Around Easter you hear a lot of talk about Passover, the celebration of the occasion in which according to the Bible the houses of the just were passed over by the wrath of God because believers marked their homes with lamb’s blood.
The story is simple but to this day Jewish people worldwide perform a ceremony to commemorate the event, you may know as the story of Moses.
If you’ve often wondered what is involved in a Seder (Jewish Passover Service). Here is the procedure simplified:
On the table are two white candlesticks and several items including parsley or celery leaves, grape juice or wine, salt water, horseradish, a jam-like mixture called charoseth and Matzo.(cracker-like bread)
The father, or head of the household, leads the ceremony. At his place setting is a bowl of saltwater, a lamb bone, 3 squares of matzo, and a roasted egg
An extra setting is set for “Elijah”.
The Passover Ceremony
1. First, a few crumbs of leavened bread are dropped on the floor and the father sweeps them up to show that the house is ready.
2. The mother lights the candles and recites, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us by Your commandments and has ordained that we kindle the Passover lights.”
3. The father lifts his cup and explains, “sanctification means to be set apart. We are setting apart this ceremony as special to our Lord.” (Everyone drinks.)
4. The father washes in a bowl to remind us that the priests’ were required to wash before speaking with God.
5. Everyone dips parsley, into the salt water and eats it. The first dip refers to the tears of the pharaoh’s slaves. The second dip refers to the drowning of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea during the parting of the waters.
6. The father breaks the middle square of the three matzos and everyone closes his eyes while he hides it. (The children look for the hidden piece later.) The three squares of matzo represent the Trinity; the middle piece represents Jesus after the crucifixion in the cave.
7. The youngest child and the father read a script that explains why Passover is celebrated. The child asks questions and the father answers like this passage from Behold the Lamb: A Messianic Passover Seder: published by Sheresh ministries:
Child: “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
Father: “Once we were slaves in Egypt, but now we are free, and we set aside this night each year to remember the great things God did for us.”
Child: “On all other nights we eat either bread or matzo, but why, on this night, do we eat only matzo?”
Father: “Matzo reminds us of two things – we were delivered from slavery in Egypt, and we have a new life.”
Child: “On all other nights we eat whatever vegetables we want, but why, on this flight, do we eat only a bitter one?”
Father: “We remember how bitter our ancestors’ slavery was in Egypt.”
Child: “On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once, but why, on this night, do we dip twice?”
Father: “We are reminded of tears and of a miraculous deliverance.”
Child: “On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining, but why, on this night, do we all recline?”
Father: “Before we were slaves, but now we are able to recline to express the rest we enjoy as free people.”
8. Exodus 12:1-13 is read and the father explains the 10 plagues of Egypt. As he reads each plague aloud; everyone repeats it and then dips a finger into the grape juice, letting a drop fall onto the plate to symbolize each plague.
9. Each person places horseradish on a matzo and eats it, symbolizing the bitterness of slavery.
10.Each person places a the chunky jam of apples, honey, nuts, cinnamon and wine called Charoseth on a matzo and eats it, to symbolize the mortar that was used to make bricks by the Israelites. (After the horseradish it’s delicious.)
11. The father dips the roasted egg into the salt water and eats it to symbolize the Temple’s destruction.
12. At this point, the family eats a meal and after dinner, the children hunt for the hidden matzo. Whoever finds it gets a small reward. When found, the matzo is shared. Everyone returns to the table for the finish of the ceremony.
13. The father says, “I will redeem you,” and everyone drinks.
14. As everyone lifts their cup, they all say “Next year in Jerusalem.”