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Source : The Women's Seder Sourcebook: Rituals & Readings for Use at the Passover Seder

We come together from our separate lives, each of us bringing our concerns, our preoccupations, our hopes, and our dreams. We are not yet fully present: The traffic, the last-minute cooking, the final details still cling to us. Our bodies hold the rush of the past few hours.

It is now time to let go of these pressures and really arrive at this seder. We do this by meditating together. Make yourself comfortable, you can close your eyes if you wish. Now take a few deep breaths, and as you exhale, let go of the tensions in your body. You’ll begin to quiet within.

When you’re ready, repeat silently to yourself: “Hineini,” or “Here I am.” Hineini is used in the Torah to signify being present in body, mind, and spirit. It means settling into where we are and simply being “here.”

If you prefer, you can visualize the word. Let the word become filled with your breath. Merge with it, so that you experience being fully present. Everything drops away, and you’re left in the unbounded state of here-ness. When a thought arises, just notice it and return to hineini again and again. Let yourself be held in the state of hineini.

Meditate in this way for several minutes, long enough to become more present. Slowly open your eyes, and look around the room at the people in your circle. Now, we begin our journey together.

Source : Dayenu! Haggadah

The first words in the creation of the universe out of the unformed, void and dark earth were God’s “Let there be light." Therein lies the hope and faith of Judaism and the obligation of our people: to make the light of justice, compassion, and knowledge penetrate the darkness of our time.

One person lights the candles and says:

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של יום טוב

Baruch atah Adonai Elohaynu melech ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel yom tov.

Praised are You, Lord our God, Whose presence fills the universe, Who has sanctified our lives through Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the festival lights.

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם שהחינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה

Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha-olam, sheh’hech’iyanu v’kiymanu, v’higianu la-z’man ha-zeh.

Praised are You, Lord our God, Whose presence fills the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.

Source : Design by
Jonathan Safran Foer Quote

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 : Adrienne Rich, from "Dreams Before Waking"

What would it mean to live

in a city whose people were changing

each other’s despair into hope?

You yourself must change it.

What would it feel like to know

your country was changing?

You yourself must change it.Though your life felt arduous

new and unmapped and strange

What would it means to stand on the first

page of the end of despair?


Whats the point of sitting at a table for two hours re-reading the same story every year? To follow traditions that are not relevant to our society today. Yet I still sit there every year, silent. Waiting for the only part I can connect to... the eating. 


Traditionally, we have four important mitzvot to accomplish at the seder.  The word "mitzvah" can be translated as a good deed, an obligation specific to Jews or as a commandment from God.  Tonight, we are commanded to ...

  1. Drink the four cups of wine.
  2. Eat at least half of a matzah.
  3. Tell the story.
  4. Eat the maror (bitter herbs).

As you can see, we'll cover these as we make our way through the seder.  (By the way, "seder" means "order" in English).

Source : Rumi Quote, Design by
What You Seek…

Source : "Given Sugar, Given Salt" by Jane Hirschfield

More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and 
over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the
light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs—
all this resinous, unretractable earth. 

"Optimism" by Jane Hirshfield

Source :

It’s been a crazy week. The world with all its worries and bothers is still clamoring for your attention. The first step is to forget all that. Leave it behind. Enter into a timeless space, where you, your great-grandparents and Moses all coincide.

The beginning of all journeys is separation. You’ve got to leave somewhere to go somewhere else. It is also the first step towards freedom: You ignore the voice of Pharaoh inside that mocks you, saying, “Who are you to begin such a journey?” You just get up and walk out.

This is the first meaning of the word, “Kadesh” -- to  transcend  the mundane world. Then comes the second meaning: Once you’ve set yourself free from your material worries, you can return and  sanctify  them. That is when true spiritual freedom begins, when you introduce a higher purpose into all those things you do. 

Source : Rabbi Alex Israel for
The seder opens with kiddush (the sanctification over wine). This is certainly unremarkable after all, kiddush is the opening act of every shabbat and holiday meal. But kiddush – a ritual .sanctification of time – has an intimate and unique connection to Pesach’s central theme: freedom. How so?

As Israel was about to be released from slavery, God instituted a new calendar: “This month shall (mark for you the beginning of months; the first of the months of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2) Why is this the first mitzva (commandment) communicated to a free nation?

A slave’s time is not his own. He is at the beck and call of his master. Even when the slave has a pressing personal engagement, his taskmaster’s needs will take priority. In contrast, freedom is the control of our time. We determine what we do when we wake up in the morning; we prioritize our day. This is true for an individual, but also for a nation. God commands Israel to create a Jewish calendar because, as an independent nation, Israel should not march any more to an Egyptian rhythm, celebrating Egyptian months and holidays. Instead Israel must forge a Jewish calendar, with unique days of rest, celebration and memory. Controlling and crafting our time is the critical first act of freedom.

Kiddush says this out loud. We sanctify the day and define its meaning! We proclaim this day as significant, holy and meaningful. We fashion time, claim ownership of it, and fashion it as a potent .contact point with God, peoplehood and tradition. This is a quintessential act of Jewish freedom.

Today, we often feel short of time; that time controls us. Kadesh reminds us that true freedom and self-respect is to master and control time for ourselves, to shape our life in accordance with our values.

Rabbi Alex Israel teaches Bible and is the Director of the Pardes Community Education Program and the Pardes Summer Program

Source :

Vay'hi erev bay'hi voker yom hashishi. Vay'chulu hashamayim v'haaretz v'chol tz'vaam. Vay'chal Elohim bayom hash'vi-i m'lachto asher asah. Vayishbot bayom hash'vi-i mikol m'lachto asher asah. Vay'varech Elohim et yom hash'vi-i vay'kadeish oto ki vo shavat mikol v'lachto asher bara Elohim laasot.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, borei pr'ri hagafen.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher bachar banu mikol am v'rom'manu mikol lashon v'kid'shanu b'mitzvotav. Vatiten lanu Adonai Eloheinu b'ahavah Shabbatot lim'nuchah u moadim l'simchah chagim uz'manim l'sason et yom haShabbat hazeh v'et yom chag hamatzot hazeh z'man cheiruteinu b'ahavah mikra kodesh zeicher litziat Mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v'otanu kidashta mikol haamim v'Shabbat umoadei kodsh'cah b'ahavah uv'ratzon b'simchah uv'sason hinchaltanu.

Baruch atah Adonai, m'kadeish haShabbat v'Yisrael v'hazmanim.

And it was evening, and it was morning, the sixth day. Now the whole universe—sky, earth, and all their array—was completed. God completed the work of creation on the seventh day and rested, for all the work was completed. Then God blessed the seventh day and called it holy, for God rested on that day, having completed the work of creation. (Genesis 1:31-2:3)

Blessed are You, Our God, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Bessed are You, Our God, Ruler of the world, You have chosen us from all peoples, exalting us and sanctifying us with mitzvot. In Your love, Our God, You have given us Sabbaths of rest, feasts of gladness and seasons of joy; this Shabbat day and this festival of matzot, season of our freedom, in love, a holy commemoration, a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. God, You have chosen us from all peoples, consecrating us to your service, giving us the Sabbath, a sign of your love and favor and the Festivals, a time of gladness and joy.

Blessed are You, who sanctifies Shabbat, our people Israel, and the Festivals.


We recite the Shehecheyanu, thanking God for allowing us to reach this day.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

Source : Orginial

Wine can symbolize many things. The first glass of wine symbolizes hope. When Moses started to plead for freedom, the reality of possibly being free became believable. This first glass of wine symbolizes the hope that this Seder will be over and we can eat food. Had we not had this vary sip of the wine, the reality that this Seder will end, would have seemed like a dream far out of reach. Had Moses not plead for freedom, it would have seemed impossible. 


Source :

Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery.

Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence.

Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.

Source :

The first step to growth is to realize we are worthy of growth. We need to see the value of who we are so we will see that we are worthy of investing time, energy, and effort into developing our spiritual potential.

Kadesh is the first step. It's the foundation for the whole Seder experience. We see this in the word "Kadesh," which is translated as "sanctify," but literally means to "set apart," in the sense of designating something as unique and special. Kadesh is that moment when we "set apart" or sanctify the time we're in. We "set apart" the Passover night as holy and unique.

In this sense, Kadesh moves us to "set ourselves apart" - to realize we're unique so we can begin to invest in personal growth.

We invest in something only when we believe it has value. This is true in finance as well as in interpersonal relationships. We spend time and energy with people whom we perceive as having worth. This is also true with self-growth. We will invest our time and energy to develop our potential only if we believe we are worthy.

If we base our self-worth on what we possess and have accomplished, we lose our uniqueness. What is the source of self-worth? Consciously or sub-consciously we base our self-worth on what we possess and what we have accomplished: How much is my income? How big is my house? What kind of car and clothes do I own? Our possessions give tangible value, as do our achievements, our profession, which university we attended, whether we're married, and if we have children.

In fact these two barometers do not give us a true sense of our uniqueness and value. Instead they cause us to lose our sense of distinctiveness.

We intuitively know that self-worth means feeling special. Feeling special stems from recognizing we are each unique. Rarity defines value. When we judge our self-worth by our possessions and accomplishments, that judgment can be made only by comparing our status to others. However, once we're comparing these external realities, the differences are in the quantity. A person's uniqueness is lost in this "judging by comparison." I am just like everyone. The only difference is the quantity of external trappings. What makes me unique - and therefore valuable - is lost.

The Torah tells us that we are made in the "image of God." What is this "image of God"? Just as the Almighty is one - absolutely unique - every human being is one of a kind, unique, special and rare.

We are created in God's image and therefore we are worthy. It's not because of what we possess or have accomplished, but simply because we are. Our very existence is intrinsically valuable. We are created in the image of God, unique, and therefore worthy. This is what Kadesh teaches us.

Source :

O ur hands are the primary tools to interact with our environment. They generally obey our emotions: Love, fear, compassion, the urge to win, to be appreciated, to express ourselves, to dominate. Our emotions, in turn, reflect our mental state.

But, too often, each faculty of our psyche sits in its cell, exiled from one another. The mind sees one way, the heart feels another and our interface with the world ends up one messy tzimmes.

Water represents the healing power of wisdom. Water flows downward, carrying its essential simplicity to each thing. It brings them together as a single living, growing whole. We pour water over our hands as an expression of wisdom pouring downward passing through our heart and from there to our interaction with the world around us.


By Rabbi Rona Shapiro

The beginning of the seder seems strange. We start with kiddush as we normally would when we begin any festive meal. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it.

What’s going on here?

It seems that the beginning of the seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we can’t really eat this meal until we understand it, until we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. So we interrupt our meal preparations with   maggid (telling the story) . Only once we have told the story do we make kiddush again, wash our hands again (this time with a blessing) and break bread and eat it! In order to savor this meal, in order to appreciate the sweet taste of Passover, we must first understand it.

Source : Valley Beth Shalom Haggadah

In the Torah, only the priests of the Temple are commanded to wash, and only before they partake of the sacrificial meal. Today, we have no Temple in Jerusalem, no altar, no priests and no sacrifices. Instead, every home can be a Temple, every table an altar, every meal a sanctified experience, and every Jew a priest. And eating, a mechanical biological function, can be transformed into a ritual filled with meaning. 

Source : Deborah Miller
We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal.

Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do. Let's pause as we wash our hands to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together. 

Source : A.E. Housman

Stars, I have seen them fall,

But when they drop and die

No star is lost at all

From all the star-sown sky.

The toil of all that be

Helps not the primal fault;

It rains into the sea,

And still the sea is salt.

Source : Rav Shai Cherry and Ben Shahn

Do you know who cries the most in the Bible?  King David!  He's no cry baby -- he's a man of tears! 

He knows that those who sow in tears will reap in songs of joy.  So, we dip, we indulge in salt water at the beginning of the seder with hope that, by the end of the seder, God will wipe away the tears from every face.  (Isaiah 25:8 and Revelation 7:17, 21:4)ben+shahn+sad.jpg

Source :
Karpas Cat

Source : My Teacher

Q) Why do we even eat and dip Karpas in the first place?

A) There are 2 answers:

1) to remind us of the tears from the Jews as slaves in Egypt. 

2) The Gamarah says: on the Seder we overall, just do weird and unusual things. Now why do we do these abnormal things? So the children will ask!! BUT, then why is it that all year children aren't obligated in any Mitzvot and now, all of a sudden the ENTIRE Seder revolves around them?!?!

So, like the Gamarah stated, at the Seder, we do weird and unexpected things. It is an obligation for one to feel like you are leaving Egypt. Imagining is very difficult for adults. BUT, for children, it is very easy to imagine things. 

Therefore, if the kids tell the story to us, then it will help us, the adults imagine the story of Pesach even better.

Chag Sameach!

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 : OtherSide

As the Four Questions will soon point out, we dip twice in our seder. The two dippings are opposites. The first time, as we prepare to enter a world of slavery, we dip a green vegetable into saltwater, marring its life-giving freshness with the taste of tears and death. The second time, as we move towards redemption, we moderate the bitterness of maror with the sweetness of charoset. Any time we find ourselves immersed in sadness and suffering, may we always have the courage to know that blessing is coming.

Source :
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion – put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Caged Bird

By Maya Angelou

A free bird leaps - on the back of the wind - and floats downstream - till the current ends - and dips his wing - in the orange sun rays - and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks - down his narrow cage - can seldom see through - his bars of rage - his wings are clipped and - his feet are tied - so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings - with a fearful trill - of things unknown - but longed for still - and his tune is heard - on the distant hill - for the caged bird - sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze - and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees - and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn - and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams - his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream - his wings are clipped and his feet are tied - so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings - with a fearful trill - of things unknown - but longed for still - and his tune is heard - on the distant hill - for the caged bird - sings of freedom

Source : A Growing Haggadah

These three Matzot are certainly not enough to feed us all tonight. What could they symbolize?

Our sages offer a variety of explanations. Among these, they suggest that the Matzot represent the three ancient branches of the Jewish people: Cohen, Levite and Israelite. They can also represent our thoughts, our speech and our action. While our thoughts and actions remain whole, our speech (like that of Moses) is often broken.

Our words form the transition from our thoughts to our actions. We should consider them well, make them honest and consistent so that they lead to proper action. We have just broken the middle Matzah and will hide the afikoman, the larger half of it, to share later, as our ancestors shared the Passover offering itself at this service thousands of years ago in Jerusalem.

More lies ahead than what has passed;

more is hidden than revealed.

True wisdom is often deep and hidden;

attained by the modest.

Those whose dreams exceed their actions are still young.

No one knows for certain what the word afikoman means. A common tradition says it comes from the Greek word for dessert.

Another suggests that it represents the messiah. Separated from the Jewish people, the messiah will, during the course of our tikkun olam—our ongoing struggle to perfect the world—(symbolized and re-initiated by this Seder), be reunited with our people. Today, we begin that process. As we realize how little we truly know, we can break from the mold of habit to accept the responsibility of fulfilling our commitments. We work for that time of perfection: the Messianic Era.

Now many Jews remain broken off from our people. Some continue this way of their own choice here in Western countries. Others remain forcibly estranged in other parts of our world. We work for a time when our people will be reunited. When this happens we know that all will be free.

Source : Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

We lift the middle matzah and break it in two.

Hear the sound of glass broken at the end of every Jewish wedding.

Hear the echo of stone tablets cast down and shattered at the foot of the 


Hear the crack of the whip on the backs of slaves.

We carry our brokenness with us.

We lift the middle matzah and break it in two.

The larger piece is hidden.

To remind us that more is concealed than revealed.

To remind us how much we do not know.

How much we do not see.

How much we have yet to understand.

The larger piece is hidden and wrapped in a napkin.

This is the afikomen.

It will be up to the children to find it before the seder can end.

In this game of hide and seek,

We remind ourselves that we do not begin to know all that our children 

will reveal to us.

We do not begin to understand the mysteries that they will uncover,

The broken pieces they will find,

The hidden fragments in need of repair

“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

And he will turn the hearts of parents to children and the hearts of 

children to Parents [...]”

On this night, may the hearts of parents and children turn toward each 


Together, may we make whole all that is broken.

                          - Sharon Cohen Anisfeld.

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.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Adapted from and Sam Glazer

בַּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין אֲנָשִׁים הִשְׁתַּדֵל לִהְיוֹתאִישׁ

Bah-ma-kom sheh-ayn ah-nah-sheem

Heesh-ta-dayl l'hee-yot eesh

In a place where there is no humanity, let us strive to be human

- Hillel

Hillel knew that it is not always easy to act as we should, so we continue to search for the answer inside ourselves.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Arundhati Roy Quote, Design by
Arundhati Roy on the "Voiceless"

Maggid - Beginning

Maggid by Marge Piercy

The courage to let go of the door, the handle.

The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very

stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles

of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,

a child’s naughtiness, a loud blistering storm

that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.

The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,

the small bones of children and the brittle bones

of the old whose marrow hunger had stolen;

the courage to desert the tree planted and only

begun to bear; the riverside where promises were

shaped; the street where the empty pots were broken.

The courage to leave the place whose language you learned

as early as your own, whose customs however

dangerous or demeaning, bind you like a halter

you have learned to pull inside, to move your load;

the land fertile with the blood spilled on it;

the roads mapped and annotated for survival.

The courage to walk out of the pain that is known

into the pain that cannot be imagined,

mapless, walking into the wilderness, going

barefoot with a canteen into the desert;

stuffed in the stinking hold of a rotting ship

sailing off the map into dragons’ mouths.

Cathay, India, Serbia, goldeneh medina,

leaving bodies by the way like abandoned treasure.

So they walked out of Egypt. So they bribed their way

out of Russia under loaves of straw; so they steamed

out of the bloody smoking charnelhouse of Europe

on overloaded freighters forbidden all ports—

out of pain into death or freedom or a different

painful dignity, into squalor and politics.

We Jews are all born of wanderers, with shoes

under our pillows and a memory of blood that is ours

raining down. We honor only those Jews who changed

tonight, those who chose the desert over bondage,

who walked into the strange and became strangers

and gave birth to children who could look down

on them standing on their shoulders for having

been slaves. We honor those who let go of everything

but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought,

who became other by saving themselves.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Wherever You Go, There You Are

Back to basics, get rid of what is bloated and inflated

“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything- whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking. It’s akin to letting your palm open to unhand something you have been holding on to.”

Maggid - Beginning

The Maggid (Story-teller) now orchestrates the telling of the story of Egyptian exile with matzot (unleavened bread) and a plate of bitter herbs and vegetables.

Raise the tray with the matzot and say:

This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need, come and share the Pesach meal. This year, we are here. Next year, in the land of Israel. This year, we are slaves. Next year, we will be free.

Remove Seder plate from table and refill the wine cups, for the Cup of Redemption but don’t drink yet.  First, we want to get the children's attention.

Maggid - Beginning

Telling of the Story

Passover was instituted by G-d particularly for the children, with many elements designed to pique their curiosity. There are at least 4 references to the questions asked by children about Passover and the Exodus from Egypt (Shemot/Exodus 12:26; 13:8,14; Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:20). These scriptures serve as the basis for the following questions, which provide our reason for for telling the story of deliverance. That's why the youngest child in the room who is able to say them, is invited to chant the following four questions.

Actually, these are not so much questions as observations with an opening question that makes the whole thing into one big question. We introduce the four questions by reading together...

There arose in Egypt a Pharaoh who knew not of the good deeds that Joseph had done for that country. Thus he enslaved the Jews and made their lives harsh through servitude and humiliation. This is the basis for the Passover holiday which we commemorate with these different rituals tonight.
Maggid - Beginning
Source : Milken Global Beit Midrash
Avadim Heyeinu

#globalbeitmidrash #globalteenagershaggadah

-- Four Questions
Source : Primo Levi, Nichole Kraus

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.” 
- Primo Levi

"When a Jew prays, he's asking G-d a never-ending question."                                                                             

- A History of Love, Nichole Kraus

-- Four Questions
by K W
The Four Questions

The four questions are asked every year, and we are meant to pretend not to know the answers. The point of these questions is to inspire you to ask more questions. Tonight you should question everything. The youngest person at the table is meant to read them, but usually we all sing them together.

מַה נִּשְּׁתַּנָה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה,

-הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כּוּלוֹ מַצָּה.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת,

- הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אֶנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת,

- הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים.
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין,

- הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָנו מְסֻבִּין

Ma nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?

Sheb’khol haleilot anu okhlin hametz umatzoh; halailah hazeh, kuloh matzoh.

Sheb’khol haleilot anu okhlin sh’ar y’rakot; halailah hazeh, maror.

Sheb’khol haleilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa’am ehat; halailah hazeh, shtei f’amim.

Sheb’khol haleilot anu okhlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin; halailah hazeh, kulanu m’subin.


Why is this night different from all other nights?

On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzoh. Why on this night do we eat only matzoh?

On all other nights we eat all vegetables. Why on this night do we eat only bitter herbs?

On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?

On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining. Why on this night do we only recline?

-- Four Questions
Source : adapted from the 2 min Haggadah

Four questions:
1. What's up with the matzoh?

When we left Egypt, we were in a hurry. There was no time for making decent bread.

2. What's the deal with horseradish?

Life was bitter, like horseradish.

3. What's with the dipping of the herbs?

It's called symbolism.

4. What's this whole slouching at the table business?

Free people get to slouch.

-- 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

Participant: Why is it that with all the work we have done one ourselves, there are still ways in which we feel unfree ourselves?

Why is it that with all our self-knowledge there is still so much misunderstanding between parent and child, husband and wife, lover and beloved, employer and employee, friend and friend?

Why is that with all that we know about conflict resolution there are still wars between nations,there are still children going to war, there are still innocent people dying?

Why is that with all that we know about our inter-relationship with our planet, we still allow ourselves and others to dishonor her through one of a million detrimental actions?

-- Four Questions
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 :
JWW: Four Children

Dear Friends,

The Passover Haggadah presents a portrait of four children: the wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who doesn’t know how to ask. We invite you to explore the idea that each of these “children” is actually just one of the many facets that make up our individual souls. When are you moved to be the “Upstander” or choose to stand on the side-lines? How do these “children,” present in all of us, motivate your actions or engagement in the world?

Jewish World Watch works to educate the unaware, inspire the insulated and provide opportunities for all of us to make a difference in the lives of the survivors of genocide. We hope you’ll use these bookmarks to stimulate discussion at your Passover Seder.

-- Four Children

The "Wise" son is the one who wishes to know the meaning of the laws and customs of the Seder, and his tradition. Questioning everything is an important quality in Jewish culture. Like the Wise Son, we are encouraged to constantly evaluate laws and meanings. We must question laws and change them, so that we can strike the balance between liberty and safety. The point at which we disrupt this balance is when we lose our freedom.

-- Four Children

The "Wicked" son is described as the one who does not consider himself as having suffered in Egypt. Why is this wicked, you might ask? It displays a lack of empathy. One who does not feel empathy for his family is also one who does not for the greater world. Thus, one who does not care for the restraints of others, who knows of unjust prohibition and does nothing, is wicked. We must strive to be unlike the "Wicked" and care for others.

-- Four Children

The "Simple" son asks simply why we have the Seder, and this is given a simple, satisfying answer. While the "Wise" son is a role model, the "Simple" son is a moral standard. While some people want to change the world, others don't. It is still important that they ask, and want to know why they should be thankful. Even if we have everything we need, we should still understand, even to a lesser extent why it is that way.

-- Four Children

The "Clueless" son has no idea what to ask. All of his brothers have questions, and he doesn't even know enough to find one. It is the job of his family to put words in his mouth, to ask the questions that he does not know. Likewise, if someone does not know how to express themselves, or does not even know enough to even ask to learn, we must help them.

-- Four Children
Source : Jessica Steinberg
This is a modern interpretation of an ancient standard, which is part and parcel of the Seder: the Four Children. By reading and discussing the Four Children, and then responding to it through modern themes, we can come to an understanding of who we are and our relation to the our Children. The source of this section are four verses from the Tanakh which briefly mention children asking, or being told about, the Exodus from Egypt. Using these very general verses, the Rabbis created four prototypes which are given to show us that we must teach a child according to the child's level.

At the time the Haggadah was created, it was safe for the rabbis to assume that most Jewish adults had the knowledge available to teach their children about the Exodus. At that time, perhaps, all adults did know about the Exodus from Egypt and the Jews' struggle against Pharaoh. However, in subsequent generations, not all adults are familiar with the story told in the Haggadah, with the people of Israel, with their history. It isn't only the children that need to be taught, but their parents as well. To complicate matters, each Jew is coming from a different orientation with regard to his or her Judaism.

In today's world, Jews may identify themselves in a variety of ways. One may be ritually, culturally, or intellectually orientedor unconnected. And yet, however modified one's Judaism may be, there is still some level of concern about the Jewish people that causes Jews to at least ask the questions about the Exodus from Egypt. If they weren't interested, they wouldn't ask. We must answer them, and enable them to teach their children.

The ritual Jew asks: "What are the laws that God commanded us? " This Jew defines herself by the rituals, the laws and guidelines of Pesach. We call on her to seek the meaning that underlies all of these acts, so that they have relevance for all of us today.

The unconnected Jew asks: "What does this ritual mean to you?" This Jew feels alienated from the Jewish community and finds it difficult to identify with the rituals, perhaps because of his upbringing or experiences. Yet we recognize that he is still interested, if only because he asks these questions, and we call on him to see these rituals as a way of affirming the universal beliefs that gave rise to them.

The cultural Jew asks: "What is this all about?" She shows little concern with the ritual or psychological ramifications of the Exodus, even while embracing this reenactment of our ancestors; flight from Egypt. We call on her to recognize that it was a deep sense of faith that enabled these rituals to transcend the generations. It was belief in a vision of future freedom that caused us to celebrate our first Exodus and hear the echo of the prophets' call: "Let all people go!"

The intellectual Jew refrains from asking direct questions because he doesn't lean in any direction, preferring instead to let the text speak for itself. We call on him to understand that true freedom can only be obtained when we question authority and challenge power, even if that power be God Himself. It is our responsibility to question not only the text but the status quo too, and share this message of freedom with all people everywhere.

-- Four Children
Source : Adapted from Peace and Justice Haggadah
My Angry Self – 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?

Expressing our anger, releasing our anger, knowing and claiming our anger is an important step in the process of liberation, but hatred and violence can never overcome hatred and violence. Only love and compassion can transform our world. 

My Ashamed Self – I’m so ashamed of what people are doing that I have no way of dealing with it!

We acknowledge our feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment in order to not be paralyzed by these strong emotions. We transmute these forces, using the fire of injustice to fuel us in working for change. We also remember and celebrate the amazing, ordinary people around the world who are working to dismantle oppression together everyday.

My Fearful Self – Why should I care about other 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.

My Compassionate Self – 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. Compassion is the foundation upon which we can build loving communities, dedicated to the lifelong journey toward liberation. We are all blind and constricted in certain areas, and we are all wise and liberated in others. Compassion allows us to forgive ourselves and each other for our imperfections, and to release the judgments that keep us from fully experiencing love.

Each of us contains the angry one, the ashamed one, the frightened one, the compassionate one. When we can acknowledge all four of them, we are able to stay on the long and winding path toward personal liberation.

-- Exodus Story
Source : JQ International GLBT Passover Haggadah

Judaic commentary has always viewed Mitzrayim as more than the literal escape from slavery, more than an escape from a place of narrow straights, an obviously accurate physical description of Egypt, but metaphorically the leaving behind or "exodus" from a narrow place - the place that squeezes the life our of the human soul and body. Mitzrayim is viewed as an intrinsically constrictive state; a state where we are unable to express ourselves and be free, to be who we are as we seek to define ourselves to others.

-- Exodus Story
Source : Hannah Szenes Quote, Design by
Hannah Szenes, Blessed Is the Match

-- Exodus Story
Source : Adam Sanford

The story of our people is not one story. It could begin with any number of people in the Torah. Some people feel our story starts with Abraham, who left his father’s idolatry to follow the Eternal, on the promise that he would become the father of a great nation, after many troubles and afflictions. Some feel this is the heart of our story - that we are a mighty people who have been through many trials.

Others will look back to Adam and Eve and their exit from the Garden, as they had to leave their childlike innocence where all decisions were made for them, and assume the mantle of adulthood, where they had to make their own decisions and stand or fall by the consequences. Some feel that this is the heart of our story - that we could no longer let the masters (or God) make those decisions for us, but must now assume responsibility.

Still others tell the tale of Joseph, favored son of his father, who was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. Some feel our story is that of the descent into slavery that began with Joseph's captivity by Pharaoh, and realizing we can never again take our freedom for granted, as Joseph himself had to learn.

But most of our stories on Passover begin with Moses and our exit from slavery in Egypt, because that is the story of our people - of the Eternal bringing us out of Mitzrayim. Many feel that this is the heart of our story - that we have suffered when we were strangers, so we must always reach out to the stranger and the sufferer, and welcome them in.

It is a familiar story, so why should we tell it? If we all know this story, why bother retelling it?

One reason is because we are commanded to do so. In Exodus 10:2, we are told “And in order that you should tell into the ears of your children and grandchildren, and you will all know that I am your God.”

Another reason is that as Jews, we are not satisfied with only the literal words of the story. We tell midrashim - attempts to explain what is not said - to understand better these people who came before us and suffered through slavery to come out as free persons on the other side.

Finally, whenever we are grateful for something, it is proper to tell others why we are grateful. By retelling this story, we remind ourselves of what we have to be thankful for - our freedom and our survival, often against overwhelming odds; our community and peoplehood, which have continued for five thousand, seven hundred, and ______ years; and our lives, of which every moment is precious. It would be remiss not to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt in this time of remembrance and gratitude.

Just as the Eternal promised Abraham, his family became a great nation. And just as the Eternal promised Abraham, we were a people who were enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years. This promise was both wise and true, for in order to become adults, we had to pass through the time of having no responsibilities beyond our whims, as with Adam and Eve, or our orders, as when we and Joseph were slaves in Egypt. This promise has been fulfilled, and we now thank the Eternal for bringing the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt and making us a great nation.

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.)

In the years we were slaves in Egypt, we grew until we became a great nation, the People Israel, even while enslaved. To stop us from growing and taking over Egypt, Pharaoh decreed that all our baby boys should be drowned, to prevent an Israelite uprising against their Egyptian masters. But the Eternal heard our cry, and brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm - not by any angel’s work but by the Eternal One’s intervention.

-- Exodus Story
Source : original

This is not your normal dinner-time conversation, either in terms of subject matter or expectations.   But this is a conversation we must have, at least once in a while.  That being said, we should choose the right circumstance in which to have it.  And in the car on the way to soccer practice is not the right time or place.

But with matzah and maror in front of us, everyone is in the mood. We have to grab this opportunity to speak deeply about our goals and limitations, our anxieties and talents and expectations. Tonight is a great chance to move forward, stimulated visually by matzah and maror and in so many other ways,  and there is simply no limit to what we can accomplish and in what realm we may work.  Let us be sure we are using this precious time, with matzah and maror before us, to take substantial steps on our journey.

Particularly matzah and maror .  This is not a night of illusions, of reckless fantasy.  No, we have both in front of us. The matzah , bread of dreams and faith, proof of Hashem's love of us and willingness to express that love, and the maror , testament to the difficulty and bitterness involved in bringing our dreams to fruition. Tonight we have no illusions. We acknowledge how hard it will be.  And with that in mind, we dig deeper into our conversation.

Before you read the next paragraph, look around again. Look at the matzah and maror .  Open up your sense of smell.  Listen to the sound of people reading, pages turning, children playing. Breathe in the feeling of Seder night.

יָכוֹל מֵרֹאשׁ חֹדֶשׁ, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא. אִי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא יָכוֹל מִבְּעוֹד יוֹם, תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר בַּעֲבוּר זֶה. בַּעֲבוּר זֶה לֹא אָמַרְתִּי אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיֵשׁ מַצָּה וּמָרוֹר מֻנָּחִים לְפָנֶיךָ::


One might think that [the discussion of the exodus] must be from the first of the month.

The Torah therefore says, `On that day.'  `On that day,' however, could mean while it is yet daytime; the Torah therefore says, `It is because of this.' The expression `because of this' can only be said when matzah and maror are placed before you.

From shame to pride


Be encouraged! From wherever you are now you can reach your loftiest goals. After all, the Pesach story begins with shame: 'Our ancestors were idol worshipers.'  Before Avraham, we cannot say that our lineage was anything special per se. But in a short period of time they became prime candidates for manifesting the Divine in the world.

Don't be afraid to admit where you are holding stuck right now. It is a necessary first step on the long journey to freedom.

מִתְּחִלָּה עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה הָיוּ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, וְעַכְשָׁיו קֵרְבָנוּ הַמָּקוֹם לַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶל כָּל הָעָם כֹּה אָמַר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעֵבֶר הַנָּהָר יָשְׁבוּ אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם מֵעוֹלָם תֶּרַח אֲבִי אַבְרָהָם וַאֲבִי נָחוֹר וַיַּעַבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים:


In the beginning our fathers served idols; but now the Omnipresent One has brought us close to His service, as it is said: "Joshua said to all the people: Thus said Hashem, the G-d of Israel, `Your fathers used to live on the other side of the river - Terach, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods.



Raw deal, huh? Eisav gets a nice piece of land, and we get to go down to Egypt! It would have been nice, in some way, to get the white picket fence and the station wagon, but Hashem was giving us an opportunity to deepen.

The journey to Egypt proved to be absolutely essential in the process of reaching real freedom. And the key ingredient of our sojourn in Egypt was the invitation to develop emunah.   Emunah would ultimately serve to help us navigate the most difficult periods in our individual and collective lives, and it is a skill we learned in Egypt. It kept us alive and real when the overwhelming gravity was toward despair.  So our time to Egypt would ultimately serve us more than a picket fence. It would prepare us for the eventuality of our picket fence being picked up by a tornado and carried far away, allowing us to keep a smile on our face as we go to the lumber yard to get some more wood to rebuild.


Are you jealous of someone else's life?  Jealousy is an oppressive slavery.  How can you shift perspective?


וָאֶקַּח אֶת אֲבִיכֶם אֶת אַבְרָהָם מֵעֵבֶר הַנָּהָר וָאוֹלֵךְ אוֹתוֹ בְּכָל אֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן וָאַרְבֶּה אֶת זַרְעוֹ וָאֶתֵּן לוֹ אֶת יִצְחָק, וָאֶתֵּן לְיִצְחָק אֶת יַעֲקֹב וְאֶת עֵשָׂו, וָאֶתֵּן לְעֵשָׂו אֶת הַר שֵׂעִיר לָרֶשֶׁת אוֹתוֹ, וְיַעֲקֹב וּבָנָיו יָרְדוּ מִצְרָיִם:


"And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and I led him throughout the whole land of Canaan. I increased his seed and gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it, and Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt."


בָּרוּךְ שׁוֹמֵר הַבְטָחָתוֹ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חִשַּׁב אֶת הַקֵּץ לַעֲשֹוֹת. כְּמָה שֶׁאָמַר לְאַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ בִּבְרִית בֵּין הַבְּתָרִים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה. וְגַם אֶת הַגּוֹי אֲשֶׁר יַעֲבֹדוּ דָּן אָנֹכִי וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכוּשׁ גָּדוֹל:


( the wine cup is now raised and the Matzot are covered)

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ. שֶׁלֹּא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד עָמַד עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם:


Blessed is He who keeps His promise to Israel, blessed be He! For the Holy One, blessed be He, calculated the end [of the bondage], in order to do as He had said to our father

Abraham at the "Covenant between the Portions," as it is said: "And He said to Abraham, `You shall know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and make them suffer, for four hundred years. But I shall also judge the nation whom they shall serve, and after that they will come out with great wealth.'"


( the wine cup is now raised and the Matzot are covered)


This is what has stood by our fathers and us! For not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand!


Put down the wine cup and uncover the matzah .  This next section is a stream of images from the Exodus text with some insights from our sages.  Each one of them offers an opportunity to contemplate, to share, and to pray.  There are no rules for how this section is supposed to look, so be creative!



Death of the spirit


Pharaoh tried to kill the male children, but Ya'akov's uncle Lavan tried to kill all of us, as it says 'An Aramean tried to do away with my forefather (Ya'akov).' And yet we find no record that Lavan tried to kill Ya'akov. What's the story?

Lavan never tried to harm Ya'akov's body─but he did try to kill his spirit. We are told that Lavan tricked Ya'akov 100 times. We also see plainly that Lavan's attacks on Ya'akov's morale and confidence were severe. He worked tirelessly to make Ya'akov doubt himself and his self-worth.

Had he succeeded, Ya'akov might have given up.  He might have just bought a house in the 'burbs. Praise to G-d that Ya'akov's spirit was stronger than Lavan's assault. In parallel to our own descent into Egypt, Ya'akov turned Lavan's attacks into a source of strength, finding spirit and identity in the midst of the battle.  And in so doing, Ya'akov guaranteed that we, his great-great-grandchildren, would be able to find and take care  of ourselves amidst the noise and confusion of life in the 21st century melting pot.


צֵא וּלְמַד מַה בִּקֵּשׁ לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי לַעֲשֹוֹת לְיַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ. שֶׁפַּרְעֹה לֹא גָזַר אֶלָּא עַל הַזְּכָרִים וְלָבָן בִּקֵּשׁ לַעֲקוֹר אֶת הַכֹּל. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:

אֲרַמִּי אֹבֵד אָבִי וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה וַיָּגָר שָׁם בִּמְתֵי מְעָט, וַיְהִי שָׁם לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל עָצוּם וָרָב:


Go and learn what Lavan the Aramean wanted to do to our father Ya'akov. Pharaoh had issued a decree against the male children only, but Lavan wanted to uproot everyone - as

it is said: "The Aramean wished to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great and mighty and numerous."


Will and won't


It is hard to say that Hashem 'wants' us to go through the pain of personal exile, but we can certainly say it usually happens because it must, by force of our personalities.  For example, the rabbis trace the Egyptian exile to Avraham questioning Hashem's promise of the land of Israel: 'How shall I know that I will really inherit it?' Hashem responds, 'You shall surely know, for your children will be slaves in a land that is not theirs.'   Avraham in a sense 'caused' the exile through his apparently legitimate question.

Should Avraham not have said that?  Should he have restrained himself?  Impossible. That comment was a perfect reflection of who Avraham was at that time. He had no choice but to say it. And Hashem had no choice (so to speak) but to provide the Egyptian exile as a way to work through that flaw─that lack of complete faith─in the character of Avraham and his descendants.

Our falls are a direct result of our flaws. But they are also a gift─a way to work through the results of our flaws in a direct and lasting way. Our falls are moments when the results of our flaws are merely drawn out. But they are already there. The Egyptian exile was already there in Avraham, just by dint of his lack of total faith. His lack of faith was already an exile. And Hashem gave him the gift of seeing it, feeling it and experiencing it in such a real way that he was compelled─through his descendants─to work through it until it was completely gone.


Can you connect the hardships in your life to your flaws?  Can you see them as an opportunity to work through those flaws?

 וַיֵּרֶד מִצְרַיְמָה אָנוּס עַל פִּי הַדִּבּוּר:


"And he went down to Egypt" forced by Divine decree.


Temporary insanity


Just as it is impossible for the soul to be permanently mired in Egypt, our journeys away from authenticity and maximization of potential are only temporary. Though we may feel lost, out of touch, and too far gone─and we may look at others as being equally unredeemable, there is simply no such category. The Jewish soul cannot be extinguished.  So understand that it does not matter where you have fallen to. Regardless of how estranged you may feel from Hashem or Torah or soul or identity, there is always a way back, because the connection to the Source is a part of the very fabric of your existence.

Tonight is the best night to get back on track because tonight is Pesach──'skipping'. It is written that on Pesach we can 'skip' right back into the groove, easily overcoming intellectual, emotional and spiritual obstacles that would ordinarily stop the process before it began. Tonight we are free of the constraints of cause and effect and sequence. Tonight we are free to choose where and what and how we want to be, and to start being it.

וַיָגָר שָׁם, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁלֹּא יָרַד יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ לְהִשְׁתַּקֵּעַ בְּמִצְרַיִם אֶלָּא לָגוּר שָׁם. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה לָגוּר בָּאָרֶץ בָּאנוּ כִּי אֵין

מִרְעֶה לַצֹּאן אֲשֶׁר לַעֲבָדֶיךָ כִּי כָבֵד הָרָעָב בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן,

 וְעַתָּה יֵשְׁבוּ נָא עֲבָדֶיךָ בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן:


"And he sojourned there" - this teaches that our father Jacob did not go down to Egypt to settle, but only to live there temporarily. Thus it is said, "They said to Pharaoh, We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks because the hunger is severe in the land of Canaan; and now, please, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."


A small seed and a big tree


We went to Egypt as 70 souls, and left numbering 600,000 men between 20 and 60, not to mention women and children. And these are only the one out of five Israelites that left.  And that is a generous opinion – some say only one out of 500 left.  Those 70 souls were a seed, containing the precise spiritual-genetic information of what would become the Jewish people.

And we each have a seed of those 70 inside of us, as Rebbe Nachman writes. That seed cannot be broken, but it must be watered in order to grow to its full strength. Let us not ever doubt that such a seed lies within us.  As R' Shlomo of Radomsk writes, a seed properly planted and maintained will grow. Inevitably.

The soul in us – a manifestation of the 70 - may be small in power compared to the other powers and voices that crowd our minds and hearts. When the courtroom of decision is in session, the soul's voice is quiet and easily ignored.  But the small seed of Israel planted in Egypt grew to be so vast that it burst open the womb that held it.  So it is for us─one day, if we nourish this seed, it will grow to the point where it will take us over.

בִּמְתֵי מְעָט, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, בְּשִׁבְעִים נֶפֶשׁ יָרְדוּ אֲבוֹתֶיךָ מִצְרָיְמָה וְעַתָּה שָׂמְךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לָרוֹב


"Few in number" as it is said: "Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now, Hashem, your G-d, has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven."


A diamond, unmistakably


But that seed of soul, quiet as it is, is unmistakable in its power and worth. When this voice speaks in us it resonates with ageless wisdom, balance, and foresight. Its voice expresses who we are more accurately than any other within us. To find it is to find ourselves.

וַיְהִי שָׁם לְגוֹי, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁהָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מְצֻיָּנִים שָׁם


"And he became there a nation" this teaches that Israel was distinctive there.

The beanstalk


See how your soul thrives with even a bit of attention! One session of arm curls or shoulder presses will not make you strong.  But sit and learn Torah for half an hour and your soul will breathe deeply, shedding years of neglect in an instant.  A person hears an inspirational class or has a deep conversation, and suddenly she wants to turn her whole life over. This beanstalk grows quickly, all the way up to heaven.

גָּדוֹל עָצוּם, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל פָּרוּ
 וַיִּשְׁרְצוּ וַיִּרְבּוּ וַיַּעַצְמוּ בִּמְאֹד מְאֹד וַתִּמָּלֵא הָאָרֶץ אֹתֵם 

"Great, mighty," as it is said: "And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied and became very, very mighty, and the land became filled with them."


My, how you've grown!


See how your soul wants to grow! See how it fights to reach the surface of your life, to take over your conscious faculties, your body and mind and heart. 'You shall live, in your blood!'  Her efforts are not in vain. She will not be suppressed.

R’ Kook writes of two ways to help something grow. One way is by making space so that it may grow. The other is by pushing back, giving strong resistance so that its strength will build, like a spring. Then, when the pressure is released (or broken) it will grow with unstoppable force.

This next verse speaks of this unstoppable growth like grass of the field, growing, multiplying, and then reaching for the crown that is rightfully hers.  R’ Kook describes 'the passion of this nation for its wondrous and powerful goal, with a holy fire that burns in the heart of every Jew, even when it does not know its nature and its particular character.'  And even though she is naked, says R’ Kook, of actions that reflect this ultimate goal, still this is only an external lacking. The clothes she needs to reflect that inner beauty will be had soon enough. But know clearly that her yearning to grow, and the certainty that she will succeed, are undeniable.

Can you feel that fire that Rav Kook is talking about?  What would you have to do to cultivate it?


וָרָב, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, רְבָבָה כְּצֶמַח הַשָּׂדֶה נְתַתִּיךְ וַתִּרְבִּי וַתִּגְדְּלִי וַתָּבֹאִי בַּעֲדִי עֲדָיִים שָׁדַיִם

נָכֹנוּ וּשְׂעָרֵךְ צִמֵּחַ וְאַתְּ עֵרֹם וְעֶרְיָה:

וָאֶעֱבוֹר עָלַיִךְ וָאֶרְאֵךְ מִתְבּוֹסֶסֶת בְּדָמָיִךְ וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי וָאֹמַר לָךְ בְּדָמַיִךְ חֲיִי


"And numerous," as it is said: "I caused you to thrive like the plants of the field, and you increased and grew and became very beautiful, your bosom fashioned and your hair grown long,

but you were naked and bare. I passed over you and saw you wallowing in your bloods, and I said to you `By your blood you shall live,' and I said to you `By your blood you shall live!'

Unfair judgment


How did the Egyptians deal with us in an 'evil way', as the Torah says?  By assuming they knew what we would do: 'If there should be a war, they will join our enemies.'  As R’ Kook said, 'They considered us to be bad people.'  It is ironic, considering how we are commanded throughout the Torah to be kind to the Egyptians because they 'hosted us' for so long.

The greatest violence we can do to our soul is to 'consider ourselves bad.' This is also the greatest violence we can do to each other─to somehow assume that another person is 'rotten to the core'. Impossible! That person's soul is perfectly good and yearning to be free just like mine is.

וַיָּרֵעוּ אֹתָנוּ הַמִּצְרִים, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, הָבָה נִתְחַכְּמָה לוֹ פֶּן יִרְבֶּה וְהָיָה כִּי תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם הוּא עַל שֹוֹנְאֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם בָּנוּ וְעָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ:


"The Egyptians treated us badly," as it is said: Come, let us act cunningly with [the people] lest they multiply and, if there should be a war against us, they will join our enemies,

fight against us and leave the land."


Affliction by distraction


The soul wants to do its work.  It wants opportunities to connect─through mitzvah and Torah, and also through music and love and relationship. It wants opportunities to express its uniqueness and power.  It is a horrible affliction, then, to make the soul use its power for vain projects like building the cities of Pitom and Raamses.  How much time do you spend on the projects and pursuits that mean the most to you?  What prevents you from allocating time according to your real priorities?

וַיְעַנּוּנוּ כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַיָּשִׂימוּ עָלָיו שָׂרֵי מִסִּים לְמַעַן עַנּוֹתוֹ בְּסִבְלוֹתָם וַיִּבֶן עָרֵי מִסְכְּנוֹת לְפַרְעֹה אֶת פִּתֹם וְאֶת רַעַמְסֵס


"And they made us suffer," as it is said: "They set taskmasters over [the people of Israel] to make them suffer with their burdens, and they built storage cities for Pharaoh, Pitom and Ramses."


Hard work - inner clarificaiton


We are told that the Egyptians worked us ' be-fa'rech ' - interpreted by the rabbis as 'soft (rach) mouth (peh)'.  In short, we were seduced into working, slowly and deliberately. At first, the Egyptians were kind, offering us an opportunity to make some extra cash.  Eventually, we were completely enslaved.

How difficult it is to navigate sweet words with a bitter core!  It is far easier when the enemy is clear. But when we have to decide, to choose between our urge to offer a hand and our need to protect ourselves, we often do not know how to respond.

Ambiguity tests us to the core. We are told that the yetzer harah (our bad inclination) works in the same way: it seduces us with something appealing, only slightly off track from where we thought we should be, and lays breadcrumbs down a path from which it is difficult to return. But it is hard to make decisions in ambiguous situations, particularly if you are trusting and naive. If, for example, you are someone who keeps Shabbat according to halacha, and you are presented with a family celebration that  is on Shabbat but too far to walk, it is a very difficult decision to make.  After all, it is family, and Cousin Joey's Bar Mitzvah only happens once, and it is just this one time, and what will the family say, etc.

Too hard to figure out. This is peh rach, the soft mouth, seducing us away from our clear purpose until we are suddenly miles away.


וַיִּתְּנוּ עָלֵינוּ עֲבוֹדָה קָשָׁה, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיַּעֲבִדוּ מִצְרַיִם אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּפָרֶךְ


­"And they put hard work upon us," as it is said:

 "The Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigor.


The only way out


There is only one way out of such situations─to cry out to the Creator with all your might! When you are confused, do not assume that you should be able to figure it out yourself.  Some questions are simply too difficult.  Call out to the Maker! Say 'I am confused! I have no idea what to do! I do not even know who I am anymore!'  This is the beginning of the connection that leads to redemption.

Leader: Possible Discussion:  Do we see prayer as playing a real role in moving forward?  What is prayer?  Is it mean to change our mind, or G-d's mind?  How and how often do we pray? 

וַנִּצְעַק אֶל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיְהִי בַיָּמִים הָרַבִּים הָהֵם וַיָּמָת מֶלֶךְ מִצְרַיִם וַיֵאָנְחוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִן הָעֲבֹדָה וַיִּזְעָקוּ, וַתַּעַל שַׁוְעָתָם אֶל הָאֱלֹהִים מִן הָעֲבֹדָה:


"And we cried out to Hashem, the G-d of our fathers," as it is said: "During that long period, the king of Egypt died; and the children of Israel groaned because of the servitude, and they cried out. And their cry for help from their servitude rose up to G-d."

An ancient practice


When we pray, we tap into an ancient ancestral practice, one instituted by our ancestors ages ago. When we pray, then, Hashem hears not just our own prayers but the entire legacy of prayer. The merit of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akov come to our aid.

On this night, several thousand years ago, Ya'akov stood in a tent, wearing his brother's robes, with goat skin on his arms and neck, and he offered his father food to eat. Yitzhak his father was confused: 'The voice is the voice of Ya'akov, but the hands are the hands of Eisav.'

The rabbis hear in this comment many levels of depth.  At the center is the association of Ya'akov and his future children with voice. 'Ya'akov's is the voice'. That night─this night─we were given the mandate of prayer as sustenance. Or, as Rebbe Nachman reads the line from Psalm 42, 'Prayer to G-d is my life.'

Call out, tonight, and let the merit of our ancestors all the way back to Avraham carry our prayer to the highest heights.  Call out about your ambiguities, your lack of clarity.   Can't do it?  Then cry out about that.  


וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהֹוָה אֶת קֹלֵנוּ, כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶת נַאֲקָתָם וַיִזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּרִיתוֹ אֶת אַבְרָהָם אֶת יִצְחָק וְאֶת יַעֲקֹב::


"And Hashem heard our voice" as it said: "And G-d heard their groaning, and G-d

remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."


Hashem's diagnosis


As Hashem hears our faint prayers, He hears to the depths of our problems and struggles. He sees the core of what prevents us from manifesting our full power in the world.  And at the center of our struggle is that many of us are alone. Even some of us who are married are alone.

A partner gives us context, a sense of place.  A partner helps turn our raw material into something useful and positive.  A partner makes us feel the value of what we have to offer. A partner can serve as a midwife of sorts to help us be born again, and yet again, greater and greater.

Hashem sees that we are alone, that we need support. This is something only Hashem can see clearly. It is something we might not even share with ourselves. Now is the time to pray for anyone you know who is still looking for his or her soul-mate -and also to pray for the husbands and wives who live in the same home but do not yet share a place in each other's hearts.

Leader: Possible sensitive discussion topic, with the right crowd:  Does your committed relationship make you feel more free?  Has it redefined freedom for you?  Why do some people end up feeling stuck in relationship?


וַיַּרְא אֶת עָנְיֵנוּ, זוֹ פְּרִישׁוּת דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר

 וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֵּדַע אֱלֹהִים


"And he saw our suffering," this refers to the separation of husband and wife, as it is said: "G-d saw the children of Israel and G-d took note."

The children


Hashem sees our struggles─not just how they affect us, but how they affect our children. Mitzrayim, the Hebrew name for Egypt, in its root means tzar, narrow or constricted. Unless something dramatic happens, we will most likely pass our unhealthy and unnecessary constrictions, our Mitzrayim, onto our children. For the sake of our children, Hashem, free us from our bondage. Free us so that our children can be free to unlock their own potentials without having to work through our blocks.

This is the time to cry out about your children, about all the children you know, about the next generation, about Jewish education, about assimilation and intermarriage, about being good parents, about raising our kids to be mensches. And if you know someone who has not succeeded in having kids, or who is struggling to raise them, or whose children are sick G-d forbid, this is the time to pray for them.

Leader: Discussion Topic:  Are our children more free than we are?  Is that freedom true freedom?  Are we Pharaohs to our children?  What would it mean to truly free our children? 

וְאֶת עֲמָלֵנוּ, אֵלּוּ הַבָּנִים. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר

 כָּל הַבֵּן הַיִּלוֹד הַיְאֹרָה תַּשְׁלִיכוּהוּ וְכָל הַבַּת תְּחַיּוּן:

"Our labor," this refers to the "children," as it is said: "Every boy that is born,

you shall throw into the river and every girl you shall keep alive."


Many of us cannot achieve the equilibrium we need in order to make good decisions. We are constantly fighting against time, forced to work ourselves beyond our abilities, forced to take on tasks we cannot handle, and forced to maintain relationships without necessary resources.

This is the time to cry out about the stresses of the world that prevent you from fully manifesting your potential. This is the time to cry out about the job that makes you feel like a slave, or the pressure that makes you act or speak before you are ready.

וְאֶת לַחֲצֵנוּ, זוֹ הַדְּחַק. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְגַם רָאִיתִי אֶת הַלַּחַץ אֲשֶׁר מִצְרַיִם לוֹחֲצִים אוֹתָם

"And our oppression," this refers to the pressure, as it is said: "I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them."

Soul Surgery

We are all in need of soul-enhancement surgery. This is the most delicate surgery there is, and it requires the best doctor. For this reason, Hashem Himself, so to speak, has to do it. We need Hashem to take us out of the Egyptian labyrinth.

Like any delicate surgery, the exact balance must be struck–removing what must be removed, leaving what must be left, re-routing what must be rerouted, with just the right amount of anesthesia.  It is a delicate process to disarm our defenses in exactly the right way, to reconstruct our ego enough to bring change─but not so much that we lose our personality in the process.  Only Hashem knows just how much inspiration, frustration, hope, realism, community, individuality, faith, doubt, joy, questions, answers, intellect, emotion, fatigue, and energy to give us in order to get us started on the process of redemption.


וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְמֹרָא גָּדוֹל וּבְאֹתוֹת וּבְמֹפְתִים:

וַיּוֹצִאֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם, לֹא עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי שָׂרָף וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי שָׁלִיחַ. אֶלָּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּכְבוֹדוֹ וּבְעַצְמוֹ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְעָבַרְתִּי בְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה וְהִכֵּיתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מֵאָדָם וְעַד בְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל אֱלֹהֵי מִצְרַיִם אֶעֱשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים אֲנִי יְהֹוָה:

וְעָבַרְתִּי בְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה, אֲנִי וְלֹא מַלְאָךְ. וְהִכֵּיתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אֲנִי וְלֹא שָׂרָף. וּבְכָל אֱלֹהֵי מִצְרַיִם אֱעֶשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים אֲנִי וְלֹא הַשָּׁלִיחַ. אֲנִי יְהֹוָה, אֲנִי הוּא וְלֹא אַחֵר: בְּיָד חֲזָקָה, זוֹ הַדֶּבֶר. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, הִנֵּה יַד יְהֹוָה הוֹיָה בְּמִקְנְךָ אֲשֶׁר בַּשָּׂדֶה בַּסּוּסִים בַּחֲמוֹרִים בַּגְּמַלִּים בַּבָּקָר וּבַצֹּאן דֶּבֶר כָּבֵד מְאֹד:

וּבִזְרֹעַ נְטוּיָה, זוֹ הַחֶרֶב. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְחַרְבּוֹ שְׁלוּפָה בְּיָדוֹ נְטוּיָה עַל יְרוּשָׁלָיִם:


"Hashem took as out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

and with a great manifestation, and with signs and wonders."

"Hashem took us out of Egypt," not through an angel, not through a seraph and not

through a messenger. The Holy One, blessed be He, did it in His glory by Himself!

Thus it is said: "In that night I will pass through the land of Egypt, and I will smite every first-born in the land of Egypt, from man to beast, and I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt, I Hashem."  "I will pass through the land of Egypt," I and not an angel;  "And I will smite

every first-born in the land of Egypt," I and not a seraph;

"And I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt," I and not a messenger;

"I- Hashem," it is I, and none other!  "With a strong hand," this refers to the dever (pestilence) as it is said: "Behold, the hand of Hashem will be upon your livestock in the field, upon the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks, a very severe pestilence."

"And with an outstretched arm," this refers to the sword, as it is said: "His sword was drawn, in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem."

Two ways to bring change

The Malbim writes that the plague of the first born happened through the Divine Presence revealing itself in its glory. The light was so intense that those who could not absorb it were shattered by it.

The same is true in trying to move our lives forward -sometimes this happens through analysis, hard work, breaking open, and criticism.  And another way is through a revelation of light, joy, love, connection, hope, possibility, and future. We are hoping that, tonight, Hashem will show us just who we are and what we are capable of, and that that revelation will break through our walls─with love.


וּבְמוֹרָא גָּדוֹל, זוֹ גִּלּוּי שְׁכִינָה. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, אוֹ הֲנִסָּה אֱלֹהִים לָבֹא לָקַחַת לוֹ גּוֹי מִקֶּרֶב גּוֹי בְּמַסּוֹת בְּאֹתֹת וּבְמוֹפְתִים וּבְמִלְחָמָה וּבְיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבְמוֹרָאִים גְּדוֹלִים כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לָכֶם יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בְּמִצְרַיִם לְעֵינֶיךָ:

וּבְאֹתוֹת, זֶה הַמַּטֶּה. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר, וְאֶת הַמַּטֶּה הַזֶּה תִּקַּח בְּיָדֶךָ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂה בּוֹ אֶת הָאֹתֹת: וּבְמוֹפְתִים זֶה הַדָּם. כְּמָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר. וְנָתַתִּי מוֹפְתִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם וּבָאָרֶץ:


"And with a great manifestation," this refers to the revelation of the Shechinah (Divine Presence), as it is said: "Has any G-d ever tried to take for himself a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, signs and wonders, with war and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great manifestations, like all that Hashem your G-d,

did for you in Egypt before your eyes!"

"And with signs," this refers to the staff, as it is said:

"Take into your hand this staff with which you shall perform the signs."

"And wonders," this refers to the blood, as it is said:

"And I shall show wonders in heaven and on earth.

-- Exodus Story

If you search the traditional Haggadah, you won’t find the name of the man who led the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses is strangely absent, written out of the annual ritual of reenactment. The Torah tells us that Moses was the most humble of men, but surely this is taking humility too far! The message in Moses’s absence, though, is clear: we cannot wait for a Moses before tackling redemption in our time – whether saving the planet from the threat of climate disaster, or redeeming our brothers and sisters from modern slavery and trafficking.

There’s something else missing from the Haggadah – the great moral imperative of the Torah – YOU SHALL NOT OPPRESS THE STRANGER ... because you know what it’s like to be one. Over and over, the Torah tells us not to wrong the stranger – to take our experience of slavery and turn it into ethical action. It seems that themost important memory we are to take with us from our hundreds of years of oppression ... is what it feels like to be aliens. And not to inflict that experience on others.

So what happened? Here I think the rabbis of the Haggadah got a little off course when they arrived at the heart of Maggid. As a framework for telling the story of the Exodus, they selected the simple, proud paragraph in Deuteronomy that the free Israelite was supposed to proclaim when bringing a harvest basket of fruit to the Temple. It begins: “A wandering Aramean was my father....”

But then the rabbis of the Haggadah turned that straightforward recollection into a victim’s lament – “Go forth and inquire what the Aramean tried to do to my father.” Now the victimhood extends back to Jacob, who suffered at the hands of his father-in-law Laban the Aramean (although as I recall the story, Jacob gave as good as he got).

In any case, here’s how I'd like the Haggadah to remember the Torah's mandate at the beginning of the retelling of the Exodus story each year:

Tzei u-l’mad . .. Go forth and learn how the Torah teaches us to act upon our experience of slavery in Egypt. She-neemar, as it is said, “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourself been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Ex. 23:9). And when we came to the land of Israel, we recalled: "A wandering Aramean was my father and he went down to Egypt (in search of food) and sojourned there with only a few, and there he became a great and populous nation."

-- Exodus Story
Source : VBS Haggadah

Five rabbis, living under the Roman oppression in the second century, gather for a Seder and lose track of the time, until reminded by their students that dawn has come. Some scholars suggest that they used this Seder, with its themes of liberation from oppression, to plan a revolution. With their students posted as look-outs to warn of the approach of Roman authorities, the debate raged all night long:

Pacifism or militant revolt? Is there a right time to take up arms against an enemy? Do the ends of revolution justify the means of violence? Is war ever justified? Does Judaism require political freedom, political power to survive? May we step away from the world of politics and practice our spirituality, oblivious to the material conditions of human existence? Or is our spirituality tied intimately to the real lives of our people? Perhaps it was the passion of their teachers in debate, that moved the students to exclaim: Dawn has arrived! 


A story is told of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiba, and Rabbi Tarfon, who were sitting at a Seder in B'nay Brock. All night long, they told the story of the Exodus from Egypt until their students came and said to them: “Our teachers, dawn has broken, it is time to say the morning prayer!” 


“Pharonic oppression, deliverance, Sinai, and Canaan are still with us as powerful memories shaping our perceptions of the political world. The “door of hope” is still open; things are

not what they might be even when what they might be isn’t totally different from what they are. This is a central theme in Western thought, always present though elaborated in many different ways. We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught, or what it has commonly been taken to teach about the meaning and possibility of politics and about its proper form:

First, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt;

Second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land;

Third, that “the way to the land is through the wilderness.” There is no way to get there from here to there except by joining together and marching.

—Michael Walzer 


Baruch Ha-Mokum. Baruch Hoo. Baruch Sheh-Natan Torah L'amo Yisrael. Baruch Hoo. Praised is God. Praised is the One who gave Torah to the People Israel. Praised is God. 

-- Exodus Story
Source : Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Jews are a people of memory. Perhaps more than anything else, what binds Jews together is a shared collective narrative, preserved and developed through stories, teachings and rituals. The Torah elevates memory to the level of a commandment, instructing us at various times to remember Shabbat, to remember that we were slaves in Egypt, and to remember that the tribe of Amalek attacked the Jewish people on their way out of Egypt.  

The command to remember demands more than the passive recollection of historical events. Remembering that God rested on the seventh day requires people similarly to rest on Shabbat. Remembering the experience of slavery obligates us to care for those whom society neglects. Remembering Amalek involves fighting oppression in every generation.

While historical memory plays a role in virtually every Jewish holiday, the holiday of Pesach (Passover)--more than any other--is the holiday of remembrance. Going a step beyond the Torah's insistence that the Jewish people remember the experience of slavery, the Hagaddah demands that "in each generation, each person is obligated to see himself or herself [lirot et atzmo] as though he or she personally came forth from Egypt."

For the Hagaddah, it is not enough simply to remember or even to retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. Rather, one must also project oneself into the story in order personally to experience the move from slavery to liberation.

Beyond Remembering

The easiest way to understand the obligation to see oneself as personally having come out of Egypt is to read this statement in light of the Hagaddah's earlier comment that "it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed from Egypt, for if God had not redeemed our ancestors, then we and our children and our children's children would still be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt." A literal understanding of the assertion that we would still be enslaved in Egypt had God not redeemed our ancestors from slavery at a specific historical moment enables us to see the exodus narrative as our personal liberation story.

However, simply referencing the comment that God, in effect, liberated us from Egypt along with our ancestors does not fully explain the obligation to see ourselves as having come forth from Egypt. After all, a tradition that seeks meaning in every seemingly superfluous word, letter, and detail cannot allow the repetition of an entire idea to go unnoticed. Thus, commentators on the Hagaddah suggest a number of additional interpretations of the textual insistence that we remember the exodus by reëxperiencing it.

Some commentators emphasize the individual nature of the statement that each person should see himself or herself as having gone forth from Egypt. The Ritba (Rabbi Yom Tov ben Avraham Ishbili, 125-1330) stresses that "every single individual must see and look at himself as though he had been a slave in Egypt and as though he went forth to freedom." Whereas the Hagaddah frames in the plural its earlier comment that God redeemed both our ancestors and us, the obligation to see ourselves as former slaves is articulated in the singular. On Pesach, the Ritba suggests, it is not enough to speak of our communal liberation from slavery; rather, we must each experience this redemption also as a personal journey.

Taking this emphasis on the individual one step further, the N'tziv (Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, 1817-1893) likens the command to see oneself as having come forth from Egypt to the talmudic comment that each person should say that the entire world was created for his or her sake. In the same way, the N'tziv says, each person should consider the exodus from Egypt as a personal miracle, done only for him or her. One who sees the exodus as having taken place for his or her own benefit cannot help but be grateful to God and will, therefore, be exuberant in offering the praises that appear in the next few lines of the Hagaddah.

Showing, Not Seeing

In the Sephardic text of the Hagaddah, the command to project oneself back into the exodus narrative appears in a slightly, but meaningfully, different form. There, the obligation is to show oneself (l'harot et atmzo) as having come forth from Egypt. With the addition of a single Hebrew letter, this version changes the obligation from one commanding personal reflection to one governing the way in which one acts in the world.

In Sephardic communities, the command to "show oneself" as having been a slave has led to the custom to act out certain parts of the seder. For example, guests may hit each other with scallions to commemorate the beatings of the Egyptian taskmasters, and may walk around the table holding matzah in order to play out the liberation from slavery.

Some have explained the Sephardic version of the text as an obligation to teach others about the experience of slavery. According to Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai (1724-1806), "It is not enough to think about this and to rejoice internally. Rather, one needs to 'show' this excitement physically so that everyone sitting in one's house will recognize and know it." Similarly, Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508) suggests that we need to pretend that we, personally, came out of Egypt in order to "transfer the memory from parent to child."

By acting the part of liberated slaves, parents offer their children a sense of experiencing the liberation first-hand. These children will similarly transfer the memory to their own children. In presenting oneself as a liberated slave, one forces the others at the table also to personalize their own experience of liberation.

Seeing & Showing

An attempt to reconcile the two versions of the Hagaddah text might suggest that seeing oneself as a liberated slave necessarily leads to showing oneself as such and vice versa. In some cases, self reflection leads to changing the way in which one acts in the world. In other cases, action must precede understanding. The obligation to "see" and/or "show" oneself as a liberated slave suggests that memory is a two-fold process that involves both reflection and action. Just as the command to "remember Shabbat" or to "remember what Amalek did" imposes obligation, so too, the commandment to remember our slavery in Egypt cannot be fulfilled through passive memory alone.

During the seder, we can fulfill the double command to show and to see ourselves as having come forth from Egypt by retelling the story in our own words and through the lens of our own experience. By acting out parts of the seder, or by retelling the narrative as though we experienced the exodus, we show ourselves as participants in this story. By using the story of the exodus as a framework for exploring our own personal liberation struggles or current political struggles, we can come to see ourselves as participants in the continuing journey toward freedom.

-- Exodus Story
Source :

Rabban Gamliel would say: Whoever does not discuss the following three things on Passover, has not fulfilled his obligation: the passover offeringmatzah andmaror.

The passover offering, which our ancestors ate during the time of the Holy Temple - for what reason did they do so? Because G‑d passed over their homes in Egypt, as it is written: "You shall say: It is a Passover-offering to the L‑rd, because He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians with a plague, and He saved our houses... "

This matzah that we eat - for what reason? Because the dough of our fathers did not have time to become leavened before the King of the kings of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, revealed Himself to them and redeemed them. As it is written: "They baked matzah-cakes from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, because it was not leavened; for they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had also not prepared any provisions."

This maror (bitter herb) that we eat - for what reason? Because the Egyptians embittered our fathers' lives in Egypt, as it is written: "They made their lives bitter with hard work, with mortar and with bricks, and with all manner of work in the field; all their work which they made them serve with crushing labor."

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Written by Jeffrey Goldberg as “The Nation” for Jonathan Safran Foer’s New American Haggadah

“Our impulse is to run from this moment, to pretend that our merciful God has not transformed Himself into a God who snuffs out the lives of children. But this story exists for a reason, and perhaps not the one often assumed. The plagues suffered by the Egyptians are meant not merely to serve as expedient metaphors. This is a political story, yes, but one with a harsh and morally problematical lesson about the price of freedom.

“There is no such thing as an immaculate liberation. It is naïve to think that the defeat of evil comes without cost. Today, we retreat in disgust at the thought of collective punishment: Justice punishes the guilty and spares the innocent. And yet how else could we describe the plagues?

“And don’t we sometimes behave today as the God of Exodus behaved? Don’t we impose sanctions on dictatorships and by doing so cause hardship for the guiltless? Haven’t we made heroes of men who have deliberately taken the lives of thousands of innocents? Three of the most revered presidents in American history—Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Harry Truman—inflicted merciless punishment on civilians. The causes they stood for were just, but did the innocent sufferers deserve their fate? Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart against the Jews, even after it seemed Pharaoh was ready to let them go? Did God want to make a point—‘Don’t even think of challenging me’? Why did America shower death on Nagasaki, when it seemed that the Japanese were readying themselves to surrender? Was the firebombing of German cities so necessary as to neutralize all moral qualms? The Exodus story ends in freedom for Jews; the Civil War ended with freedom for African-Americans; World War II ended with fascism utterly vanquished, and the death camps liberated. Can we say that the ends didn’t justify the means?”

-- 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

1) דם:Dom: Blood: all the water in Egypt (in the rivers, lakes, and even in basins at home) turned to blood. The only water that remained pure and clear was water owned by Jews. And if an Egyptian wanted a drink or a bath? He had to buy water from a Jew.

Why? The Jews had been forced to draw water from the wells and carry the heavy buckets to their Egyptian masters. But the Jews were not allowed to use any of the water for their own needs.

2)צפרדע:Tzfardeah: Frogs: The kitchen pots and plates were full of frogs, so an Egyptian family dashed to the bedroom, only to find it full of croaking, jabbering, jumping frogs. The people ran out to the street, only to trip over a dozen frogs, and fall face first into a loud pile of more frogs.

Why? The Egyptians forces the tired Jews to sit among the noisy frogs at the riverbank, catching fish. And if a Jew wanted to rest by day or night, the Egyptians would yell and scream, always disturbing them.

3)כנים: Kinim: Lice: The dust turned into lice, and the lice got into the Egyptians’ hair, under their clothing, and into their beds, itching, biting and annoying them.

Why? The Egyptians forced the Jews to clean the streets and all the filthy places. The dust got into Jewish noses and lungs, making the people sneeze and cough. Lice and other insects made their lives miserable.

4)ערוב:Arov: Wild Animals: From the deserts and jungles, thousands upon thousands of wild animals came galloping into Egypt. Every time an Egyptian poked his head out a window, it could end up in a lion’s mouth.

Why? The Jews were forces to put their lives in danger by catching wild animals for their masters. The Egyptians wanted hides and tusks, and live animals for their zoos and circuses.

5)דבר: Dever: Pestilence: A strange epidemic came and killed the Egyptian cattle and sheep. One second the animals were quietly grazing and the next second they were dead.

Why? The Egyptians forces Jewish men to leave their wives and children and go far out into the fields to care for Egyptian cattle and sheep.

6)שחין: Sh’chin: Boils: Without warning, Egyptians began to feel uncomfortable all over. They looked at their skin and saw boils and blisters. When they burst, the skin became raw, red, and painful.

Why? The Egyptian slave drivers used to beat the helpless Jews until their bodies were covered with blisters and sores. And if an Egyptian thought his “beautiful” skin was a bit rough, he would tell a Jew, “Make me a warm, comfortable bath to soften my skin.”

7)ברד: Barad: Hail: Huge, fiery hailstones rained from heaven, hurting and smashing everything in the fields–people, animals, and full-grown crops.

Why? When the Jews were working in the fields, the Egyptians “enjoyed themselves” by throwing stones at them.

8)ארבה: Arbeh: Locusts: One day, the fields of Egypt were colorful with grass, leaves, fruit and crops. The next day, everything was gone. Unbelievably big swarms of hungry locust covered the country and ate every growing thing in sight.

Why? The Jews were forces to work long and hard– plowing, planting, and tending trees and crops for the Egyptians.

9)חשך:Choshech: Darkness: For seven days Egypt was so dark that the people couldn’t see a thing, even with a torch. For the last several days of that time, the Egyptians couldn’t even move.

Why? When the Jews were slaves, their lives were so hopeless that everything seems to be very dark. And if a Jew did something an Egyptian didn’t like, the Jew could be thrown into an underground dungeon without any light at all.

10)מכת בכורות: Makat Bechorot: Slaying of the first born: The first born children of every Egyptian family, and even their first born animals and servants, died exactly at midnight on the first night of Pesach.

Why? Hashem said that the Jews were like His own first born– but the Egyptians made the Jews suffer, and they even killed Jewish babies.

Passover was actually celebrated before the last plague, the death of the first born in Egypt. Each Hebrew family was told to gather a lamb, keep it in their front yard for three days, then kill it, and sprinkle its blood upon the doorpost of their house. The Angel of Death would pass over the homes where the blood was spread, sparing the first born children of the Hebrews while killing all other first born. It was after this tenth plague that the pharaoh finally consented and allowed Moses to lead the Hebrews to freedom.

Think about it: The risk the Jews took in binding an Egyptian God (a lamb) in their front yard.

The Hebrews traveled until they reach the Sea of Reeds, often called the Red Sea. At their arrival, the Hebrews were surrounded with hills on either side, the sea in front of them, and the Egyptian armies rapidly approaching from behind. Moses prayed to God and received the commandments to go forward– in the face of the Red Sea. The winds immediately began to blow, causing the waters before them to divide and open up a passageway for Hebrews to cross the sea. When they had crossed safely, the Egyptians rushed into the passageway and were drowned by the water as it returned to its natural flow.

Question for discussion: Would you have been the first to volunteer to go into the sea?

The departure from Egypt completed by the crossing of the Red Sea marked the beginning of the Hebrew nation.

From the crossing of the Red Sea, the shortest route from Egypt to the “Promised Land” would have been along the Mediterranean Sea cost. Although this was the route usually followed by travelers, Moses led his people in a southerly direction. This gave the Hebrews time for special instructions, training and experience, and allowed time for God to deliver the Law to Moses at Mt. Sinai.

While Moses was receiving the Law of God at Mt. Sinai, some of the Hebrew followers lost faith in Moses and God and molded a god in the form of a calf. Upon Moses’ return from the mountain, he destroyed the calf.

It was for this sin of losing faith and trust in God that God punished the Jews by making them wander in the wilderness for 40 years before delivering them to the Promised Land. The generation freed from slavery would not see the Promised Land, but their children would.

(End of the Story of Pesach)

Leader: The Omnipresent God has bestowed an abundance of favors upon us!

-- Ten Plagues

As if the 10 plagues just enumerated weren't bad enough, Midrashic literature suggests that some biblical passages might support the conclusion that God's wrath expressed itself according to the following possible formulas:

 Rabbi Yossi, the Galilean posed the riddle this way: How do we know that the Egyptians suffered 10 plagues in Egypt and on the see they suffered 50 plagues? In Egypt what does it say? “The magicians said to Pharaoh: It is the finger of God.” (Shemot 8:15) On the sea what does it say? “Israel saw the great hand which Hashem did to Egypt, and the people feared Hashem, and believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant.” (14:31) How many did they suffer in Egypt? 10 plagues. Say thus: In Egypt they suffered 10 plagues; on the see they suffered 50 plagues.

Rabbi Eliezer says: How do we know that each plague that the Holy One (Blessed be He) brought on the Egyptians in Egypt consisted of four plagues? It says “He sent among them the fierceness of His anger: wrath, and indignation, and trouble, a sending of messengers of evil.” – wrath (1), indignation (2), trouble (3), sending of evil messengers (4). Therefore say: In Egypt they suffered 40 plagues, on the see they suffered 200 plagues.

Rabbi Akiba says: How do we know that each plague that the Holy One (Blessed be He) brought on the Egyptians in Egypt consisted of five plagues? It says “He sent among them the fierceness of His anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, a sending of messengers of evil.” – fierceness of his anger (1), wrath (2), indignation (3), trouble (4), sending of evil messengers (5). Therefore say: In Egypt they suffered 50 plagues, on the see they suffered 250 plagues.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

Rabbi Yossi Hagalili, Rabbi Eliezer and Rebbe Akiva now engage in a seemingly superfluous argument over just how many plagues happened to the Egyptians, either in Egypt or by the Sea. This is the most skipped-over section of the entire Hagaddah.

But it is not at all superfluous.  They are actually discussing the subtleties of experience.  Each rabbi shows a more refined sensitivity that the last to the different layers of suffering within each plague.  Rebbe Akiva was able to tune into the deepest layer of pain inflicted by the plagues, with each plague having five facets.

So what?  Each plague was simultaneously a blow against the Egyptians and a healing for Israel. Therefore, each layer of devastation for the Egyptians was another layer of illumination for the Jews. And sensitivity to the layers of devastation is directly related to sensitivity to layers of illumination.  The more aware we are of the subtleties of that pain, the more we can be aware of redemptive joy when we experience it. 

This is Rav Kook's understanding of the benefit of having been slaves in Egypt. We learned so much─about feeling, about building, about serving. And when those capacities are plugged in to proper, healthy goals, they are redemptive and satisfying.  So, too, sensitivity is sensitivity regardless of what is applied to, and it is a skill that we need to refine.

Can you feel different aspects of freedom tonight?  Can you name them?  

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory"

- Howard Zinn

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The New American Haggadah p. 79

The story of Passover may seem very remote to you, as it happened thousands of years ago, when the oldest people at your seder table were very, very young, and so many of the details of the story seem somewhat old-fashioned, such as the smearing of lamb’s blood over the doorway of one’s home, which has largely been replaced by signs warning away solicitors.  But in fact, the story of liberation is one that is still going on, as people all over the world are still in bondage, and we wait and wait, as the Jews in Egypt waited, for the day when freedom will be spread all over the world like frosting on a well-made cake, rather than dabbed on here and there as if the baker were selflishly eating most of the frosting directly from the bowl.  The story of Passover is a journey, and like most journeys, it is taking much longer than it ought to take, no matter how many times we stop and ask for directions.  We must look upon ourselves as though we, too, were among those fleeing a life of bondage in Egypt and wandering the desert for years and years, which is why we are often so tired in the evenings and cannot always explain how we got to be exactly where we are.  (Lemony Snicket, The New American Haggadah. P. 79)

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

God has bestowed many favors upon us.

Had He brought us out of Egypt, and not executed judgments against the Egyptians, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He executed judgments against the Egyptians, and not their gods, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He executed judgments against their gods and not put to death their firstborn, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He put to death their firstborn, and not given us their riches, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He given us their riches, and not split the Sea for us, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He split the Sea for us, and not led us through it on dry land, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He led us through it on dry land, and not sunk our foes in it, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He sunk our foes in it, and not satisfied our needs in the desert for forty years, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He satisfied our needs in the desert for forty years, and not fed us the manna, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He fed us the manna, and not given us the Sabbath, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He given us the Sabbath, and not brought us to Mount Sinai, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He brought us to Mount Sinai, and not given us the Torah, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He given us the Torah, and not brought us into Israel, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Had He brought us into Israel, and not built the Temple for us, It would have been enough – Dayyenu

Obligations of the Holiday

Rabban Gamliel would teach that all those who had not spoken of three things on Passover had not fulfilled their obligation to tell the story, and these three things are:

Point to the shank bone.

The Pesah which our ancestors ate when the Second Temple stood: what is the reason for it? They ate the Pesah because the holy one, Blessed be He “passed over” the houses of our ancestors in Egypt, as it is written in the Torah: “And You shall say, ‘It is the Passover offering for Adonai, who passed over the houses of the Israelites saving us in Mitzrayim but struck the houses of the Egyptians.

Point to the matza.

Matzah - what does it symbolize in the Seder? There was insufficient time for the dough of our ancestors to rise when the holy one, Blessed be He was revealed to us and redeemed us, as it is written in the Torah: “And they baked the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt into matzah – cakes of unleavened bread – which had not risen, for having been driven out of Egypt they could not tarry, and they had made no provisions for themselves.”

Point to the maror.

Why do we eat Maror? For the reason that the Egyptians embitter the lives of our ancestors in Mitzrayim, as the Torah states: “And they embittered their lives with servitude, with mortar and bricks without straw, with every form of slavery in the field and with great torment.”

Comment by MbY: The shank bone or Z'roah as indicated in Isaiah 53 is mystically a TZADIK who has overcome his/her evil inclination in order to become a bridge between this world and the World To Come while yet alive and after death to help others overcome. The matzah did not have time to leaven meaning it was baked without time for gossip, slander or backbiting and the maror or bitter herbs refers mystically to the lashan hara that led to Egyptian exile as explained in the Introduction

Therefore we are obligated, to thank, sing the Hallel, praise, glorify, exalt, honor, bless, elevate and raise our voices for joy to the holy one, Blessed be He, Who performed all these miracles for our ancestors and therefore for us! You brought us from human servitude to freedom, from sorrow to joy, for a time of mourning to a festive day, from deep darkness to great light and from slavery to redemption! In Your presence we renew our singing as in ancient days: Hallel-lu-yah Sing Hallel to God.

Cover the matza and raise the Cup of Redemption until it is drunk.

Therefore it is our duty to thank and praise, pay tribute and glorify, exalt and honor, bless and acclaim the One who performed all these miracles for our fathers and for us. He took us out of slavery into freedom, out of grief into joy, out of mourning into a festival, out of darkness into a great light, out of slavery into redemption. We will recite a new song before Him! Halleluyah!

Hallel Excerpts

Halleluyah! Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the Lord’s name is to be praised. High above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory. Who is like the Lord our God, who though enthroned on high, looks down upon heaven and earth? He raises the poor man out of the dust and lifts the needy one out of the trash heap, to seat them with nobles, with the nobles of His people. He turns the barren wife into a happy mother of children. Halleluyah!

When Israel went out of Egypt, When the household of Jacob left a people with a strange tongue, Judah became the place from which God’s holiness went forth, Israel became the seat from which the world would know of Gods rule. The sea looked and fled, The Jordan reversed its curse. Mountains skipped like rams and the hills jumped about like young lambs. What is happening that you turn back, O sea, Jordan, why do you reverse your course? Mountains, why do you skip like rams And hills why do you jump like lambs? You are beholding the face of your Creator, Before God, before the God of Jacob, Turning rocks into swirling waters and stone into a flowing spring.

Blessing before drinking Cup of Redemption

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.

Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, who has redeemed us and our fathers from Egypt and enabled us to reach this night that we may eat matzo and marror. Lord our God and God of our fathers, enable us to reach also the forthcoming holidays and festivals in peace, rejoicing in the rebuilding of Zion your city, and joyful at your service. There we shall eat of the offerings and Passover sacrifices which will be acceptably placed upon your altar. We shall sing a new hymn of praise to you for our redemption and for our liberation. Praised are you, Adonai, who has redeemed Israel.

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

Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.


-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

What does this mean, "It would have been enough"? Surely no one of these would indeed have been enough for us. Dayenu means to celebrate each step toward freedom as if it were enough, then to start out on the next step. It means that if we reject each step because it is not the whole liberation, we will never be able to achieve the whole liberation. It means to sing each verse as if it were the whole song--and then sing the next verse.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Miriam's cup

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, given by God because of the merit of Miriam, the prophetess. Miriam’s optimism and faith also was a spiritual oasis, giving the Hebrews the confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus. 

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. 

A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, given by God because of the merit of Miriam, the prophetess. Miriam’s optimism and faith also was a spiritual oasis, giving the Hebrews the confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus. 

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.

When Miriam's cup is filled, raise the goblet and say: 
Yehi ratzon milfanecha, adonai eloheinu, velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu, borei ha'olam: shetishm'reinu  ut'kaymeinu bamidbar chayeinu im mayim chayim. V'titen lanu et hachizzuk v'et hachomchah l'daat she'tzmichat geulateinu nimtza baderekh chayim lo rak b'sof haderekh. 

"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." (from Rabbi Susan Shnur)

-- 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.

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.


We wash our hands again now before we eat (yes, finally we’re nearly there!) but why? Why do we not wash our feet like our Middle Eastern ancestors did? Because our hands are the instruments with which we work in the world. It is our hands which plants and write, which caress and create – and our hands which strike and smash, poison and pain. We wash our hands not to absolve ourselves of responsibility but to affirm the need to make our hands pure, to choose to make real decisions; to use our hands for good. This pesach let us consecrate our collective hands, as Habonim Dror, to the task of building freedom.

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 : America's Obsession with Cleanliness
Wash Your Hands !


On the one hand, the matzah reminds us of our slavery in Egypt. For this reason, matzah is called “lechem oni” “the bread of our affliction.” At the same time, the matzah reminds us of our liberation, for it was only at the moment of escape from slavery that our ancestors baked matzah to bring with them on their journey.

In symbolizing both oppression and liberation, the matzah reminds us to celebrate our
liberation, and to continue fighting the oppression that remains.
We each break off a piece of matzah and together recite:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.
Blessed are you, Sovereign of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav
v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

Blessed are you, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your
commandments and commanded us to eat matzah.

Source : Jeffrey Spitzer

The holiday of Passover has a complex set of rules regarding what may be eaten. Since one is obliged to eat matzah on Passover, it is no surprise that much has been written about matzah, not only when to eat, it but how much must be eaten and who must fulfill this obligation. This article looks at a number of texts dealing with the intricacies of consuming matzah on Passover.

When Is One Obligated to Eat Matzah?

The command to eat matzah appears ten times in the Torah. Nine times the command is for seven days, "Seven days shall you eat matzah" (Exodus 12:15). The tenth time, however, says, "Six days you shall eat unleavened bread" (Deuteronomy 16:8).

A simple and obvious statement of the law (which did not, however, become the accepted practice) is stated by the tanna (rabbi of the Mishnaic era) R. Shimon, originally in the Sifre Deuteronomy (a Tannaitic Midrash):

"Has it not already been said, 'Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread'? Then why does the Torah say 'You shall eat no leavened bread ( hametz ) with it'? When one is obligated to eat matzah, there is also a prohibition against hametz; when there is no obligation to eat matzah, there is no prohibition against hametz" (Bavli Pesachim 28b, cf. Sifre Deuteronomy 130).

The obligation to eat matzah and the prohibition against hametz are co-extensive. Since the prohibition against hametz is clearly for seven days, the obligation to eat matzah, according to Rabbi Shimon, also lasts seven days. This is also the approach of the apocryphal book of Jubilees, and is also the custom of the Karaites and the Samaritans, groups that broke off from the main body of the people of Israel. The most common rabbinic interpretation of the verse from Deuteronomy that prescribes six days rejects this early understanding:

"One verse says, 'Seven days you shall eat matzah,' and one verse says, 'Six days you shall eat matzah.' How can both of these verses be maintained? The seventh day was included (in the first verse) but then excluded (from the second verse). That which is excluded from a more inclusive statement is meant to teach us about the whole statement. So, just as on the seventh day it is optional ( r'shut ), so all the other days, it is optional. Does this mean that it is optional on the first night too? The verse 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day in the evening, you shall eat matzah' (Exodus 12:18) fixes it as an obligation ( hovah ) to eat matzah on the first night" (Mekhilta, Pischa 8).

According to this midrash, Deuteronomy refers to the first six days, and accordingly, the seventh day of the holiday has no obligation to eat matzah. But since there is no essential difference between the seventh day and any of the other days, the rabbis argue, what is true of the seventh day must be true of all of the days. Therefore, there is no general obligation to eat matzah throughout the holiday. On the other hand, the explicit verse from Exodus 12:18 does create a requirement to eat matzah on the first night. Outside of the land of Israel, Jews who observe two days of the holiday are rabbinically obligated to eat matzah at each of the seders, but not on the other days of the festival.

How Much Matzah is One Supposed to Eat?

During the seder, one makes two different blessings over the matzah. The first blessing is hamotzi ("…who brings forth bread from the earth"), which is recited whenever one eats bread, and which is obligatory at any festival meal. The second blessing recalls the particular obligation to eat matzah ("…who has sanctified us with the commandments and commanded us concerning the eating of matzah"). In general, when one is obligated to eat something, the standard amount is a volume equivalent to that of an olive, a k'zayit.

How should one fulfill this obligation to eat matzah? Hamotzi on other festivals is usually said on a whole loaf of challah, so on Passover should one eat the olive's-bulk of matzah from the top of the three matzot on the seder plate, which is still whole and is therefore analogous to a loaf? Or should one eat from the middle, broken matzah for the fulfillment of the obligation to eat matzah?

Joseph Karo writing in the standard code of Jewish law, the Shulhan Arukh, predictably requires a bulk of matzah equivalent to two olives:

"One washes one's hands and makes the blessing and takes the matzot... in hand and makes the blessings 'hamotzi' and 'on eating matzah.' Then one breaks from the top, complete matzah and the broken middle piece, both together... One eats an olive's bulk from each of them while reclining. If one cannot eat matzah equivalent to the bulk of two olives together, eat the one for hamotzi first and then the one [for the blessing] on eating matzah. Then one takes an olive's bulk of bitter herbs... and makes the blessing on eating bitter herbs and eats it without reclining. Then one takes the third matzah and breaks a piece from it to wrap with the bitter herbs" (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 475:1).

Modern authorities have debated whether the air pockets in matzah count toward measuring an olive's bulk, and most say that they do not. They also have debated about whether an olive's bulk is really the size of a modern olive, or whether it is actually the bulk of an egg. That makes a single "olive's bulk" equivalent to approximately two-thirds of a standard, machine-made matzah or the area equivalent to an average adult hand of hand-made matzah. In addition, modern authorities also define a time limit within which one should, ideally, consume the matzah.

Is All Matzah the Same?

In order for dough to become matzah, it must at least have the potential to leaven. According to the rabbis, leavening ( himutz ) only occurs when flour from the five grains (wheat, oats, barley, rye, or spelt) is moistened with water (by their definition). Flour that is moistened with wine, oil, honey, eggs, or fruit juice does not leaven; the fermentation that occurs is called sirchon (rotting). Despite the negative category name, sirchon is different leavening, which is the category with which the Passover prohibitions are concerned.

Therefore, the matzah-like product made with flour and apple juice that is called "egg matzah" or matzah ashirah (rich matzah) is not subject to leavening, just "rotting," and is theoretically acceptable for Passover use. Widespread custom, however, rejected its use. The Ashkenazic (East European) authority, R. Moses Isserles (known as the Rema), however, is wary of this permission and gives the custom legal force:

"Eggs and other liquids are all considered like fruit juice (which lead to rotting, not leavening). Rema: But in our communities, we do not knead (matzah) dough with fruit juice... And one should not change from this unless in a time of emergency for the sake of a sick or old person who needs this" (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 462:4).

The Ashkenazic restrictions on use of "egg matzah" are usually printed on the box. Even according to Sephardic (Mediterranean) practice, however, one cannot fulfill the obligation to eat matzah at seder with "egg matzah." First, the obligation must be fulfilled with real matzah, and real matzah must have the potential to leaven, which egg matzah does not. Second, the command is to eat "matzah, the bread of poverty" (Deuteronomy 16:3) and not egg matzah, which is also known as rich matzah.

An additional concern comes from the Torah's command, "You shall watch the matzot" (Exodus 12:17). This is understood by the midrash as "watch it so that it does not become unfit" (Mekhilta Pischa 9), that is, it should not be allowed to leaven. When one begins to watch the dough is a matter of some controversy. The earliest sources assume that the watching begins with the kneading of the dough. The common practice today is to watch the flour from time it is ground. Most commercial matzah is watched from the time of grinding.

The most strict approach, however, is to watch the grain itself from the time it is harvested.

"[Rava] said to those who were turning over the sheaves of wheat (during the harvest): 'When you flip them over, do so for the sake of the mitzvah.' From this we can reason that watching is required initially from the beginning to the end" (Bavli Pesachim 40a).

Matzah made from flour ground from grain which has been watched since harvest is called shemurah matzah (watched matzah). Many Jews choose to use shemurah matzah, especially hand-made shemurah matzah, for fulfillment of the obligation to eat matzah at the seder.

Who is Obligated to Eat Matzah?

The eating of matzah is a positive commandment (as opposed to not eating hametz, which is a negative commandment) that takes place at a specific time. There is a general rule in talmudic literature that women are exempt from positive commandments that take place at a specific time (Mishnah Kiddushin 1:7). Indeed, women are exempt from reciting the shema, wearing tefillin (both in Mishnah Berakhot 3:3), sitting in the sukkah (Mishnah Sukkah 2:8), shaking the lulav, blowing the shofar, and wearing tzitzit (all three in Bavli Kiddushin 33b).

On the other hand, women are obligated to observe other positive, time-specified commandments such as fasting on Yom Kippur (Bavli Sukkah 28a), lighting Hanukkah candles (Bavli Shabbat 23a), reciting the megillah on Purim (Bavli Megillah 4a), and eating three meals on Shabbat (Rabbenu Nissim on Shabbat 44a). Based on the association of not eating hametz with the positive command of eating matzah (akin to the midrash of Rabbi Shimon, above), women are also obligated to eat matzah at the seders (Bavli Pesachim 43b). For that matter, women are also obligated to drink the four cups of wine (Bavli Pesachim 108a-b), to recite the Haggadah, and to chant the Hallel (psalms of praise) at the seder (Mishnah Berurah 472:14).

Source : Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield in

The question of why we eat maror would at first glance appear to be an obvious one. When I probe a little deeper, however, two questions emerge for me. First, why would I want to evoke pain and suffering on a night when I want to feel celebratory? My second question goes to the ritual itself. How is eating lettuce or horseradish supposed to help me experience or relate to the bitterness of slavery? No matter how much fiery hot horseradish we put in our mouths, it seems to me we are not any closer to understanding the experience of the Israelites in Egypt.

I believe that our use of maror at the seder is less about experiencing the hardships of Egypt, but rather an opportunity to experience and reflect how we can meaningfully engage sorrow and pain in both our personal and national lives. Suffering and sadness are part of everyone’s story. It is the unavoidable price we pay for being vulnerable and limited. We need tools and opportunities to integrate the hard and painful parts of our lives into our story without allowing them to erase all the joy and gratitude we still want to experience.

The Baal HaTanya (Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady, 1745-1812) draws a fascinating distinction between two types of sadness. The first he refers to as bitterness, a form of regret or sadness that emerges from a sense that things are broken, or less than ideal. This form of sadness is positive, he says, because it emerges from a place of idealism, hope, and a powerful desire to change. We are “bitter” because we sense that a vital and healthy part of ourselves is not finding expression in the world. It is precisely our capacity for hope and transformation that makes this type of sadness possible. Our sense of loss is informed by our appreciation for a whole. The second type of sadness is depression. This type of sadness “closes our hearts” with despair, numbs our feelings, and blocks out all joy. From this perspective, perhaps we eat maror to explore how to move from a sadness that holds us back to a sadness that can lead to growth and change. When dealing with hard things I often find I am choosing between allowing sadness to dominate my mood or trying to ignore it and put it aside altogether. The narrative of the seder refutes this false dichotomy. We don’t deny the difficulties and pain, but maybe we can put it into a wider context that includes joy and gratitude. We make room for sadness but we don’t let it take over. We eat the maror with the matza.

Another approach emerges from a comment of Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz (1568-1630) in a drasha about Pesach. Commenting on the talmudic requirement to chew the maror as opposed to just swallowing it, he writes that our teeth represent 32 levels of wisdom, and that by chewing the maror with our teeth we sweeten it. As opposed to denying difficulty or sadness we must engage it and reflect upon it. Although I am never grateful for going through the painful moments of my life, I am sometimes surprised at what they teach me about myself and who I am. Both as individuals and as a people, we are products of our challenges as much as our successes; sadness as well as joy. While I cannot deny the hard feelings associated with the difficult or sad moments of my life, I can “sweeten” them by accepting them as an essential part of my story. The suffering in Egypt and the memory of that suffering was part of what made the Jewish people.

 Our eating of maror and talking about slavery might also carry with it a lesson about the negative power of shame. I don’t like sharing my stories of pain or difficulty. They often feel like stories of failure. It often feels like my pain is a result of my inadequacy in managing my life or lack of success. If I were a better person, more capable, wiser, more powerful, my story would be all about happiness. Sadness becomes associated with failure. By including the pain and humiliation in our national story of birth and redemption we are reminding ourselves that pain, sadness, and difficulty are part of everyone’s story. I don’t need to paper over it or pretend it’s not there. My challenge is to include fully the hard parts of my story, both individually and nationally, and still feel joy and gratitude. Our plates include bitter herbs right next to the matza and the wine.

Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield teaches Talmud, Halakha and Jewish Thought.


Now take a kezayit (the volume of one olive) of the maror. Dip it into the Charoset mixture, but not so much that the bitter taste is neutralized. Recite the following blessing and then eat the maror (without reclining): A final taste of Egypt by which we remember our Exodus.

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al achilat maror.

Blessed are you, Adonai, our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to eat the bitter herbs.


This moment of the seder is called Korech. It is also known as the Hillel sandwich. It is the moment when we eat maror (the bitter herbs) and the charoset (the sweet apple and nut mixture) on a piece of matzah. What a strange custom to eat something so bitter and something so sweet all in one bite. Why do we do such a thing? We do it to tell our story.

The Jewish people tells our story through our observance of Jewish holidays throughout the year. The holidays of Passover, Chanukah and Purim remind us just how close the Jewish people has come to utter destruction and how we now celebrate our strength and our survival with great joy, remembering God’s help and our persistence, and our own determination to survive.

We also tell the story throughout our lifetime of Jewish rituals. The breaking of a glass at a Jewish wedding reminds us that even in times of life’s greatest joys we remember the sadness of the destruction of the Temple. When we build a home, some Jews leave a part unfinished to remember that even when building something new, we sense the times of tragedy in the Jewish people. And on Passover we mix the sweet charoset with the bitter maror, mixing bitter and sweet of slavery and freedom all in one bite.

Throughout each year and throughout our lifetimes, we challenge ourselves to remember that even in times of strength, it is better to sense our vulnerability, rather than bask in our success. We all have memories of times in which bitter and sweet were mixed in our lives, all in the same bite. Judaism says, sometimes life is like that. We can celebrate and mourn all at the same time. And somehow, everything will be ok. 

Source : Aish UK

Freedom and pain are inexorably linked.  Our approach to the "bitter" times is neither to deny nor to seek escape but to face up to the challenges and embrace the opportunity they offer.

The key is to recognize that pain and suffering emanate from exactly the same source as joy and pleasure.  The self same God that redeemed us from Egypt was the One who allowed us to be enslaved there in the first place, because, painful though it was, it was necessary for us to go through it as a nation.

Without an appreciation of pain and hardship, with all the inherent challenges that life entails, there can be no true sense of joy and fulfillment.  Without connecting to the trials and tribulations that are woven into the tapestry of Jewish history, we will be unable to fully appreciate the majesty that forms Jewish destiny.

by L S
Source : Love + Justice In Times of War Haggadah

We now take some maror and charoset and put them between two pieces of matzah and give the sandwich to the person on our left.

In combining maror with charoset, we recall our sage Hillel (head of the supreme council of Yisrael, 1st century B.C.E.) who, in remembrance of the loss of the Temple, created the Korech sandwich. He said that by eating the Korech, we would taste the bitterness of slavery mixed with the sweetness of freedom. This practice suggests that part of the challenge of living is to taste freedom even in the midst of oppression, and to be ever conscious of the oppression of others even when we feel that we are free.

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

But if I am for myself only, what am I?

And if not now, when?

-- Hillel

And if not with others, how? -- Adrienne Rich

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.

Shulchan Oreich

[Refill your cup.]

It's almost time to eat! Before we do, we fill our third cup of wine and give thanks for the meal we're about to share. At this seder, this becomes an extended toast to the forces that brought us together:

We say together:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen. We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine, and redeems us through holy community.


During the meal, feel free to ask one another:

1. What is your family’s exodus story?

2. How does your exodus story shape your worldview? Your sense of responsibility for the Other?

3. What does justice look like for you?

4. (Make up your own...)


The first reference to the Afikoman is the talmudic warning not to serve fancy desserts or go partying after partaking in the Passover meal (Epikomos).  Afikoman was what you were not supposed to do - go from party to party carousing. Eventually, however, afikoman became something you had to have - a piece of matzah that would be the final thing you ate at the completion of the meal. Originally, a piece of the Passover lamb was the last thing eaten. Over time, matzah came to represent the Paschal lamb and the Afikomen became a small piece of matzah. So matzah, which began the meal as The Bread of Affliction, is transformed by our recreation of the Exodus, into the Bread of Redemption.

Source :

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.

Whatever we do, we dance around that essence-core, like a spacecraft in orbit, unable to land. We can meditate, we can be inspired, but to touch the inner core, the place where all this comes from, that takes a power from beyond.

On Passover night, we have that power. 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, it is this way: Those things you find inspiring and nice may take you a step forward. But if you want to effect real change, you need to do something totally beyond your personal bounds.

Source : National Center for Jewish Healing, A Personal Passover Journal for memory and Contemplation

Finding and Eating the Afikoman

In hiding and seeking the afikoman, we reunite the two parts separated at the beginning of the seder. At this moment, we have the opportunity to discover lost parts of ourselves, to become reconciled with relatives who have become distant and to find wholeness in aspects of Judaism which may not have been part of our lives. Finding that which is hidden is a powerful message when we feel loss and lost. Within our loss, we find ways of healing the broken part of our lives.

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.




Refill everyone’s wine glass.

We traditionally would now say grace after the meal, thanking God for the food we’ve eaten. Here's a (very) shortened version:

May all be fed, may all be nourished, and may all be loved.

May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen.

The Third Glass of Wine

The blessing over the meal is immediately followed by another blessing over the wine:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the third glass of wine!


As it is written in Pirke Avot, a collection of rabbinic wisdom,: "It is not incumbent upon us to finish the work, but neither may we refrain from beginning it."

Source : Abraham Joshua Heschel Quote, Design by
Just to Be...


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 pray is to recollect passionately the perpetual urgency of this vital question.

-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Source : Harvey Cox

"I have come to look forward to the opening of the door for an Elijah who is always a no-show, and I have come to believe that precisely by not appearing, that great prophet is showing us something we need to know. What does it mean that there is never anyone at the door?"

Source : Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn

We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to look or check how we feel because we think we already know and understand. So we can be closed to the wonder and vitality of fresh encounters. If we are not careful, we can even forget that direct contact is possible. We may lose touch with what is basic and not even know it. We can live in a dream reality of our own making without even a sense of the loss, the gulf, the unnecessary distance we place between ourselves and experience. Not knowing this, we can be all the more impoverished, spiritually and emotionally. But something wonderful and unique can occur when our contact with the world becomes direct.

Source : Adapted from Tal Shemesh's "Ritual for Miriam's Cup and Elijah's Cup"

By placing a cup of wine on the seder table and opening the door after our festive meal we recognize the legend that the prophet Elijah visits every seder table to announce the coming of redemption. The cup of Elijah is a symbol of hope that the world, now broken, will one day be healed, and that all people can play a role in that redemption.

By placing a cup of water on the seder table we rememberMiriam the prophet, who legend says danced at the Sea of Reeds to celebrate the Exodus. It is said that a well of fresh water followed her in the desert so the Jewish people always had water to drink.

Where Elijah represents the movement of history and path to redemption, Miriam represents ongoing healing, renewal and sustenance. Elijah is time, Miriam is place. Elijah is the mountain, Miriam is the sea.

Let us open the door for Elijah and sing: Eiliyahu Hanavi, Eliahu hatishbi, Eliahu, Eliahu, Eliahu hagiladi. Bimhera biyamenu, yavo aylenu, Im Mashiach ben David, Im Mashiach ben David.

For Miriam, we lift our water glasses and say: Zot be’er Miriam, kos mayim chayim. This is the well of Miriam, the cup of living waters.

Source : The Immortal Bob Marley (Adapted)

By the rivers of Babylon, 
where we sat down, 
and there we wept 
when we remembered Zion. 
For the wicked carried us away captivity
Required from us a song. 
How can we sing King Alpha's song 
in a strange land? 
So let the words of our mouth 
and the meditations of our hearts 
be acceptable in Thy sight, Over-I.

Source :

Hallel is recited on holidays and on the semi-festival of the new moon (Rosh Hodesh). Many Jews also recite it on the modern festivals of Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day).

What are the ideas expressed in Hallel? The Gemara (the Rabbinic debates on the Mishnah) tells us that Hallel includes five major themes (Pesachim 118a):
1. The Exodus from Egypt
2. The splitting of the Red Sea
3. The giving of the Torah
4. The revival of the dead
5. The difficulties preceding the Messianic Age 
In other words, Hallel deals with all of Jewish history from the birth of our nation to the establishment of the Messianic Era. In Hallel we express our joy at past miracles and our faith in future miracles.
What is the nature of Hallel? In it, we praise God's providence for the individual and for the sake of the nation as a whole. In the second section we implore God not to forsake us, neither the nation nor the individual. In the last part of Hallel we thank God for miracles past, present, and future. Since Hallel is a commandment, we must start it with a blessing. We also conclude it with a blessing, which is voluntary. The Rabbis argue over whether the recital of Hallel is a Torah commandment or of rabbinic origin.

We begin Hallel by reciting Psalm 113, a psalm of introductory praises. In Psalm 114, King David shows how God's providence freed the Jews from Egyptian bondage and made their survival possible. In Psalm 115, we appeal for God's assistance. In Psalm 116, we plead with God for survival. In Psalm 117, the shortest of all the Psalms, we invite the nations of the world to join our songs of thanksgiving for our redemption. Finally, Psalm 118 can be interpreted in two different ways. David perhaps personally thanks God for his survival, or perhaps David represents the Jewish people and therefore the Psalm is a song of thanksgiving for the entire nation of Israel.
When we come to the end of Hallel, we ask God to save us and let us be successful. Those two requests derive from one verse (Psalms 118:25). There is a principle in Judaism that we must always quote a verse in its entirety and therefore we should properly repeat the entire verse before saying it a second time, but we do not. The reason is that according to the Talmud (Pesachim 119a), the verses we double were part of a dialogue between the prophet Samuel, Yishai--the father of David--and David and his brothers. Each one of those present when David was told he would be king of Israel participated in the dialogue. According to this, ana Hashem hoshi'ah na (-'Please, Hashem, save us") was said by the brothers. Ana Hashem hatzlichah na ("Please, Hashem, make us successful") was said by David himself. True, those two requests were from one verse; however, they were uttered by different people and expressed different ideas. In this special case, we may stop in the middle of a verse.
We conclude Hallel with a blessing that is not obligatory. According to the Gemara (Sukkah 39b) it depends on the custom of each community. Today, all communities say this blessing.

By Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth


Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Baby I've been here before
I've seen this room and I've walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew you
And I've seen your flag on the marble arch
and love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

there was a time when you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...

Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah...
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah


מִן הַמֵּצַר קָרָאתִי יָּהּ, עָנָּנִי בַמֶרְחַב יָהּ. עָנָּנִי (x3)

"From a narrow place, I cried out to Hashem. Hashem answered me with wide expanse."

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶ

We drink our 4th(!) cup of wine

Source :

By: Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Judaism lives in constant tension. Between reality and dream.  Hope and disappointment. It longs for the day when the wolf will live with the lamb and the messianic era will finally be ushered in. But it knows that day has not yet come.  There is still an enormous gap between what is and what ought to be. Judaism is the art of the possible. Of the doable. The road is long and the bumps are many, but the dream is alive and well.  Until one has arrived, there is a heavy price to pay. Still, one must not give up and should even enjoy the ride. At least make a sincere attempt.   

What does one do when his arch enemies are drowned in the Reed Sea? Should he dance on the rooftops when he sees the enemy crushed, or should he thank God for the victory but go home with a heavy heart, shedding a sincere tear for human life that was lost? Even if it is the life of his arch enemy?

Judaism chooses the latter. It has no option but to be sad even in times of joy. And its sadness is so great that it spills over. Despite the enemy's cruelty, the Jew takes his cup of wine on the day of his liberation and spills a bit to demonstrate sorrow for his enemy's loss of life. He does so in spite of the prohibition against wasting even a drop. His sadness is so intense that he cannot hold back from transgressing the law for the sake of allowing his emotions to have their way. He diminishes his simchah by removing a tiny bit from the cup of his glorious victory.  The dip of a finger. Nothing more. It takes only a second, but the act is of infinite value. Compassion for those who fell so low that they turned into Jew haters and lost all dignity. How distressing that human beings are able to compromise themselves to that extent. How is it possible not to mourn? Ten mini dips for ten plagues that befell the Egyptians. The totality of the Jewish neshamah is reflected in this tiny gesture. Tiny, but of enormous moral strength.

But can a man really live with ten mournful dips in the face of an arch enemy's cruelty?  Is it possible for the Jew to simply dip and forget about the pain inflicted by the enemy for thousands of years? Where will this pain go? Does one just swallow it? Forget what happened? Or shall the Jew, after all, call for revenge, take the law in his own hands and initiate a jihad (holy war)? And if so, how then will he live with the drops of wine he just wasted? The Jew is caught between a sorrowful dip and an inner need for revenge. He is tossed from left to right and back again. And he ultimately decides for the dip. No revenge, no jihad.
But what about the pain? How can one vent his frustrations, fed by thousands of years of cruel anti-Semitism?  Is violence not often the result of such frustrations that were denied an outlet? What does one do when the drop of wine stands in the way and does not allow his vexation and pain any escape?  At whose feet can one throw his resentment and be assured that it will be handled with the greatest sensitivity but simultaneously not lead to more trouble?

Only in the privacy of one's home, where one knows he can call for revenge and be confident that he will be taken seriously but not so seriously that it will be turned into reality. Where one can say what he means, let off steam, get it out of his system and be sure that in spite of it all, he would not hurt a fly. 

Only with God, the ultimate home, can we unburden our feelings. Only He knows how to deal with human frustrations, and not get carried away.  He will know what we really have in mind and whether or not to take action.

Far from what one may think, shefoch chamatcha is not a prayer of incitement. It is a prayer born out of pain, in which we ask God to redeem us from all the hate which we Jews have experienced over thousands of years. To this very day. We just have to let off steam. It is up to Him to decide how to respond. It is not our business to assist Him in this. In fact, it is forbidden to be of any support.

Judaism does not allow any waste. Only in a few instances is one allowed to spill. And just a tiny bit.  To teach a fundamental lesson on how to approach life. To learn not to waste our souls or risk our stake in God. Why, after all, is it forbidden to waste? So that we may recognize the overflow of the beauty of life.
Shefoch chamatcha is a prayer spoken at the moment of great intimacy between God and us. A prayer in which we try to master what is inferior in us and grow beyond its words. 

May this prayer soon disappear from the Haggadah. When hate will cease to exist and there will no longer be need of an outlet for our frustrations. When we will be able to live and let live in pure love. When we will dwell on a word in our prayers and transform it into the realization of our ultimate dream-from feelings of frustration into emotions of love.

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 : Billy Collins

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you 

remember it.” Gabriel García Márquez

Forgetfulness, by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue

or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted 

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


"Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.”

What can we do to fulfill our reckless dreams? What will be our legacy for future generations?

Our seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. As we had the pleasure to gather for a seder this year, we hope to once again have the opportunity in the years to come. We pray that God brings health and healing to Israel and all the people of the world, especially those impacted by natural tragedy and war. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם


Source : Seder Sidekick

10. You are singing Dayaynu, he is singing Lady Gaga

9. Invokes "Tonight I am free man" when asked politely to not lick the charoset from the bowl

8. He’s suddenly reading the Hagadah in a Australian accent (G’day Karpas Vegemite)

7. Two words:  Manischewitz Pong

6. He adds “tomorrow’s hangover “ to the list of  plagues

5. When you refill his cup, he says make it a double 

4. After dripping wine for the plagues, he  slurps your plate

3. He's totally double fisting the 3rd cup

2. During benching he asks “when do we eat?”

1.  Passover to him means is to be passed out before Nirtzah


All read the third line of each stanza in unison

Unto God let praise be brought
For the wonders He hath wrought—
  At the solemn hour of midnight.

All the earth was sunk in night
When God said "Let there be light!"
  Thus the day was formed from midnight.

So was primal man redeemed
When the light of reason gleamed
  Through the darkness of the midnight.

To the Patriarch, God revealed
The true faith, so long concealed
  By the darkness of the midnight.

But this truth was long obscured
By the slavery endured
  In the black Egyptian midnight.

Till the messengers of light
Sent by God, dispelled the night,
  And it came to pass at midnight. p. 116

Then the people God had freed
Pledged themselves His law to heed,
  And it came to pass at midnight.

When they wandered from the path
Of the Lord, His righteous wrath
  Hurled them into darkest midnight.

But the prophets’ burning word
By repentant sinners heard
  Called them back from darkest midnight.

God a second time decreed
That His people should be freed
  From the blackness of the midnight.

Songs of praise to God ascend,
Festive lights their glory lend
  To illuminate the midnight.

Soon the night of exile falls
And within the Ghetto walls
  Israel groans in dreary midnight.

Anxiously with God they plead,
Who still trust His help in need,
In the darkest hour of midnight.

And He hears their piteous cry.
"Wait! be strong, My help is nigh,
  Soon ‘twill pass—the long-drawn midnight.

"Tenderly I cherished you
For a service great and true;
  When ‘tis past—the long-drawn midnight." p. 117

O, Thou Guardian of the Right,
Lead us onward to the light
  From the darkness of the midnight.

Father, let the day appear
When all men Thy name revere
  And Thy light dispels the midnight.

When no longer shall the foe
From th’ oppressed wring cries of woe
  In the darkness of the midnight.

But Thy love all hearts shall sway;
And Thy light drive gloom away,
  And to midday change the midnight.


Each verse should be read my a Seder participant.  

1. An only kid! An only kid,
My father bought
For two zuzim. 
An only kid! An only kid!

2. Then came the cat
And ate the kid
My father bought For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

3. Then came the dog
And bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid! 

4. Then came the stick
And beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

5. Then came the fire
And burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

6. Then came the water
And quenched the fire
That burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid! 

7. Then came the ox
And drank the water
That quenched the fire
That burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

8. Then came the butcher
And killed the ox
That drank the water
That quenched the fire
That burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

9. Then came the angel of death
And slew the butcher
That killed the ox 
That drank the water
That quenched the fire
That burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!

10. Then came the Holy One, blest be He!
And destroyed the angel of death
That slew the butcher
That killed the ox
That drank the water
That quenched the fire
That burned the stick
That beat the dog
That bit the cat
That ate the kid
My father bought
For two zuzim.
An only kid! An only kid!


While writing this piece, I did not realise how much wrestling is like Pesach. As the one who does not know how to ask a question would say  You shall wrestle, for wrestling is commitment. I hope you enjoyed this year's Pesach as much as I did, now, DESERT, wait no... DESSERT!

Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast...a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still out there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will out-live the bastards.”

Edward Abbey

Commentary / Readings
Source :

Not to us, L-rd, not to us, but to Your Name give glory, for the sake of Your kindness and Your truth. Why should the nations say, "Where, now, is their G-d?" Our G-d is in heaven, whatever He desires, He does. Their idols are of silver and gold, the product of human hands: they have a mouth, but cannot speak; they have eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear; they have a nose, but cannot smell; their hands cannot feel; their feet cannot walk; they can make no sound with their throat. Like them should be their makers, everyone that trusts in them. Israel, trust in the L-rd! He is their help and their shield. House of Aaron, trust in the L-rd! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the L-rd, trust in the L-rd! He is their help and their shield.

The L-rd, mindful of us, will bless. He will bless the House of Israel; He will bless the House of Aaron; He will bless those who fear the L-rd, the small with the great. May the L-rd increase [blessing] upon you, upon you and upon your children. You are blessed unto the L-rd, the Maker of heaven and earth. The heavens are the heavens of the L-rd, but the earth He gave to the children of man. The dead do not praise G-d, nor do those that go down into the silence [of the grave]. But we will bless G-d, from now to eternity. Halleluyah Praise G-d.

I love the L-rd, because He hears my voice, my prayers. For He turned His ear to me; all my days I will call [upon Him]. The pangs of death encompassed me, and the agonies of the grave came upon me, trouble and sorrow I encounter and I call u upon the Name of the L-rd: Please, L-rd, deliver my soul! The L-rd is gracious and just, our G-d is compassionate. The L-rd watches over the simpletons; I was brought low and He saved me. Return, my soul, to your rest, for the L-rd has dealt kindly with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my foot from stumbling. I will walk before the L-rd in the lands of the living. I had faith even when I said, "I am greatly afflicted;" [even when] I said in my haste, "All men are deceitful."

What can I repay the L-rd for all His kindness to me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the L-rd. I will pay my vows to the L-rd in the presence of all His people. Precious in the eyes of the L-rd is the death of His pious ones. I thank you, L-rd, for I am Your servant. I am Your servant the son of Your handmaid, You have loosened my bonds. To You I will bring an offering of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the Name of the L-rd. I will pay my vows to the L-rd in the presence of all His people, in the courtyards of the House of the L-rd, in the midst of Jerusalem. Halleluyah Praise G-d.

Praise the L-rd, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples! For His kindness was mighty over us, and the truth of the L-rd is everlasting. Halleluyah Praise G-d.

Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting.

Let Israel say [it], for His kindness is everlasting.

Let the House of Aaron say [it], for His kindness is everlasting.

Let those who fear the L-rd say [it], for His kindness is everlasting.

Out of narrow confines I called to G-d; G-d answered me with abounding relief. The L-rd is with me, I will not fear what can man do to me? The L-rd is with me, through my helpers, and I can face my enemies. It is better to rely on the L-rd, than to trust in man. It is better to rely on the L-rd, than to trust in nobles. All nations surround me, but I cut them down in the Name of the L-rd. They surrounded me, they encompassed me, but I cut them down in the Name of the L-rd. They surrounded me like bees, yet they are extinguished like a fire of thorns; I cut them down in the Name of the L-rd. You [my foes] pushed me again and again to fall, but the L-rd helped me. G-d is my strength and song, and this has been my salvation. The sound of joyous song and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: "The right hand of the L-rd performs deeds of valor. The right hand of the L-rd is exalted; the right hand of the L-rd performs deeds of valor!" I shall not die, but I shall live and relate the deeds of G-d. G-d has chastised me, but He did not give me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them and give thanks to G-d. This is the gate of the L-rd, the righteous will enter it.

I thank You for You have answered me, and You have been a help to me.

I thank You for You have answered me, and You have been a help to me.

The stone scorned by the builders has become the main cornerstone.

The stone scorned by the builders has become the main cornerstone.

This was indeed from the L-rd, it is wondrous in our eyes.

This was indeed from the L-rd, it is wondrous in our eyes.

This day the L-rd has made, let us be glad and rejoice on it.

This day the L-rd has made, let us be glad and rejoice on it.

O L-rd, please help us! O L-rd, please help us!

O L-rd, please grant us success! O L-rd, please grant us success!

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd.

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the L-rd; we bless you from the House of the L-rd.

The L-rd is Almighty, He gave us light; bind the festival-offering until [you bring it to] the horns of the altar.

The L-rd is Almighty, He gave us light; bind the festival-offering until [you bring it to] the horns of the altar.

You are my G-d and I will thank You; my G-d, I will exalt You.

You are my G-d and I will thank You; my G-d, I will exalt You.

Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting.

Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good, for His kindness is everlasting.

L-rd, our G-d, all Your works shall praise You; Your pious ones, the righteous who do Your will, and all Your people, the House of Israel, with joyous song will thank and bless, laud and glorify, exalt and adore, sanctify and proclaim the sovereignty of Your Name, our King. For it is good to thank You, and befitting to sing to Your Name, for from the beginning to the end of the world You are Almighty G-d. Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good for His kindness is everlasting;

Give thanks to the G-d of gods for His kindness is everlasting;

Give thanks to the L-rd of lords for His kindness is everlasting;

Who alone does great wonders for His kindness is everlasting;

Who made the heavens with understanding for His kindness is everlasting;

Who stretched out the earth above the waters for His kindness is everlasting;

Who made the great lights for His kindness is everlasting;

The sun, to rule by day for His kindness is everlasting;

The moon and stars, to rule by night for His kindness is everlasting;

Who struck Egypt through their first-born for His kindness is everlasting;

And brought Israel out of their midst for His kindness is everlasting;

With a strong hand and with an outstretched arm for His kindness is everlasting;

Who split the Sea of Reeds into sections for His kindness is everlasting;

And led Israel through it for His kindness is everlasting;

And cast Pharaoh and his army into the Sea of Reeds for His kindness is everlasting;

Who led His people through the desert for His kindness is everlasting;

Who struck great kings for His kindness is everlasting;

And slew mighty kings for His kindness is everlasting;

Sichon, king of the Amorites for His kindness is everlasting;

And Og, king of Bashan for His kindness is everlasting;

And gave their land as a heritage for His kindness is everlasting;

A heritage to Israel, His servant for His kindness is everlasting;

Who remembered us in our lowliness for His kindness is everlasting;

And delivered us from our oppressors for His kindness is everlasting;

Who gives food to all flesh for His kindness is everlasting;

Thank the G-d of heaven for His kindness is everlasting.

The soul of every living being shall bless Your Name, L-rd, our G-d; and the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt Your remembrance, our King. From the beginning to the end of the world You are Almighty G-d; and other than You we have no King, Redeemer and Savior who delivers, rescues, sustains, answers and is merciful in every time of trouble and distress; we have no King but You.

[You are] the G-d of the first and of the last [generations], G-d of all creatures, L-rd of all events, who is extolled with manifold praises, who directs His world with kindness and His creatures with compassion. Behold, the L-rd neither slumbers nor sleeps. He arouses the sleepers and awakens the slumberous, gives speech to the mute, releases the bound, supports the falling and raises up those who are bowed.

To You alone we give thanks. Even if our mouths were filled with song as the sea, and our tongues with joyous singing like the multitudes of its waves, and our lips with praise like the expanse of the sky; and our eyes shining like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet swift like deer we would still be unable to thank You L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, and to bless Your Name, for even one of the thousands of millions, and myriads of myriads, of favors, miracles and wonders which You have done for us and for our fathers before us. L-rd, our G-d.

You have redeemed us from Egypt, You have freed us from the house of bondage, You have fed us in famine and nourished us in plenty; You have saved us from the sword and delivered us from pestilence, and raised us from evil and lasting maladies. Until now Your mercies have helped us, and Your kindnesses have not forsaken us; and do not abandon us, L-rd our G-d, forever! Therefore, the limbs which You have arranged within us, and the spirit and soul which You have breathed into our nostrils, and the tongue which You have placed in our mouth they all shall thank, bless, praise, glorify, exalt, adore, sanctify and proclaim the sovereignty of Your Name, our King.

For every mouth shall offer thanks to You, every tongue shall swear by You, every eye shall look to You, every knee shall bend to You, all who stand erect shall, l bow down before You, all hearts shall fear You, and every innermost part shall sing praise to Your Name, as it is written: "All my bones will say, L-rd, who is like You; You save the poor from one stronger than he, the poor and the needy from one who would rob him!" Who can be likened to You, who is equal to You, who can be compared to You, the great, mighty, awesome G-d, G-d most high, Possessor of heaven and earth! We will laud You, praise You and glorify You, and we will bless Your holy Name e, as it is said: "[A Psalm] by David; bless the L-rd, O my soul, and all that is within me [bless] His holy Name."

You are the Almighty G-d in the power of Your strength; the Great in the glory of Your Name; the Mighty forever, and the Awesome in Your awesome deeds; the King who sits upon a lofty and exalted throne.

He who dwells for eternity, lofty and holy is His Name. And it is written: "Sing joyously to the L-rd, you righteous; it befits the upright to offer praise." By the mouth of the upright You are exalted; by the lips of the righteous You are blessed ; by the tongue of the pious You are sanctified; and among the holy ones You are praised.

In the assemblies of the myriads of Your people, the House of Israel, Your Name, our King, shall be glorified with song in every generation. For such is the obligation of all creatures before You, L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, to thank, to laud, to praise, to glorify, to exalt, to adore, to bless, to elevate and to honor You, even beyond all the words of songs and praises of David son of Yishai, Your anointed servant.

And therefore may Your Name be praised forever, our King, the great and holy G-d and King in heaven and on earth. For to You, L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, forever befits song and praise, laud and hymn, strength and dominion, victory, greatness and might, glory, splendor, holiness and sovereignty; blessings and thanksgivings to Your great and holy Name; from the beginning to the end of the world You are Almighty G-d. Blessed are You, L-rd, Almighty G-d, King, great and extolled in praises, G-d of thanksgivings, L-rd of wonders, Creator of all souls, Master of all creatures, who takes pleasure in songs of praise; the only King, the Life of all worlds.

Those who have the custom to recite hymns [after the Seder] should not do so now, between this blessing and the one for the fourth cup. One must recite the blessing for the fourth cup immediately now:


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


Drink in reclining position.

Concluding Blessing for the Wine:


Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe for the vine and the fruit of the vine, for the produce of the field, and for the precious, good and spacious land which You have favored to give as an heritage to our fathers, to eat of its fruit and be satiated by its goodness. Have mercy, L-rd our G-d, on Israel Your people, on Jerusalem Your city, on Zion the abode of Your glory, on Your altar and on Your Temple. Rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, speedily in our days, and bring us up into it, and make us rejoice in it, and we will bless You in holiness and purity (On Shabbat add: May it please You to strengthen us on this Shabbat day) and remember us for good on this day of the Festival of Matzot. For You, L-rd, are good and do good to all, and we thank You for the land and for the fruit of the vine. Blessed are You, L-rd, for the land and for the fruit of the vine.