By Bonnie Chernin
March 25, 2021
Happy Pesach 5781!
Passover is filled with symbolism and rituals commemorating the liberation of Jewish slaves from the bondage of Egypt. We are required to remove chametz (leaven) from every corner of our homes. The Seder is marked by the reading of the Haggadah, a book detailing the story of the Jews exodus from Egypt. The blowing of the Shofar represents the solemnity of this day.
Matzoh (flat, unleavened bread) is served, and eaten for the full Pesach week. No yeast products are permitted.
Here are the six foods that make up the Seder plate:
EGG: A hard-boiled egg is placed on the Seder plate, and is symbolic of the festival sacrifice. The egg is also a symbol of mourning, expressing our sorrow that we are presently unable to offer that sacrifice, since the Temple was destroyed. Its round shape suggests the cycle of the seasons, and in particular, Spring, which is when Passover is always celebrated. It expresses the hope of Jews everywhere that the Temple will soon be rebuilt. When eggs are boiled they get firm, a reminder that we can gain strength from sorrow.
MOROR: Numbers 9:11 commands us to eat the paschal lamb "with unleavened bread and bitter herbs." The Bitter herbs (lettuce and/or horseradish) symbolize how bitterly the Jews suffered at the hands of Egyptian taskmasters.
KARPAS: Parsley (or any green vegetable is permitted) to be dipped in salt water (the salt representing the tears Jews shed). The vegetables symbolize the potential for growth and rebirth.
SHANKBONE: A roasted shank or neck bone is symbolic of the Paschal sacrifice brought to the Temple on the day before Passover. It is called the z’roah (forearm) meaning that G-d is taking us out of Egypt with an outstretched arm.
CHAROSET: A mixture of chopped fruit (apples, pears, or dates) nuts and wine, resembling mortar in both color and consistency. This mixture represents the mortar used by Jewish slaves to make bricks and build for Egypt during our enslavement. Charoset is very sweet tasting. Life is filled with challenges that can be transformed to sweetness as we free ourselves from our ties to sadness.
CHAZERET: Romaine lettuce and horseradish, to be used as moror in the sandwich later in the Seder.
Four glasses of wine are poured, representing the four stages of Exodus from Egypt: Freedom, deliverance, redemption and release. A fifth cup of wine is poured for the prophet Elijah.
To our visitors, friends and families, a very Happy and Blessed Pesach. NEXT YEAR IN Yerusalaim!