The sight of the finest table settings and silverware with delicious delicacies served can make anyone hungry. Jews give importance to the laws and customs of this festivity and organize the Passover Seder plate accordingly. 'Seder' which means 'order' is based on the Biblical verse. This ritual of feast is performed either by gathering multiple communities, generations or families and mainly focuses on reciting the story of release of the slaves of Israel of ancient Egypt. This Jewish holiday falls in the late March or April according to the Gregorian calendar. Seder custom involves consuming four cups of wine, eating matza, contributing symbolic food on the Passover Seder plate and celebration of freedom by Jews all over the world. It is customary to involve guests for the sumptuous feast especially the needy and strangers. The festival can thus be summed up as an occasion of praising, thanksgiving and also being loyal to the idea of freedom.
Importance Of Order Of The Night Of Seder
Seder rituals are followed in a particular order. Read this article and get to know the order of the rituals performed at the table.
Order Of The Night Of Seder
- Kaddesh (Sanctification)
- Seder service commences with the Kiddush recitation and the drinking of the first glass of wine.
- Urechatz (Washing)
- As the next step involves eating Karpas, it is a ritual to wash your hands clean. According to the Jewish law, it is mandatory that the food should be either eaten with a utensil or after purifying one's hand.
- Karpas (Vegetable)
- A vegetable, usually parsley, is consumed as the appetizer and dipped in salt water. The salt water signifies tears, which were shed by the Jewish slaves who lived in Egypt, and the vegetable symbolizes the lowly Jewish origin.
- Yachatz (Breaking) - The middle of the three matzahs on the Seder plate is broken. The smaller part is returned to the Seder plate while the larger part becomes the Afikomen. This is done in memoir of the God's splitting of the Sea of Reeds so as to allow the Children of Israel to cross on dry land.
- Maggid (The Story) - Story of the Exodus from Egypt is recited. It starts with asking of the Four Questions by the youngest on the table with the words 'Mah Nishtanah' (Why is it different?). Maggid is designed to satisfy the requirements of four different types of people: wise one, wicked one, simple one and the one who is not able to ask. Over the second cup of wine, a blessing is recited and the wine is drunk.
- Rachtzah (Second Washing) - Hands are washed for the second time. This is done with a blessing to eat the matzah.
- Motzi (Blessing over Grain Products) - A generic ha-motzi blessing for bread or grain products is recited over the matzah.
- Matzah (Blessing over Matzah) - Blessing in particular to matzah is recited and then a little matzah is eaten.
- Maror (Bitter Herbs) - Blessing is recited over a bitter vegetable such as raw horseradish or romaine lettuce and is dipped in charoset and eaten.
- Korech (The Sandwich) - Another set of bitter herb known as Chazeret is eaten as the sandwich to replace the paschal offering.
- Shulchan Orech (Dinner) - A festive meal is eaten though chametz or yeast food is prohibited here. Ashkenazic Jews traditionally begin the meal with gefilte fish and matzah ball soup. Roast chicken or turkey and beef brisket are popular as the main course here.
- Tzafun (Afikomen) - Piece of Matzah set aside earlier is consumed as dessert. It is hidden from the children or vice versa according to different families and traditions. With this, the children are kept attentive throughout the proceedings as they eagerly wait for this part.
- Barech (Grace after Meals) - 'Birkat ha-mazon' (grace after meals) is recited over the third cup of wine and then it is drunk. The fourth cup is poured along with the cup set aside for the Prophet Elijah. The door is opened to invite him in and is supposed to herald the Messiah.
- Hallel (Praises) - Several psalms are recited followed by a blessing over the last cup of wine and it is drunk.
- Nirtzah (Closing) - Seder is closed by a simple statement that it has been completed. A wish is made that Jews may celebrate next Pesach in Jerusalem or that the Messiah may come again next year. It is followed by various hymns and stories.