The Passover Seder (2)

The Passover Seder (2)

 

THE  PASSOVER  HAGGADAH

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you…” (Luke 22:15)

  1. Candle Lighting and Blessing. The mother of the house lights the candles and recites this Hebrew blessing: Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by thy commandments and hast commanded us to kindle the festival lights. Blessed art thou, O Lord God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season. May our home be consecrated, O God, by the light of thy countenance, shining upon us in the Blessing and bringing us peace.
  2. The First Cup: Sanctification. The leader pours the cup of wine, while others pour their cups. All say: Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. The leader raises the cup and says the prayer, Kiddush: Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has chosen us out of all the people of the world and made us holy through your Word. With love You have given us commandments to follow, festivals for rejoicing, holidays for gladness, and this feast of Passover, an anniversary and a holy assembly to remember the Exodus from Egypt. Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who sanctifies Israel and the Festival Seasons. All take big sips from their cup of wine.
  3. The Washing of the Hands. One of the children goes to each person at the table with a bowl of water and a towel. Each person rinses hands in the bowl and dries them as an act of purification before handling the foods. While this is being done, all recite: Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sanctifies us by His commandments and commands us concerning the washing of hands.
  4. The Green Vegetable. Each person takes a sprig of parsley and dips it into the cup of salt water and then eats it. All say: Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the produce of the earth.
  5. The Matzah: Bread of Affliction. The leader takes 3 squares of matzah and wraps them in a linen napkin. All say: Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Then the leader takes the middle piece, breaks it in half, replaces one half back into the napkin, and takes the other half and wraps it into another napkin. Someone then hides that half of matzah somewhere in the house for later.
  6. The Four Questions. All the younger persons at the table take turns asking the traditional Passover questions. The older persons take turns responding to each question after it is asked. This question sets the context for the four following it: Q: Why is this night different from all the other nights? A: It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians but spared our homes.  (Exodus 12:27)     Q1: On other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread? A1: It is because there was not enough time for the dough to rise when the King of Kings appeared to them, when the Lord, Blessed be He, redeemed them. As it is said, ‘And they baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.’  (Exodus 12:39).     Q2: On all other nights we eat any kind of vegetables. Why on this night must it be a bitter one? A2: It is because the Egyptians made the lives of our people in Egypt so bitter and miserable. As it is said, ‘And they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the fields, forcing them to toil long and hard.’  (Exodus 1:14).     Q3: On all other nights, we don’t dip the vegetables in salt water. Why on this night do we dip them? A3:We dip the parsley in the salt water because it reminds us of tears shed in bondage and the crossing of the salty Red Sea.     Q4: On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining. Why on this night do we sit with pillows? A4: We use pillows this night to remind us that reclining was a luxury for free people, not for those in slavery. These pillows symbolize our freedom to recline at leisure.
  7. The Second Cup: Instruction. All pour the second cup of wine and say together: Blessed are thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Then a person at the table recounts the basic Passover story by reading Exodus 12:1-14. Then the ten plagues are recalled which brought judgment on all the gods of Egypt. All repeat in unison the plagues, one plague at a time. After each plague is recited, dip a finger into the wine and make a drop onto your plate. This signifies the sorrow felt for the suffering of the Egyptians. The finger dipped in wine reminds us that the plagues were from the hand of God. Recite these plagues: BLOOD!   FROGS!   LICE!   WILD BEASTS!   PESTILENCE!   BOILS!   HAIL!   LOCUSTS!   DARKNESS!   DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN!   Finally, read responsively Psalms 113 and 114.
  8. The Washing of the Hands. Each person is once again asked to wash/dry their hands.
  9. The Dipping of the Matzah. The matzah is distributed and broken into pieces. Each person dips the matzah into the horseradish and the haroset. Then each person puts a filling of horseradish between two pieces of matzah and eats it.
  10. The Seder Meal and Blessing. Enjoy the food, discussion and fellowship. After the dessert, the leader begins the Blessing: Let us bless our God of whose gifts we have eaten. As it is written, ‘You shall eat and be satisfied, and give blessings to the Lord your God, for the good land he has given you.’ And then all at the table say: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, for the land and for its produce. Blessed are you, of whose bounty we have eaten and through whose goodness we live. You have sustained us for the sake of your great Name. Amen.
  11. The Afikomen. After the meal, the children are sent out to find the broken and hidden half of matzah. After it is found and brought to the table, it is distributed, each person taking a piece.
  12. The Third Cup: Redemption. After the cup is poured, all say: Blessed are thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Pour Elijah’s cup as well. While the wine is being sipped by each person, a person at the table goes to the front door and looks outside, to hopefully welcome the prophet Elijah announcing the coming of the Messiah.
  13. The Fourth Cup: Praise. After pouring into each cup, all say: Blessed are thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Then read responsively Psalm 118.
  14. Conclusion.  All say together this traditional Passover prayer: Therefore we are duty-bound to thank, praise, glorify, honor, exalt, extol and bless Him who did for our forefathers and for us all these miracles. He brought us forth from slavery to freedom, anguish to joy, mourning to festival, darkness to great light, subjugation to redemption, so we should say before Him, Hallelujah! After completing the prayer, all say together the final words of the seder meal: Speedily lead the children of thy people, redeemed, to Zion in joyful song! Next year in Jerusalem!
  15. Triumphant Song. Follow the lead of Miriam, Aaron’s sister, when she took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing, for the Lord had opened the Red Sea for them and closed it over the pursuing Egyptians, their horses and chariots. And Miriam led them in the refrain, ‘Sing to the Lord, for He is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea!’ This is the time to sing and dance in celebration of what God has done.
  16. Keeping the Watch. Rabbinic tradition has maintained the time after the seder meal as a time to “Keep the Watch.” It is a time to drink more wine, pray, talk theology, read and argue over scriptures, discuss topics pertinent to the occasion. The Watch often lasts through the night.

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