Wednesday, April 08, 2020

What to Expect at a Passover Seder


 So you're going to a Passover seder at someone's house? Wonderful! Here are some things to know before you go.

What's a seder?

The seder, a festive holiday meal, actually means "order." It is called this because the meal is done in a certain order which takes us from slavery to freedom. The Haggadah - which means "the telling" - is the book used at the Passover seder. The Haggadah explains the foods on the seder plate, recounts the highlights of the Exodus, and includes songs, prayers, questions, and vignettes.

How serious is this?

Seders are meant to be low-key and fun. Questions are welcome and a lighthearted spirit is in order. After all, we are celebrating that we're not slaves anymore! At the seder, we can rejoice, take our time, and ponder the questions of freedom and service to God. Many people recline at the seder to celebrate being free.

Why is the Exodus from Egypt so important for Jews?

Because of the Exodus, the idea of enslavement formed a permanent impression on our collective consciousness. This, coupled with continuing admonitions in the Bible to take care of the less fortunate, has led us to be a people perennially concerned with world injustices and the disenfranchised.

The Exodus is our archetypal story of God as Deliverer and Redeemer. Here we learn that injustices can be fought and that we can draw strength from God.

With this expulsion from Egypt we became a people (no longer just a family group) on a symbolic as well as physical journey. Here we start our journey to Sinai where we will receive the Ten Commandments. We leave Egypt to serve God and to head toward the Promised Land.