The long history of our people is one of contrasts — freedom and slavery, joy and pain, power and helplessness. Passover reflects these contrasts. Tonight as we celebrate our freedom, we remember the slavery of our ancestors and realize that many people are not yet free.
Each generation changes — our ideas, our needs, our dreams, even our celebrations. So has Passover changed over many centuries into our present
holiday. Our nomadic ancestors gathered for a spring celebration when the sheep gave birth to their lambs. Theirs was a celebration of the continuity of life. Later, when our ancestors became farmers, they celebrated the arrival of spring in their own fashion. Eventually these ancient spring festivals merged with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and became a new celebration of life and freedom.
As each generation gathered around the table to retell the old stories, the symbols took on new meanings. New stories of slavery and liberation, oppression and triumph were added, taking their place next to the old. Tonight we add our own special chapter as we recall our people’s past and we dream of the future.
For Jews, our enslavement by the Egyptians is now remote, a symbol of communal remembrance. As we sit here in the comfort of our modern world, we think of the millions who still suffer the brutality of the existence that we escaped thousands of years ago.
Zroah (Pascal Lamb/Shankbone)
Melah (Salt Water)
Welcome to Our Seder
Today is the Jewish people's birthday
and the rebirth of personal freedom for each individual.
Tonight is a journey of rediscovery: to relive slavery and poverty,
and then to experience liberation and taste abundance.
Eating together = we become a community of caring for each other's needs.
Reading, discussing and arguing = we become a community of learners.
Asking questions and telling stories = we become a community of memory.
Playing and acting = we become a community of imagination.
Praying together = we become a community of hope, willing to take a stand.
Singing together = we become a community of joy and appreciation.
Join in, take part, feel free to ask, to add (and to skip)...
No matter your background, no matter your age, no matter your knowledge.
Feel free to make this Seder your own.
קַדֵּשׁ Kiddush (the blessing over wine) | kadeish |
וּרְחַץ Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the seder | urchatz |
כַּרְפַּס Dipping a green vegetable in salt water| karpas |
יַחַץ Breaking the middle matzah | yachatz |
מַגִּיד Telling the story of Passover | magid |
רָחְצָה Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the meal | rachtza |
מוֹצִיא מַצָּה The blessing over the meal and matzah | motzi matzah |
מָרוֹר Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror |
כּוֹרֵךְ Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich |
שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich |
צָפוּן Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon |
בָּרֵךְ Saying grace after the meal and inviting Elijah the Prophet | bareich |
הַלֵּל Singing songs that praise God | hallel |
נִרְצָה Ending the seder and thinking about the future | nirtzah |
Long ago, at this season, a people - our people - set our on a journey.
On such a night as this, israel went forth from degradation to joy. We give thanks for the liberations of days gone by.
And we pray for all who are still bound.
Eternal God, may all who hunger come to rejoice in a new Passover.
Let all the human family sit at Your table, drink the wine of deliverance, eat the bread of freedom:
Freedom from bondage
and freedom from oppression,
freedom from hunger
and freedom from want,
freedom from hatred
and freedom from fear,
freedom to think
and freedom to speak
freedom to teach
and freedom to learn,
freedom to love
and freedom to share,
freedom to hope
and freedom to rejoice,
soon, in our days,
Kiddush - Wine
The joy of Passover is the joy of love; the hope of Passover is the hope of love. Our ancestors suffered the coldness of hate and dreamed of the warmth of human kindness and universal love. And then, after the long winter of their bondage, freedom burst forth upon them like spring. In the rich sweetness of this wine, we celebrate in kinship the love and faith that give life. Love, freedom, and faith in life - these have kept our people together, in the face of great odds, for four millenia. May the struggle to attain these and to keep them succeed for all people in our time, and in the time to come.
BORUCH ATTO ADONOI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM BORE P'RI HAGGOFEN
The Kiddush is a toast to this holiday in blessing the wine and the time passing. Come, honored friends, let us together drink the toast: L'chayim! To life! (All raise their cups, toast, and drink their wine.)
All Jewish celebrations, from holidays to weddings, include wine as a symbol of our joy – not to mention a practical way to increase that joy. 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 Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who chose us from all peoples and languages, and sanctified us with commandments, and lovingly gave to us special times for happiness, holidays and this time of celebrating the Holiday of Matzah, the time of liberation, reading our sacred stories, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. For you chose us and sanctified us among all peoples. And you have given us joyful holidays. We praise God, who sanctifies the people of Israel and the holidays.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything,
who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment.
Drink the first glass of wine!
Let your HANDS take the first step, nose ahead, do the talking:
R' Yitzchak Mirsky, in his Hegyoni Halachah Haggadahi, writes about the significance of Urechatz--of the additional washing of one's hands before eating vegetables on the night of the Seder. In Mesachet Sottah 4B it says, "One who takes the Mitzvah of washing one's hands lightly will be removed from the world." The Ba'er Hatav comments that even if one is normally vigilant about washing his hands before eating bread (and the Maateh Yosef says that this also applies to washing before eating vegetables), but disregards this Mitzvah purposely just one time, he is still liable to the punishment set forth in the Gemarah.
The question arises though as to why the Gemarah stipulates such a strict punishment, even for missing the Mitzvah just once?!
The Maharal of Prague says that there is deep symbolism involved when one washes his hands for the purpose of a Mitzvah. Hands represent the beginning of the human body, for when one stretches out his hands to reach forward or above, it is the hands that are at the front or at the top of the body. The Maharal explains that that the way one begins an action greatly influences the direction and tone of all that follows from that point, and therefore, even a seemingly insignificant sin, but one involving the "bodily leader," is particularly wrong, for a misguided beginning will lead to an incomplete and incorrect conclusion. On Pesach, the Maharal continues, we should be extremely careful in our observance of this idea, for Pesach is the annual point of beginning for everything that exists, in all times.
At this time of beginning and renewal, R' Mirsky concludes, it is essential to remind ourselves of the importance of a correct beginning in any action and endeavor we undertake- something which is symbolized by the additional washing of our hands at the Seder.
In ancient times our people were farmers and shepherds. In this festive season, we are meant to feel a connection with the food we eat from the land and to remember that we are surrounded by blessings and miracles no less majestic than those our ancestors witnessed thousands of years ago. Spring reminds us that we are again given a chance for renewal; a new chance to create peace and goodness in our world. We dip karpas - greens - to symbolize this renewal. The salt water symbolizes the bitter tears shed by our ancestors in slavery
Each person takes greens, dips them in salt water and recites the following:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p'ri ha-adamah.
We praise You, Adonai, Sovereign of Life, Who creates the fruit of the earth.
Eat the Karpas.
For we recognize that, like the broken matzah, we are incomplete, with prayers yet to be fulfilled, promises still to be redeemed.
We hide part of this broken matzah and hope it will be found by the end our Seder meal.
For we recognize that parts of ourselves are yet unknown. We are still discovering what makes us whole.
We hide the larger of the two parts of the matzah.
For we recognize that more is hidden than revealed.
With the generations that have come before us, and with one another, our search begins.
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.
Raise the Matzah
Ha lachma anya di achalu avhatana b’ara d’mitzrayim. Kol dichfin yeitei v’yeichol, kol ditzrich yeitei v’yifsach. Hashata hacha, l’shanah habaah b’ara d’Yisrael. Hashata avdei, l’shanah habaah b’nei chorin.
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.
Although they may initially seem redundant, the two invitations we issue in Ha Lachma Anya – “Let all who are hungry, enter and eat” and “Let all who are in need, come and celebrate the Passover” – in reality are not. “All who are in need” means those who are in need – but not in need of bread. Whoever is in need of bread is hungry. “All who are in need” refers to one who is alone, who has a lot of Matza and wine but no home or family. There are indeed many ways to be included among those “who are in need.” The invitation to “all who are in need” is not “to eat with us;” rather it is to spend the Pesach with us, “to celebrate with us.” It is an invitation addressed to unfortunate and lonely people. They might be millionaires; it is completely irrelevant. Whoever is in need should come and celebrate.
Ha Lachma Anya is the renewal of a pledge of solidarity among the Jewish people – solidarity between individual and individual, and between the individual and the Jewish community as a whole. It is a proclamation that we are one people, and that we are ready to help one another. Pesach night is a time of sharing; if the sense of solidarity, responsibility, unity and readiness to share and to participate are not manifested and demonstrated, the whole Seder becomes meaningless.
- Rabbi Joseph B. Solveitchik
Later, we will read and explore the whole story of the Exodus from Egypt, but first we give a simple answer to each of these four questions.
We eat matzoh because when our ancestors were told by Pharaoh that they could leave Egypt, they had no time to allow their bread to rise, so they baked hurriedly, without leavening.
At the Seder, we eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness our ances- tors experienced when they were oppressed as slaves.
At the Seder table, we dip food twice; once in salt water to remind us of the tears shed in slavery and again in haroset, to remind us that there is sweetness even in bitter times.
In ancient times, slaves ate hurriedly, standing or squatting on the ground. Symbolically, as a sign of freedom, we lean and relax as we partake of wine and symbolic food. The Haggadah tells the story of Rabbi Akiba and other Talmudic scholars sitting at the Seder table in B’nai B’rak all night long discussing the events of the liberation from Egypt. They talked all night until their students came in to announce it was time for the morning prayers. If great scholars can find the theme of freedom so fascinating that it keeps them up all night, our Seder too, will be made more interesting with questions, comments and discussion on this theme.
The haggadah speaks of 4 children asking about the seder:
One child asks about the laws and all the details of halakhic observance. With this child, you can study all the laws related to Pesach and explain that they were designed to enable you to feel as someone who has personally experienced the Exodus, as taught in the Mishna: “In Every Generation, each person is obligated to see himself/herself as if he/she had personally left Mitzrayim.”Remind this child that four times, it is repeated in Torah that you should not oppress the stranger, for strangers we were in the land of Egypt; this is the founding theme of Judaism and this is where we should put the emphasis of our observance.
One child asks about what all these rituals mean to you. To this child, you can say, "what a great question! For me, one of the greatest aspects of the seder is that it has allowed me to experience liberation in many different forms. Sometimes, like Shmuel, I experience the seder as physical liberation; other times, like Rav, I experience it as spiritual liberation; there are times I feel we are talking about civil rights in general and other times in which I am sure we are talking particularly about the Jewish condition throughout history. Every time, though, I experience the seder teaching me to fight oppression in all of its different forms. Now, tell me: what does this all mean to you?"
One child is naïve and has difficulty understanding why we are observing Passover if we are not slaves any more. To this child, you can explain that evil has existed in many different forms over time and our people has been a victim of evil several times in history. But evil also exists in ourselves, and sometimes we oppress others too, sometimes consciously, other unconsciously. Mitzrayim represents all these forms of oppression and the seder tells us to learn from the times we have been oppressed to understand how difficult it is to be in such a position. Our duty, therefore, is to fight oppression in all of its forms, including when we are the perpetrators.
One child does not know how to ask. You might start the conversation and make the story as interactive and interesting as you can to keep this child's attention. But keep always in mind that oppression and liberation are serious themes, and that our redemption came at the price of human lives, both ours and of our adversaries. In your effort to make the story interesting, try not to make fun of people's suffering.
I am almost afraid to look over my shoulder
To see how far I’ve come
The expanse seems impossibly wide
Here I am
Singing Your Name
Surrounded by love and family
Breathing hope in and out
I raise my eyes to the horizon and it feels so close
I am giddy with relief
Your sea is calm now at our backs
The line of the brown rocks
From which we leapt
Only hours ago
Seems a distant memory
This moment is all joy and wonder
We sing and we sing
Circles within circles of men and women and children
All filled up with Your name
With Your praises
Our hearts are full
Our lives are Yours
We lift our eyes to You
And know we have arrived at the beginning
We have set our feet firmly on Your path
The one that leads straight to Your door
To our true home
To our destiny
To You and to us
Inside each other
Together in each moment
Had You taken us out of slavery, but not torn the Sea apart for us, it would have been enough for us!
Had You brought us through it dry, but not sunk our oppressors in its midst, it would have been enough for us!
Had You sunk our oppressors in its midst, but not freely fed us manna, it would have been enough for us!
Had You freely fed us manna, but not rested us with Shabbat, it would have been enough for us!
Had You rested us with Shabbat, but not given us the Teaching, it would have been enough for us!
I-lu ho-tzi ho-tzi-a-nu, ho-tzi-anu mi-mitz-ra-yim, ho-tzi-a-nu mi-mitz-rayim dai-ye-nu.
DAI-DAI-YE-NU, DAI-DAI-YE-NU, DAI-DAI-YE-NU, Dayenu, dayenu!
I-lu na-tan na-tan la-nu, na-tan la-nu et ha-sha-bat, na-tan la-nu et ha-sha-bat, dai-ye-nu.
DAI-DAI-YE-NU, DAI-DAI-YE-NU, DAI-DAI-YE-NU, Dayenu, dayenu!
Pesach, matzoh, and maror have symbolic meaning for us. They are so important and so meaningful that no Seder is really complete unless they are fully explained.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS PESACH?
This roasted shank bone is the symbol of the Pesach lamb. Each year at Passover, the Israelites would gather at the Temple to commemorate the Exodus from slavery. Each family would bring a lamb as an offering, to remember the time when our ancestors were spared the fate of the Egyptians. The Pesach was a reminder that God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt. Originally, one of the four questions asked at the Seder was not, “Why do we recline?” but “Why do we eat only roasted meat?” After the Temple was destroyed, sacrifices were abandoned and so was the question about eating only roasted meat at the Seder.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS MATZOH?
Matzoh is a symbol of the simple bread of poverty. The matzoh reminds us of the great haste in which the Israelites fled from Egypt. As we read in the Torah: “They baked unleavened cakes of the dough since they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay.”
In ancient times, the Israelites ate simple foods. For one week each year the matzoh becomes the symbol of those days when people had little, reminding us that our lives are about much more than the material things we have or own.
We are commanded to eat matzoh on the first night of Passover and to rid ourselves of chometz — all bread and leavened food products made from fermented wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt — for the entire holiday. Though we are prohibited from eating these fermented grains during Passover, we are also commanded to eat Matzoh — flour and water baked so quickly that it does not ferment or rise — at the Seder.
The flat, unleavened matzoh represents humility. Matzoh is not “enriched” with oil, sugar, honey or other things. Only by acknowledging our own shortcomings and looking to a higher wisdom, can we free ourselves from the arrogance and self-centeredness within our own hearts.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS MAROR?
We eat the maror, or bitter herbs, to remind ourselves that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our people. As we read: “And they made their lives bit- ter with hard labor at mortar and brick and in all sorts of drudgery in the field; and they ruthlessly imposed all the tasks upon them.”
Even today, oppression remains in the world, and we are meant to taste its bitterness recalling these words : “You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in Egypt. When strangers reside with you in your land, you shall not wrong them...You shall love them as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. You shall rejoice before God with your son and daughter...and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow in your midst. Always remember that you were slaves in Egypt.”
As we eat the bitter herbs, we are reminded to remove any bitterness from our own lives, for bitterness will kill even sooner than death. If we become used to bitterness in our lives, it is very hard to ever leave it behind.
B’chol Dor Vador – In Every Generation
In every generation we relive a time we fled out of a narrow place with freedom on our mind
We recall how we were dancing when we saw the waters part, how we stood as one at Sinai and felt that Godbeat in our heart
Now we chant the ancient prayers even as we sing new songs, weave our future with the past, keep the spirit in us strong
Sing of Miriam, sing of Deborah, sing of Emma, sing of Szold, in every generation there's a story to be told
Our rejoicing is a mixture of the bitter and the sweet; until all live in freedom our journey's not complete
We must put an end to hunger, hatred, crime and war; in every generation that's what we're striving for
Oh yes in every generation we relive a time we fled out of a narrow place with freedom on our mind
Second Cup of Wine:
Praised are you, Adonai, our God, sovereign of the universe, who has redeemed us and our fathers from Egypt and enabled us to reach this night that we may eat matzo and marror. Lord our God and God of our fathers, enable us to reach also the forthcoming holidays and festivals in peace, rejoicing in the rebuilding of Zion your city, and joyful at your service.
Praised are you, Adonai, our God, sovereign of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם.
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 have poured the water over your hands, recite this short blessing.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.
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.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, 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.
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.
Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror |מָרוֹר
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?
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, 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.
Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich | כּוֹרֵךְ
When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the biggest ritual of them all was eating the lamb offered as the pesach or Passover sacrifice. The great sage Hillel would put the meat in a sandwich made of matzah, along with some of the bitter herbs. While we do not make sacrifices any more – and, in fact, some Jews have a custom of purposely avoiding lamb during the seder so that it is not mistaken as a sacrifice – we honor this custom by eating a sandwich of the remaining matzah and bitter herbs. Some people will also include charoset in the sandwich to remind us that God’s kindness helped relieve the bitterness of slavery.
Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon | צָפוּן
The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. As we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives.
We bless You God — you have nourished all the world
With goodness, graciousness and kindness
May You give food and life to every living thing.
May we all learn to do the same.
And so we thank the One Who gives us food for life.
May we provide for every living soul.
Baruch atah Adonai hazan et ha-kol.
We thank You, God, for the legacy we share
For the rich fertile land we inherit and steward
For the gift of freedom, of Torah and of life.
You give us food to live
You give us strength to give
Every day, every moment, with bracha
B’chol eit u-v’chol sha-ah.
O You, the God of our present and our past
Please remember those who came before us
That every blessing make our lives more whole
That every one of us be strengthened by Your light.
O, Source of compassion, through the ages we’ve been blessed
May all people make our world a place of peace and freedom
In our day, now, the time has come.
Your love surrounds us now and forever more.
You give us days of goodness and sacred times.
Here at this table, we nourish one and all.
Bring truth and justice to Heaven and to Earth.
Oseh shalom bimromav – hu ya-aseh shalom aleinu v’al kol yisrael v’imru amein.
May the One who creates peace in the heavens above create peace upon us,
upon all the Jewish people and upon all who dwell on earth and say: Amen.
בָרוךְ אַתָה יי אֱלֹהֵינו מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בוֹרֵא פְרִי הַגָפֶן.
At the recent Community Passover Seder event held at the Beth Tzedec Synagogue in Calgary, I heard one version of Elijah’s story that has a unverisal message:
A pious and wealthy Jew asked his rabbi, “For about forty years I have opened the door for Elijah every Seder night waiting for him to come, but he never does. What is the reason?” The rabbi answered, “In your neighborhood there lives a very poor family with many children. Call on the man and propose to him that you and your family celebrate the next Passover in his house, and for this purpose provide him and his whole family with everything necessary for the eight Passover days. Then on the Seder night Elijah will certainly come.” The man did as the rabbi told him, but after Passover he came to the rabbi and claimed that again he had waited in vain to see Elijah. The rabbi answered, “I know very well that Elijah came on the Seder night to the house of your poor neighbor. But of course you could not see him.” And the rabbi held a mirror before the face of the man and said, “Look, this was Elijah’s face that night.”
When I heard the story it reminded me of the Sufi saying: Past the suffering walked he who asks, “Why, oh God, do you not do something for these people?” To which God replied, “I did do something, I made you.”
So, are you Elijah or should we expect someone else?
The cups are filled for the fourth time.
The leader lifts the cup of wine and reads:
The festive service is completed. With songs of praise, we have lifted up the cups symbolizing the divine promises of salvation, and have called upon the name of God. As we offer the benediction over the fourth cup, let us again lift our souls to God in faith and in hope. May He who broke Pharaoh's yoke for ever shatter all fetters of oppression, and hasten the day when swords shall, at last, be broken and wars ended. Soon may He cause the glad tidings of redemption to be heard in all lands, so that mankind—freed from violence and from wrong, and united in an eternal covenant of brotherhood—may celebrate the universal Passover in the name of our God of freedom.
All read in unison:
May God bless the whoel house of Israel with freedom, and keep us safe from danger everywhere. Amen.
May God cause the light of His countenance to shine upon all men, and dispel the darkness of ignorance and of prejudice. Amen.
May He be gracious unto us. Amen.
May God lift up His countenance upon our country and render it a true home of liberty and a bulwark of justice. And may He grant peace unto all mankind. Amen
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָֽעוֹלָֽם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפָּן׃
BORUCH ATTO ADONOI ELOHENU MELECH HO‘OLOM BORE P’RI HAGGOFEN
Praised art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who createst the fruit of the vine
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!