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Introduction

This introduction is taken from The New American Haggadah edited by Jonathan Safran Foer
(Some alterations have been made.)

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Here we are. Here we are, gathered to celebrate the oldest continually practiced ritual in the Western world, to retell what is arguably the best known of all stories, to take part in the most widely practiced Jewish holiday. Here we are, as we were last year, and as we hope to be next year. Here we are, as night descends in succession over all of the Jews of the world, with a book in front of us.

Jews seem to have a special relationship to books, and the Haggadah has been translated more widely, and reprinted more often, than any other Jewish book. It is not a work of history or philosophy, not a prayer book, a user's manual, timeline, poem or palimpsest* - and yet it is all of these things. The Torah is the foundational text for Jewish law, but the Haggadah is our book of living memory. We are not merely telling a story here. We are being called to a radical act of empathy. Here we are, embarking on an ancient, perennial attempt to give human life - our lives - dignity.

The need for new Haggadot does not imply the failure of existing ones, but the struggle to engage everyone at the table in a time that is unlike any that has come before. Our translation must know our idiom, our commentaries must wrestle with our conflicts, our design must respond to how our world looks and feels. This Haggadah makes no attempt to redefine what a Haggadah is, or overlay any particular political or regional agenda. Like all Haggadot before it, this one hopes to be replaced.

As you read these words - as our people's ink-stained fingers turn its wine-stained pages - new Haggadot are being written. And as future Jews at future tables read those Haggadot, other Haggadot will be written. New Haggadot will be written until there are no more Jews to write them. Or until our destiny has been fulfilled, and there is no more need to say, "Next Year in Jerusalem."

Here we are: Individuals remembering a shared past and in pursuit of a shared destiny. The seder is a protest against despair. The universe might appear deaf to our fears and hopes, but we are not - so we gather, and share them, and pass them down. We have been waiting for this moment for thousands of years - more than one hundred generations of Jews have been here as we are - and we will continue to wait for it. And we will not wait idly.

*(scroll that has been erased and replaced with new text but still bears traces of its earlier form)

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.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל יוֹם טוֹב

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 has now become tradition at Moishe House Auckland we now recite a humanist prayer for the lighting of the candles.

Baruch ha'or ba'olam, baruch ha'or ba'adam, baruch ha'or shel tzedek ve'shalom, baruch ha'or shel Pesach.

Blessed is the light in the world, blessed is the light within humankind, blessed is the light of justice and peace, blessed is the light of Pesach.

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

The Seder Plate

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

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

Karpas  – A green vegetable, usually parsley, is a reminder of the green sprouting during the Northern Hemisphere spring and is used to dip into the saltwater to remind us of the anguish and tears of slaves.

Zeroah  – A roasted lamb or shank bone symbolises the sacrifice made at the great temple on Passover (The Paschal Lamb)

Beitzah  – The egg symbolises the korban chagigah, an additional holiday sacrifice that was brought to the temple. 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.

Orange  - The orange on the seder plate has come to symbolize full inclusion in modern day Judaism: not only for women, but also for people with disabilities, intermarried couples, and the LGBTQ+ Community. The widely told but fictional tale tells of an orthodox man protesting at a lecture given by Dr Susannah Heschel claiming that a woman belongs on the bimah like an orange belongs on the seder plate and in defiance Dr. Susannah Heschel then included an orange on hers every year after. As ever the truth is more nuanced. 

Dr Heshchel herself tells the story of the genesis of this new ritual. In the early 1980's she came across a haggadah written by students seeking to bring a feminist voice into the holiday. In it, a story is told about a young girl who asks a Rebbe what room there is in Judaism for a lesbian. The Rebbe rises in anger and shouts, "There's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate." Though Heschel was inspired by the idea behind the story, she couldn't follow it literally. Besides the fact that it would make everything-the dish, the table, the meal, the house-unkosher for Passover, it carried a message that lesbians were a violation of Judaism itself, that these women were infecting the community with something impure.

So, the next year, Heschel put an orange on the family seder plate. Explaining, "I chose an orange because it suggests the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life."

The symbolism grew to include people who feel marginalized from the Jewish community: the widow, the orphan, women's issues in general, but solidarity with the LGBTQ+ Jewish community was at the core. It wasn't a navel orange; it had to have seeds to symbolize rebirth, renewal. And spitting out the seeds reminds us to spit out the hatred and ostracization of homosexuals in our community, and others who feel prejudice's sting.  An orange is segmented, not fragmented. Our community has discrete segments, but they form a whole. The symbolism of the orange may have expanded, but its origins are clearly from a desire to liberate an entire segment of our community from their painful  mitzrayim, or narrow place.

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Also on the table are:

Matzah  - Matzah is the unleavened bread we eat to remember that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they did not have time to let the dough rise for their bread. We commemorate this by removing all bread and bread products from the 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 coming of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner 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. Miriam was the sister of Moses and a prophetess in her own right. As the Israelites wandered through the desert, just as Hashem gave them Manna to eat, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam and was named for her. The tradition of Miriam’s cup honours Miriam’s role in the story of the Jewish people and the spirit of all women, who nurture their families just as Miriam sustained the Israelites.

Kadesh

The Hebrew word “Kiddush” means sanctification, but it is not the wine we sanctify. Instead, the wine is a symbol of the sanctity, the preciousness, and the sweetness of this moment. Held together by bonds of family, friendship, and peoplehood, we share this table tonight with one another and with all the generations who have come before us.

Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. The most common is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7). 

The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act. And so, let our first cup represent the promise of awareness. When we are numb to the pain of bondage we do not know that we are enslaved. When we acknowledge and address that pain, we become partners in liberation.

With the first cup of wine we recall the first promise:

הֽוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֨חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם

Hotzeiti etchem mitachat sivlot mitzrayim.

I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians

We now raise our glasses and bless the first glass of wine

(Read together)

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

The Shehechiyanu prayer is recited for all Jewish holidays and special moments, as a way of acknowledging our privilege to have been able to reach this moment in time and being grateful for everything that has enabled us to do so. 

We now sing together Shehechiyanu

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, sh'hechiyanu v'kiyemanu v'higeyanu le zman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life and sustenance and permitted us to reach this season.

Urchatz

The beginning of the seder seems strange when compared to other festive meals. We start with kiddush as we normally would. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it.

It seems that the beginning of the seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we can’t really eat this meal until we understand it, until we tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. So we interrupt our meal preparations with maggid (telling the story). Only once we have told the story do we make kiddush again, wash our hands again (this time with a blessing) and break bread and finally eat it. In order to savour this meal, in order to appreciate the sweet taste of Passover, we must first understand it.

And so we now wash our hands to prepare ourselves for the rituals to come; and again later on, we will wash with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, a ritual in and of itself. 

(Those who wish to can go to the kitchen to wash their hands, or this can be done symbolically)

Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take a moment to prepare for whatever it is we are about to embark upon. Let's go around the table and share a burden or stress that we are washing away before we enjoy our Seder tonight.

Karpas

At this point in the  seder, it is traditional to eat a green vegetable dipped in  salt water.  The green vegetable  represents rebirth, renewal and growth; the salt water represents the tears of enslavement.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p’ri ha’adamah.

Blessed are you, Adonai, Creator of the Universe, creator of the fruit of the earth.

Yachatz

It is well known that we eat matzah in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, they had faced many false starts before being let go. So when the work of their freedom came, they took whatever dough they had and ran with it before it had a chance to rise, leaving it looking something like matzah.

On Sabbaths and holidays, we traditionally have two loaves of bread, a symbol of the double portion of "manna from heaven". On Passover we have three matzot on the table; the third representing the bread of affliction reminding us of our enslavement in Egypt.

We now take the middle of the three matzot and break it in two. The larger of the two broken pieces becomes the afikoman and is wrapped in a napkin like when our ancestors wrapped their dough in their garments when they departed Egypt.

Maggid - Beginning

As we prepare to tell some of the many stories that come within the great story of the exodus, we now pour our second glass of wine but do not drink it yet.

(But if we do happen to drink a little bit then that's ok, just make sure it's full again by the time we get to the plagues.)

Maggid - Beginning

Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham, the first person to have the idea that perhaps the statues his contemporaries worshiped as gods were in fact just statues. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.

God had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

Raise the glass of wine and sing:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵינוּ וְלָנוּ, שֶׁלֹּא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד עָמַד עָלֵינוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנוּ, אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר עוֹמְדִים עָלֵינוּ לְכַלוֹתֵנוּ, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם

V'hi she-am'dah la-avoteinu v'lanu. Shelo echad bilvad, amad aleinu l'chaloteinu. Ela sheb'chol dor vador, om'dim aleinu l'chaloteinu, v'hakadosh Baruch hu matzileinu mi-yadam.

And this is that (promise) which sustained our fathers and us. That it is not one (enemy) alone that stood up against us to destroy us. But that in each generation there are those standing up against us to destroy us. But the Holy One Blessed Be He
saves us from their hand.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they enslaved us. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

But God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention. 

Maggid - Beginning

(Sing together)

הָא לַחְמָא עַנְיָא דִי אֲכָלוּ אַבְהָתָנָא בְּאַרְעָא דְמִצְרָיִם. כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל, כָּל דִצְרִיךְ יֵיתֵי וְיִפְסַח. הָשַׁתָּא הָכָא, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּאַרְעָא דְיִשְׂרָאֵל. הָשַׁתָּא עַבְדֵי, לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין

Ha lachma anya d’achaloo avhatana b’ara d’meetzrayeem. Kol dichfeen yay-tay vi’yachool, kol deetzreech yay-tay viyeesfsach. Hashata hach. Li’shana ha-ba-aa bi’arah di’yeesrael. Hashata av’day, li’shana ha-ba a bi’nay choreen.

This is the bread of affliction, which 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. Today, we are here. Next year, in the land of Israel. Today, we are slaves. Next year, we will be free.

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Written in Aramaic, this statement begins the narration of the Seder by inviting the hungry to our table. Aramaic, Jewish legend has it, is the one language which the angels do not understand. Why then is Ha Lachma spoken in Aramaic? To teach us that where there is hunger, no one should rely upon the angels, no one should pray to the heavens for help. We know the language of the poor, for we were poor in the land of Egypt. We know that we are called to feed the poor and to call them to join our celebration of freedom.

Maggid - Beginning

אֲרַמִי אבֵֹד אָבִי, וַיֵרֶׁד מִצְרַיְמָה, וַיָגָר שָם בִמְתֵי מְעָט .

Arami oved avi va yored mitzrayma, vayagar sham bimtei me'at

My father was a wandering Aramean. He descended to Egypt and resided there in small numbers. There, he became a great nation, powerful and vast. The Egyptians persecuted us, and battered us, giving us severe labors. We cried out to God, who is god to our ancestors, and then God heard our voice. God saw our suffering, toil, and oppression. God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great demonstrations[ of God’s power] and wonderful signs. God brought us to this place, and gave us this Land, a Land of milk and honey.

____________

The heart of the Passover Seder is the Maggid, meaning storytelling. Maggid tells the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. We just said the words, “Arami oved avi.” This phrase is sometimes translated as “My father was a wandering Aramean” and other times as “An Aramean sought to destroy my father.” Somewhere between the two translations lies the essence of the Jewish experience: a rootless people who have fled persecution time and time again.

This has particular resonance today since "Aramea" is the area now known as Syria. Families are suffering, running, even getting into rubber rafts with their children to cross the Mediterranean—a show of precisely how desperate they are. And we are supposed to know exactly how they feel—because we have been there so many times. So what do we do—as a community, as a country, as fellow creatures of God?

As we recite the words ‘Arami oved avi,’ we acknowledge that we have stood in the shoes of the refugee. Today, as we celebrate our freedom, we commit ourselves to continuing to stand with contemporary refugees.

Maggid - Beginning

ּעֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ הָיִינו. עַתָּה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין

Avadim hayinu hayinu. Ata b’nei chorin.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Now we are free.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God took us from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. Had God not brought our ancestors out of Egypt, then even today we and our children and our grandchildren would still be slaves. Even if we were all wise, knowledgeable scholars and Torah experts, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt.

Maggid - Beginning

Traditional melody
Lyrics from Psalm 114

בְּצֵאת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִמִּרַָים , בֵּית יַעֲקֹב מֵעַם לֹעֵז, הָיְתָה יְהוּדָּה לְקָדְשׁוֹ, יִשְׂרָאֵל מַמְשְׁלוֹתָיו. הַיָּם רָאָה וַיַָּנֹס, הַיַרְדֵּן יִסֹּב לְאָחוֹר. הֶהָרִים רָקְדוּ כְאֵילִים, גְּבַָעוֹת - כִּבְנֵי צֹאן. מַה לְּךָ הַיָּם כִּי תָנוּס, הַיַּרְדֵן - תִּסֹּב לְאָחוֹר, הֶהָרִים - תִּרְקְדוּ כְאֵילִים, גְּבַָעוֹת - כִּבְנֵי צֹאן. מִלְּפְנֵי אָדוֹן חוּלִי אָרֶץ, מִלְּפְנֵי אֱלוֹהַ יַעֲקֹב. הַהֹפְכִי הַצּוּר אֲגַם מָיִם,  חַלָּמִיש - לְמַעְיְנוֹ מָיִם

B'tzeit Yis-ra-eil mi-Mitz-ra-yim

Beit Ya-a-kov mei-am lo-eiz

Ha-y'ta Y'hu-da l'kod-sho Yis-ra-eil mam-sh'lo-tav

Ha-yam ra-a va-ya-nos

Ha-Yar-dein yi-sov l'a-chor

He-ha-rim rak'du ch'ei-lim g'va-ot kiv-nei tzon

Mah l’cha hayam ki tanos,

Hayardein – tisov l’achor,

Heharim tirkedu che’eilim, givaot – kivnei tzon.

Milifnei adon chuli aretz,

Milifnei eloha Ya’akov.

Hahofchi hatzur agam mayim,

Chalamish – lemayno mayim.

When Israel went forth from Mitzrayim,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,
Judah became God’s holy one,
Israel, God’s dominion.

The sea saw them and fled,
The Jordan ran backward,
Mountains skipped like rams,
Hills like sheep.

What alarmed you, O sea, that you fled,
Jordan, that you ran backward,
Mountains, that you skipped like rams,
Hills, like sheep?

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of Adonai,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flinty rock into a fountain.

-- Four Questions

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.

On most other nights, we allow the news of tragedy in distant places to pass us by. We succumb to compassion fatigue—aware that we cannot possibly respond to every injustice that arises around the world. On this night, we are reminded that our legacy as the descendants of slaves creates in us a different kind of responsibility—we must protect the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. Let us add a fifth question to this year’s Seder.

Let us ask ourselves: How can we make this year different from all other years?

This year, let us recommit to our sacred responsibility to protect the stranger, the poor and the vulnerable:

- When tasting the matzah, the bread of poverty, let us find ways to help the poor and the hungry.

- When eating the maror, the bitter herbs, let us commit to help those whose lives are embittered by discrimination, persecution and hate.

- When spilling wine from our glasses to mourn the Egyptians’ suffering during the 10 plagues, let us pledge to aid those who suffer from modern afflictions.

- When reclining in celebration of our freedom, let us seek opportunities to help those who are still oppressed today.

We must protect the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Let us now sing together the traditional four questions - Ma Nishtana:

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

Traditionally we consider four different children, and how they might question the Seder, and how we might answer them:

The wise child, who asks for more instruction; The rebellious child, who doesn’t see himself as part of the proceedings and rejects the lessons of Pesach; The simple child, who does not understand; The child who does not even know yet how to ask a question.

Symbolically, these four children represent different types of Jew or participant in the Seder: The Jew who accepts and follows the traditions of Pesach; The Jew who openly rejects these traditions; The Jew who feels disconnected from these traditions because he or she doesn’t know enough about them; The Jew who is too young to decide for herself yet what she believes or wishes to follow.

Tonight, we welcome the observant Jews, who can guide us through the Seder, and teach the rest of us what it means to them; We acknowledge those who reject the traditions of Pesach, and appreciate that they still choose to be here to support their loved ones. We try to create an easy-to-follow and inclusive Seder for those who feel disconnected, and those who join us from other cultures,

And we nurture and evolve these traditions for our children and those to come, so that they too will look forward to Pesach each year.

-- Exodus Story

The story of Pesach is of course a story of a transition from slavery to freedom. But what are we to make of this story? Surely slavery is bad and freedom is good. That message might have been revolutionary hundreds of years ago, but today it is a basic assumption of life in democratic countries. Is there any use in the story for us today? Certainly, there must be. As we dive into the Exodus story, we should focus on the themes of liberation in the story. What does it mean to liberate ourselves in body, mind, and spirit? What does it mean to liberate ourselves as a people? Is there such thing as full liberation?

The story of our exodus begins long before the time of Moses, with Joseph, one of the greatgrandsons of Sara and Abraham. Joseph goes down to Egypt land to avoid famine at home. He does exceedingly well there and invites all his brothers down to join him. They head south from Canaan and they too find success. Life’s so good that all the Israelites have heaps of babies. But then, the Egyptians start to realize that these Hebrews are growing bigger and more influential. We constitute a sort of demographic threat, you might say. A new pharaoh comes along with no memory of Joseph’s service to his forebears and, fearing that we might one day join with an enemy nation, decides to throw the Israelites in chains: So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1:11-14) Can our choices and actions liberate us even if we cannot break out of our oppressive reality? We were an inordinately fertile people, and even slavery wasn’t enough to stop the Israelites from procreating like rabbits. So Pharaoh – instructs the Hebrew midwives to start killing all Jewish babies born male. One day a Hebrew woman gives birth to a tenacious little stutterer named Moses. She’s scared of what will happen to him, so she sends him down stream in a basket. He gets spotted by Pharaoh’s daughter, who takes him in and raises him.

After growing up, Moses “went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour.” He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and then, after making sure no one is around, kills the Egyptian. Moses, the only Hebrew to grow up in freedom, is appalled by the conditions under which his people work. While the other children of Israel have learned to accept their lot, Moses cannot, and responds with extreme violence to his first encounter with forced labour. Then, after trying to intervene in a fight between two Hebrews, Moses flees to Midian because he discovers that people know he had killed an Egyptian. He meets Jethro and marries his daughter Zipora. Moses names their son Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.” Herein lies Moses’ human essence: he is the only person raised in an Egyptian household who understands the pains of slavery, who has experienced privilege but with an acute awareness of privilege’s human toll. He is the only Hebrew who understands freedom, whose eyes see the world untainted by a lifetime of oppression and degradation. In Midian he finds a mentor as well as a life, but he remains an outsider. He has a unique social consciousness but he is utterly alone; no one in his world can fully relate to his perception of reality, his experience of life. In Midian Moses is neither a slave nor a pseudo-Egyptian who reaps the benefits of slavery; he works for his family as a shepherd. After he has acquired all these different perspectives on life and on human labour, God talks to him through the burning bush. The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey… So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Egypt, the land of slavery and suffering, is contrasted with Eretz Israel, a land which will reward those who work it. Moses asks God why he is the one to take on this project. God is typically evasive but promises Moses that he’s got his back. What is demanded of us when we accept responsibility to liberate ourselves and/or others?

Then the story we all know unfolds: Moses tells Pharaoh to let his people go; Pharaoh shows he’s not so inclined to lose thousands of free workers and then makes their work even harder; Pharaoh has a whose-magic-is-better battle against Moses and Aaron and dismissed them from his court. However, Moses and Aaron did not leave without heeding a warning of what would come if Pharaoh failed to set free the Hebrew slaves. After some frustrating back-and-forth between Moses and Pharoah, God brings plagues upon Egypt, and each time Pharaoh agrees to release the Hebrews but fails to follow through once each plague is withdrawn. God also hardens Pharaoh’s heart so he remains unconvinced and then, after nine failed attempts to release the Hebrews, God drops the doomsday plague: killing all of the Egyptian firstborns, including Pharaoh’s son. (Luckily, he ‘passed over’ ours)

-- Exodus Story

By Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative. The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.

In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women. There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, [who] stood far off to know what would become of her brother. Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile.

The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing: When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, you wish to transgress your father’s decree?” But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day. Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched. While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

Following example, let’s dedicate this season of celebration to the fight for gender equality today. Where there is progress, let us applaud it. Where there are strong women who stand up for what is right, let us empower them. Where there are partners standing in solidarity of true equality, let us welcome them into this this fight together.

-- Ten Plagues

(We all make sure our cups are full enough to reach a pinky inside)

A full cup of wine symbolises complete happiness. The triumph of Passover is diminished by the sacrifice of many human lives
when ten plagues were visited upon the people of Egypt. In the story, the plagues that befell the Egyptians resulted from the decisions of tyrants, but the greatest suffering occurred among those who had no choice but to follow.

It is fitting that we mourn their loss of life, and express our sorrow over their suffering. For as human beings we cannot take joy in the suffering of others.Therefore, let us diminish the wine in our cups as we recall the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people.

As we recite the name of each plague, in English and then in Hebrew, please dip a finger in your wine and then touch your plate to remove the drop.

Together:

Blood | dam | דָּם

Frogs | tzfardeiya | צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ

Lice | kinim | כִּנִּים

Beasts | arov | עָרוֹב

Cattle disease | dever | דֶּֽבֶר

Boils | sh’chin | שְׁחִין

Hail | barad | בָּרָד

Locusts | arbeh | אַרְבֶּה

Darkness | choshech | חֹֽשֶׁךְ

Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot | מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת

Tonight we remember what was sacrificed for our freedom. Remember the sick, the dying, the starving, those who drowned at sea, the slaughtering of the first-borns. Tonight we recognise that our freedom came with a price. Tonight we move forward, but do not forget, in order to better ourselves in years to come.

In the same spirit, our celebration today also is shadowed by our awareness of continuing sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world. Ancient plagues are mirrored in modern tragedies.

In our own time, as in ancient Egypt, ordinary people suffer and die as a result of the actions of the tyrants who rule over them. While we may rejoice in the defeat of tyrants in our own time, we must also express our sorrow at the suffering of the many innocent people who had little or no choice but to follow.

As the pain of others diminishes our joys, let us once more diminish our ceremonial drink as we together recite the names of some of these modern plagues.

As we recite the name of each plague, again dip a finger in your wine and then touch your plate to remove the drop.

Hunger
War
Tyranny
Disease
Greed

Bigotry
Injustice
Poverty
Pollution of the Earth
Indifference to Suffering

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Ilu hotzi hotzianu
Hotzianu mimitzrayim,
Hotzianu mimitzrayim
Dayenu

Had he only brought us out of Egypt, it would have been enough.

Ilu natan natan lanu
Natan lanu et ha Torah
Natan lanu et ha Torah
Dayenu

Had he only given us the Torah, it would have been enough.

Ilu natan natan lanu
Natan lanu et ha Shabbat
Natan lanu et ha Shabbat
Dayenu

Had he only given us the Sabbath, it would have been enough.

_____________________________

From singing Dayenu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our people's journey. Yet we must never confuse these way stations with the goal. Because it is not yet Dayenu. There is still so much to do in our work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

Dayenu also teaches us to distinguish between more and enough. Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us.” Often, enjoying more wealth and comfort stimulates our desire for more – more attention, more comforts, more money. Passover and the Haggadah teach us to be mindful of what our real needs are, of what constitutes “enough.”

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

One commandment we are given for this day is to personalise the collective memory of the Exodus

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.

"In every  generation, one must see themself as if they had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt."

As it is written: "You shall speak to your children on that day, saying, this is how the Holy Blessed One redeemed me from Egypt. It wasn't merely my ancestors who were redeemed, but the Holy Blessed One also redeemed us with them, as it is said, 'And we went forth from there, in order that God might lead us to the land which had been promised to our ancestors.'

Redemption wasn't a one-time thing that happened to our ancestors in bygone times; it is an ongoing experience, something that can ripple into our consciousness every day. We too were redeemed from Egypt, and we are perennially offered the possibility of living in a state of redemption if only we will open our hearts and our eyes.​

_______________

And with our second cup of wine we recall the second of the four promises:

וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵֽעֲבֹֽדָתָ֑ם

Ve'hitzalti etchem me'avodatam

And I will save you from their labor

(We read together)

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.

Rachtzah

Our hands were touched by water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering once again that our liberation is bound up in everyone else's. Each step we take together with others towards liberation is blessing, and so we recite: 

                                                         --Rabbi Menachem Creditor

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִּם.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.

Blessed are You Lord our God, Master of the universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and instructed us in lifting up our hands.

Motzi-Matzah

Matzah is both a reminder of our past and a symbol of our future. 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 - matzah.

Only later the Matzah became associated with the Exodus from Egypt. As the Torah says, “And they baked unleavened bread from the dough which they brought out of Egypt. There was not sufficient time to allow it to rise, for they were fleeing Egypt and could not wait.” Matzah recalls the slavery of our ancestors, their triumph over tyranny.

In our own generation, Matzah has become a symbol of hope, urging us to speak for those who do not yet know freedom. We who celebrate Passover commit ourselves to the continuing struggle against oppression. We become the voices for those locked within prison cells, for those exiled from their homes, their families, their communities. We who know freedom are the guardians of their ideas.

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

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

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.
Blessed are you Lord our God, ruler of the universe 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.
Blessed are you Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who made us holy through his commandments, bringing us here us to eat matzah.

Maror

In Talmud Bavli Pesachim 115b, Rava teaches, "[One who] swallows the matzah [without chewing] has fulfilled the obligation [of eating matzah]. [However, one who] swallows the maror [without chewing] does not fulfill the obligation [of eating maror]."

Rashbam explains that even though ideally one should taste the matzah, after the fact, even swallowing without tasting is a form of eating and thus one has fulfilled the mitzvah. Maror is different. Actually tasting the maror, and not just eating it, is the essence of the mitzvah because the maror should remind us of how our lives were embittered by the oppression of the mitzrim. 

This halachah is teaching us that suffering is something to be absorbed and felt if it is to have a cathartic and motivating impact. Our daily lives urge us not to look, not to dwell, not to feel. However, it is that bitter taste of suffering that makes it impossible for us to accept things the way they are. We must act, we must reach out, we must make change.

In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet, but doesn’t the sweet mean more when it’s layered over the bitterness?

For now we eat just the bitter herbs.

ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר:

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

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

Koreich

Koreich (Sandwich)

This section on Koreich was contributed by Faustine Sigal, who is the International Director of Jewish Education for Moishe House. She works in France, where there are two Moishe Houses, both in Paris

_____

Hillel is a major figure in the rabbinic walk of fame. Descended from King David, he is often referred to for his qualities of wisdom, humility and compassion. In the tractate Avot (a guide on ethics), he is quoted saying “be of the disciples of Aaron, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to the Torah”. The Jewish concept “ rodef shalom ”, peace pursuer (more than builder) is rooted in his teaching. It is also said of his students that “they were agreeable and humble, and when they taught the law they would teach both their own opinions and the opinions of (their opponents). They even prioritized the statements of (their opponents).”

Hillel is the model we refer to when seeking the ability to reconcile different truths towards peace. His name is associated with the commitment to honour complexity in life, to acknowledge that “these and those are the words of the living God”. Any experience, idea, longing – be it as positive as Redemption – is made of the combination of differences. The seder in general brings together differing, if not opposing things :

  • Joy of redemption and sadness of affliction;

  • Memories and compassion with hunger and a festive meal;

  • Jewish particular memories and values and a universalistic commitment;

  • Repeating old texts every year and making them fresh every year, etc.

Korech, this part of the seder, is the sandwich version of this view on life. We walk into Hillel’s step and combine different concepts towards one horizon. We bring different elements together into one redemptive bite.

We now each make a sandwich of matzah, maror and charoset.

Shulchan Oreich
Source : JewishBoston.com

Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich | שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

Enjoy! But don’t forget when you’re done we’ve got a little more seder to go, including the final two cups of wine!

Tzafun
Source : Sammy Spider's first Haggadah

Did you save room for dessert?

It's time to look for the Afikomen.

Song: Afikomen, Where Are You?
(to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm")

Afikomen, where are you?
I would like to know.
Are you in the dining room?
I would like to know.
With a look-look here,
And a look-look there,
Here a look, there a look,
Everywhere a look-look.
Afikomen, where are you?
I would like to know.

Bareich

(Everyone refill their wine glass)

We now say grace after the meal, giving thanks for the food we’ve eaten. On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to God, culminating with drinking our third glass of wine for the evening:

As it says in the Torah: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give praise to your God who has given you this good earth. We praise God for the earth and for its sustenance.

May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen.

Bareich

(Everyone fills their glass)

With the the third glass we recall the third promise:

וְגָֽאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים

And I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

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.

Drink the third glass of wine!

Hallel

אַדִּיר הוּא, אַדִּיר הוּא 
יִבְנֶה בֵּיתוֹ בְּקָרוֹב. 
בִּמְהֵרָה,בִּמְהֵרָה, בְּיָמֵינוּ בְּקָרוֹב
אֵל בְּנֵה, אֵל בְּנֵה, בְּנֵה בֵּיתְךָ בְּקָרוֹב

Adir hu, adir hu
Yivneh beyto b'karov
Bimheyrah, bimheyrah, b'yameynu b'karov
Eyl b'ney, Eyl b'ney, b'ney beytkah b'karov

בָּחוּר הוּא, גָּדוֹל הוּא, דָּגוּל הוּא
יִבְנֶה בֵּיתוֹ בְּקָרוֹב. 
בִּמְהֵרָה,בִּמְהֵרָה, בְּיָמֵינוּ בְּקָרוֹב
אֵל בְּנֵה, אֵל בְּנֵה, בְּנֵה בֵּיתְךָ בְּקָרוֹב. 

Bakhur hu, gadul hu, dagul hu
Yivneh beyto b'karov
Bimheyrah, bimheyrah, b'yameynu b'karov
Eyl b'ney, Eyl b'ney, b'ney beytkah b'karov

הָדוּר הוּא, וָתִיק הוּא, זַכַּאי הוּא
יִבְנֶה בֵּיתוֹ בְּקָרוֹב. 
בִּמְהֵרָה,בִּמְהֵרָה, בְּיָמֵינוּ בְּקָרוֹב
אֵל בְּנֵה, אֵל בְּנֵה, בְּנֵה בֵּיתְךָ בְּקָרוֹב

Hadur hu, vatik hu, zakai hu
Yivneh beyto b'karov
Bimheyrah, bimheyrah, b'yameynu b'karov
Eyl b'ney, Eyl b'ney, b'ney beytkah b'karov

He is mighty. He is mighty.
May He rebuild His temple soon! 
Speed​ily, speedily,​ in our days, soon! 
God, build! God, build! Rebuild Your temple soon! 

He is select. He is great. He is lofty.
May He rebuild His temple soon! 
Speed​ily, speedily,​ in our days, soon! 
​God, build! God, build! Rebuild Your temple soon! 

He is glorius. He is just. He is blameless.
May He rebuild His temple soon! 
Speed​ily, speedily,​ in our days, soon! 
​God, build! God, build! Rebuild Your temple soon! 

Hallel

This version of the classic theme was the winning song of the Eurovision Song Contest 1979, performed in Hebrew by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey

הללויה לעולם, 
הללויה ישירו כולם 
במילה אחת בודדה 
הלב מלא בהמון תודה 
והולם גם הוא - איזה עולם נפלא

הללויה עם השיר, 
הללויה על יום שמאיר
הללויה על מה שהיה
ומה שעוד לא היה
הללויה

הללויה לעולם 
הללויה ישירו כולם 
והענבלים הגדולים 
יהדהדו בהמון צלילים 
ואתנו הם יאמרו, הללויה 

הללויה על הכל 
הללו על מחר ואתמול 
הללויה, ותנו יד ביד 
ושירו מלב אחד  
הללויה

_________

Haleluya la'olam, 
haleluya yashiru kulam 
bemila achat bodeda 
halev male behamon toda 
veholem gam hu - eze olam nifla! 

Haleluya im hashir, 
haleluya al yom sheme'ir, 
Haleluya al ma shehayah, 
umah she'od lo hayah - 
haleluya! 

Haleluya la'olam 
haleluya yashiru kulam 
Vehainbalim hagdolim 
yehadhedu bahamon tzlilim 
Veitanu hem yomru - haleluya! 

Haleluya al hakol 
halelu al machar ve'etmol 
Haleluya utnu yad beyad 
veshiru milev echad - 
haleluya!

_____________

Haleluya to the world, 
every one will sing 
One word only 
and the heart is full of thanks 
And beats as well what a wonderful world 

Haleluya with the song, 
for a day that shines 
For all that has been 
and for all that is about to happen 

Haleluya to the world, 
every one will sing 
And the big bells 
will be echo in a lot of notes 
And together with us they will say - haleluya 

Haleluya for every thing, 
yesterday and tomorrow 
Haleluya hand in hand 
and sing in one heart - haleluya

Hallel

We now fill the fourth cup of wine.

Rather than filling our own cup tonight, though, and focusing on ourselves as individuals, let us fill someone else’s cup and recognise that, as a family and group of friends, we have the resources to help each other and those in our community if we are willing to share what we have and collaborate – whether those resources are time, money, skills, or any of the other gifts we bring to one another.

Many of us around the table may already share our resources in different ways - volunteering in our communities, providing services, donating to charities, or by advocating or lobbying officials. For others we may still be exploring the ways we’re hoping to share our resources and are looking for outlets to do so.

As we fill our fourth cup of wine and I want to invite you to fill someone else’s cup instead of your own. As you fill someone else’s cup, you are invited to think about how you individually may help in changing the world.

_____________

And with our fourth cup we recall the fourth promise

לָֽקַחְתִּ֨י אֶתְכֶ֥ם לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם

Ve lakachti etchem li le'am

And I will take you to me as a people

Hallel

Elijah and Miriam's Cups:

At this point in the Seder it is traditional to pour a fifth glass of wine for Elijah and open the door for him as we sing the song named for him. In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people. It is said that at the end of his life, rather than dying, he was taken to heaven. Tradition holds that he will return in advance of messianic days to herald a new era of peace, and so we set a place for Elijah at many joyous, hopeful Jewish occasions, such as the Passover seder.

Tonight, we are also considering the prophet Miriam who prophesied "My mother is destined to give birth to a son who will save Israel". Miriam's mother later gave birth to Moses.

A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, providing them with water. This well was given by God to Miriam, Moses’s sister, the prophetess, to honor her bravery and devotion to the Jewish people. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert, sources of sustenance and healing. Her words of comfort gave the Hebrews the faith and confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus.

We fill Miriam's cup with water to honour her role in ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Like Miriam, Jewish women in all generations have been essential for the continuity of our people. As keepers of traditions in the home, women pass down songs and stories, rituals and recipes, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation.

We place Miriam's cup on our Seder table to honor the important role of Jewish women in our tradition and history, whose stories have been too sparingly told.

Miriam's life is a foil to the life of Elijah. Elijah was a hermit, a visionary, and prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the world to come. Miriam lived among her people in the desert, constantly encouraging them throughout their long journey. Elijah's cup is a symbol of future redemption, while Miriam's cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present. Both are important: we need both Elijah's cup and Miriam's cup at our Seder table.

We now pour two cups for the prophets Elijah and Miriam, and open the door for them as we sing the traditional song with a verse added for Miriam.

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַנָּבִיא, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַתִּשְׁבִּי,

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ,אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַגִּלְעָדִי.

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽנוּ יָבוֹא אֵלֵֽינוּ

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד,

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

Eliyahu hanavi Eliyahu hatishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi
Bimheirah ve’yameinu, yavo eileinu
Im moshiach ben-David,
Im moshiach ben-David

Elijah the prophet, the returning, the man of Gilad: return to us speedily, in our days with the messiah, son of David.

מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה עֹז וְזִמְרָה בְּיָדָהּ

מִרְיָם תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ לְהַגְדִּיל זִמְרַת עוֹלָם

מִרְיָם תִּרְקֹד אִתָּנוּ לְתַקֵּן אֶת-הָעוֹלָם:

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ הִיא תְּבִיאֵנוּ

אֶל מֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה

Miriam ha neviah oz ve zimrah be'yadah
Miriam tirkod itanu le'hagdil zimrat olam
Miriam tirkod itanu le'taken et ha olam
Bimheirah ve'yameinu hi tiveinu
El mei ha yeshuah, el mei ha yeshuah

Miriam the prophet, strength and song in her hand. Miriam dance with us to increase the song in the world, Miriam dance with us to repair the world. Soon she will bring us to the waters of redemption.

Nirtzah
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Nirtzah  marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories and sung songs, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we honor the tradition of declaring, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

For some people, the recitation of this phrase expresses the anticipation of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and the return of the Messiah. For others, it is an affirmation of hope and of connectedness with  Klal Yisrael, the whole of the Jewish community. Still others yearn for peace in Israel and for all those living in the Diaspora.

Though it comes at the end of the seder, this moment also marks a beginning. We are beginning the next season with a renewed awareness of the freedoms we enjoy and the obstacles we must still confront. We are looking forward to the time that we gather together again. Having retold stories of the Jewish people, recalled historic movements of liberation, and reflected on the struggles people still face for freedom and equality, we are ready to embark on a year that we hope will bring positive change in the world and freedom to people everywhere.

In  The Leader's Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night, Rabbi David Hartman writes: “Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.”

What can  we  do to fulfill our reckless dreams? What will be our legacy for future generations?

Our seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. As we had the pleasure to gather for a seder this year, we hope to once again have the opportunity in the years to come. We pray that God brings health and healing to Israel and all the people of the world, especially those impacted by natural tragedy and war. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

Songs

Echad Mi Yodea
 

Echad mi yode’a? Echad ani yode’a: echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shnayim mi yode’a? Shnayim ani yode’a: shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shloshah mi yode’a? Shloshah ani yode’a: shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Arba mi yode’a? Arba ani yode’a: arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Chamishah mi yode’a? Chamishah ani yode’a: chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shishah mi yode’a? Shishah ani yode’a: shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shiv’ah mi yode’a? Shiv’ah ani yode’a: shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shmonah mi yode’a? Shmonah ani yode’a: shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnailuchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Tishah mi yode’a? Tishah ani yode’a: tishah yarchai laidah, shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Asarah mi yode’a? Asarah ani yode’a: asarah dibraiya, tishah yarchai laidah, shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Echad asar mi yode’a? Echad asar ani yode’a: echad asar kochvaya, asarah dibraiya, tishah yarchai laidah, shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shnaim asar mi yode’a? Shnaim asar ani yode’a: shnaim asar shivtaiya, echad asar kochvaya, asarah dibraiya, tishah yarchai laidah, shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Shloshah asar mi yode’a? Shloshah asar ani yode’a: shloshah asar midaiya, shnaim asar shivtaiya, echad asar kochvaya, asarah dibraiya, tishah yarchai laidah, shmonah yimei milah, shiv’ah yimei shabbata, shishah sidrei mishnah, chamishah chumshei Torah, arba imahot, shloshah avot, shnai luchot habrit, echad Eloheinu shebashamayim u’va’aretz.

Translation: 

Who knows thirteen?
I know thirteen
Thirteen are the attributes of God
Twelve are the tribes
Eleven are the stars
Ten are the Words from Sinai
Nine are the months of childbirth
Eight are the days for circumcision
Seven are the days of the week
Six are the orders of the Mishnah
Five are the books of the Torah
Four are the matriarchs
Three are the patriarchs
Two are the tablets of the covenant
One is our God in Heaven and Earth