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Revealed: The real Passover Seder

Friday, 15 April, 2016 - 1:12 pm

Next Friday night is Passover and I’m sure you will be participating in a Seder (if you don’t have plans yet, consider joining the Community Seder here in Folsom or in Placerville).

The question is, what is the purpose of the Seder? Is it simply about commemorating what happened back then? Actually, that’s the conventional understanding; it’s all about remembering the Exodus.

One second, if it’s all the remembering the Exodus, why then does the Seder include bitter herbs and salt water (reminiscent of the suffering of the slavery)? Shouldn’t the focus of the night be on the Exodus?

The easiest understanding is that to highlight the scale of the redemption, it’s necessary to first appreciate the level of persecution.

However, while accurate, that answer is somewhat lacking; in fact, it’s much more than that.

You see the Passover Seder is not just about commemorating something that happened in the past; that can be done by reading a few passages. The Seder is specifically structured to be experiential, it’s about reliving the slavery and reliving the Exodus.

The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, means borders, or limitations. We eat the maror, the bitter herb, not only to remember their suffering over 3000 years ago but also to acknowledge our own struggles; the limitations in our own life that we just can’t seem to overcome.

And we eat the matzah, not only to remember their Exodus so many years ago, rather to assist us in our personal process of redemption. The matzah is the key ingredient to overcoming our limitations. Matzah is flat and unassuming, with the most basic of ingredients. It’s all about humility - not the sit-quietly-on-the-sidelines image of humility that many people have; it’s the get-out-and-do-what-you-were-placed-here-to-do kind of humility.

We each have a purpose, we were put in this world to fulfill that purpose. And only we can achieve our specific mission, no one can replace us.

We eat the Passover foods and participate in the Seder not just to commemorate the past, but we do it all in order to live the Exodus. To live a truly redeemed and purposeful life.

The Seder therefore includes the bitter herbs and the salt water because it’s about the transition from slavery to freedom. We acknowledge and identify our limitations and only then can we successfully overcome them and be redeemed in every sense.

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