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Introduction
Source : OurJewishCommunity.org

INTRODUCTION

The long history of our people is one of contrasts — freedom and slavery, joy and pain, power and helplessness. Passover reflects these contrasts. Tonight as we celebrate our freedom, we remember the slavery of our ancestors and realize that many people are not yet free.

Each generation changes — our ideas, our needs, our dreams, even our celebrations. So has Passover changed over many centuries into our present

holiday. Our nomadic ancestors gathered for a spring celebration when the sheep gave birth to their lambs. Theirs was a celebration of the continuity of life. Later, when our ancestors became farmers, they celebrated the arrival of spring in their own fashion. Eventually these ancient spring festivals merged with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and became a new celebration of life and freedom.

As each generation gathered around the table to retell the old stories, the symbols took on new meanings. New stories of slavery and liberation, oppression and triumph were added, taking their place next to the old. Tonight we add our own special chapter as we recall our people’s past and we dream of the future.

For Jews, our enslavement by the Egyptians is now remote, a symbol of communal remembrance. As we sit here in the comfort of our modern world, we think of the millions who still suffer the brutality of the existence that we escaped thousands of years ago.

Introduction
Source : OurJewishCommunity.org
OurJewishCommunity.org Chocolate Seder for Passover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l45t_Jx6Bvo

Rabbi Baum talks about leading a chocolate seder for Passover.  Complete with all the symbols:

Parsley instead of strawberries

Chocolate sauce instead of salt water

Frosting/pudding with marshmallows and chocolate chips instead of typical charoset (made of apples, nuts and wine)

Chocolate covered matzah or chocolate graham crackers in place of boring matzah

Chocolate milk in place of wine

Bittersweet chocolate in place of maror (bitter herbs, usually horesradish)

Cadburry eggs instead of roasted eggTwix bar in place of shankbone

Kadesh
Source : http://www.aish.com/h/pes/t/si/48941956.html

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.

Kadesh
Source : Free Siddur Project, adapted

On Shabbat begin here, and include the portions in parentheses:

Vay’hi erev vay’hi voker yom hashishi. Vay’chulu hashamayim v’haaretz v’choltzva’am. Vay’chal Elohim bayom hashvi’i M’lachto asher asah, vayishbot bayom hashvi’i mikolmlachto asher asah. Vay’vareich Elohim et yom hashvi’i vay’kadeish oto, ki vo shavat mikol m’lachto, asher bara Elohim la’asot.)

Savri maranan verabanan verabotai

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

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher bachar banu mikolam, v’rom’manu mikol-lashon, v’kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, vatiten-lanu Adonai Eloheinu b’ahavah (shabbatot limnucha u’)moadim l’simchah, chagim uz’manim l’sason et-yom (hashabbat hazah v’et-yom) chag hamatzot hazeh. Z’man cheiruteinu, (b’ahavah) mikra kodesh, zeicher litziat mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta mikolha’amim. (v’shabbat) umo’adei kod’shecha (b’ahavah uvratzon) b’simchah uv’sason hinchaltanu. Baruch Atah Adonai, m’kadeish (hashabbat v’) Yisrael v’hazmanim.

[On Saturday night include:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, borei m’orei ha’eysh. Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, hamavdil beyn kodesh lichol, beyn or lichoshech, beyn yisrael la’amim, beyn yom hashvi’i lisheshet yimai hama’aseh. Beyn kidushat Shabbat likidushat yom tov hivdalta, v’et yom hashvi’i misheshet yimai hama’aseh kidashta; hivdalta vikidashta et amcha yisrael bikidushatecha. Baruch atah Adonai, Hamavdil beyn kodesh lechol.]

Kadesh
Source : A Growing Haggadah

Our Bible uses different words and phrases to express the divine promises of freedom for our people. These may represent different stages of redemption. We can also read these promises as toasts to the generations of our people who committed themselves to the struggle for liberation in their own day. Like wine, we can appreciate freedom as a gift to use wisely with respect. Over the course of the Seder we will drink four cups of wine to recall each time freedom was promised.

Many patterns of four appear in our telling tonight. This is the first of them.

Urchatz
Source : compiled
The first hand-washing of the seder is unusual. The rabbis point out that even a child would wonder at least two things: why do we wash without a blessing and why do we bother to wash when we will not be eating our meal for some time. They suggest that we wash our hands here in order to raise questions. Questions, both of wonder and of despair, are crucial to our time at the seder and, really, our growth as human beings. We have permission to ask questions, even of God, when we see and experience suffering. One person will symbolically wash their hands for all of us seated here.  
Urchatz
Source : http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/passover-haggadah-supplement-2011-2

We wash our hands, without saying the blessing. Each person washes the hand of the person next to her (pouring it over a bowl). Imagine that you are washing away all cynicism and despair, and allow yourself to be filled with the hope that the world could be really transformed in accord with our highest vision.

Karpas
Source : http://www.aish.com/h/pes/h/Urchatz---Karpas.html?tab=y

HEBREW: THE FANTASIA OF LANGUAGE

In the Hebrew language, every letter is not only a letter, but also represents a number, a word, and a concept.

For example, the letter aleph, the first letter of the alphabet, has the numerical value of one. Aleph is also a word which means to champion, or to lead.

The second letter of the alphabet, bet, has the numerical value of two and also means house ― bayit   in Hebrew.

Hebrew letters, then, are far more than mere letters, but are actually linguistic repositories for numerous concepts and ideas. Words, too, become not only an amalgam of random sounds, but precise constructs of the conceptual components of the object with which the word is associated.

When we analyze the word Karpas and break it down to its four component parts ― its four letters   kaf, reish, pehand samech, ― we discover an encoded message of four words which teaches a basic lesson about how to develop our capacity for giving.

Ka   Kaf Palm of hand
Reish One who is impoverished
Pa  Peh Mouth
Samech To support

The first letter of Karpas means the palm of the hand. The second letter means a poor person. When taken together these two letter/words speak of a benevolent hand opened for the needy.

But what if you are a person of limited means, with precious little to give? Look at the second half of the word Karpas. The letter peh means mouth, while the final letter samech means to support. True, you may not be capable of giving in the material sense, but you can always give with your words. Words of kindness and concern. Words of empathy and understanding. Words that can lift an impoverished soul and provide a means of support where nothing else will do.

We dip the  Karpas  in saltwater. Saltwater recalls the bitter tears shed in Egypt. But there is more. The Jewish people, though awash in the tears of bondage, were able to preserve their ability to give. Rather than succumb to the morass of self-pity, they were able to maintain their dignity through giving.

Karpas
Source : Wikipedia.com, Aish.com and Chabad.org
Karpas

 

Karpas is the dipping of the vegetables in the salt water.

Each person takes a piece of the parsley and dips it in the salt water, and proclaims that this serves as a reminder of my enslaved ancestors in Egypt’s tears.We need to re-taste the breaking labor of Egypt to liberate ourselves from it once again. It was this labor that prepared us for freedom. It was this labor that gave us a humble spirit to accept wisdom.

The reason we use parsley is because it represents the grass of spring. Some people believe that we should use roots that come from the ground.

Annie's tradition- Instead of using parsley, my family also uses potatoes.

The blessing that goes along with this ritual is: 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

 Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the land.

Baruch atah A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha-adamah.

Discussion Question:
What other vegetables can we use for this ritual?

 

Yachatz
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.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Original

הא לחמא עניא- Ha Lachma Anya

Magid starts with Ha Lachma Anya. We invite anyone to come join us at our seder. 

Ha Lachma Anya is not said in Hebrew, like the rest of the Hagada. It is in Aramaic. Why is it in Aramaic?                 

1. One answer is that at the time, most people spoke Aramaic. We want to invite anyone who wants to come, and if the people do not understand, our invitation is pointless.                                                                                                    

2. Another answer is that Aramaic is the only language that the Malachim (Angels of G-d) don't understand. On the night of the Seder we are at such a high level of holiness, that we are talking straight to G-d himself, with no Angels in between.

We sing Ha Lachma Anya:

הא לחמא עניא די אכלו אבהתנא בארעא דמצרים. כל דכפין ייתי ויכל. כל דצריך ייתי ויפסח. השתא הכא. לשנה הבאה בארעא דישראל. השתא עבדי. לשנה הבאה בני חורין

Ha lachma anya di achalu avahatana b'ara d'Mitzrayim. Kal dichfin yeitei v'yeichul. Kal ditzrich yeitei v'yifsach. Hashata hacha, l'shanah haba'ah b'ara d'Yisrael. Hashata avdei. L'shana haba'ah b'nei chorin.

This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need come and celebrate Passover. Now we are here. Next year in the land of Israel. Now we are slaves. Next year we will be free.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Original

What do basketball, Pesach, and freedom have to do with each other?

by Tamir Goodman and Judy Horwitz Goodman

As Pesach approaches and we recall our ancestors’ exodus from the slavery of Egypt, Jewish people around the world are once again faced with the challenge of trying to break free from elements in our own lives that enslave us.  While slavery can take on many different forms, I became personally familiar with one type of modern day slavery that can afflict us when we knowingly or unknowingly allow the values and trends espoused by mainstream society to define us and to limit our potential.

I first became cognizant of this type of slavery, when after retiring from playing professional basketball people began insinuating to me that if only I had taken a different path, one that left religion on the sidelines, I could have been better positioned to achieve greater success, the kind typified by fame, fortune, a glamorous NBA career…

Initially, these words pierced my soul and pained me until I realized that something about this line of reasoning just did not sit right with me.  To me basketball had always been more than just a means to a materialistic end.  On the contrary, the basketball court was where I had devoted countless hours to my training as I set out to beat the odds and became the first Jewish basketball player to play D-I and professional level basketball without playing on Shabbat or Jewish holidays.  By staying true to my identity, I succeeded in fulfilling my dream of representing the Jewish people and Israel on the court at the top levels of the game.  After retiring from playing, I needed to remind myself that a key to achieving inner-freedom is to break free from the oppression brought on when we allow others’ the power to define us.

One of the central messages in my new book, The Jewish Jordan’s Triple Threat: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Lessons from the Court http://www.tamirgoodman.com/triple-threat-book-order/, is that when a spiritual consciousness pervades our lives, even the most physical pursuits, like basketball, can be infused with a deeper meaning and uplifted to the realm of the spiritual.  By arming ourselves with spirituality, we can confidently embark on our life journeys, ready to adeptly navigate the inevitable twists and turns, and emerge with our identities not only intact, but strengthened. This Pesach may we all be blessed with the courage and fortitude to let the holy sparks of our souls illuminate our unique paths in life. By doing so, we will be empowered to experience meaningful success and lasting freedom this Pesach and beyond.

 The following excerpt from Triple Threat touches upon the above points :

 “I have been able to embrace my post-retirement career with enthusiasm and excitement because I am at peace with my playing career. But, it did not take long for me to realize that others are baffled by my positive outlook. Strangers who still recognize me often insinuate that I could have been more successful if only I had left my religion on the sidelines. The conversation typically goes something like this: “Hey! Are you the ‘Jewish Jordan?’ I was wondering . . . do you think you could have had a shot at making it to the NBA if you would have played at Maryland and been on their national championship team in ‘02? What was the big deal about those Saturday games anyway?” The bottom line is that most people do not understand my choices, do not see my career as a success, and cannot understand how I can spin it in a positive light.

My response is to explain that it depends on how you define success. My goal was never to become a celebrity basketball player for the sake of having the fame and fortune—I had deeper spiritual reasons for playing the game that shaped my priorities on the court. My goal on the court was always to be the most complete player I could be while staying true to my spiritual side, which manifested itself through my practice of Judaism. My spirituality imposed boundaries on my career that precluded me from attaining mainstream society’s definition of success, but it did not limit me from reaching my goal. On the contrary, my spirituality gave me a purpose for playing the game, increased motivation to play with every ounce of effort I had, and the confidence to do it in my own way.”

 The book is available for purchase at: http://www.tamirgoodman.com/triple-threat-book-order/ or contact Tamir at: tamir@tamirgoodman.com

-- Four Questions
Source : A growing Haggadah

Some Answers Questioning is a sign of freedom, and so we begin with questions. To ritualize only one answer would be to deny that there can be many, often conflicting answers. To think that life is only black and white, or wine and Maror, bitter or sweet, or even that the cup is half empty or half full is to enslave ourselves to simplicity. Each of us feels the challenge to search for our own answers. The ability to question is only the first stage of freedom. The search for answers is the next. Can we fulfill the promise of the Exodus in our own lives if we do not search for our own answers? Does every question have an answer? Is the ability to function without having all the answers one more stage of liberation? Can we be enslaved to an obsessive search for the answer? Do you have the answer?  

 
-- Four Questions
Source : many

The Four Questions

The telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. It’s tradition that the youngest person in the family asks the questions. The rabbis who created the set format for thesedergave 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 yoursederis around the same age, perhaps the person with the leastsederexperience can ask them – or everyone can sing them all together.

מַהנִּשְׁתַּנָּההַלַּֽיְלָההַזֶּהמִכָּלהַלֵּילות?

Mah nish-ta-nah ha-lai-lah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-lei-lot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

:שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּאוֹכליןחָמֵץוּמַצָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹמצה

She-b'chol ha-lei-lot a-nu och-lin cha-meitz u-ma-tzah? Ha-lai-lah ha-zeh, ku-lo ma-tzah?

Why on all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah, and tonight we only eat matzah?

שֶׁבְּכָלהַלֵּילוֹתאָֽנוּאוֹכְלִיןשְׁאָריְרָקוֹתהַלַּֽיְלָההַזֶּהמָרוֹר:

She-b'chol ha-lei-lot a-nu och-lin sh'ar y'ra -kot. Ha-lai-lah ha-zeh ma-ror?

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight why do we only eat bitter herbs?

.שֶׁבְּכָלהַלֵּילוֹתאֵיןאָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִיןאֲפִילוּפַּֽעַםאחָתהַלַּֽיְלָההַזֶּהשְׁתֵּיפְעמים:

She-b'chol ha-lei-lot ein anu mat-bi-lin a-fi-lu pa-am, e-hat. Ha-lai-lah ha-zeh, sh'tei f'a-mim?

On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables at all.Why, tonight, do we do it twice?

שֶׁבְּכָלהַלֵּילוֹתאָֽנוּאוֹכְלִיןבֵּיןיוֹשְׁבִיןוּבֵיןמְסֻבִּין. :הַלַּֽיְלָההַזֶּהכֻּלָּֽנוּמְסֻבין:

She-b'chol ha-lei-lot a-nu och-lin bein yosh-vin o'vein m-subin. Ha-lai-lah na-zeh ku-la-nu m-su-bin?

On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining. Why do we sit reclining tonight?

-- Four Children
Source : http://triganza.blogspot.com/
So this is Maggid,

The part of the seder where we tell the story

Of leaving Egypt.

Actually,

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

Recline

Drink four cups

Don't eat leavened bread

Ask the questions

Know the answers.

It's obvious. 

Duh. 

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. 

Okay.

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,

Shema!

Listen! 

Why is this night different from all other nights? 

-- Exodus Story
Source : Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn • www.jmcbrooklyn.org

1. After the ten plagues, Pharoah finally lets our people go, and the Israelites leave in a big hurry. They pack their bags, gather their children and livestock, toss the unleavened bread on their backs, and begin their journey. It is Pharaoh’s change of heart, after refusing so many times to let them go, that allows the Israelites to arrive at this moment of freedom.

2. After being freed, the Israelites find themselves between the roaring sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them. They panic and say to Moses, “There weren’t enough graves in Egypt, so you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? It would have been better to stay as slaves than to die here.” We can learn a lot about resistance to transition from the complaints of the Israelites.

3. Sometimes in the midst of doubt and fear, it can feel impossible to take that first step forward. A rabbinic Midrash tells the story of Nachshon ben Aminadav, who walked into the sea until the water was above his neck; only after he took this great risk did the waters part for all the Israelites. Passover is our annual invitation to take that first step.

Ask everyone to imagine the moment where they can’t stay in the same place. Go around the table and ask each person to say one word to answer this question: What would you need to act, to move forward, away from constriction and narrowness, toward freedom? [examples: “faith,” “community,” “imagination,” “lightness”, etc]

Go around the table and each person can answer this second question: What is one situation or pattern you’ve resisted changing even when you know it’s not in service to living the life you want to lead?” [examples: “going to sleep super late,” “my unfulfilling job,” “that relationship (you know the one),” etc.]

4. There’s commentary that the post-Exodus forty years of wandering in the desert was the necessary length of time to allow the generation of Israelites raised with a slave mentality to be replaced by a new generation of free people. This means that only those born into freedom were able to enter the Promised Land. We can translate this to our own lives to mean that we have to transition out of fixed mindsets and make space for new ways and paths and directions.

Remembering our own capacity to enslave and be enslaved, as well as our ability to find freedom in our lives, is one of the most meaningful practices of Passover. May we all be blessed with a Passover of liberation. May our practice be a source of strength as we find paths to freedom, and may our open-heartedness benefit all beings.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Ari Rotenberg, Bar Mitzvah Speech, Age 13, Houston TX

Mysterious little things happen to me all the time. Once I tripped and a ball zoomed past  my head, narrowly missing me. Another time, I fell ill and missed a science exam for which I studied the wrong material.Those little things saved me from unfortunate experiences that I look back upon and think, “Was G-d manipulating my life through outside events?”

On Passover, I would like to speak about how G-d works through nature. One of my favorite examples is the ten plagues.

Let us focus on the first seven of parshat Va-era: blood, frogs, lice, wild beasts or insects, pestilence, boils, and hail.


I read of a theory recently that stated that G-d only had to do one little thing to set off the first six plagues. What was that one little thing? He raised the temperature in Goshen. The temperature change then caused a chain reaction.

Rising temeperature would have lowered the nile to a slower and muddier river. These conditions would have been perfect for a species of red algae. Burgundy Blood algae is still seen today. It  grows in higher temperatures, but is poisonous to fish. As the algae died, it stained the water red. Then, the frogs would have died because the algae forced them out of the water. Swarms of bugs were attracted to the dead frogs. These creepy crawlies may have been the third and fourth plagues. Since there were no frogs to eat the bugs, they infected the livestock and the humans to cause the fifth and sixth plagues of pestilence and boils. Today, we can go to a pharmacy to get antibiotics for an infection caused by a bug bite. In ancient Egypt, however, the treatment for an open wound was a papyrus bandaid with honey.

Temperature change did not just cause natural events. This small change had a greater purpose! The SUPERnatural worked Its miracles through the natural to attack the foundation of Egyptian culture. The plagues were a humiliation of Egyptian society and gods.

Hapi, for example, was the Egyptian god of the nile (pause) not one of the seven dwarves. He was recognized by the Egyptians as creator of the universe. Plague number one was aimed at the spirit of the Nile.


Plague two was an attack on Heqt, the frog goddess. Frogs were associated with growth and fertility. It was a crime punishable by death to kill a frog in Egypt, even if accidentaly. Picture if you will, all of the horses and bulls running through the streets of Houston, then dropping dead on your front lawn right before the rodeo. So imagine the impact of Egyptians sweeping up piles of their sacred animals.

The insects of plagues three and four kept the Egyptian priests from performing their rituals, seeing as they lice free.


The plagues continue next week with Hashem’s attacks upon the sun god and the pharaoh, a self proclaimed god.


The plagues were the most dramatic of the many times G-d altered nature in the Torah. Others include: the famine in Canaan that drove Yaakov and his family south and the splitting of yam suf.

An important lesson we can take away from this is that things that may seem small, unrealted and coincidental to us might actually be miracles.

So pay attention to life and be grateful for everything.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread412917/pg1
The Plagues happened at the same time as a massive volcano eruption. The volcano Santorini sent ash in to the air effecting the surrounding area. The ash is found in Cairo and the Nile River, proven by testing the composition of the ash. This volcanic eruption happened between 1500-1650BC while the Plagues happened between 1400-1550BC. So it fits there. 

1st Plague. River ran red LIKE blood. But there is a common algae plume called the Red Tide. This makes the river, or any water, look red like blood. Why did this happen? The ash changes the PH level of the river allowing the algae to bloom. 

2nd Plague. Frogs. The algae is killing fish. Fish eat frog eggs. No fish, record number of frogs. Frogs can't live in polluted water and so leave the river. 

3rd and 4th Plague. Lice and flies. The translation can actually be lice, fleas, gnats, or midges. But you have riverfull of dead fish, and now dead frogs. This brings the insects of the 3rd and 4th Plague. 

5th Plague. Pestilence. Flies, dead frogs, dead fish, easy enough no? 

6th Plague. Boils. Certain types of flies that bite can leave behind boils. The bites get infected, they turn in to boils. 

7th Plague. Fire and Hail. Ash in the air causes a mixture of ash and water. The ash, very high in the air, causes the water to freeze so when it falls it is hail and not rain. The fire? I saw this amazing picture in Nat. Geo. of a volcanic eruption. There was red lightning. It was amazing to see bright red lightning. Why is it red? Chemicals in the ash makes red lightning. So fire in the sky, and hail. 

8th Plague. Locusts. Locusts come about when the ground is very damp. They bury their eggs in the sand about 4-6 inches. After record amount of hail the ground would be very wet allowing the locusts to form. 

9th Plague. Darkness. Ash in the air. After am eruption in 1815 there was darkness for 600 kilometers. After Krakatoa it was dark for even farther for days. 

10th Plague. Death of First born. In Egypt the first born was king. They would be the one to lead the family after the father died. When food was scarce the first born ate first and some times was the only one to eat. After locusts ate every thing there was only grain locked in vaults. The hail got it wet, locust feces, it made it moldy. And so when only the first born ate, they were the only ones killed by moldy grain. 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : JWA / Jewish Boston - The Wandering Is Over Haggadah; Including Women's Voices

The traditional Haggadah lists ten plagues that afflicted the Egyptians. We live in a very different world, but Passover is a good time to remember that, even after our liberation from slavery in Egypt, there are still many challenges for us to meet. Here are ten “modern plagues”:

Inequity - Access to affordable housing, quality healthcare, nutritious food, good schools, and higher education is far from equal. The disparity between rich and poor is growing, and opportunities for upward mobility are limited.

Entitlement - Too many people consider themselves entitled to material comfort, economic security, and other privileges of middle-class life without hard work.

Fear - Fear of “the other” produces and reinforces xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, antisemitism, homophobia, and transphobia.

Greed - Profits are a higher priority than the safety of workers or the health of the environment. The top one percent of the American population controls 42% of the country’s financial wealth, while corporations send jobs off-shore and American workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively is threatened.

Distraction - In this age of constant connectedness, we are easily distracted by an unending barrage of information, much of it meaningless, with no way to discern what is important.

Distortion of reality - The media constructs and society accepts unrealistic expectations, leading to eating disorders and an unhealthy obsession with appearance for both men and women.

Unawareness - It is easy to be unaware of the consequences our consumer choices have for the environment and for workers at home and abroad. Do we know where or how our clothes are made? Where or how our food is produced? The working conditions? The impact on the environment?

Discrimination - While we celebrate our liberation from bondage in Egypt, too many people still suffer from discrimination. For example, blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. At 61 cents to the dollar, the disparity is even more shocking in Jewish communal organization.

Silence - Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. We do not talk about things that are disturbing, such as rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse, even though they happen every day in our own communities.

Feeling overwhelmed and disempowered - 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?

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : wikipedia

If He had brought us out from Egypt אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם

and had not carried out judgments against them וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had carried out judgments against them אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

and not against their idols וְלֹא עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had destroyed their idols אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם

and had not smitten their first-born וְלֹא הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had smitten their first-born אִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

and had not given us their wealth וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had given us their wealth אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

and had not split the sea for us וְלא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had split the sea for us אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

and had not taken us through it on dry land וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had taken us through the sea on dry land אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

and had not drowned our oppressors in it וְלֹא שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had drowned our oppressors in it אִלּוּ שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

and had not fed us the manna וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had fed us the manna אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

and had not given us the Shabbat וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had given us the Shabbat אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

and had not brought us before Mount Sinai וְלֹא קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai אִלּוּ קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

and had not given us the Torah וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had given us the Torah אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

and had not brought us into the land of Israel וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had brought us into the land of Israel אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

and not built for us the Holy Temple וְלֹא בָּנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

— Dayenu, it would have been enough דַּיֵּנוּ

Motzi-Matzah
Source : original

Matzah. It’s flat, it has holes in it, it breaks easily, it crumbles, it’s bitter, and it’s nothing creative, yet Jewish people and Non-Jewish people that observe Passover eat it every day for at least 8 days out of the year. Sometimes more.

 “Something second hand and broken, still can make a pretty sound, and that second hand white baby grand still has something beautiful to give.” Megan Hilty

Every year we look at Matzah like it’s nothing special. But it represents something more than a large bland cracker. It represents hope. Matzah still has a beautiful lesson to teach us, and even though the Matzah in front of us is broken, it still has a beautiful story to tell.