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Though COVID-19 is quickly becoming a plague upon the world, we at Haggadot.com believe Passover does NOT need to be canceled! We can still let our people seder :)
With the help of video conferencing technology like Zoom and our online 2020 Haggadah Favorites, Haggadot.com is committed to helping you host a seder that is still community-oriented but also safety-first.
Passover has always been a holiday where space and time are like one of our favorite Jewish scientist heroes Albert Einstein said: relative.
Throughout history Jews have been called to imagine what it was like to be in the same time and space as their ancestral, enslaved Jews in Egypt.
And after the Jews reached their homeland, but were dispersed in the diaspora, Jews have since imagined that next year they will be back in the space of Jerusalem.
This year, with extensive travel restrictions in place and with immuno-compromised family members’ health to take into consideration, your family may decide to gather online across the time zones to celebrate Passover.
Haggadot.com’s flexible resources allow families to create a meaningful holiday together by printing and using their customized haggadot from anywhere in the world.
When we end our seder saying, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” we might also want to add a wish of “Next year may we be physically together in the same space.”
Thinking of time and space, what else about the Passover story can be a metaphor for these concepts? What ideas about being present in your mind are there to consider? What freedom from too many grievances from the past can we attain? And what feelings about living too much in fear about the future can we clear?
While we hope to add content related to the current events, this Haggadah mostly includes our favorite content that transcends these particular times. Hope you enjoy!
Stay safe & joyous,
This blessing can be recited as we light the candles to begin the Passover Seder and to celebrate the arrival of spring:
Blessed is the light in the world.
Blessed is the light within humanity.
Blessed is the light of Passover.
Barukh ha-or ba-olam
Barukh ha-or ba-adam
Barukh ha-ror ba-Pesakh
(If this blessing is different or new to you: Judaism is a constantly evolving conversation, practice, and identity. This text has been used by tens of thousands of Jews over the past fifty years.)
In joy and celebration, we come together at this seder.
Brukhim ha-adama ha-shemesh v’ha-geshem shehborim pre hagafen. Blessed are the earth, the sun, and the rains that bring forth the fruit of the wine.
As we wash our hands
Blessed is the Soul of the Universe,
Breathing us in and breathing us out.
May our breaths continue
And our health and the health of all
In this time of sickness and fear of sickness.
We take as much responsibility for this as we can
By observing the obligation to wash our hands
For as long as it takes to say this prayer.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה הָ׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם
Salt is unique in that it is bitter on its own, yet sweetens and brings out the taste of that which it is added to. For this reason, salt is the staple of suffering.
There are two perspectives of suffering – Purposeless Suffering and Purposeful Suffering.
Purposeless Suffering is suffering without reason, value, or an end-goal, and is therefore completely bitter. It is based on a keyhole view of life: “What is right in front of my eyes is all there is and there is no grander scheme.”
We squint in order to focus on something in the distance.
The Kabbalists explain that for this reason, the reaction of a person in pain is to close his eyes, since physical eyes don't see the spiritual purpose. Just as a person squints, which is a partial closing of one's eyes in order to focus on something in the physical distance, one may close his eyes completely in order to focus on something in the "spiritual distance.”
Purposeful Suffering is sweetened by understanding the greater context – that all is from God and for the best.
At the Seder, we dip the Karpas into saltwater in order to embody the concept of Purposeful Suffering – that we view any suffering in life as a surgery for our ultimate betterment rather than meaningless torture. (Additionally, we dip Karpas into salt water to represent the tears cried by the Jewish people while enslaved under Egyptian rule.)
We see these two sides of salt expressed by the Dead Sea. Due to its high salt concentration, the Dead Sea contains no life within it, yet has an incredible capacity to heal. On its own, the Dead Sea is "bitter," but when a person dips into the Dead Sea, he is "sweetened."
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.
We also dip Karpas to help us remember the sweetness of life. How the universe works in cycles and the spring will always come back around providing us with new life.
Can we be humble enough to admit when we do not know something, rather than pretending to have the answer? Can we be gracious enough to answer another’s question without shaming them for not knowing? Can we be brave enough to inquire within, and ask ourselves our own hard questions? Can we open our hearts to the love that wants to come in, if only we will release our clever defenses?
Pharaoh and Moses Go To A Conflict Counselor
by Dave Cowen
So what brings you two in today?
Honestly, things have been pretty rough.
Moses, would you say that’s true?
I’d say it’s been rough but it doesn’t have to be anymore.
I just don’t understand, you really don’t want to be my slaves anymore?
No, we don’t.
Pharaoh, what does it feel like to hear Moses say he and his people don’t want to be your slaves anymore?
You know, it really hurts. I feel like we’ve done some beautiful things together. I mean, we couldn’t have built these pyramids if you weren’t our slaves. And those pyramids wouldn’t be a wonder of the world for years to come if it wasn’t for what we built together.
But now it’s time for us to go.
But I think there’s so much more we could still be and do together. We could keep building wonders of the world. We could build a Great Wall or a Hanging Gardens. We could build a Great Library. There’s a site in Alexandria that I think would be perfect for a Great Library.
But me and my people don’t want to do those things. We want to go to our homeland of Israel
Ugh. This homeland. Always with this homeland. You think life’s going to be so much better in this magical homeland? Well, I doubt it.
It’s got to be better than this.
Moses, what happens for you when Pharaoh disregards your wish to go to Israel?
It’s more what happens to him. G-d’s going to keep plaguing him and his people.
It’s the worst. First the water turned to blood. Then there were frogs and locusts. And so many other things. So many things.
And yet you keep resisting what He’s telling you, which is that our relationship is over.
Why do you keep resisting, Pharaoh?
My heart, it just feels hardened.
Why do you think that is?
Well, I think I saw Moses’s relatives Jacob and Joseph getting along so well with my Dad, the previous Pharaoh, all those years, and honestly, I feel jealous. Like, why can’t I have that with the Jews, too?
And yet, you have the exact opposite.
Sometimes the best way to love someone is to let them go, Pharaoh.
This is your last chance. You saw what G-d just did to the first born.
So what will you do, Pharaoh, will you let Moses and his people go?
OK, Fine, fine, whatever, fine, OK, sure.
That didn’t sound very sure.
I’m sure. I am. I’m sure. Just go. Just go.
And you won’t change your mind?
As of this moment. As of this moment, I can promise I won’t change my mind.
Moses, what would happen if Pharaoh changes his mind again?
I don’t know. But I don’t think he wants to find out.
So this concludes our counseling?
I guess it does. If you think this is a real sea change for you, Pharaoh. Do you agree, Pharaoh, that this a real sea change for you?
I believe it is.
Do you agree, Moses?
We’ll see what happens to the sea.
The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:
In any given year, about 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness, about a third of them children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed the majority of major cities lack the capacity to shelter those in need and are forced to turn people away. We are reminded time and again in the Torah that the Exodus is a story about a wandering people, once suffering from enslavement, who, through God’s help, eventually find their way to their homeland. As we inherit this story, we affirm our commitment to pursue an end to homelessness.
About 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, 16 million of them children. While living in a world blessed with more than enough food to ensure all of God’s children are well nourished, on Passover we declare, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” These are not empty words, but rather a heartfelt and age-old prayer to end the man-made plague of hunger.
Access to affordable housing, quality health care, nutritious food and quality education is far from equal. The disparity between the privileged and the poor is growing, with opportunities for upward mobility still gravely limited. Maimonides taught, “Everyone in the house of Israel is obligated to study Torah, regardless of whether one is rich or poor, physically able or with a physical disability.” Unequal access to basic human needs, based on one’s real or perceived identity, like race, gender or disability, is a plague, antithetical to the inclusive spirit of the Jewish tradition.
In the Talmud, the sage Ben Zoma asks: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with one’s lot.” These teachings evidence what we know in our conscience—a human propensity to desire more than we need, to want what is not ours and, at times, to allow this inclination to conquer us, leading to sin. Passover urges us against the plague of greed, toward an attitude of gratitude.
Discrimination and hatred
The Jewish people, as quintessential victims of hatred and discrimination, are especially sensitized to this plague in our own day and age. Today, half a century after the civil rights movement in the United States, we still are far from the actualization of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated in Washington, D.C., a vision rooted in the message of our prophets. On Passover, we affirm our own identity as the once oppressed, and we refuse to stand idly by amid the plagues of discrimination and hatred.
Silence amid violence
Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. Each year, more than 108,000 Americans are shot intentionally or unintentionally in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidental shootings and by police intervention. One in five children has seen someone get shot. We do not adequately address violence in our society, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, even though it happens every day within our own communities.
Humans actively destroy the environment through various forms of pollution, wastefulness, deforestation and widespread apathy toward improving our behaviors and detrimental civic policies. Rabbi Nachman of Brezlav taught, “If you believe you can destroy, you must believe you can repair.” Our precious world is in need of repair, now more than ever.
Stigma of mental illness
One in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. Even more alarming, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minority communities are the least likely to search for or have access to mental health resources. Social stigma toward those with mental illness is a widespread plague. Historically, people with mental health issues have suffered from severe discrimination and brutality, yet our society is increasingly equipped with the knowledge and resources to alleviate the plague of social stigma and offer critical support.
We are living through the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust. On this day, we remember that “we were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and God liberated us for a reason: to love the stranger as ourselves. With the memory of generations upon generations of our ancestors living as refugees, we commit ourselves to safely and lovingly opening our hearts and our doors to all peace-loving refugees.
When faced with these modern plagues, how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change? How often do we find ourselves powerless to transform the world as it is into the world as we know it should be, overflowing with justice and peace?
Written in collaboration with Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston
At the seder we say/sing that:
If we had been brought out of Egypt, Dayenu
If we had received Torah, Dayenu
If we had received Manna, Dayenu
Dayenu means “it would have been enough.” The idea is to be grateful for what one has; to count our blessings. Think of dayenu as a template for gratitude.
But think, too, about how actually it is to enough to be satisfied when there is still suffering and oppression. Some say “lo dayenu,” meaning, “it is not enough.”
When we are free and others are not, lo dayenu
We work to find the balance between being grateful for what is right with our lives and with the world, and also striving for more that fulfills us and more that increases justice in the world.
Maror (bitter herbs, such as horseradish)--the symbol of bitterness and slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. Today, in a Jewish community that is free, this bitterness takes on another layer of meaning. We acknowledge that there are many among us who are embittered by their feelings of resentment, discomfort, and fear. We know that there is just cause for some of these feelings of fear, for Jews were "other" for so many centuries and mistreated just because they were different.
Tonight we dip our bitterness in the sweetness of charoset. Charoset, the sweet mixture of fruits and nuts, symbolizes the mortar of the bricks of the Israelites. It is also the mortar of commitment and interdependence that enabled the Jewish community to survive through those centuries of oppression. It is the building blocks of hope and tradition, which are sweet. We take our maror of fear, and by dipping it into the sweetness we create a new model that honors the fear and suffering yet holds out hope for the future.
By blending our maror and charoset, we acknowledge the blending of faiths and traditions that sit around this table here tonight. We know it is not always sweet and it is not always bitter, but that life is a mixture of both. Just as our taste buds are designed for sweet, salty, sour and bitter, so we taste the range of textures of our relationships. By our dipping tonight we bring together the bitter and the sweet for something new to emerge.
It seems a group of leading medical people have published data that indicates that Seder participants should NOT partake of both chopped liver and charoses. It is indicated that this combination can lead to Charoses of the Liver.
It's almost time to eat! Before we chow down, let's fill that third glass of wine and give thanks for the meal we're about to consume.
On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to the forces that brought us together:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
Group says: We praise force of the world, that created the fruit of the vine, that sustains the world.
[Everyone: Drink the third glass of wine.]
Now, LET'S EAT!
After we’ve eaten, we bless God for the good land that God has given us. We bless You, Adonai, for the land and for the food it yields. It is our responsibility to make sure that it is distributed so that every person gets the nutrition he or she needs to thrive.