The prime focus of the Jewish customs is the Passover Seder. The plate that is referred to as the Seder plate comprises symbolic foods and is placed at the center of the table. The six meaningful elements in the plate add due importance to the occasion. During the Passover Seder, the elders recite the story of the exodus of Jews from Egypt where they survived as slaves. Seder is vital not only because of its religious significance, but also that each person at the table has a role in Passover story telling. The entire family shares the joy in cooking food and assembling them in the plate. This is indeed helpful for the children to adopt the tradition and learn all about the Jewish tradition as well. There is a certain rule as to how the items have to be arranged on the plate, which varies form one tradition to another. Read on for more.
Traditional Items On Seder Plate
Maror And Chazeret
Bitter herbs are consumed during the Passover to signify the bitterness and the harshness that the Hebrew slaves experienced in Egypt. As a matter of fact, either horseradish or romaine lettuce is consumed with regard to this and as a fulfillment of the mitzah of eating bitter herbs.
This sweet, brown mixture depicts the mortar that was used by the Jewish slaves to build the storehouses for their Egyptian taskmasters. One would see in the Ashkenazi Jewish homes that it is traditionally prepared from chopped nuts, apples grated, sweet red wine, and cinnamon. While the Sephardi recipes would involve the use of dates and honey in addition to the traditional recipe.
This Jewish tradition dates back to the first and second century in Jerusalem, which formally involved dipping of the vegetables in salt water before eating. Apart from bitter herbs, other vegetables like sweet potato, parsley or celery is dipped in salt water at the very beginning of Seder. The salt water symbolizes tears of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. It is customary that the first thing to be eaten after Kiddush is vegetable. Karpas also indicate the new spring and symbolizes the warmth and the fresh feel.
This holds great importance as it is the only meat element on the Seder plate. Usually, a roasted lamb or goat shankbone, a chicken wing or chicken neck signifies the korban Pesach or the Pesach sacrifice. This lamb would be offered in the Temple of Jerusalem, which is then roasted and consumed as a part of the Seder meal. On the other hand, the vegetarians substitute this part with a roasted beet. This is because the red color of the beet signifies the blood of sacrifice.
This includes a hardboiled egg that was offered in the Temple of Jerusalem to symbolize the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice). The egg is later roasted and consumed during the meal on Seder night. The chagigah is honored by the sacrifice of an egg as it is a symbol of mourning. After the destruction of the temple, beitzah holds the visual reminder of the chagigah and is not found in the formal art of the Seder. Hard boiled eggs were traditionally seen as the food of mourners and hence, depict the loss of sacred sites. In some homes, people eat hard-boiled egg as the first course of the meal along with salt water.
Since the early 1980s, use of orange in Passover Seder plate has increased. It is Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar who introduced this custom.
The six items included on the Seder plate holds due significance to the reiterating of the story of exodus from Egypt. It forms the main focus of the ritual Seder meal and is served on a single plate. The stack of three matzos, which is yet another symbolic item, is placed on another plate of its own on the Seder table.
Seder plate is the prime focus of the Seder table. Read more to find out about what to include and what not in the Passover custom Seder plate.