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Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

Rachel Rose Shalev 4/10/2017 0 Comments
"Why is this night different from all other nights?" asks the youngest child at the Passover Seder. 
It then becomes the role of the adults to re-tell the Biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt. 

Reading from the traditional Haggadah, Jews world wide celebrate the Passover with the ritual Seder. 

Every family celebrates the Seder in its own way. However, the traditional Hagaddah and Seder Plate are most certainly a common starting point for all families celebrating Passover. How much or which parts of the Hagaddah you read before the meal and especially if you complete reading it after the meal are the nuances that differentiate one family from another. The word Haggadah is from the Hebrew word "to tell", and indeed everyone at the table participates in reading from the Hagaddah, and singing the familiar melodies which have been passed down from generation to generation. 

We read of the 10 plagues brought down on Egypt as punishment for Pharaoh's hardened heart, (Exodus 7-11) not allowing the Israelites to leave their slavery in Egypt. Only when Pharaoh began to relent by the 10th plague did they hurry to escape - leaving so fast that their yeast did not have time to rise (introducing the symbol of Matzah, or unleavened bread).

As the Israelites approached the Red Sea, the waters parted and they crossed to the desert, with new found freedom. Although they wandered for 40 years until they reached the Promised Land of Israel, they were free nonetheless. 

The Slavery to Freedom story is retold every year with the help of the symbolic foods on the seder plate. 


KARPAS - A green leafy vegetable, usually parsley or celery - symbolizes the initial flourishing of the Israelites upon their arrival in Egypt. 

HAROSET (from the Hebrew for Clay - A sweet fruit, nut and wine paste - symbolizes the mortar the Israelites used as slaves to construct for Pharaoh

MAROR (from the Hebrew for Bitter) - A bitter herb, usually horseradish - symbolizes the bitterness of slavery. 

HAZERET - A second bitter herb - usually Romaine Lettuce.

ZROA (SHANKBONE) - (from the Hebrew for Limb) - A roasted lamb bone (or even the drumstick from your chicken soup)  - a visual reminder of the sacrifice offered by the Israelites before their exodus from Egypt. (Vegetarians often use beets).

BEITZA (Hebrew for EGG) - symbolizes the sacrifice made at the Temple in Jerusalem on Holidays, until it was destroyed. Also a symbol of life and renewal even during strife. 

In many seder plates, you will see the name of the food in Hebrew. Here are a few lovely examples of Seder Plates from Israel.  

Seder Plate from Sharaga LandesmanSeder Plate from Dorit Klein

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