Passover is a Jewish holiday, but it isn't just for Jews. We welcome our non-Jewish brothers and sisters to our celebration of liberation. Liberation from oppression is always a deep concern of Jews, because of our history. But Jews are not the only people who suffer under the yoke of oppression. We invite our friends and family to share this night with Jews all over the world, as we take this opportunity to celebrate our freedom and pray for the freedom of all those who suffer, wherever and whoever they may be.
Tonight, rather than speak of Egypt during the course of this Seder, we'll use the name Mitzrayim instead. The term Mitzrayim derives from the root tza-r, "narrow, "meaning literally "from the narrows." The violent events of history have given Mitzrayim a sense of global consciousness so that we may refer to every place and any place in the world where people have been (or still are) persecuted.
We invite our friends, family, and community to share this night with Jews all over the world, as we take this opportunity to deeply feel as if we had actually been enslaved in Mitzrayim and redeemed from Mitzrayim. In celebrating our freedom, we as Jews hold out to the world an historical event and model that captured the imagination and vigor of a people. It is by the power of our reenactment of this event and the power of our visualizations of freedom that we can pray for this exodus to occur for all of us, and for all those who suffer, wherever and whoever they may be.
Using the language of our day to explain the Exodus, the challenge for us is and will continue to be to create new interpretations, new midrashim, merging the old and new into a coherent story that can be passed onto our children. Central to an understanding of Pesach is the commandment of _ "vehigadeta le-vinkha" - you should tell your child about the Exodus. Matzah itself symbolizes the need for a dialogue between one generation and the next. And it is the children who are obligated as well, to ask questions according to their understanding. And all of this conversation must take place on the level of "emet"-truth. For if we have not spoken to our children on this night then we have not fulfilled the mitzvah of "maggid"-telling. Some of us may think that we know all the details of the story and thus do not need to tell the story, but we must retell it to remind ourselves not only that freedom is possible but that in an unredeemed world we must continue to strive for liberation in both personal and national ways. And by our elaboration on the story -that it is not just about a Pharaoh way back when or even about the modern Pharaohs of our day, but about all the different ways we can be enslaved-we may all be deserving of praise.
Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Rabbi Maggid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again the miracle would be accomplished, disaster was averted and life continued with its ups and downs.
Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more (this time, from themselves) would go into the forest and say: "I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." It was sufficient and the miracle of continued life was accomplished.
Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his house, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient.
So some people say God made men because He loves stories. And we tell the story of Passover every year before this holiday meal because this is the story of how we got to where we are. This is the story, as far back as we can remember, of our beginning.
As for the reading of the Haggadah, guests will read the parts in clockwise alternation, starting with the host and proceeding to his left.
We are an old people; our history reaches back over 4000 years. In that history, our forebears have seen bondage and freedom, trial and triumph, high achievements and terrible disasters; today, too, as we recline in the luxury of our freedom, let us not forget how deeply our brothers and sisters in other places yearn for the simple necessity of release from their bondage.
Without knowledge of our past, we cannot see our future. Without memory, we have no present. Without knowing what is flawed, how can we know what is whole?
The light of Passover is the light of freedom; the hope of passover is the hope of freedom. Our ancestors suffered in the darkness of slavery and dreamed of their liberty; some of our brothers and sisters must yet do the same. In the flame of the Passover candle we celebrate the light of freedom, the light that gives life.(All raise their cups, toast, and drink their wine.)
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BORUCH ATTO ADONAI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM ASHER KIDD'SHONU B'MITSVOSOV V'TZIVONU L'HADLIK NER SHEL YOM TOV.
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BORUCH ATTO ADONAI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM SHEHEHEYONU V'KIY'MONU V'HIGIONU LAZMAN HAZZEH.
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Berukhah aht shekhinati, malkhat ha-olam, asher kedushataynu, be-mitzvotaynu, ve-tzivataynu le-hadik ner shel yom tov.
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Berukhah aht, shekhinati, malkhat ha-olam, schet-hechiyatainu, ve-kivatenu, ve-higeyatanu, la-azman ha-zeh.
Kiddush - WineThe joy of Passover is the joy of love; the hope of Passover is the hope of love. Our ancestors suffered the coldness of hate and dreamed of the warmth of human kindness and universal love. And then, after the long winter of their bondage, freedom burst forth upon them like spring. In the rich sweetness of this wine, we celebrate in kinship the love and faith that give life. Love, freedom, and faith in life - these have kept our people together, in the face of great odds, for four millenia. May the struggle to attain these and to keep them succeed for all people in our time, and in the time to come.
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BORUCH ATTO ADONOI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM BORE P'RI HAGGOFEN
READER:The Kiddush is a toast to this holiday in blessing the wine and the time passing. Come, honored friends, let us together drink the toast: L'chayim! To life!
Spring is here. The world is alive and new; the bonds of winter cold are broken. Nature is reborn and the earth feels free and young again. The trees are budding; behind the buds lie flowers. The surprise of the world is about to burst open.(Take the parsley, symbol of spring and hope, and dip it into the salt water, symbol of the bitterness and tears of our people, and eat it.)
In Mitzrayim, our ancestors awoke from their sleep in chains to the life of freedom; in the long wandering out of bondage, our people were reborn into a new life.
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BORUCH ATTO ADONOI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM BORE P'RI HO'ADOMO
HO LACH-MO AN-YO, DEE A-CHO-LOO AV-HO-SO-NO B'AR-O D'MEETZ-RA-YEEM.
This is the bread of affliction, the simple bread which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat with us. Let all who are enslaved become free. Let all who are oppressed become liberated.
The Seder is different from the feast of any other holiday. At the Seder, the feast itself is symbolic: the special foods and the special ways of eating them all carry meanings beyond the usual. What are these meanings? Let us begin by asking the proper questions; only then can we give proper answers about the meaning of Pesach, of Passover.
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Why is this night different from all other nights?
MA NISH-TA-NA HA-LAI-LOH HA-ZEH, MI-KOL HA-LAY-LOS?_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
1. On all other nights we eat both leavened and unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
SHEB'CHOL HA-LAY-LOS O-NOO OCH-LEEN CHO-MAYTZ U-MATZOH, HA-LAI-LOH HA-ZEH KU-LO MATZOH?_ _ _ _ .................
2. On all other nights we may eat all kinds of herbs; why on this night do we eat especially bitter herbs?
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SHEB'CHOL HA-LAY-LOS O-NOO OCH-LEEN SH'OR Y'RO-KOS, HA-LAI-LOH HA-ZEH (KU-L0) MOROR?
3. On all other nights we do not usually dip our food in anything at all; why on this night do we dip food twice?
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SHEB'COL HA-LAY-LOS AYN O-NOO MAT-BEE-LEEN A-FEE-LOO PA-AM E-CHOS, HA-LAI-LOH HA-ZEH SH'TAY F'O-MEEM?
4. On all other nights we eat either simply or in festivity; why on this night do we celebrate with such special festivity?
SHEB'COL HA-LAY-LOS O-NOO OCH-LEEN BAYN YOSH-VEEN U-VAYN M'SU-BEEN, HA-LAI-LOH HA-ZEH KU-LO-NOO M'SU-BEEN?
Four thousand years ago, our forefather, Jacob, was a wanderer, owning flocks and many tents. In a time of famine, he went down to Egypt and settled there with his family. One of his sons, Joseph, was already the Prime Minister. Pharaoh, King of Egypt, loved Joseph and gave all his family the good land of Goshen to live in. And the children of Jacob (Israel) prospered there for many generations.
But there arose a new king over Egypt who feared the Jews because they were different. And he said to his people, "Look at how rich and how powerful are these children of Israel. If war comes, they may join themselves to our enemies and fight against us." This unfortunate fear has reappeared many times throughout our long history.
Therefore, Pharaoh made slaves of our ancestors and set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. He tried to subdue them by making them gather straw to make bricks, so that they could build cities for him upon the plain. He tried to reduce their numbers by casting their male children into the river. And the lives of our ancestors became bitter with pain.
But one Jewish mother, trying to save her son, placed him in the river in a little boat of reeds, trusting to the current rather than man's cruelty - and so the great story of Moses begins. It goes on to tell of how Pharaoh's daughter found and loved the child, and took for her own, and that, without knowing, hired Moses' own mother to be his nurse.
Moses grew up and became determined to free his people from bondage. Once, while alone in the desert, he had a strange and marvelous experience with a burning bush. This experience taught him that BEING (and BECOMING) is the very purpose of life. Liberation became his mission. The ancient story tells of how Moses went repeatedly to the Pharaoh, asking that the Egyptians let the Jews go -- but Pharaoh would not; his heart hardened more each time that Moses asked.
But Moses feared not; his compassion and pride made him persistent. And then, the legend says, came the PLAGUES, one by one, descending upon Egypt. Here are the Ten Plagues, as they are listed in the Bible story; for each, we diminish the wine in our cups, to give expression to our sorrow for the pain and loss which each plague exacted of other humans, even our ancient oppressors.
DOM. TZ'FAR-DAY-A. KI-NEEM. O-ROV. DE-VER. SH'CHEEN. BO'ROD. ARBEH.
CHO-SHECH. MA-KAS B'CHO-ROS.
Blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. Diseased cattle. Boils. Hail. Locusts.
Darkness. Slaying of the First Born.
DOM. TZ'FAR-DAY-A. KI-NEEM. O-ROV. DE-VER. SH'CHEEN. BO'ROD. ARBEH. CHO-SHECH. MA-KAS B'CHO-ROS.
Blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. Diseased cattle. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. Slaying of the First Born.
Many Egyptians perished, and their suffering was great. Each time a plague appeared, Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go. But each time the plague vanished, Pharaoh relented. Finally, amidst great sorrowing over the death of his first-born, Pharaoh ordered Moses to take his people out of the land. And Moses did, and the people arose from the midst of their oppressors, and fled from their bondage.
On all other nights we eat both leavened and unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
Behold the Matzoh, symbol of the bread of slavery, the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate when they were slaves in Egypt. As they fled the land of their enslavement, they carried the raw dough of Egypt on their backs, having had no time to bake it or even to put in the yeast or leavening that would make it rise to become bread. And so it was baked flat by the sun.
Let the Matzoh, the bread of our people's time of affliction and poverty, remind us of many of our people and others who are poor and hungry. Would that they could eat as we eat. Would that all who are in need could partake with us of this Pesach Feast.
Let us resolve to strive for the day when all will share in the joys of freedom; when poverty will be no more, and when all people will equally enjoy the fruits of freedom and justice. Let these be our goals as Jews._ _ _ ..........
BORUCH ATTO ADONAI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM HAMOTZI LEHEM MIN HO'ORETZ.
(All present take take a piece of Matzoh together, pulling until it breaks, salt it, and eat it.)
Moror is the bitter herb. It reminds us of the bitterness that our ancestors tasted in the time of their bondage. For the Torah says, "And they made their lives miserable with hard labor in the making of bricks and mortar." We therefore dip the bitter herbs into the Charoset, the symbol of bricks and mortar, to remember their hardships. As we recall the suffering of Egypt so do we relive the oppression of every generation. The taste of Charoset, like the taste of freedom, sweetens bitterness and suffering.
May the bitter herb we are about to eat make us sense the pain and cruelty and thus value the pleasure of love.
(All present take horseradish, dip it into the Charoset, and eat it.)
Since we have already dipped and tasted the parsley and we now dip the bitter herb into the Charoset, we may ask we we dip twice? The first time we dipped parsley into salt, tasting the bitterness of tears and trying to erase that bitterness with the symbol of hope and spring. The second time we dip, we wipe out the bitterness of our slavery with the sweetness of hard work for good purpose as free people, and not as slaves. Therefore, the reason we dip twice is that it is not enough to hope for freedom, but we must work for freedom.
(All present eat sandwich of Matzoh, Charoset, Bitter Herb)
On Passover night we recline in the luxury of freedom. Our wealth is that we can feast in liberty, with our friends and family about us. We need to relive only symbolically the experience of the Exodus from Egypt. And yet, our sages and our history teach us that in every generation each Jew should strive to imagine that he or she actually was a slave, that we suffered persecution at the hand of Pharaoh, that we listened to the summons of Moses and went forth from bondage to freedom. Only then can we remember that while we feast in our freedom, others are held in bondage, hungering. Let us drink a toast to freedom.
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I-LU HO-TZI HOTZI-A-NU, HO-TZI-A-NU-MITZ-RA-YIM, HO-TZI-A-NU MITZ-RA-YIM DAYENU CHORUS: DAY-DAY-A-NU, DAY-DAY-A-NU, DAY-DAY-A-NU, DAY-A-NU, DAY-A-NU I-LU-NATAN, NA-TAN LA-NU, NA-TAN LA-NU ET HA-SHA-BAT, NA-TAN LA-NU ET HA-SHA-BAT DAYENU (CHORUS) I-LU NA-TAN, NA-TAN LA-NU, NA-TAN LA-NU ET HA-TO-RAH NA-TAN LA-NU ET HA-TO-RAH DAYENU (CHORUS)
We shall never forget the slavery of Egypt. We shall never forget the cruelty of Pharaoh. We shall be mindful always of the constant exodus to freedom, in the inner world and in the outer world. We shall be mindful always of the evernew joy of liberation.
BORUCH ATTO ADONOI ELOHENU MELECH HO'OLOM BORE P'RI HAGGOFEN.
What is the meaning of PESACH?
PESACH is the Passover lamb and is represented by the shankbone. On the night of the Exodus our fleeing ancestors held the first Seder feast in honor of their freedom. In each home a roasted lamb was eaten as the meal of redemption. The lamb was a reminder of the shepherd days when they were free and happy. In succeeding years they relived the Passover supper in all the lands in which they found their homes. To emphasize the luxury of liberty they reclined while eating and relaxed in the luxurious manner of free people.
What is the meaning of the roasted egg?
The roasted egg was a traditional appetizer of the ancient world, but to us, as to peoples of many other faiths, it is a symbol of rebirth and spring.
And why do we drink wine at the Seder?
Wine has traditionally been part of the Seder and was served even to those in attendance who were most poor. As in all Jewish ceremonies of rejoicing -- the Sabbath, marriage, holidays, Bar and Bas Mitzvahs, and honoring the newborn - at the Seder, too, wine is used as a symbol of festivity.
As we celebrate our Passover Seder tonight, we affirm the bond of family of all Jews throughout the world. Almost all of them in America, Israel, England, France, Italy, South Africa, Australia, South America, Japan, India - almost all will observe the Passover tonight in honor of the freedom gained by our ancestors in Egypt. But many of our brothers and sisters, like those in Russia and Poland, may have to observe their Seders with caution. For them the feast serves as a spur to continue seeking their freedom, to continue pressing for a new exodus.
READER:This is a holiday of universal historical meaning to all Jews, and it bears a message of freedom for all people. Throughout countless generations, our people has endured the savagery of unbridled hatred. Our children have been murdered by the millions. Nation after nation has sought to destroy us. But we have survived. Pharaoh is gone. Nebuchadnezzar is gone. Caesar is gone. Haman and Hitler are gone. Their empires have succumbed to fire or have crumbled into dust. But we are alive, and new enemies seek our destruction. The terror of persecution has made us feel the pain of humanity more sharply, and thus has bound us together as one people. The unity of the Jewish people arises out of a sense of common suffering, of shared survival, and therefore of a fundamental understanding of the human condition. And so it is with all Jews.
READER:Even as we remember tonight what it was like when we were slaves in the land of Egypt; even as we think of our Jewish brothers and sisters who are still enslaved in various lands and places, so do we tonight remember people (whether they are Jews or not) who still suffer from slavery, hunger, and/or repression.
Again this year, as during the Exodus, we unite with the oppressed of our time:
Ever since we were slaves in Egypt, we have united with all those who strive TO BE, who seek liberation and freedom.
We raise our third cup of wine and offer tribute to the universal spirit within all that gives us life and strives for freedom.(All sing)
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HIN-NAY MATOV OO-MA-NA-EEM, SHEVET A-HEEM GAM YA-HAD.
(How good and pleasant it is to gather together as brothers and sisters.)
Let us eat.
We have eaten the feast of our freedom and we have recalled the redemption of our people. But the dream of Passover transcends the Jew and reaches out to all people.
Many centuries ago, there lived a prophet whose name was Elijah. He was a brave man who denounced the slavery of his day. Legend has it that he never died and that he will return some day to announce the coming of a new world in which war, human cruelty, and the enslavement of one person by another will find no place. In his image, he embodies the vision of all wise people, his spirit brings a message of hope for the future, brings faith in the goodness of humanity, and brings the assurance that freedom will come to all.
(Fill the cups with wine; open door; all rise)
(All raise glasses of wine and say:)
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AY-LEE-YA-HOO HA-NO-VEE. AY-LEE-YA-HOO HA-TISH-BEE. AY-LEE-YA-HOO AY-LEE-YA-HOO AY-LEE-YA-HOO HA-GI-LA-DEE. We raise the last cup of wine and affirm our unity with all people in the struggles for human freedom. May slavery give way to freedom. May hate give way to love. May ignorance give way to wisdom. May despair give way to hope. Next year, at this time, may everyone, everywhere, be free!(All drink the last cup of wine; close door; be seated)
(To The Physical World)
Howard Rheingold at the Well