All: On this evening we gather around Seder tables remembering our journey from slavery to freedom.
L: On this evening we journey from now to then, telling the story of our people’s birth.
A: On this evening we retrace our steps from then to now, reclaiming years of desert wandering.
L: On this evening we ask questions, ancient and new, speaking of servitude and freedom, service and joy.
A: On this evening we welcome each soul, sharing stories of courage, strength and faith.
L: On this evening we open doors long closed, lifting our voices in songs of praise.
A: On this evening we renew ancient hopes and dream of a future redeemed.
Leader: We welcome the festival of Pesach as darkness descends. As we kindle these lights, we remember that our ancestors discovered freedom in the midst of that dark, final evening in Egypt. Let the candles we now light be a reflection of the light that shines within each one of us and let that light radiate throughout our home. We praise the Source of Light that keeps the hope of freedom alive amidst the darkness of oppression.
Reader: May the light of the candles we kindle together tonight bring radiance to all who still live in darkness. May this season, marking the deliverance of our people from Pharaoh, rouse us against anyone who keeps others in servitude. In gratitude for the freedom we enjoy, may we strive to bring about our own liberation and the liberation of all people everywhere. Lighting these candles, we create the sacred space of the Festival of Freedom; we sanctify the coming-together of our community.
Light the candles
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav, l’hadlik ner shel (Shabbat v’shel) Yom Tov.
The Four Cups
The cups parallel the four expressions in the Torah which describe our freedom from Egypt. The first cup, which also serves as Kiddush, parallels "I will take you out," when Hashem helped us recognize that we were Egyptian Jews, and not Jewish Egyptians. This is the essence of Kiddush sanctification - the realization that the Jewish People play a unique role in this world. The Haggada, the story of our physical exodus from Egypt, is recited over the second cup, symbolizing our physical salvation, which is parallel to "I will save you." A person is a slave to his physical needs. When the people were fed by Hashem in the wilderness, as we are today in a less miraculous manner, they were liberated from the shackles of the physical world in order to concentrate on loftier matters. Birkas HaMazon, the blessings which remind us that Hashem provides for our sustenance, is recited over the third cup, paralleling "I will redeem you" - the goal of the Exodus was the formation of a unique relationship with Hashem. Hallel is recited over the fourth cup. Hallel is the praise we bestow on Hashem, recognizing that He said "I will take you to be My nation."
Wait, why are we washing our hands for vegetables?