The Passover Seder (1)

The Passover Seder (1)



  1. The Haggadah. From the Hebrew word for “the telling,” this is the booklet at the table which relates the Passover story through the order of service in its readings, songs and prayers.
  2. The Seder. From the Hebrew word meaning “order,” this is the order of service for the Passover celebration. The service has some flexibility, but the basics have been followed for thousands of years.
  3. The Pillows. Lots of pillows may be placed on the chairs around the table. They symbolize freedom, since slaves were never permitted to recline in leisure at a meal.
  4. The Coats. Those seated at the table had to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, so coats and jackets are hung on the back of the chairs of all present.
  5. Bangles and Beads. Children or adults may wear extra jewelry to symbolize the plundering of the Egyptians upon their departure from Egypt.
  6. The Lamb. Without the lamb, there was no deliverance. The lamb is the centerpiece of Passover, the one thing most required in one way or another. A shank bone is traditionally used to represent the lamb at the meal since no lamb is eaten at a seder now. The families usually eat chicken for Passover, since lamb hasn’t been eaten ever since the destruction of the Temple and its sacrifices.
  7. Wine. Used as a symbol of joy, four cups of red wine must be taken during the service to symbolize the fourfold expression of the Lord’s promised deliverance in Exodus 6:6-7.
  8. Candles. The mother of the house begins the Passover meal at sunset by lighting the candles and praying a blessing over them.
  9. Elijah’s Cup and Chair. Rabbinic tradition holds that the Messiah will come during Passover, the season of redemption. Elijah must appear first in order to announce the Messiah’s arrival (Malachi 4:5), so each table must be ready to host Elijah if he comes.
  10. Salt Water. A cup of salt water symbolizes the Jewish tears shed during Egyptian bondage, as well as God’s miraculous parting of the Red Sea.
  11. Matzah. Unleavened bread must be used, since there wasn’t time for bread to rise. Also, matzah symbolizes the purity of the sacrifice, since leaven was often a symbol of sin.
  12. Haroset. This is the sweet mixture of finely chopped apple, nuts cinnamon and wine to resemble the red-brown clay and mortar used by slaves in making bricks. The sweetness is a reminder of God’s redemption from slavery.
  13. Hazeret. This is a whole bitter herb such as horseradish or radish to symbolize the bitterness of slavery. Maror is also used, which is ground horseradish, to be eaten on matzah.
  14. Karpas. Another bitter herb, usually parsley, to remind of the bitterness of slavery, as well as of the hyssop plant used to apply the lamb’s blood to the doorposts.
  15. The Bowl of Water and the Towel. The youngest person at the table who is able to do so, brings these items to each person for the ritual washing of the hands during parts of the ceremony, to symbolize purification.

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