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Introduction

The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles.  In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time.  Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame of freedom alive in the world.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

As we light the festival candles, we acknowledge that as they brighten our Passover table, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.

Introduction

We place a Seder Plate at our table as a reminder to discuss certain aspects of the Passover story.

Each item has its own significance.

Maror – The bitter herb

Maror symbolizes the harshness of lives of the Jews in Egypt.

Charoset

A delicious mix of sweet wine, dates, cinnamon and nuts that resembles the mortar used as bricks of the many buildings the Jewish slaves built in Egypt.

Karpas – Parsley

Parsley is a reminder of the green sprouting up all around us during spring and is used to dip into the saltwater.

Beitzah – The egg

Nobody knows! Since eggs are the first item offered to a mourner after a funeral, some say it also evokes a sense of mourning for the destruction of the temple.

Matzah

Matzah is the unleavened bread we eat to remember that when the jews fled Egypt, they didn’t even have time to let the dough rise on their bread. We commemorate this by removing all bread and bread products from our home during Passover.

Elijah’s Cup

The fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the Seder. It is left untouched in honor of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the Messiah shall appear.

Miriam’s Cup

Another relatively new Passover tradition is that of Miriam’s cup. The cup is filled with water and placed next to Elijah’s cup. (Because we think that's sexist, we're filling it with vodka.) Miriam was the sister of Moses and a prophetess in her own right. After the exodus when the Israelites are wandering through the desert, just as Hashem gave them Manna to eat, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam and it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’. The tradition of Miriam’s cup is meant to honor Miriam’s role in the story of the Jewish people and the spirit of all women.

Kadesh
Source : Machar

THE FIRST CUP OF THE FRUIT OF THE VINE    

Leader:
Let us all fill our glasses with the fruit of the vine.

[Resume taking turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Spring is the season of new growth and new life.
Every living thing must either grow, or die; growth is a sign and a condition of life.

Human beings are perhaps unique among the Earth's inhabitants. Our most significant growth takes place inwardly.
We grow as we achieve new insights, new knowledge, new goals.

Let us raise our cups to signify our gratitude for life,
and for the joy of knowing inner growth, which gives human life its meaning. Together, with raised cups, let us say: 

Leader:
P'riha-gaphen-`itto,nishteh"L'-Haiyim!"   

Everyone: 
The fruit of the vine - with it, let us drink "To Life!"
"L'-Haiyim!" 

Leader:
Let us all now drink the first cup of the fruit of the vine. 

-- Four Questions
Source : JewishBoston.com

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

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה  

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

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

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Four Children
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:

What does the wise child say?

The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and laws which God commanded you?

You must teach this child the rules of observing the holiday of Passover.

What does the wicked child say?

The wicked child asks, What does this service mean to you?

To you and not to himself! Because he takes himself out of the community and misses the point, set this child’s teeth on edge and say to him: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.” Me, not him. Had that child been there, he would have been left behind.

What does the simple child say?

The simple child asks, What is this?

To this child, answer plainly: “With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves.”

What about the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question?

Help this child ask.

Start telling the story:

“It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”

-

Do you see yourself in any of these children? At times we all approach different situations like each of these children. How do we relate to each of them?

-- Exodus Story

Maggid - Storyteller

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

These questions are a central part of tonight's seder ceremony. Yet before we answer them, let us tell a story of Jewish hope. The tale of our people's first quest for freedom from slavery in Egypt was written so long ago that no one knows how much of it is fact and how much is fiction. Like all good stories, however, its moral lessons are valid and important.

It is written that long ago, during a time of famine, the ancient Israelites traveled to Egypt. According to this legend, the Israelites at that time were all in a single family - Jacob and his children. One of Jacob's sons was Joseph. He was so wise that the ruler of Egypt - the Pharaoh - made Joseph a leader over all the people of Egypt.

But as time passed, another Pharaoh became the ruler of Egypt. He did not remember about Joseph and his wise leadership. This new Pharaoh turned the Israelites into slaves, and burdened them with heavy work and sorrow.

Then, alerted to a prophecy that the Israelites would be led to freedom by a boy yet to be born, Pharaoh ordered all newborn Jewish boys cast into the Nile. Yocheved set her newborn son (Moses) adrift in the Nile in a basket, where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him.

Years later, Moses came upon an Egyptian beating an Israelite. Outraged, Moses slew the Egyptian, but then fled Egypt for fear that his action would be discovered. Moses took refuge in Midian with Jethro and married Jethro's daughter, Tziporah. While shepherding Jethro’s sheep, Moses came upon a burning bush which was not consumed, from which God instructed him to go back and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

Moses went to Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites. Pharaoh repeatedly said no--nine times. Each time he said no, a plague struck Egypt. Finally, on the tenth time, God struck dead all the Egyptian first born. After this final tenth plague, Pharaoh finally allowed the Jews left Egypt, matzah in hand.

At our Passover Seder, we celebrate the story of Moses and the people he led out of slavery 3000 years ago. We celebrate the struggle of all people to be free. Throughout the centuries, the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt has inspired Jews and non-Jews in times of persecution and hardship.

-- Ten Plagues

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We
regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in
the image of God. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them.
Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.


These are the ten plagues which God brought down on the Egyptians:


Blood | dam | דָםּ
Frogs | tzfardeiya | צְפַרְדֵֽעַּ
Lice | kinim | כנִּיִּם
Beasts | arov | עָרוֹב
Cattle disease | dever | דֶֽבֶּר
Boils | sh’chin | שְׁחִין
Hail | barad | בָרָּד
Locusts | arbeh | אַרְבֶהּ
Darkness | choshech | חֹֽשֶׁך
Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot | מַכתַּ בְכּוֹרוֹת

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : http://www.jewbelong.com/passover/
The Blessing Over the Wine

We recall our story of deliverance to freedom by blessing the second glass of wine:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

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

DRINK THE SECOND GLASS OF WINE

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH

One of most beloved songs in the Passover Seder is "Dayeinu". Dayeinu commemorates a long list of miraculous things God did, any one of which would have been pretty amazing just by itself. For example, “Had God only taken us out of Egypt but not punished the Egyptians – it would have been enough.” Dayeinu, translated liberally, means, “Thank you, God, for overdoing it.”

Dayeinu is a reminder to never forget all the miracles in our lives. When we stand and wait impatiently for the next one to appear, we are missing the point of life. Instead, we can actively seek a new reason to be grateful, a reason to say “Dayeinu.”

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

If He had brought us out from Egypt,

Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim א

and had not carried out judgments against them

v'lo asah bahem sh'fatim,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had carried out judgments against them,

Ilu asah bahem sh'fatim

and not against their idols

v'lo asah beloheihem,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had destroyed their idols,

Ilu asah beloheihem,

and had not smitten their first-born

v'lo harag et b'choreihem,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had smitten their first-born,

Ilu harag et b'choreihem,

and had not given us their wealth

v'lo natan lanu et mamonam,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had given us their wealth,

Ilu natan lanu et mamonam,

and had not split the sea for us

v'lo kara lanu et hayam,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had split the sea for us,

Ilu kara lanu et hayam,

and had not taken us through it on dry land

v'lo he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

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

Ilu he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

and had not drowned our oppressors in it

v'lo shika tzareinu b'tocho,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

If He had drowned our oppressors in it,

Ilu shika tzareinu b'tocho, ֹ

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

v'lo sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

Motzi-Matzah
Source : Machar Congregation

[Matsah held up for all to see.]

MATSAH - Why do we eat matsah?
Matsah is the symbol of our affliction and our freedom. Legend has it that when Moses and his followers fled Egypt, they moved so quickly that the bread they baked did not have time to rise.

However, scholars have noted that long before the Jews celebrated Passover, Middle Eastern farmers celebrated a spring festival of unleavened bread. This was a festival where unleavened bread was made from the fresh barley grain newly harvested at this time of the year.

The old fermented dough was thrown out so that last year's grain would not be mixed with this year's. Therefore, the new season began with the eating of unleavened bread - matsah. Later on, the Jewish people incorporated this agricultural festival into the celebration of freedom and renewal we now call Passover.

Leader:
Let us now say a blessing for the matsah.

A BLESSING FOR THE UNLEAVENED BREAD
NOTSI` MATSAH- LET US BRING FORTH MATSAH

Leader:

Notsi`matsah-lehem min ha-`arets
- k'dei she-nistapeq v'-nit-kalkelkula-nu.

Everyone:

Let us bring forth matsah - food from the land -
so we all may be satisfied and sustained.

Leader:
Let us all now eat a piece of matsah.

Motzi-Matzah

Salt Water - Why do we dip our greens in salt water two times on this night?

The first time, the salty taste reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves. The second time, the salt water and the green help us to remember the ocean and green plants from the Earth, from which we get air and water and food that enable us to live. 

Motzi-Matzah

Why do we eat maror?

Tradition says that the root is to remind us of the time of our slavery. We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure.

Let us all now take bitter herb and eat it.

Motzi-Matzah

Why do we eat kharoset?

Dates, orange, cinnamon, and wine combine to make this sweet dish. Traditionally, it was the color of clay or mortar. It reminds us of the bricks and mortar that the Israelites are said to have made when they built the Pharaohs' palaces and cities. At the same time, the taste of Kharoset is sweet, and it reminds us of the sweetness of freedom.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : http://www.jewbelong.com/passover/

MATZO SANDWICH OF BITTER HERB AND CHAROSET

While the English Earl of Sandwich is generally credited for inventing the snack of his namesake, Hillel may have originated it two thousand years ago by combining matzo, a slice of paschal lamb, and a bitter herb. Jews no longer sacrifice and eat the lamb, so now the Passover sandwich is only matzah, charoset, and a bitter herb.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : Machar

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

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

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

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

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

Motzi-Matzah

Now fill your glass for the third time for the blessing over the Passover meal. 

Motzi-Matzah
Source : JewishBoston.com

The blessing over the meal and matzah | motzi matzah | מוֹצִיא מַצָּה

The familiar hamotzi blessing marks the formal start of the meal. Because we are using matzah instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this mitzvah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who brings bread from the land.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat matzah.

Distribute and eat the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.

Hallel
Source : http://www.jewbelong.com/passover/
The Fourth Glass of Wine - The Cup of Elijah & Miriam

As we come to the end of the Seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

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.

The Cup of Elijah

We begin by pouring wine into the prophet Elijah’s cup from our own cups until it is filled. This helps us remember that we must all contribute our best talents and energies to help fulfill Elijah's promise of a peaceful world. Elijah dedicated himself to defending God against non-believers, and as reward for his devotion and hard work, he was whisked away to heaven at the end of his life. Tradition says that Elijah will return to earth one day to signal the arrival of the Messiah, and the end of hatred, intolerance and war.      
As we sing Elijah’s song, we watch to see if the wine in Elijah’s cup decreases even a little, a sure sign that he has visited.

TOGETHER: Eliyahu hanavi Eliyahu hatishbi Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi Bimheirah b’yameinu, yavo eileinu Im mashiach ben-David Im mashiach ben-David

The Cup of Miriam 

Miriam’s cup is filled with water to symbolize Miriam’s Well, a magical source of water that lasted during the 40 years the Jews spent wandering in the desert. We also honor Miriam’s role in liberating the Jewish people, first by saving Moses from death on the Nile and then helping to raise him. Miriam’s cup  also celebrates the critical role of all Jewish women, past and present.

TOGETHER: This is the Cup of Miriam, to symbolize the water which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness. Blessed are You, Spirit of the Universe, who sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place.

For the sake of our righteous women were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt. L'Chaim!

DRINK THE FOURTH GLASS OF WINE

Conclusion

The Fourth Cup of Wine - The Cup of Elijah

As we come to the end of the Seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our Seder. In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people. At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was whisked away to heaven. Tradition holds that he will return in advance of messianic days to herald a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah at many joyous, hopeful Jewish occasions.

THE END

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