, the stuggle against colonialism brought to power a slew of regimes that ulimately proved more abusive than the most domineering colonial overlords.

Why does this disillusioning pattern reoccur throughout history? Part of the answer lies in the fat that liberation rarely frees us from the desire or the emotional capacity to opress others. The firey cauldron of revolution, seething with moral contradictions, stands far from the cool ideal of justice. By the time the freedom fighters have finally won,  their moral integrity has often dwindled to that of the overturned regime. Principles become the rebellions first casualty, the human rights of thsoe on th eother side are the next casualties. Locked in a spiral of brutal strife, the tactics of the opressed and the oppressor become increasingly  difficult to distingush.  And then the liberation movement turns inward, purifying itself, silencing the murmuring, divisive voices within its own ranks.

Let's look at the elements of this pattern within the Exodus story itself. With God fighting the war against Pharaoh, the Israelites themselves were spared from violently rebelling against the Egyptian king. But they must surely have observed that the forces for and against oppression, Pharaoh, and God, ultimately restored to similar tactics; the slaying of children. To prevent the Israelites from becoming too numerous, Pharaoh orders the murder of their newborn sons. To persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, God slays the Egyptians' firstborn sons.

The murmuring against God, Moses, and Aaron begins in Egypt but increases after the Exodus. Unable to find water for three days after the miraculous parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites yearn for Egypt:

The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat beside the fleshpots, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole congregation to death." - EXODUS 16:2-3

The height of the murmuring comes when the Israelites build the Golden Calf. Moses smashes the Ten Commandments and sentences the counterrevolutionaries.

Moses stood up in the gate of the camp and said, "Whoever is for the Lord, come here!" And all the Levites rallied to him. He said to them, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel; Each of you put sword on thigh, go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay brother, neighbor, and kin." The Levites did as Moses had bidden; and some three thousand of the people fell that day. - EXODUS 32:26-29

To enforce the frst commandment against idol worship, Moses violates the sixth - "Thou shalt not kill." So revolutions go. The sanctity of human life pales in the blinding light of more exalted ideals.

Liberation struggles often wht an evil appetite. Revenge is Sweet. Frantz Fanon was a french psychiatrist who studied the effects of oppression. Descended from African slaves, Fanon found himself irresistibly attracted to the Algerian fight of the bloody war between France and Algeria, he descrobed the circumstances and inner feelings of oppressed peoples:The town belonging to the colonized people... is a hungry town, starved of bread, of meat, of shoes, of coal, of light. The native town is a crouching village, a town on its knees, a town wallowing in the mire.The colonized man is an envious man. And this the settler knows very well; when their glances meet, he ascertains bitterly, always on  the defensive, "They want to take our place." it is true, for there is no native who does not dream at least once a day of setting humself up in the settler's placeHe is in fact ready at a moment's notice to echange the role of the quarry for that of the hunte. The native is an oppressed person whose permanent dream is to become the presecutor...

This is the Pharoah's Egypt and it is all around us, from the grinding decay of America's worst inner cities to the brutal dictatorships that still dominate much of Africa and the Middle East.

But the desire to humiliate one's former master explains only part of the cycle in which the oppressed become the oppressors. Subjugation of another rflects more than quenching an old thirst for revenge. The capacity  to oppress another human being represents a fundamental rupture of human empathy, the bond of understanding that links us with out brothers and sisters and enables us to put ourselves in their shoes. Eliminate empathy and one group begins to treat another as inhuman objects - as machines to build cities in Egypt, as beasts to be captured in Africa, as insects to be exterminated in Nazi concentration camps. Expose  a people to a world without empathy and you forge the next link in the chain of oppression. Nations respond this way and so do individuals. Scratch a parent who abuses a child and you will usually find someone who suffered abuse as a child.

If vengeance and a lack of empathy are the germs that breed oppression, neighter the Israelites who left Egypt nor we today are immune from the disease.

As the very climax of their struggle for freedom, the children of Israel rejoice when Pharaoh's soldiers drown in the Red Sea. A tide of other emotions submerged what compassion they may have had - revenge, relief, and the joy of salvation: "Then Moses and the Israelites and this song to the Lord. They said: I will sing  to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver he was hurled into the sea" (Ex, 15:1).  For the Israelites dancing on the shore of the Red Sea, the Egyptians were hardly  the object of human concern. They were the enemy, not young men whose  mothers would mourn them, whose  firstborn brothers had just been slain by God, soldiers following orders of a Pharaoh whose heart had  repeatedy been hardened by the Lord of Israel.

In reminding us of our experience as slaves, Passover renews our collective empathy. We are neither slaves stripped of our dignity, nor are we fully free to rejoice in the fall of our enemies. We must remember their humanity, even when they have forgotten ours.

So, before we sing 'Dayyenu' we spill a drop of wine from our glasses for each of the ten plagues. A common inerpretation explains that our joy cannot be complete because our redemption was acheived at the cost of great suffering to the Egyptians.

The passion for vengeance cools slowly. Dignity destroyed takes years to rebuild. The scars of slavery take generations to heal. That is why we needed forty years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. But time alone does not heal all wounds. If they are deep enoug, active intervention and treatment are essentail. And for the Jewish people, that intervention came in the form of the Torah, a code for transforming the bitter memories of oppression into a commitment to building a more just and humane society.

As the Rabbis of the Talmud wisely observed, the commandment to respect the rights of minorities appears thirty-six times in the Torah, a reminder that with power, the oppressed themselves often become oppressors. It is the Jewish peoples responsiblity to remain strong and to help break this tragic cycle. When Hillel, the great sage, was asked to teach the entire Torah to a man while standing on one foot, this is what he said: "What is hateful to you, do not do to other. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study."

Let your bitter memories enlarge the well of human empathy. Overcome your lust for vengeance. Overcome your readiness to deny others their humanity. For who has not dreamed - at least once - of sitting on Pharaoh's throne?

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Abraham Joshua Heschel, Design by
Heschel on Radical Amazement

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : ayeka

Opening the door for Elijah 

Elijah lived centuries after the Exodus. 

There is no connection between his actions and the Jews leaving Egypt. Yet he has become one of the central figures and symbols of the Passover Seder. Moses - the hero of the Exodus - is practically never mentioned. Yet we all know about Elijah's cup and opening the door for Elijah. 

We pour the cup but do not drink it. We open the door but no one comes in. 

The prophet Malachi says: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of God. And he will turn the heart of fathers to their children and the heart of children to their fathers . . . "

Elijah brings together the hearts of people and generations. Elijah is the peacemaker in a world of strife and discord. Opening the door for Elijah is a harbinger of the future redemption to come. 

The Seder is not about a single moment of redemption that occurred thousands of years ago. By remembering the exodus from Egypt, we rekindle our hope in the ultimate breakthrough - however long it takes - to peace and harmony. 

Elijah is the messenger of hope. 

Would we recognize Elijah if he were standing at the door when we opened it? Can a complete stranger actually bring us peace and hope in our lives? 

Activity for Seder: 

Have you ever had an "Elijah the Prophet moment" - when a complete stranger suddenly appeared and brought you peace and hope? 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Unknown

בָרוךְ אתה יי אֱלֹהֵינו מֶלֶךְ העוֹלָם, אֲשֶר גְאָלָנו וְגָאַל אֶת אֲבוֹתֵינו מִמִצְרַים , וְהִגִיעָנו לַלַיְלָה הַזֶה לֶאֱכָל בוֹ מַצָה ומָרוֹר. כֵן יי אֱלֹהֵינו וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינו יַגִיעֵנו לְמוֹעֲדִים וְלִרְגָלִים אֲחֵרִים הַבָאִים לִקְרָאתֵנו לְשָלוֹם, שְמֵחִים בְבִנְיַן עִירֶךָ וְשָשִים בַעֲבוֹדָתֶךָ. וְנאֹכַל שָם מִן הַזְבָחִים ומִן הַפְסָחִים אֲשֶר יַגִיעַ דָמָם עַל קִיר מִזְבַחֲךָ לְרָצוֹן, וְנוֹדֶה לְךָ שִיר חָדָש עַל גְאֻלָתֵנו ועַל פְדות נַפְשֵנו. בָרוךְ אַתָה יי גָאַל יִשְרָאֵל. בָרוךְ אַתָה יי אֱלֹהֵינו מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בוֹרֵא פְרִי הַגָפֶן.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Free Siddur Project, adapted

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher g’alanu v’ga’al et avoteinu mimitzrayim, v’higianu lalaylah hazeh le’echol bo matzah umaror. Kein Adonai Eloheinu vEilohei avoteinu yagi’einu l’mo’adim v’lirgalim acheirim haba’im likrateinu l’shalom, s’meichim b’vinyan irecha v’sasim ba’avodatecha. V’nochal sham min hazvachim umin hapsachim asher yagia damam al kir mizbachacha l’ratzon, v’nodeh l’cha shir chadash al g’ulateinu v’al p’dut nafsheinu. Baruch Atah Adonai, ga’al Yisrael.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, borei p’ri hagafen

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Union Haggadah, ed. by The Central Council of American Rabbis, at

PRAISED art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, and hast enabled us to observe this night of the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. O Lord our God and God of our fathers, may we, with Thy help, live to celebrate other feasts and holy seasons. May we rejoice in Thy salvation and be gladdened by Thy righteousness. Grant deliverance to mankind through Israel, Thy people. May Thy will be done through Jacob, Thy chosen servant, so that Thy name shall be sanctified in the midst of all the earth, and that all peoples be moved to worship Thee with one accord. And we shall sing new songs of praise unto Thee, for our redemption and for the deliverance of our souls. Praised art Thou, O God, Redeemer of Israel.

The cups are filled for the second time.

All read in unison:


Praised art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.

Drink the second cup of wine.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Traditional

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Compiled

One of most beloved songs in the Passover seder is "Dayenu". A few of us will read the stanzas one at a time, and the everyone else will respond, "Dayenu" – meaning, “it would have been enough”.

How many times do we forget to pause and notice that where we are is exactly where we ought to be? Dayenu is a reminder to never forget all the miracles in our lives. When we stand and wait impatiently for the next one to appear, we are missing the whole point of life. Instead, we can actively seek a new reason to be grateful, a reason to say “Dayenu.”

Fun fact: Persian and Afghani Jews hit each other over the heads and shoulders with scallions every time they say Dayenu! They especially use the scallions in the ninth stanza which mentions the manna that the Israelites ate everyday in the desert, because Torah tells us that the Israelites began to complain about the manna and longed for the onions, leeks and garlic. Feel free to be Persian/Afghani for the evening if you’d like.


English translation




If He had brought us out from Egypt,

Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim,

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם


and had not carried out judgments against them

v'lo asah bahem sh'fatim,

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had carried out judgments against them,

Ilu asah bahem sh'fatim

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים


and not against their idols

v'lo asah beloheihem,

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had destroyed their idols,

Ilu asah beloheihem,

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם


and had not smitten their first-born

v'lo harag et b'choreihem,

וְלֹא הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had smitten their first-born,

Ilu harag et b'choreihem,

אִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם


and had not given us their wealth

v'lo natan lanu et mamonam,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had given us their wealth,

Ilu natan lanu et mamonam,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם


and had not split the sea for us

v'lo kara lanu et hayam,

ןלא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had split the sea for us,

Ilu kara lanu et hayam,

אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם


and had not taken us through it on dry land

v'lo he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had taken us through the sea on dry land,

Ilu he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה


and had not drowned our oppressors in it

v'lo shika tzareinu b'tocho,

וְלֹא שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had drowned our oppressors in it,

Ilu shika tzareinu b'tocho,

אִלּוּ שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ


and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years

v'lo sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years,

Ilu sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה


and had not fed us the manna

v'lo he'echilanu et haman,

וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had fed us the manna,

Ilu he'echilanu et haman,

אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן


and had not given us the Shabbat

v'lo natan lanu et hashabbat,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had given us the Shabbat,

Ilu natan lanu et hashabbat,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת


and had not brought us before Mount Sinai

v'lo keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

וְלֹא קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had brought us before Mount Sinai,

Ilu keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

אִלּוּ קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי


and had not given us the Torah

v'lo natan lanu et hatorah,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had given us the Torah,

Ilu natan lanu et hatorah,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה


and had not brought us into the land of Israel

v'lo hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!




If He had brought us into the land of Israel,

Ilu hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל


and not built for us the Holy Temple

v'lo vanah lanu et beit hamikdash,

וְלֹא בָּנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ


— Dayenu, it would have been enough!



-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

David Lipman, Noah Engel, Avi Kaplan-Lipkin

Dayenu: Would it have been enough?

            Passover is about miracles. God does not often enact chains of miracles, so the song “Dayenu” highlights how much God really did for us. The song’s refrain states that each miracle would have been enough for the Israelites. While any one of these miracles alone aided us extraordinarily, none of them were done needlessly. The School of David and the School of Noah gather to discuss God’s miracles and the ideas behind Dayenu: Would only some, or even one, of God’s miracles really have been enough?

The School of David opens by saying: If God brought us out of Egypt but didn’t stop the Egyptians, would it really have been enough? If He never split the sea, would it have been enough? If He never gave us the Torah, would it have been enough? We left Egypt, and then without God, we would have been lost. Without God, we would have been nothing. The Egyptians would have caught us before we reached Israel. We would have been stuck at the sea, and forced to turn back around. We wouldn’t have been given the Torah at Mount Sinai, and therefore we wouldn’t be the religion we are today. The sages of the School of David wouldn’t be writing this piece right now if God stopped after the first step and said “that was enough, you are welcome.” So, the School of David says no, it would not have been enough. God did everything for a reason, and with anything less, the Jews wouldn’t be around to tell their story.

The School of Noah responds: Respectfully, I disagree. The amount of miracles that God provided for the Jewish people is immeasurable. Even one of the miracles that God performed for the Jews would have been enough, because it was a miracle. We must be thankful for what God did for us, and that he freed us from Egypt. We are humans, and we would have made do with what we were given. To answer your question: would it have been enough? In some cases, I answer - yes. In some cases though, it would not have been enough.

The School of David says: Alright, we are finally getting somewhere. I agree that certain miracles would have been enough. For example, God didn’t have to execute the Egyptian gods, or give us the Egyptian riches. It would have been enough without these. The School of David can agree with this. However, I am sticking with my firm belief that just one of these miracles would not have been sufficient. Many of these miracles were necessary for the survival of the Jewish people, for example the giving of the Torah and the splitting of the sea. I see where you’re going with this, but still stick with my belief.

The School of Noah responds to this with an idea of narrative expansion. Many many years after the Exodus, the Jews sat in their homeland - Israel, and everything was tranquil and peaceful. They began to think about how lucky they were to be free, and live in Israel at that moment. That led them to thinking: what if God had never freed them from slavery. And as they remembered the story of their ancestors they began to realize how many miracles God actually provided them with as they left Egypt. They became so thankful for all of the miracles provided and began to create the song Dayenu based off of their thankfulness, as it is written: “If God had only performed one miracle it would have been enough.” In the end they realized, even if God had not performed all of these miracles, they still would have made do. They would have made do because that was our chance of survival. Applying this attitude to our everyday life will allow us to really be thankful for what we have.

    Overall, many ideas were discussed and no conclusions were made. One idea that both the School of David and the School of Noah alluded to is the variation in miracles: some would not have been enough and some would have been enough. Does this mean that some miracles were smaller than others? Possibly. It might also mean that not all miracles were as important as each other. Both schools agreed that not all miracles were necessary. Some combinations of the miracles would have been enough. However, undoubtedly, each of these miracles was important, for otherwise, God would not have made them happen. We have our own perspective on the miracles which is different from God’s perspective, and we cannot know God’s reasons. The best we can do is be grateful for every miracle, small or large.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

We have now told the story of Passover…but wait! We’re not quite done. There are still some symbols on our seder plate we haven’t talked about yet. Rabban Gamliel would say that whoever didn’t explain the shank bone, matzah, and marror (or bitter herbs) hasn’t done Passover justice.

The shank bone represents the Pesach, the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt when visiting plagues upon our oppressors.

The matzah reminds us that when our ancestors were finally free to leave Egypt, there was no time to pack or prepare. Our ancestors grabbed whatever dough was made and set out on their journey, letting their dough bake into matzah as they fled.

The bitter herbs provide a visceral reminder of the bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors experienced in Egypt.


Jonathan Prokter

Cleansing the Dirtied Hands Before Eating the Matzah

As it is known, the Hebrews left Egypt in a hurry. They baked their flour into Matzah, since they did not have enough time to let the bread rise. As they were running out of their homes, they dirtied their hands with the guilt of leaving their old lives behind. As they were walking towards Canaan, they smeared their hands with the doubtfulness that they would ever reach the Holy Land. When it came to eating the Matzah, they did not have time to wash their hands, nor did they have the resources to do so. This prompted them to eat with their guilty hands, and thus they daubed the Matzah. The Matzah was inedible, and gave way to many diseases, thus infecting a handful of people. God saw this as a problem, and decided to help the Hebrews with the dilemma. God commanded Moses to instruct the Hebrews to say a certain prayer before they ate the Matzah. At the exact moment the Hebrews uttered the prayer, water came out from nearby rocks. This allowed the Hebrews to wash their hands, and made the Matzah edible. The prayer that was uttered is the same prayer that we recite today during the Seder, right before we eat the Matzah during Rachtzah.

Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

Eating matzah is a fundamental experience, a moment of instruction for the body and its needs. The matzah teaches the body to strive toward holiness. It is like a seed, generating bodily yearning for holiness, faith, clarity, humility, purpose, control, experience, life, love, joy and union. The matzah reaches deeper than any class, any word, any conversation or intellectual realization could possibly reach.  It is a seed of heaven, of enlightenment, planted where it needs to be planted - at the very heart of the place where resistance to these ideals happens: in the body, in the kishkes.

This is one of the key moments of the year - like blowing the shofar or Kol Nidrei.  And it requires preparation.  This washing, then, is how we orient ourselves toward this crucial moment where body meets soul. And it carries the key to one side of a crucial balance: on one hand, we are meant to eat matzah out of hunger. We are supposed to be literally hungry when we eat it. But on the other hand, we do not want this eating to be overly physical - and this is why we wash. Hungry, in the most literal sense, but not overly physical.

The washing is meant to help us feel this hunger - a perfectly normal, human, healthy, holy feeling - without letting it cause us to forget the ultimate purpose or distract us from Hashem.  Our hunger is meant to guide us toward the experience of eating matzah , but it should not determine the nature of the experience. The eating itself─all eating, according to Rebbe Nachman─is a moment of deep and honest encounter with the Divine: we need, Hashem provides. Hunger lets us know it is time to have that encounter again.

Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple.

Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand and then three times on your left hand.

After you have poured the water over your hands, recite this short blessing.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ  עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.

Source : Unknown

After washing your hands, raise all three matzot and say

Baruch ata Adonai Elohinu melech ha'olam hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz.

Which means:

We bless you, Lord our God, God of the world, who brings foth bread from the land.

Put down the bottom matzah and add:

Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'ztivanu al achilat matzah.

Which means:

We bless you, Lord our God, God of the world, who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us concerning the eating of matzah.

Each person eats a piece of each of the top to matzot. After that, you can eat as much matzah as you like.

Source : Chabbad


Take the Matzot in the order that they are lying on the tray - the broken piece between the two whole Matzot; hold them in your hand and recite the following blessing:

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.


Do not break anything off the Matzot. First put down the third Matza (the bottom one), and recite the following blessing over the broken Matza and the top one.

When reciting the following blessing, have in mind that it refers also to the eating of the "Sandwich" of Korech - which will be made with the third Matza - and also the eating of the Afikoman.

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning the eating of Matzah.

Now break off a kezayit (the volume of one olive) of the two Matzot held, and eat the 2 pieces together in reclining position.


You are probably very bored by now. I probably am too. You are probably hungry. And tired. And sick of Matzah before you even started eating it. Now you get to eat bitter herbs and try not to go to the hospital. The bitterness reminds us of living through the bitterness in Egypt. We will also dip it in Charoset to remind us of the bitterness but also the sweetness of being together. 

ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר

Why do we eat bitter herbs and not other bitter foods?

Source :

Bitterness isn't just a tradition in the Jewish community--it's a commandment. Here we answer some frequently asked questions about Passover's bitter herbs, also known as maror.

Q: Where does the commandment to eat bitter herbs come from?

A: In Exodus 12:8 the Torah commands us to eat the paschal sacrifice, "with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs." This same law is repeated in Numbers 9:20. Though we do not have the paschal sacrifice any more the obligation to eat the bitter herbs remains.

Q: What qualifies as a bitter herb?

A: The Hebrew word used is maror, which comes from the root mar, meaning bitter. In the Talmud, the rabbis came up with a list of qualifications for whatever vegetable you use as maror. It should be bitter, have sap, and be grayish in appearance. It also needs to be a vegetable that grows from the earth, not from a tree. (Pesahim 39a) Though we tend to refer to maror in English as an herb, it would be more accurate to say vegetable.

Q: What are some examples of things that could be bitter herbs at my seder this year?

A: The Mishnah (Pesahim 2:6) lists five possibilities that can be used at the seder, but it's hard to know for certain exactly what plants they are referring to. The one that is most clear is called hazeret in Hebrew, which is commonly understood to mean lettuce. So many halakhic authorities today say the best form of bitter herbs is romaine lettuce, even though it is not initially bitter, but has a bitter aftertaste. The outer older leaves of romaine lettuce can contain a grayish milky sap that is very bitter. If lettuce is not available, any vegetable is suitable, and other common options are celery and horseradish (also known as chrein).

Q: What is the symbolism of maror?

A: Though it isn't explicit in the Torah, bitter herbs are commonly held to be a symbol of the bitterness the Israelites felt when they were slaves in Egypt. By eating the herbs we feel bitterness ourselves, and can more easily imagine ourselves as slaves. When we dip the maror in the haroset we are associating the bitterness we feel with the hard labor the Israelites experienced at the hands of the Egyptians.

Q: Why would we say a blessing over something that's bitter and symbolizes hardship and suffering?

A: When we dip maror in haroset we recognize that bitter and sweet often come together in life. To be a Jew is to see both the bitter and the sweet in the world, and to bless God for both. Maror also reminds us that misery is not meaningless. The pain that the Israelites suffered as slaves in Egypt was not for naught. It led to their cries for freedom, and ultimately their redemption.

Source :

What's so great about the bitterness? Why do we want to remermber  that ?

Actually, our bitterness in Egypt was/is the key to our redemption. We never got used to Egypt. We never felt we belonged there. We never said, “They are the masters and we are the slaves and that’s the way it is.” It always remained something we felt bitter about, something that was unjust and needed to change.

If it hadn’t been that way, we probably would never have left. In fact, tradition tells us that 80% of the Jews said, “This is our land. How can we leave it?” And they stayed and died there.

But as for the rest of us, when Moses came and told us we were going to leave, we believed him. It was our bitterness that had preserved our faith.
Everyone has his Egypt. You’ve got to know who you are and what are your limitations. But heaven forbid to make peace with them. The soul within you knows no limits.

This is the sweetness we apply to the bitter herb: Bitterness alone, without any direction, is self-destructive. Inject some life and optimism into it, and it becomes the springboard to freedom.

Source :
who invented the sandwhich

Source :,

In keeping with the custom instituted by Hillel, the great Talmudic sage, a sandwich of matzah and maror is eaten. Break off two pieces of the bottom matzah, which together should be at least one ounce. Again, take at least one ounce of bitter herbs and dip them in the charoset. Place this between the two pieces of matzah and eat the sandwich while reclining.

In the days of the second temple in Jerusalem, Rabbi Hillel was a great teacher who would discuss the Passover story until the dawn of the next day. Once he was asked to teach the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel said: “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Now go and study.”

During Passover, Hillel would eat a sandwich of the lamb offering plus matzah and maror, in order to perform the Law: “With unleavened bread and bitter herbs shall they eat it.” Since we no longer make sacrifices at the Temple, the tradition has changed to eating a Hillel sandwich of matzah, maror and charoset.

Rabbi Levi reminds us that while the men toiled at making bricks without straw, the women never lost hope. They brought food and water to the fields, and encouraged the men to have sex with them, so as to bring the next generation into the world. R. Levi suggests that the sweetness of charoset is about the Jewish women’s way of relating to slavery and the slaves. True, the enslavement was bitter, both physically brutal and psychologically degrading, but the Jewish women didn’t lose hope. They helped maintain the dignity of their husbands, and raised a new generation of Jewish children.

Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, taught that the Hillel sandwich represents bringing together the symbolic messages of the matzah and the marror. The sages disputed the validity of such bundling together of mitzvahs, because they didn't want to make it seem like the mitzvot are a burden. But for Hillel, the bitterness of slavery embodied in the maror is combined with the freedom of matzah prepared as we left Egypt represents the "yoke of heaven," where one commits doggedly as a slave to the service of God and thus uncovers an even greater spiritual freedom.

For us, the contradiction of the slavery of maror and the freedom of matzah represents the transitional period we face after a revolution and before the establishment of socialism. We are weighed down by the consciousness of the oppressed hammered into us throughout our lives in capitalism, and we have to grapple with this just as we grapple with transforming a degenerate economic system into a prospering one. Just as the generation who left Egypt in the exodus could not go into the land of Israel, so too will the generation who carry out the revolution not be the ones to fully bring socialism into being. We will toil for its establishment with all our hearts and abilities, but we cannot undo the decades of internalized messages of unworthiness. It is for our children to bring us to our promised land, the spread of socialism around the world.

Source : Original

In Talmud Pesachim, Rava teaches, "A person who swallows matzah without chewing fills the mitzvah, the commandment, to eat matzah. However, a person who swallows maror without chewing doesn't fulfill the mitzvah to eat maror."

Matzah is Biblical fast food. Matzah is flat because the Hebrews were in such a hurry to get out of Egypt, they didn't wait for their bread to rise. They rushed out, eating crackers, because they had to eat something. Matzah is optimistic, portable, light and undemanding.

Rashbam says that the mitzvah of eating matzah isn't connected to taste. It's connected to story. The Seder ends with a literal countdown, numbering the days until Shavuot, the holiday when the Hebrews get the Torah. Matzah is the food of the future. We eat matzah on Passover to remind us that we're on our way.

Charoset and Maror are the tastes of the past. Charoset is a sweet memory. Maror is a bitter encounter made fresh. Charoset is the sweetness of family, Maror the bitterness of Holocaust. These are our roots as individual people and as a People. Maror wants attention, and loves to get a reaction. Charoset is sweet, and also thick and heavy. Charoset is said to be the material the Hebrews used to make bricks. Sweetness between people and bricks are made of the same material. The presence of both forms a foundation.

The Hillel sandwich is the three of these together. Matzah, Maror and Charoset. Together, they are the present.

Shulchan Oreich
Source :

Question: If Tarzan and Jane were Jewish, what would Cheetah be? 

A. A fur coat. 

Question: If a doctor carries a black bag and a plumber carries a toolbox, what does a mohel carry?  A: A Bris-kit!


As Moses and the children of Israel were crossing the Red Sea, the children of Israel began to complain to Moses of how thirsty they were after walking so far. Unfortunately, they were not able to drink from the walls of water on either side of them, as they were made up of salt-water. 

Then, a fish from that wall of water told Moses that he and his family heard the complaints of the people, but that they through their own gills could remove the salt from the water and force it out of their mouths like a fresh water fountain for the Israelites to drink from as they walked by. 

Moses accepted this kindly fish's offer. But before the fish and his family began to help, they told Moses they had a demand. They and their descendants had to be always present at the Seder meal that would be established to commemorate the Exodus, since they had a part in the story. When Moses agreed to this, he gave them their name which remains how they are known to this very day, for he said to them, "Go Filter Fish!"

Shulchan Oreich
Source : My Journey Through the Haggadah, Yekutiel Atkins

The meal is now served. It is customary to start with hard-boiled eggs in or with salt water, various explanations have been made for this custom such as, the roundness of the egg symbolizes life, The salt water has also been connected to the Reed Sea over which we passed on our way out of Egypt to the Promised Land so indirectly reminding us of the Song of the Sea as mentioned earlier.. It has also been compared to the tears shed during our long and difficult Exile.

Hard-boiled eggs are also eaten as a sign of mourning. The first day of Pesach is the same day of the week as is Tisha b'Av (the Ninth of Av), the day of the destruction of both Temples, which we commemorate by a 25 hour fast. We thus connect life and the time of our redemption from Egypt to the day of mourning for the Temple and exile from our Land to the redemption and return to Eretz Yisrael, thus coming a full circle as is the egg. Together with the piece of roasted meat on the Seder dish we also place a roasted egg as a symbol of the Chagiga offering which was brought on every festival, the egg that we eat is perhaps a reminder of that. This roasted egg may now be eaten. If not eaten now it should be eaten at some time and not thrown away as it symbolizes the special festival offering.

Source :

Bernie, a young Jewish boy, decided he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and build airplanes. Over the years he studied hard, went to the best schools, and finally got his degree. It didn't take long before he gained a reputation as the finest aeronautical engineer in all the land, so he decided to start his own company to build jets.  

His company was such a hit that the President of the United States called Bernie into his office. "Bernie," the president said, "the President of Israel wants to commission your company to build an advanced jet fighter for his country. You have our approval--go out and design him the best jet fighter ever made."  

Needless to say, Bernie was tremendously excited at this prospect. The entire resources of his company went into building the most advanced jet fighter in history. Everything looked terrific on paper, but when they held the first test flight of the new jet, disaster struck. The wings couldn't take the strain--they broke clean off of the fuselage! (The test pilot parachuted to safety, thank G-d.) Bernie was devastated; his company redesigned the jet fighter, but the same thing happened at the next test flight--the wings broke off again. 

Beside himself with worry, Bernie went to his Shul to ask G-d where he had gone wrong. The rabbi saw Bernie's sadness, and naturally asked him what the matter was. Bernie decided to pour his heart out to the rabbi. 

After hearing the problem with the jet fighter, the rabbi put his arm on Bernie's shoulder and told him, "Listen, I know how to solve your problem. All you have to do is drill a row of holes directly above and below where the wing meets the fuselage. If you do this, I absolutely guarantee the wings won't fall off." 

Bernie just smiled and thanked the rabbi for his advice...but the more he thought about it, the more he realized he had nothing to lose. Maybe the rabbi had some holy insight. So Bernie did exactly what the rabbi told him to do. On the next design of the jet fighter, they drilled a row of holes directly above and below where the wings met the fuselage. worked!! The next test flight went perfectly!  

Brimming with joy, Bernie went to the Shul to tell the rabbi that his advice had worked. "Naturally," said the rabbi, "I never doubted it would." 

"But Rabbi, how did you know that drilling the holes would prevent the wings from falling off?"  

"Bernie," the rabbi intoned, "I'm an old man. I've lived for many, many years and I've celebrated Passover many, many times. And in all those years, not once--NOT ONCE--has the matzoh broken on the perforation."


Question: Why did the Passover Kids cross the street?? 

 A. They didn't have enough bread to take the bus!! 



 JEWISH JEOPARDY: We give the answer, you give the question  A: Midrash Q: What is a Middle East skin disease? A: The Gaza Strip Q: What is an Egyptian Belly Dance? A: A classroom, a Passover ceremony, and a latke Q: What are a cheder, a seder, and a tater? A: Sofer Q: On what do Jews recline on Passover? A: Babylon Q: What does the rabbi do during some sermons? A: Filet Minyan Q: What do you call steaks ordered by 10 Jews? A: Kishka, sukkah, and circumcision Q: What are a gut, a hut, and a cut? 

Source : original

Much of our Seder has been dedicated to the nourishment of the more subtle levels of experience –subtle expression, perception, experience, relationship, and gratitude. But the first matzah we ate tonight was not meant to be subtle─it is the staff of life, borne of necessity, eaten to satisfy hunger rather than for the sake of enjoyment. Now, as we stand at the ready to eat the afikoman , we are seeking to nourish our more nuanced sides.

Needs are most often not as subtle as wants. I need to eat; but I want a crepe. I need a life partner; but I want him or her to be tall, fit, interested in water-sports, non-smoking, etc.  Our needs are essentially shared with all of humankind─our wants make us who we are as individuals. We often do not feel privileged to indulge in wants─getting our basic needs met seems enough of a challenge in many aspects of life. We are therefore forced, quite often, to keep our desires buried deep inside, where they will not be quashed by ‘reality’.

But tonight we eat a food that nourishes only those aspects of ourselves. This is the afikoman ─no longer staff of life, equally calibrated for all, but bread of desire, of enjoyment, of subtlety and uniqueness. This bread is tzafun ─hidden because it addresses the completely unique soul deep within us.  It helps that part of us grow in strength as a pathway to connection and holiness.

This bread is the perfect food for each of us as individuals. It contains the exact spiritual vitamins each of us needs in order to thrive.  The piece you have is perfectly designed for you.  

Source : chabad,org

Tzafun is the last morsel of food eaten by participants at the Seder. According to the english translation of the Haggadah, “after the meal, take the Afikoman and divide it among all the members of the household, by giving everyone a kezayit (the volume of one olive). Take care not to eat or drink (only water allowed, but not recommended) after the Afikoman. It is to be eaten in the reclining position and this ought to be done before midnight.” After having read the translation of the Haggadah in english, something I found interesting was that we are not allowed to eat anything after eating the afikoman, and that was my question; does eating the afikoman symbolize anything? Is that why we are not allowed to eat anything after we eat our afikoman? The answer I came up with was that the afikoman should be eaten last to finish our Seder with a matzah. This symbolizes how the Jews survived in Egypt, and therefore we’ll always sense that lasting feeling of survival.

According to the body, “with the first matzah, we fulfilled our obligation to eat matzah. This one is in place of the Pesach lamb (which can only be brought in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) that is meant to be eaten on a full stomach.”

According to the soul, “In the Kabbalah, it is explained that there is something deeper than the soul. There is the body, the spirit, and then there is the essence. If the soul is light, then that essence is the source of light. If it is energy, then the essence is the dynamo. It is called "tzafun," meaning hidden, buried, locked away and out of reach.

On Passover night, we have the power to be inspired and touch the inner core. But only after all the steps before: Destroying our personal chametz, preparing our homes for liberation, the eleven steps of the Seder until now. Then, when we are satiated with all we can handle, connecting every facet of ourselves to the Divine, that’s when that power comes to us. Whether we sense it or not, tasteless as it may seem, the matzah we eat now reaches deep into our core and transforms our very being.”

In general, the things one finds inspiring and nice may take them a step forward.But if you want to effect real change, you need to do something totally beyond your personal bounds.

Source :

Filling Miriam's Cup follows the second cup of wine, before washing the hands. Raise the empty goblet and say:

Miriam's cup is filled with water, rather than wine. I invite women of all generations at our Seder table to fill Miriam's cup with water from their own glasses.

 Pass Miriam's cup around the table(s). Explain the significance of filling Miriam's cup with water:

A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, providing them with water. This well was given by God to Miriam, the prophetess, to honor her bravery and devotion to the Jewish people. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert, sources of sustenance and healing. Her words of comfort gave the Hebrews the faith and confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus. We fill Miriam's cup with water to honor her role in ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Like Miriam, Jewish women in all generations have been essential for the continuity of our people. As keepers of traditions in the home, women passed down songs and stories, rituals and recipes, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation. Let us each fill the cup of Miriam with water from our own glasses, so that our daughters may continue to draw from the strength and wisdom of our heritage.

Opportunity to share a story or two about a Jewish woman in your life.

When Miriam's cup is filled, and stories are told (if appropriate), raise the goblet and say:

We place Miriam's cup on our Seder table to honor the important role of Jewish women in our tradition and history, whose stories have been too sparingly told.

 Continue by reciting this prayer (from Susan Schnur):

"You abound in blessings, God, creator of the universe, Who sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured and kept alive in the wilderness, and may You give us wisdom to understand that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption. AMEN." --Susan Schnur

Alternate Reader :

Miriam's life is a contrast to the life of Elijah, and both teach us important lessons. Elijah was a hermit, who spent part of his life alone in the desert. He was a visionary and prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the messianic era. On the other hand, Miriam lived among her people in the desert, following the path of hesed, or loving kindness. She constantly comforted the Israelites throughout their long journey, encouraging them when they lost faith. Therefore, Elijah's cup is a symbol of future messianic redemption, while Miriam's cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present life. We must achieve balance in our own lives, not only preparing our souls for redemption, but rejuvenating our souls in the present. Thus, we need both Elijah's cup and Miriam's cup at our seder table.

by JQ
Source : JQ International GLBT Haggadah

Fill the cups with wine; open door; all rise...

Elijah the Prophet

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

-Malachi 4:5

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, May he come quickly, In our days, with the Messiah son of David.

Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-na-vee, Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-tish-bee, Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-gi-la-dee, Bim-hey-ra Ya-vo e-ley-nu Im-ma-shi-ach ben Da-vid.

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, May he come quickly, In our days, with the Messiah son of David.

cup of wine for elijah

Let us open the door and invite Elijah to enter and join with us as we drink the wine of our freedom

Eliyahu Ha-Navi (“Elijah the Prophet” in English) was a biblical prophet who lived in the 9th century BCE during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in the Kingdom of Israel. His prophetic fervor and fierce defense of God in the face of pagan influences in comparison with all other Israelite biblical prophets earned him the honor of being the ‘guardian angel’ of the Israelites and subsequently, the Jewish people. Because he was considered the strongest defender of God, he was said to be the forerunner of the Messiah. In the Book of Malachi, Malachi, who was the last of the Israelite prophets, states that Elijah would reappear just before the coming of the Messianic Age. (Malachi 3:1)

a cup of water for miriam

Tonight we have both our traditional cup filled with wine for Elijah the Prophet, and a second one filled with water, for Miriam the Prohetess (Exodus 15:20).

According to Rabbi Susan Schnur, Miriam is a central figure in the Passover drama. She stands guard loyally when her baby brother Moses is set floating on the Nile, and she arranges for a wet-nurse, Moses’ own mother, who gets paid by Pharaoh’s daughter for caretaking and living with her own child. Miriam leads the Israelites in singing and dancing (that most natural expression of religious joy) after they cross the Red Sea. And she dies by the kiss of God; the Angel of Death, we are told, has no power over her. After her death in the desert, the Israelites lose their most precious possession: water-and its then that Miriam’s grieving brother strikes the rock.

The Midrash teaches us that the water, which disappeared at Miriam’s death, came from a miraculous well. Created during twilight on the eve of the world’s first Sabbath, God gave the well to Miriam because of her holiness, and it was intended to accompany the Israelites in the desert throughout the span of her life. “Miriam’s Well,” as it was called, not only quenched thirst; it also cured body and soul. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert bedrock sources of nurturance and healing

We raise our wine glasses and say collectively:

You abound in blessings, God, creator of the universe, Who sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured and kept alive in the wilderness to understand that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption.


Source :

רַבּוֹתַי נְבָרֵךְ

All who sit around these tables,

Friends and strangers,

In peaceful conversation

And pleasant disagreement,

Those who remember and those who are remembered,

On this Pesakh,

We have shared this fine meal

And such a fine story,

We take this moment to acknowledge

That we are blessed

And, in our turn,

We bless.

בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּבָרוּך שְׁמוֹ

Blessed be the Creator and the created,

Blessed be the sustainers and the sustained.

Blessed be the eaters and the eaten,

Blessed be the feeders and the fed.

Blessed be the cooks and the meal,

Blessed be the drinkers and the water.

Blessed be the farmers and the produce,

Blessed be the baker and the bread.

Blessed be them all.

Blessed be the questioners and the questioned,

Blessed be the musicians and the songs.

Blessed the comics and the jokes,

Blessed be the artists and the illustrations.

Blessed be the maggid and the stories,

Blessed be the rabbis and the learning.

Blessed be them all.

Blessed be the doers and the done upon,

Blessed be the freers and the freed.

Blessed be the leaders and the led,

Blessed be the tellers and the told.

Blessed be the prayers and the prayed for,

Blessed be the servers and the served.

Blessed be them alll.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי הַזָּן אֶת הַכּל

נוֹדֶהלְּךָ יי אֱלהֵינוּ

Blessing us,One-ness,

We do not lack the biggest and the smallest of blessings:

Blessing us, One-ness,

With a history, ancient and current, that is never boring.

We give thanks

וְעַלהַכּל יי אֱלהֵינוּ אֲנַחְנוּ מוֹדִים לָךְ וּמְבָרְכִים אוֹתָךְ

Blessing us, One-ness,

With boundless Mercy

For all people,

All made in your image.

Those who remember and those who are remembered.

רַחֶםנָא יי אֱלהֵינוּ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמֶּךָ

Blessed One-ness

Making peace

Sustaining wholeness

For each other

And all the world

On this Pesakh

We give thanks.




Fill the cups with wine; open door; all rise...

Elijah the Prophet

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

-Malachi 4:5

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, May he come quickly, In our days, with the Messiah son of David.

Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-na-vee, Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-tish-bee, Eh-lee-ya-hu ha-gi-la-dee, Bim-hey-ra Ya-vo e-ley-nu Im-ma-shi-ach ben Da-vid.

Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilead, May he come quickly, In our days, with the Messiah son of David.

cup of wine for elijah

Let us open the door and invite Elijah to enter and join with us as we drink the wine of our freedom.

Source :

After the meal, take the Afikoman and divide it among all the members of the household, by giving everyone a kezayit (the volume of one olive).

Take care not to eat or drink (only water allowed, but not recommended) after the Afikoman.

It is to be eaten in the reclining position and this ought to be done before midnight.

Source :

The ancient rabbis clued us in on a key principle in cosmic functions: Whatever He tells us to do, He does Himself. Of course, there’s a difference: We do it in our little human world. He does it on a cosmic plane.

He told us to open our door on the night of Passover. So, tonight, He opens every door and every gateway of the spiritual cosmos to every member of the Jewish People. To each one of us, regardless of what we have been doing all the rest of the year. Tonight is the chance to reach to the highest of spiritual levels. Prophecy, divine spirit, wisdom and insight—take your choice and jump a quantum leap. There’s nothing stopping us.

Source :

A Prayer for Peace

May we see the day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. Then nation will not threaten nation, and mankind will not again know war. For all who live on earth shall realize we have not come into being to hate or to destroy.  We have come into being to praise, to labor, to love. Compassionate God, bless the leaders of all nations with the power  of compassion. Fulfill the promise conveyed in scripture; I will bring peace to the land, and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you. I wll rid the land of vicious beasts and it shall not be ravaged by war.  Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream. Let peace fill  the earth as waters fill the sea. And let us say: Amen.

Source : Judy Chicago

We read together...

And then all that has divided us will merge

And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle

And then both women and men will be strong

And then all will live in harmony with each other and the earth

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.

Source :

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: 

"Moses might not get to see Canaan, but his children will see it. He even got to the mountaintop enough to see it and that assured him that it was coming. But the beauty of the thing is that there's always a Joshua to take up his work and take the children on in. And it's there waiting with its milk and honey, and with all of the bountiful beauty that God has in store for His children."

The Talmud (Eruvin 22b) teaches that even Joshua didn't finish the work, but he did build "roads with stations." He paved the way forward and set up stopping points along the way.

What roads toward justice have been paved for you? What roads will you pave for the future?

What human rights issue weighs most on you this Passover? What is the Promised Land you see from the mountaintop? What is the next waystation we can reach?


Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment without rush,
without engines;
we would all be together in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)