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Introduction

Passover is my favorite holiday for two reasons. First, unlike the celebrations associated with many other major Jewish holidays, seders take place in the home rather than in the synagogue. Instead of a rabbi leading a congregation in a proscribed set of rituals and prayers, seders bring families and friends together to learn, eat, and laugh. And while certain customs and traditions are common to most seders, each seder is unique and represents the personalities, values, and experiences of its participants. My first hope for tonight’s seder is that it represents both the diversity of beliefs and backgrounds of those in attendance as well as our shared morals and principles.

Second, the lessons of Passover are universal, and the seder encourages participants to consider how the story applies to their lives today. The story of the Exodus reminds us that there is still bitterness in the world and iniquity in our homes and communities. Passover is a holiday during which we openly celebrate the oppressed, the underdog. My second hope for tonight’s seder is that it allows everyone to take otherwise outdated biblical stories and appreciate them in a modern context.

And with that, welcome to our seder!

Michele Margolis

April 18, 2016

Introduction
Source : Susannah Heschel

Why is there an orange on our seder plate?

In the early 1980s, the Hillel Foundation invited me to speak on a panel at Oberlin College. While on campus, I came across a Haggadah that had been written by some Oberlin students to express feminist concerns. One ritual they devised was placing a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians ("there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the Seder plate").

At the next Passover, I placed an orange on our family's Seder plate. During the first part of the Seder, I asked everyone to take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit, and eat it as a gesture of solidarity with Jewish lesbians and gay men, and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community (I mentioned widows in particular).

Bread on the Seder plate brings an end to Pesach - it renders everything chometz. And its symbolism suggests that being lesbian is being transgressive, violating Judaism. I felt that an orange was suggestive of something else: the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out - a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too many Jews.

When lecturing, I often mentioned my custom as one of many new feminist rituals that had been developed in the last twenty years. Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal maneuver occurred: My idea of an orange and my intention of affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the story circulates that a MAN stood up after I lecture I delivered and said to me, in anger, that a woman belongs on the bimah (dais in a synagogue) as much as an orange on the Seder plate. My idea, a woman's words, are attributed to a man, and the affirmation of lesbians and gay men is simply erased. Isn't that precisely what's happened over the centuries to women's ideas?

Susannah Heschel, April, 2001
Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies Dartmouth College

Kadesh

Tonight we drink four glasses of wine, two cups before the meal and two glasses after the meal. Why four?

The traditional explanation for the four cups of wine relates to the four expressions of redemption describing the Jews’ exodus from Egypt in the Bible. 1. “I will take you out…” 2. “I will save you…” 3. “I will redeem you…” 4. “I will take you as a nation…” (Exodus 6:6-7). The rabbis who wrote the Mishnah (rabbinic literature documenting oral traditions) said seder participants should drink a glass of wine, a toast if you will, for each of these expressions.  

These 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.

A toast: Wine is a symbol of joy and happiness and we are grateful to be able to gather with friends and family to observe this festival just as people have done for centuries.

Drink the first glass

Urchatz
by Leora
Source : Original
At this point, I will symbolically wash my hands for all of us, without saying the blessing. As I take a moment to wash my hands, imagine that you are washing away all anxiety and stress in your life, and allow yourself to be filled with the hope that the world can be a better place for us all.
Karpas

The karpas, the green vegetable, is the first part of the seder that makes this night different from all other nights. So far, the first glass of wine and the hand washing, though significant, do not serve to mark any sort of difference; they are regular parts of meals. The karpas, however, is not. As a night marked by difference, that difference starts now.

Passover, like many Jewish holidays, combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with 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 green vegetable is a symbol of springtime and nature’s renewal.

We temper this symbol of hope and rebirth by dipping it in salt water, symbolic of the tears of the enslaved Israelites and all those who continue to not be free.

Take karpas, dip in salt water, and eat.

Yachatz

When the Israelites left Egypt they did so in a hurry and had no time to wait for the bread they were baking to rise. The bread they baked was flat – matzah. Matzah is more than a commemorative food. It is called the ‘bread of affliction’ or a ‘poor man’s bread’. It remains flat symbolizing humility. Regular bread that rises symbolizes arrogance. On Passover we remove all leavened bread (and grain products) from our homes, eating only the matzah. We symbolize the removal of all arrogance and egotism turning instead to humility.

There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The Passover story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery, oppression, and separation. The broken middle matzah therefore represents all those separated from their families or communities, from the Jews expelled from Jerusalem by the Romans to the Native Americans sent to reservations and enslaved, to the millions living in refugee camps around the world and the Palestinians removed from their homes.

The host will wrap up the larger pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikoman, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, our younger guests will hunt for the afikoman in order to wrap up the meal. Tradition states that we cannot conclude the seder without the broken piece being found, as the broken piece is necessary for us to become whole again.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : AJWS
By Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holzblatt

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 the 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.

1 Genesis 1:2 2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a 3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993, she is known as a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers, and separation between church and state.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt is a rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.. She is co-creator of two nationally recognized community engagement projects—MakomDC and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington.

-- Four Questions

Traditionally, the youngest person present asks:

Why is this night different from all other nights?

1. On all other nights we eat either bread or matzah. Why, on this night, do we eat only matzah?

2. On all other nights we eat herbs of any kind. Why, on this night, do we eat only bitter herbs?

3. On all other nights, we do not dip our herbs even once. Why, on this night, do we dip them twice?

4. On all other nights, we eat either sitting or leaning. Why, on this night, do we eat while leaning?

A different guest readers each ANSWER:

1. MATZAH

Matzah is the symbol of our affliction and our freedom. Legend has it that when Moses and his followers fled Egypt, they moved so quickly that the bread they baked did not have time to rise. However, scholars have noted that long before the Jews celebrated Passover, farmers of the Middle East celebrated Khag Ha-matsot, the festival of unleavened bread, at this time of year. This was a festival where unleavened bread was made from the new grain harvest that took place 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. Later on, the Jewish people incorporated this agricultural festival into the celebration of freedom and renewal we now call Passover.

2. BITTER HERBS

Tradition says that this root is to remind us of the time of our slavery. We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure. Scholars inform us that bitter herbs were eaten at the Spring festival in ancient times. The sharpness of the taste awakened the senses and made the people feel at one with nature's revival. Thus, the horseradish is the stimulus of life, reminding us that struggle is better than the complacent acceptance of injustice.

3. DIPPING

The first time, the salty taste reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves. The second time, the salt water and the green help us to remember the ocean and green plants and the Earth, from which we get air and water and food that enable us to live.

4. RECLINING

This question goes back to ancient times in Rome, when it was the custom for rich people to eat while lying on a couch leaning on one elbow as slaves and servants fed them. The Jewish people thought of this relaxed type of eating as a sign of freedom and prosperity, so they would lean to one side eating at the Seder on Passover, the festival of freedom. Today, we who are free eat while sitting up, even at Passover, but the question remains in the service as a reminder of how it was when our people longed for freedom.

MORE QUESTIONS:

Reader: We have answered the four traditional questions, but there are still more questions to be answered. There are other special foods on our Seder plate: a sweet condiment (charoset), a roasted shank bone (z'ro-ah), and a roasted egg (baytsa). Why are they here?

A different guest reads each answer:

Charoset: Apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine are combined to make this sweet condiment. It is the color of clay or mortar. It reminds us of the bricks and mortar that the Israelites are said to have made when they built the Pharaohs' palaces and cities. At the same time, the taste of charoset is sweet, and it reminds us of the sweetness of freedom.

Shank bone: The bone represents the lamb that was the special Paschal sacrifice on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, and annually, on the afternoon before Passover, in the Holy Temple.

Egg: The egg represents life. Each of us begins as an egg and grows to adulthood. The egg reminds us of our evolutionary past and the gifts of human inheritance. But the egg is fragile. It represents potential that can be destroyed. Left alone, it would perish. Growing life needs warmth and love and security, guidance, hope, and vision. To achieve their full potential, human beings need the support and encouragement of family and community. The egg symbolizes the fragility and interdependence of life.

-- Four Children
Source : Original
Traditionally, The Four Sons (or Children) include a wise son, a wicked (or rebellious) son, a simple son and one who does not even know enough to ask.  Each of the first three ask questions about the Seder, essentially "Explain all this to me - what are my responsibilities?" "What has all this nonsense you are babbling about got to do with me?" and "What IS all this anyway?" while the fourth is silent - requiring the adults to be proactive in providing an explanation of the Seder proceedings.

Some say that The Four Children is a metaphor for four different attitudes toward tradition, toward belonging and toward being active or passive in the face of injustice.  Some say it is about stages of life, from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood (and, potentially, back again toward old age).

In the spirit of telling the story of Exodus and different attitudes that one might take to one's communal and global responsibilities, think about your relationship to your tradition, the people from whom or the place from which you come and the events taking place there.

- Do you understand what is going on?

- Do you feel any obligation to do anything about it?

- What would you do if you could?

- What should you tell your children about it?

-- Exodus Story
Source : Original

Famine in Canaan.  Relocation to Egypt.  Joseph rules - things are good.  Time passes and memory fades.  Descendants of Jacob (Hebrews?) are enslaved.  Eventually, their numbers threaten one of the Pharaohs.  To send a message and control population growth, Hebrew boys are marked for slaughter.  One such boy (Moses) escapes and is adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter.  Moses eventually agrees to lead his people to freedom.  Moses makes demands of the reigning Pharaoh, who pays no heed.  Moses enlists God and (ten) plagues ensue.  The Pharaoh flip-flops nine times and then says 'get out of here'.  The Hebrews skidaddle, but Pharaoh changes his mind AGAIN and chases them into the Red Sea.  The sea parts (miracle or unique wind phenomenon?) and the Hebrews pass through unharmed while the Egyptian soldiers drown.  The Hebrews party (but with a touch of remorse).  FREEDOM.  The story continues.

-- Exodus Story

The Twelve Tribes of Israel — Jacob's sons and their families — came into Egypt. And though in time Joseph and all of his generation died, the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, until the land was filled with them.

There came to power in Egypt a new king who had never heard of Joseph. He said unto his people, "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Let us deal wisely with them lest it come to pass that they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us."

Accordingly they put taskmasters over the Israelites to wear them down by forced labor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And the Egyptians were grieved because of the children of Israel.

And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive."

A woman of the house of Levi conceived and bore a son, and seeing what a fine child he was, she kept him hidden for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, coating it with bitumen and pitch, and she laid it amongst the reeds at the river's edge.

Downriver, the daughter of the Pharoah was bathing. Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and saw the child, and the babe wept. She had compassion on him, saying, "This is one of the Hebrews' children."

As the child grew, he became as a son to the Pharoah's daughter. And she called him Moses, which means "to draw out", for she drew him out of the water.

One day when he was grown, Moses witnessed an Egpytian striking a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen. And seeing no one about, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. The Pharaoh learned of this, and tried to have Moses put to death, but he fled.

While in exile, Moses married a Midianite woman, who bore him a son. When wandering the desert, at the age of 80, he encountered God in the form of a burning bush. Giving him signs with which to prove his words, the LORD instructed him to return to Egypt and free the Hebrews.

Moses came before the Pharoah, and said unto him, "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto our God in the wilderness." The Pharoah refused and, incensed, gave his taskmasters new orders that very day. "Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you will exact the same quantity of bricks from them as before."

The Israelites grew distraught, and they met with Moses, saying "You have brought us into bad odor with Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hand to kill us."

Moses went once more before the Pharoah to ask of him, "Let my people go". Moses cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants and it became a serpent. But the Pharaoh called upon the wise men and the sorcerers: the magicians of Egypt, and with their enchantments, they did likewise with their staves. Unimpressed, the Pharaoh once more refused.

Moses went again before the Pharaoh. He lifted up his staff and smote the waters of the river in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants. All the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. The fish died, and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water. But the magicians of Egypt did likewise with their enchantments, and the Pharaoh remained obstinate.

Moses brought forth a plague of frogs from the river, and they swarmed over the land of Egypt. But by their enchantments, the magicians of Egypt were able to do the same. The Pharaoh said "Entreat Yahweh to take the frogs from me and my people, and I will let the people go." But when the frogs had died, he hardened his heart and refused to free the Hebrews.

Moses struck the dust of the desert, and they became swarms of lice that plagued the Egyptians. The magicians attempted to produce lice in the same way, but failed. They beseeched the Pharoah to let the Hebrews go, but he would not listen.

Moses brought forth this time a plague of insects, beetles and biting flies. They swarmed over the whole of Egypt. Once again, as with the frogs, the Pharoah bade Moses to lift this plague, promising to let the Hebrews go once he had done so. And so the insects left the land of Egypt, but once again the Pharaoh refused.

Next, Moses threatened a pestilence on the livestock of Egypt, but the Pharaoh would not be swayed. And so a terrible murrain settled on the animals of Egypt and they died, but the livestock of the Israelites remained healthy. But still, the Pharaoh remained obstinate.

Moses cast a handful of soot into the air, where it became a great cloud that filled the land of Egypt. Where it landed, on man and beast, it brought forth boils and sores. The magicians of Egypt could not compete with Moses in this, for they too were afflicted with boils. But the Pharaoh would not relent.

Moses stretched his staff toward heaven, and there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast. Again, the Pharaoh promised to free the Hebrews if the plague was lifted. But once again, though Moses removed the plague, the heart of the Pharaoh was hardened, and he would not let the children of Israel go.

Moses stretched his staff over Egypt, and brought an east wind which blew all that day and night. By morning the wind had brought a swarm of locusts. They covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened. They ate every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left, until there remained not any green thing through all the land of Egypt. Once more, the Pharaoh made his false promise, and once more, after the locusts had left the land of Egypt, he would not let them go.

Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They saw not one another, nor rose any from his place for three days. But the Pharaoh would not let them go. 

But Moses went one last time before the Pharaoh, to tell him that all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, and there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt. But the Pharaoh would not listen.

Moses went amongst his own people, and instructed them to sacrifice a lamb and take the blood, strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. For the blood shall be a token upon the houses where ye are: and when the LORD sees the blood, He shall pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you when He smites the land of Egypt.

And it came to pass that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians, for there was not a house among them where there was not one dead. And the Pharaoh called for Moses and said, "Rise up and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel, and go."

And he made ready his chariot, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them, he pursued after the children of Israel. As the Egyptians caught up to them, the Israelites grew afraid.

But Moses bade them be calm, and stretched out his hand over the sea, and the waters were divided. The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground. The waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Let us all refill our cups.

A full cup of wine symbolizes 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.

We must mourn the loss of life and express sorrow in others suffering. Therefore, we should not enjoy a full glass but rather remove drops of wine as we recall the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people. Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

Blood

Frogs

Lice

Beasts

Cattle disease

Boils

Hail

Locusts

Darkness

Death of the firstborn

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 the ceremonial drink of our festival as we together recite the names of these modern plagues:

Hunger

War

Tyranny

Greed

Bigotry

Injustice

Poverty

Ignorance

Pollution of the Earth

Indifference to Suffering

Drink the second glass

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.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : OurJewishCommunity.org

Matzah is both a reminder of our past and a symbol of our future. It was first used to celebrate the spring festival when our farming ancestors threw out their sour dough — the leavening — and baked unleavened bread to welcome the New Year.

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.

(Eat Matzah)

Maror

Why do we eat maror or a bitter herb?

A common interpretation is that the bitter herb reminds us of the time of our slavery. We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure. A second interpretation of the bitter herb, which was eaten at spring festivals in ancient times, is that the sharp taste is meant to awaken the senses and make people feel at one with nature's springtime revival. In this interpretation, maror is the stimulus of life, reminding us that struggle is better than the complacent acceptance of injustice.

While there are many Jewish dietary laws, the way in which someone goes about consuming (kosher) food is generally not proscribed. The bitter herb is an exception. The rabbis claim: "[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]" (Talmud Bavli Pesachim 115b). The rabbis explain that even though one would ideally taste the matzah, even swallowing without tasting is a form of eating and thus fulfills the obligation to eat matzah on Passover. Maror is different. Actually tasting the maror , and not just eating it, is the essence of the commandment.

Take some maror and eat it with a piece of matzah

Koreich

As legend has it, the idea of eating two pieces of bread with something in between was invented by England’s fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792). An avid gambler, the Earl couldn’t bear to leave the card table for as long as it took to eat a normal meal, and so invented this handy snack so that he could eat and gamble at the same time.

Yet as nice as this story is, tradition tells us that Jews have been eating sandwiches long before the 18th century. Hillel the Elder, the 1st century rabbi, argued that elements of the Passover seder including maror and charoset should be placed between two slides of matzah and eaten as a sandwich. The charoset reminds us of the mortar and, together with the maror, of the pain of slavery. However, as we eat it we taste its sweetness. This sweetness gives us hope that the future will bring redemption and justice to all people.

Make and enjoy a Hillel sandwich

Shulchan Oreich
Source : http://mochajuden.com/?p=4179, http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2009/03/Unique-Passover-Traditions.aspx?b=1&p=9

A Jewish community that has lived in Kochi, India for more than 2,000 years starts preparing for Passover right after Hanukkah. They believe that if a Jewish woman were to make even the slightest mistake in Passover preparation during the 100 days before the actual seder, then the lives of her husband and her children would be endangered. They keep special rooms that hold all of the Passover utensils. Houses would be scraped and immediately repainted after Purim. Wells would be drained and scrubbed. Each grain of rice they’d eat on Passover would be examined to make sure it was free from cracks into which chametz might find its way.

Shulchan Oreich

It's almost time to eat! But before we eat, let’s fill that third glass of wine and toast the meal we’re about to consume.

Fill third glass of wine, put your haggadah down, unbutton the top button of your pants, and enjoy! 

Tzafun

There are many explanations given for why we hide the afikoman .

The simple reason that we put the afikoman aside or hide it, is because we will eat this matzah only near the very end of the Seder, and we don’t want it to get mixed up with the other matzahs at the table

Some have the custom to hide the piece of matzah that was set aside for the afikoman , and have the children find it and then return it only in lieu of a promised gift. This custom is based on a statement in the Talmud: “We snatch matzahs on the night of Passover in order that the children should not fall asleep.” In other words, the game of hiding the afikoman and the accompanying bargaining for a gift is an activity to engage the kids and make sure that they don’t fall asleep during what is invariably a long evening.

Finally, hiding the afikoman has symbolic meaning as well. Just as we search for the afikoman , we seek out the injustice in our societies, the hidden as well as the revealed, and organize to transform these dark places into ones filled with light. We seek within ourselves for the places where we are complicit in injustice and pledge to do better.

Hallel

It is time to fill up our wine glasses again. The fourth and final cup of wine also includes a cup of wine for the project Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.

Yet the tasks of saving the world - once ascribed to prophets, messiahs, and gods - must be taken up by us mere mortals, by common people with shared goals. So while we still have a symbolic cup of wine for Elijah, we remember that it is our job to help create a better world.

Drink the fourth glass of wine

Conclusion

You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9).