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Wild Geese- Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
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.
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 our telling pour forth like water, strengthening spirits, refreshing souls.
The word “Karpas” derives from the Greek “Karpos” meaning fruit of the soil. The historical origins of dipping Karpas at the Seder reflect the accepted cuisine of the Greco-Roman symposium.Metaphorically, Karpas, the spring vegetable, represents both the historic birth of Israel out of the womb of Egypt and the rebirth of nature renewed each spring. According to Philo and Rabbi Joshua the original birthday of nature - The Creation - occurred at Pesach-time, not Rosh Hashanah.Similarly, the Italian name for spring prima-vera and the French printemps preserve the sense of the return to the original “first time” of the world.Spring (old English) is originally applied to the place of origin from which a steam arises. Later is was applied to the season, the “spring of the year.”
Leader:We dip parsley, celery, or lettuce in saltwater and recite the prayer:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה
Blessed are You, Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.
Dipping the karpas is a sign of luxury and freedom. The saltwater represents the tears of our ancestors in Mitzrayim. This year may it also represent tears of Black parents and families mourning the loss of their Black youth at the hands of police brutality
- Yehudah Webster
We need two readers:
Reader 1: There is a tremor in the seed as Self-protection cracks, roots reach down and grab hold. The seed swells, and tender shoots push up towards light. This is 'karpas': spring awakening growth. A force so tough it can break stone.
Reader 2: Why do we dip 'karpas' in salt water?
Reader 1: At the beginning of the season of rebirth nand growth, we recall our tears when we were in bondage.
Reader 2: And why should salt water be dipped by 'karpas'?
Reader 1: To remind us that tears stop. Even after a painful struggle, spring comes.
"We call to mind the countless olive trees and citrusgone towaste, in Jayyousand through the Occupied Palestinian Territories, because ofrestrictions on Palestinian movement and Palestinian commerce. We remember the countless trees uprooted needlessly." Jewish Voices Kiddush
The Pesach story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery and oppression. The sound of the breaking matzah sends us into that fractured existence, only to become whole again when we find the broken half, the afikomen, at the end of the Seder.
This brokeness is not merely physical; it reminds us of all the broken places within ourselves, and of the narrow places from which we want to break free. In hebrew, Egypt is called 'Mitzrayim,' which means, 'the narrow straits.' It also symbolizes the inner straits and narrow places within ourselves. Through reciting our story among family and friends- the story of exodus, or our own personal stories of strife- we begin to ascribe meaning to our struggles, and can find ourselves whole again.
Maggid – Beginning
Raise the tray with the matzot and say:
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 dee achalu avhatana b'ara d'meetzrayeem. Kol deechfeen yeitei v'yeichol, kol deetzreech yeitei v'yeefsach. Hashata hacha, l'shanah haba-ah b'ara d'yisra-el. Hashata avdei, l'shanah haba-ah b'nei 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 share the Pesach meal. This year, we are here. Next year, in the land of Israel. This year, we are slaves. Next year, we will be free.
Refill the wine cups, but don’t drink yet.
Maggid – Four Questions
?מַה נִּשְּׁתַּנָה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת
Mah nish-ta-na ha-lai-lah ha-zeh mikol ha-lei-lot?
Why is this night of Passover different from all other nights of the year?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה - כּוּלוֹ מַצָּה
She-b'chol ha-lei-lot anu och'lin cha-meitz u-matzah. Ha-laylah hazeh kulo matzah.
On all other nights, we eat either leavened or unleavened bread, why on this night do we eat only matzah?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר
Sheb'chol ha-lei-lot anu och'lin sh'ar y'rakot. Ha-lai-lah h-azeh maror.
On all other nights, we eat vegetables of all kinds, why on this night must we eat bitter herbs?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אֶנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים
Sheb'chol ha-lei-lot ein anu mat-beelin afee-lu pa-am echat.Ha-lai-lah hazeh sh'tei p'ameem.
On all other nights, we do not dip vegetables even once,
why on this night do we dip greens into salt water and bitter herbs into sweet haroset?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין, - הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָנו מְסֻ
Sheb’khol ha-lei-lot anu och-leem bein yo-shveen u-vein m’su-been, ha-lailah hazeh kulanu m’subeen.
On all other nights, everyone sits up straight at the table, why on this night do we recline and eat at leisure?
The Four Answers
Answer 1: We were slaves in Egypt. Our ancestor in flight from Egypt did not have time to let the dough rise. With not a moment to spare they snatched up the dough they had prepared and fled. But the hot sun beat as they carried the dough along with them and baked it into the flat unleavened bread we call matzah.
Answer 2: The first time we dip our greens to taste the brine of enslavement. We also dip to remind ourselves of all life and growth, of earth and sea, which gives us sustenance and comes to life again in the springtime.
Answer 3: The second time we dip the maror into the charoset. The charoset reminds us of the mortar that our ancestors mixed as slaves in Egypt. But our charoset is made of fruit and nuts, to show us that our ancestors were able to withstand the bitterness of slavery because it was sweetened by the hope of freedom.
Answer 4: Slaves were not allowed to rest, not even while they ate. Since our ancestors were freed from slavery, we recline to remind ourselves that we, like our ancestors, can overcome bondage in our own time. We also recline to remind ourselves that rest and rejuvenation are vital to continuing our struggles. We should take pleasure in reclining, even as we share our difficult history.
Why is this night different from all other nights?
We know the traditional answers to this question: On this night, we eat matzah and bitter herbs, we dip and we recline. But this is not all, or even most, of what Passoveris about.
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 are to 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?
As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:
What does the wise child say?
The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and laws which God commanded you?
You must teach this child the rules of observing the holiday of Passover.
What does the wicked child say?
The wicked child asks, What does this service mean to you?
To you and not to himself! Because he takes himself out of the community and misses the point, set this child’s teeth on edge and say to him: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.” Me, not him. Had that child been there, he would have been left behind.
What does the simple child say?
The simple child asks, What is this?
To this child, answer plainly: “With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves.”
What about the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question?
Help this child ask.
Start telling the story:
“It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”
Do you see yourself in any of these children? At times we all approach different situations like each of these children. How do we relate to each of them?
Once upon a time our people went into galut, exile, in the land of Egypt. During a famine, our ancestor Jacob and his family fled to Egypt where food was plentiful. Through a complicated set of plot twists, his son Joseph had risen to high position in Pharaoh's court, and our people were well-respected and well-regarded, secure in the power structure of the time.
Generations passed and our people remained in Egypt. As rulers came and went, a new Pharaoh ascended to the throne. He felt threatened by the strangers in his people's midst, and ordered our people enslaved.
In fear of rebellion, Pharaoh decreed that all Hebrew boy-children be killed. Two midwives named Shifrah and Puah defied his orders, claiming that "the Hebrew women are so hardy, they give birth before we arrive!" Through their courage, a boy survived.
Fearing for his safety, his family placed him in a basket and he floated down the Nile. He was found and adopted, by Pharaoh's daughter, who named him Moshe because min ha-mayim m'shitihu, from the water she drew him forth. She hired his mother Yocheved as his wet-nurse. Thus he survived to adulthood and was raised as Prince of Egypt.
Although a child of privilege, as he grew he became aware of the slaves who worked in the brickyards of his father. When he saw an overseer mistreat a slave, he struck the overseer and killed him. Fearing retribution, he set out across the Sinai alone.
God spoke to him from a burning bush, which though it flamed was not consumed. The Voice called him to lead the Hebrew people to freedom. Moses argued with God, pleading inadequacy, but God disagreed. Sometimes our responsibilities choose us.
Moses returned to Egypt and went to Pharaoh to argue the injustice of slavery. He gave Pharaoh a mandate with resounds through history: Let my people go.
Pharaoh refused, and Moses warned him that Mighty God would strike the Egyptian people. These threats were not idle: ten terrible plagues were unleashed upon the Egyptians. Only when his nation lay in ruins did Pharaoh agree to our liberation.
Fearful that Pharaoh would change his mind, our people fled, not waiting for their bread dough to rise. (For this reason we eat unleavened bread as we take part in their journey.) Our people did not leave Egypt alone; a "mixed multitude" went with them. From this we learn that liberation is not for us alone, but for all the nations of the earth.
Even Pharaoh's daughter came with us, and traded her old title ( bat-Pharaoh, daugther of Pharaoh) for the name Batya, "daughter of God."
Pharaoh's army followed us to the Sea of Reeds. We plunged into the waters. Only when we had gone as far as we could did the waters part for us. We mourn, even now, that Pharaoh's army drowned: our liberation is bittersweet because people died in our pursuit.
To this day we relive our liberation, that we may not become complacent, that we may always rejoice in our freedom.
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.”1 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, about whom the following midrash is taught: [When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she prophesied… “my mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel.” When [Moses] was born the whole house… filled with light[.] [Miriam’s] father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, “My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.” But when they threw [Moses] into the river her father tapped her on the head saying, “Daughter, where is your prophecy?” So it is written, “And [Miriam] stood afar off to know what would be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2 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, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3 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.
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, because it would have really sucked to be Egyptian at that particular moment. 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
Two elements that traditionally close out the Maggid encourage us to consider how the seder calls upon us to celebrate the Pesach with a view not toward the past but to responsibilities for our future actions. These elements are the B'chol dor vador and the blessing of the cup of redemption.
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, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.
The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.
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 second glass of wine while reclining to the left!
אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם
Ilu hotzi- hotziyanu, hotziyanu mimitzrayim,
אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת
Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et haShabbat
natan lanu et haShabbat
אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה
Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et haTorah
natan lanu et haTorah
Had God only led us from Mitzrayim - it would have been sufficient for us!
Had God only given us Shabbat - it would have been sufficient for us!
Had God only given us Torah - it would have been sufficient for us!
Wash hands while reciting the traditional blessing for washing the hands:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu al n'tilat yadayim.
Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has taught us the way of holiness through commandments, commanding us to wash our hands.
Leader: We take the uppermost Matzah and break it into pieces and distribute it to each participant at our Seder.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam Ha’Motzi Lechem Min Ha’Aretz.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, Who brings forth sustenance from the Earth.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kidshanu Bemitzvotav Ve-Tzivanu Al Achilat Matzah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctifies us with commandments, and commands us to eat Matzah.
Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror |מָרוֹר
We recognize that even though we are so grateful for our journeys toward liberation, and that we experience so much joy through the process of freeing ourselves, there are also many parts of the journey that are difficult and unpleasant.
We acknowledge the mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences by mixing bitter and sweet flavors as we eat the maror with charoset.
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.
זֵכֶר לְמִקְדָּשׁ כְּהִלֵּל. כֵּן עָשָׂה הִלֵּל בִּזְמַן שבֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ הָיָה קַיָים: הָיָה כּוֹרֵךְ מַצָּה וּמָרוֹר וְאוֹכֵל בְּיַחַד, לְקַיֵים מַה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: עַל מַצּוֹת וּמְרֹרִים יֹאכְלֻהוּ.
Zeicher l'mikdash k'hileil. Kein asah hileil bizman shebeit hamikdash hayah kayam. Hayah koreich pesach, matzah, u-maror v'ocheil b'yachad. L'kayeim mah shene-emar. “Al matzot um'rorim yochlu-hu.”
Eating matzah, maror and haroset this way reminds us of how, in the days of the Temple, Hillel would do so, making a sandwich of the Pashal lamb, matzah and maror, in order to observe the law “You shall eat it (the Pesach sacrifice) on matzah and maror.”
Shulchan Orech שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ
Now is time to enjoy the festival meal and participate in lively discussion. It is permitted to drink wine between the second and third cups.
After the meal, take the Afikoman and divide it among all the guests at the Seder table.
It is forbidden to drink or eat anything (except the remaining two ritual cups of wine) after eating the Afikoman.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve;
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. (IV.i.148–158)