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Introduction

Lighting the Candles

Edited from a contribution by Linda Schneider

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

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

Blessed are You, our God, Present in Everything, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

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

Introduction

(Adapted from Diane Ackerman)

An ancient rabbinic text instructs us, “Each person in every generation must regard himself or herself as having been personally freed from Egypt.” for the seder to be successful. We are asked to actually experience and acknowledge the bitterness of oppression and the sweetness of freedom so we may better understand the hope and courage of all people, of all generations, in their quest for liberty, security, and human rights. 

In the words of Audre Lorde: I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, .wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you.

Introduction
Source : Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah
Social Justice Blessing

Baruch Atah Adonai, eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu lirdof tzedek

Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha-olam, asher kid’shatnu b’mitzvotayha vitzivatnu lirdof tzedek

Blessed is the Source, who shows us paths to holiness, and commands us to pursue justice. 


Calligraphy by: Ruben Shimonov

Kadesh

(Edited from contributions by Jewish Boston)

Rabbi Alex Israel of Pardes shares, with Kiddush we sanctify the day and define its meaning. We proclaim this day as significant, holy and meaningful. We fashion time, claim ownership of it, and fashion it as a potent contact point with God, peoplehood and tradition. This is a quintessential act of Jewish freedom. Kadesh reminds us that true freedom and self-respect is to master and control time for ourselves, to shape our life in accordance with our values.

The seder starts with wine and then gives us three more opportunities to refill our cup and drink.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

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

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch Atah Eloheinu ruach, she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

We praise God, Present Everything, who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment.

Drink the first glass of wine!

Kadesh

From adrienne maree brown, as kavannah for the drinking of wine:

"Pleasure activism is about learning what it means to be satisfiable, to generate, from within and from between us, and abundance from which we can all have enough.

Part of the reason so few of us have a healthy relationship with pleasure is because a small minority of our species horads the excess of resources, creating a false scarcity and then trying to sell us joy, sell us back to ourselves...And so many of us have been trained into the delusion that we must accumulate excess, even at the cost of vast inequality, in order to view our lives as complete or successful.

A central aspect of pleasure activism is tapping into the natural abundance that exists within and between us, and between our species and the planet. Pleasure is not one of the spoils of capitalism. It is what our bodies, our human systems, are structured for; it is the aliveness and awakening, the gratitude and humility, the joy and celebration of being miraculous."

Urchatz
Washing - Not for A Blessing, But for Health

“We wash our hands, and we do NOT make the Hand-Washing Blessing!”

Traditionally, this handwashing is purely ritualistic and customary, to the extent that we are taught not to make the blessing we would make when we are commended to wash (such as before bread). This year however, as we are fighting the worst pandemic of the century, handwashing takes on a whole new meaning. One that isn’t for religious or ritualistic reasons, but simply to survive. 

We can set our intentions:

Karpas

Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.

The dipping of karpas also recalls the Israelites’ first stop after crossing the Red Sea, which was called Marah. After a three-day journey, they found water there, but it was bitter, undrinkable. God showed Moses a piece of wood to throw (dip) into the water, which made it potable. Even after a major initial victory, our elation can collapse swiftly under the weight of the next steps we have to take. Karpas reminds us that the journey to freedom — like the seder — is long, and we have to pace ourselves.

We now take a vegetable, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Whatever symbol of spring and sustenance we’re using, we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves. We also seek to recognize the tears of all who suffer injustice mingling with our hopes for life, rebirth and new possibilities for justice.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

Baruch Atah ruach ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.

We praise God, Present in Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

Karpas

From Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass, as kavannah for taking of the fruits of the earth:

"Know the ways of the ones who take care of you, so that you may take care of them.
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need.
Take only that which is given.
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given.
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken.
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever."

Yachatz
Source : AJWS

Ha lachma anya—this is the bread of affliction. At the seder we begin as slaves. We eat matzah, the bread of affliction, which leaves us hungry and longing for redemption. It reminds us of a time when we couldn’t control what food was available to us, but ate what we could out of necessity. The matzah enables us to taste slavery— to imagine what it means to be denied our right to live free and healthy lives.

But, while we will soon enjoy a large meal and end the seder night as free people, 963 million people around the world can not leave the affliction of hunger behind. Each day, 25,000 adults and children die from hunger and malnutrition. In fact, a child dies every six seconds because he or she is starving.  Let us awaken to their cries and declare:

Kol dichfin yeitei v’yeichol—let all who are hungry, come and eat. As we sit at our seder and contemplate our people’s transition from slavery to freedom, let us hope for a time when all who are hungry will eat as free people.

Let local farms flourish and local economies strengthen.

Let exploitation of natural resources cease so that the land may nourish its inhabitants.

Let communities bolster themselves against the destruction wrought by flood and drought.

Let our world leaders recognize food as a basic human right and implement policies and programs that put an end to hunger. The Passover seder inspires us to take action and commit ourselves to working toward these and other sustainable changes. As the seder guides us from scarcity to plenty, let us empower others on their paths to sustenance.Hashata avdei—this year we are still slaves.  Leshanah haba’ah b’nei chorin—next year we will be free people. This year, hunger and malnutrition are still the greatest risks to good health around the world. Next year, may the bread of affliction be simply a symbol, and may all people enjoy the bread of plenty, the  bread of freedom.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.

The Haggadah doesn’t tell the story of Passover in a linear fashion. We don’t hear of Moses being found by the daughter of Pharaoh – actually, we don’t hear much of Moses at all. Instead, we get an impressionistic collection of songs, images, and stories of both the Exodus from Egypt and from Passover celebrations through the centuries. Some say that minimizing the role of Moses keeps us focused on the miracles God performed for us. Others insist that we keep the focus on the role that every member of the community has in bringing about positive change.

-- 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.

 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.

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. 

-- Four Children

At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?

What does the activist child ask?

“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”

Empower her always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”

What does the skeptical child ask?

“How can I solve problems of such enormity?”

Encourage him by explaining that he need not solve the problems, he must only do what he is capable of doing. As we read in Pirkei Avot—The Ethics of Our Ancestors, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

What does the indifferent child say?

“It’s not my responsibility.”

Persuade her that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And the uninformed child who does not know how to ask ...

Prompt him to see himself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy. As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

At this season of liberation, let us work toward the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice.

-- Exodus Story

The Passover story chronicles the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. It celebrates the movement from oppression to liberation and our belief that tyranny can be thwarted and justice can prevail.

Around the world today, courageous people are making similar journeys leaving behind violence, poverty and persecution and seeking security, freedom, prosperity and peace.

ֲע ָב ִדים ָה ִיינ ְל ַפ ְר ֹעה ְ ִמ ְצ ָר ֽים - ַע ָ ה ְ ֵני ח ִרין.

Avadim hayinu lepharo bemitzrayim—ata benei chorin.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt—now we are free.

As you may have noticed, the Passover seder is an exercise in radical empathy. We do not say that our ancestors were slaves. Rather, the story we tell our children begins "When I was slave in Egypt." We identify with the hardships faced by the Hebrews as slaves, recognize the awakening from privilege symbolized by the palace-raised Moses at the burning bush, strive for the bravery exemplified by those who advocated for justice, the patience required to wait for freedom that required not just one, but ten plagues, to bring - and are brought to vigilance by the tenuousness of freedom experienced as the Jews encountered the Red Sea. In such, we a reborn in this spring holiday with new intention to secure freedom not just for ourselves, but globally.

-- Ten Plagues

The Ten Plagues

Contributed by Jewish Boston

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of God. We empathize with those who suffer injustice due to the political power plays of the few and pray for a more equitable world. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them.

Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

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

Blood | dam | 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

-- 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

The first cup of wine awakened us to injustice and to our capacity to bring about change. The second cup is the first step toward realizing that change. We raise our glass in solidarity with all those who experience injustice around the world and dedicate ourselves to bringing freedom together.

Baruch Atah  Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, borei peri hagafen.

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

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Ilu hotzianu mi mitzrayim, dayeinu!

If God had only taken us out of Egypt, that would have been enough!

Dayenu recalls every step in our path to redemption: departure from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, sustenance in the wilderness, the giving of the Torah and our arrival in the land of Israel. And although we express gratitude for each moment by saying, “It would have been enough,” we know that all of these steps were necessary to achieve full freedom. Had the journey ended with the leaving of Egypt, we would not be free people.

As today’s freedom-seekers depart their own Egypts, they contend with obstacles as formidable as the raging sea and nd the strength to persevere through the challenges that lie ahead. We stand with them proudly, as Jews, through the duration of their journeys.

It is critical that we support survivors of disasters, wars and conflicts until they are able to rebuild their lives. We must stand with religious and ethnic minorities as long as the threat of violence or genocide rages. We must fight for the rights of women, girls and LGBT people until true equality is achieved. And we must persevere in defending the precious natural resources that sustain our world.

Just as the Israelites needed support at each step of their journey, so too do those around the world who persist in lifting the shadow of suffering and oppression. 

If the world hears the cries of the oppressed, but does not come to their aid ...

It will not be enough.

If we empower our brothers and sisters to escape violence, but fail to o er them refuge ...
It will not be enough.

If our generosity supports the needs of today, but forsakes the needs of tomorrow ...

It will not be enough.

However, if we persevere until stability, peace and justice have been attained ...

Dayenu! Then it will be enough. 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Compiled

One of most beloved songs in the Passover seder is "Dayenu". A few of us will read the stanzas one at a time, and the everyone else will respond, "Dayenu" – meaning, “it would have been enough”.

How many times do we forget to pause and notice that where we are is exactly where we ought to be? Dayenu is a reminder to never forget all the miracles in our lives. When we stand and wait impatiently for the next one to appear, we are missing the whole point of life. Instead, we can actively seek a new reason to be grateful, a reason to say “Dayenu.”

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

 

English translation

Transliteration

Hebrew

 

If He had brought us out from Egypt,

Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim,

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם

 

and had not carried out judgments against them

v'lo asah bahem sh'fatim,

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had carried out judgments against them,

Ilu asah bahem sh'fatim

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים

 

and not against their idols

v'lo asah beloheihem,

וְלֹא עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had destroyed their idols,

Ilu asah beloheihem,

אִלּוּ עָשָׂה בֵּאלֹהֵיהֶם

 

and had not smitten their first-born

v'lo harag et b'choreihem,

וְלֹא הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had smitten their first-born,

Ilu harag et b'choreihem,

אִלּוּ הָרַג אֶת בְּכוֹרֵיהֶם

 

and had not given us their wealth

v'lo natan lanu et mamonam,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had given us their wealth,

Ilu natan lanu et mamonam,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת מָמוֹנָם

 

and had not split the sea for us

v'lo kara lanu et hayam,

ןלא קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had split the sea for us,

Ilu kara lanu et hayam,

אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

 

and had not taken us through it on dry land

v'lo he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

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

Ilu he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

 

and had not drowned our oppressors in it

v'lo shika tzareinu b'tocho,

וְלֹא שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had drowned our oppressors in it,

Ilu shika tzareinu b'tocho,

אִלּוּ שִׁקַע צָרֵינוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ

 

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

v'lo sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years,

Ilu sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

 

and had not fed us the manna

v'lo he'echilanu et haman,

וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had fed us the manna,

Ilu he'echilanu et haman,

אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

 

and had not given us the Shabbat

v'lo natan lanu et hashabbat,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had given us the Shabbat,

Ilu natan lanu et hashabbat,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

 

and had not brought us before Mount Sinai

v'lo keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

וְלֹא קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai,

Ilu keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

אִלּוּ קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

 

and had not given us the Torah

v'lo natan lanu et hatorah,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had given us the Torah,

Ilu natan lanu et hatorah,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

 

and had not brought us into the land of Israel

v'lo hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

 

If He had brought us into the land of Israel,

Ilu hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

 

and not built for us the Holy Temple

v'lo vanah lanu et beit hamikdash,

וְלֹא בָּנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

 

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

Rachtzah

Rachtzah 

As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple. Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand and then three times on your left hand.

After you raise your hands to symbolize washing, we'll recite the blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם

Baruch Atah Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise God, Present in Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.

Motzi-Matzah

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

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

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

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

We praise God, Present in Everything, who brings bread from the land.

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

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

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

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


Q: What do you call someone who gains pleasures from the bread of affliction?

A: A matzochist.

Maror

Baruch Atah Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, asher kid’shanu bemitzvotav, vetzivanu al achilat maror.

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

Maror
Source : Earth Justice Seder

The bitter herbs serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the grocery store, where does your food come from? Who picked the sugar cane for your cookie, or the coffee bean for your morning coffee? We are reminded that people still face the bitterness of oppression, in many forms. 

Together, we recite: 

ָבּרוּךְ ַאָתה יי ֱאלֹ ֵהינוּ ֶמֶלךְ ָהעוָֹלם, ֲא ֶשר ִקְד ָשנוּ ְבּ ִמ ְצווָֹתיו, ְו ִצָוּנוּ ַעל ֲאִכיַלת ָמרוֹר

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror. 

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with
Your commandments and ordained that we should eat bitter herbs. 

{ GREENING TIP }  Start a garden in your community and use the produce for synagogue gatherings or donate it to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. 

For more information on the environmental justice, please visit rac.org/enviro .  For all Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism resources, please visit rac.org/Passover .

Koreich

In the time of the second Temple in Jerusalem, the sage Hillel ate the matzah, maror and the Passover Sacrifice—Korban Pesach—together. This combination of tastes and flavors encompasses the full evolution from slavery to freedom. The maror is the bitterness of persecution. The matzah is the bread baked on the Israelites’ backs as they fled. The lamb is a symbol of their redemption. Tonight, the korech sandwich represents the bitter and sweet that coexist in our world, and our responsibility to tip the scales toward sweetness, justice and redemption.

Shulchan Oreich

As we enjoy the Passover meal, we honor all those who struggled so that we could be free tonight—and all who still persevere in the pursuit of justice worldwide.

Tzafun

It is traditional for the final taste of food at the Seder to be the afikoman—the piece of the matzah that we broke earlier in the evening. May the lingering taste of the bread of affliction in our mouths inspire us to never cease our hunger for freedom.

Bareich

Bareich

Refill everyone’s wine glass. We now say grace after the meal, thanking God for the food we’ve eaten.

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.

Renew our spiritual center in our time. We praise God, who centers us. May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen.

The Third Glass of Wine

The blessing over the meal is immediately followed by another blessing over the wine.

The third cup of wine is our call to action. We commit tonight to standing up, speaking out and protesting acts of hate. We will fight poverty and inequality around the world. We will act on our belief that change is possible.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

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

Drink the third glass of wine!

Hallel

Min hameitzar karati ya, anani bamerchav yah.

From the narrow place I called to God, God answered me with expansiveness.

In each of our lives and in our struggles for justice, there are times when we feel caught in a “narrow place”—trapped by fear, anger or hopelessness. But rather than despair, we can praise and be thankful for the moments of expansiveness and possibility.

Praise for friends and allies who call for justice by our side.

Praise for the incremental victories that have brought protections, rights and civil liberties to the vulnerable.

Praise for our relentless belief that justice will triumph—and for our will to make it so. 

This is traditionally the time reserved for songs. Anyone care to strike up a tune?

Hallel

Traditionally, we fill a cup of wine for Elijah, the prophetic harbinger of redemption. Today, many communities add a cup of water for the prophet Miriam, who sustained the Israelites during their years in the desert by calling forth a flowing well to slake their thirst. As we work to perfect our world in pursuit of the redemption promised by Elijah, we can turn to Miriam's well for the sustenance to persevere. 

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 b’yameinu, yavo eileinu Im mashiach ben-David, Im mashiach ben-David

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

 

Yehi ratzon milfanecha, adonai eloheinu, velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu, borei ha'olam: shetishm'reinu  ut'kaymeinu bamidbar chayeinu im mayim chayim. V'titen lanu et hachizzuk v'et hachomchah l'daat she'tzmichat geulateinu nimtza baderekh chayim lo rak b'sof haderekh. 

You abound in blessings, Present in Everything, Who sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured and kept alive in the wilderness, and may You give us wisdom to understand that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption.

Hallel

We fill the final cup of wine and open the door for Elijah. As we turn our gaze toward the door, let us pray for and work toward true redemption: a time when all people will live in freedom. 

ּבָ רּוְך אַ ּתָ ה יְיָ, אֱ ֹלהֵ ינּו מֶ לֶ ְך הָ עֹולָ ם, ּבֹורֵ א ּפְ רִ י הַ ּגָ פֶ ן.

Baruch Atah, Eloheinu ruach ha-olam, borei peri hagafen.

Nirtzah

The traditional aspiration, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” is our people’s millennia-old hope for redemption. At AJWS, our yearning takes the form of hope and action for a more just world. Join us, this year, in helping achieve…

  • Freedom from bigotry and oppression
  • Equality for minorities shunned by prejudice and hatred
  • Respect for the aspirations and humanity of women and girls
  • Acceptance for people persecuted for who they are or whom they love
  • Sustenance for communities living in hunger
  • Peace in societies torn by war
  • A safe harbor for refugees and survivors of violence
  • And the promise of dignity and human rights for all.

Together, with those around this Seder table and with our global family connected by our collective pursuit of justice, we pray: “Next year in a just world.” And through our actions from this Passover to the next, let us make this dream a reality

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