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What is a Haggadah?
A Haggadah is the book we read from at the Passover Seder. The word Haggadah means ‘telling’. On Passover we tell the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from the land of Egypt.
Passover is the English translation of the word Pesach, literally to pass over- in reference to the tenth plague God cursed the Egyptians with, but that was passed over the Jewish people.
What is a Seder?
A Seder is the ritual meal that we consume at Passover. The word Seder means ‘order’, and the order of our Seder includes the consumption of several symbolic foods that represent the journey of the people of Israel. The purpose of the symbols is so that we can experience the bitterness and the sweetness of the Exodus because we, as Jews, are supposed regard ourselves as we were personally freed from the land of Egypt.
We begin our Seder with the candlelighting.
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 thetransformation
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.
- “All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.”
It is a law of the universe that retaliation, hatred, and revenge only continue the cycle and never stop it. Reconciliation does not mean that we surrender rights and conditions, but means rather that we use love in all our negotiations. It means that we see ourselves in the opponent -- for what is the opponent but a being in ignorance, and we ourselves are also ignorant of many things. Therefore, only loving kindness and right-mindfulness can free us.