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March 25, 1988 - Image 72

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-03-25

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Seder Rituals

Continued from preceding page

fifth cup has been filled. What is the
connection between Elijah and
Passover? The Talmud relates that
shortly before the Final Redemption
and the Messiah, Elijah will bring
the news of the forthcoming events.
On Passover, not only do we
recount our redemption from
bondage by looking back, we also
look ahead to the days of the Final
Redemption. This answers why the
Cup of Elijah is not drunk, since it
symbolizes a promise that is yet to
be fulfilled.
Matza, that crunchy favorite,
has quite an interesting story behind
it. The Bible tells us that during the
years that the Jews were slaves in
Egypt, they ate the bread of the
poor people, namely, unleavened
bread. On that basis matza is called
The Bread of Affliction. And yet we
find the biblical account that on the
eve of Exodus, in their rush to leave
Egypt, the redeemed Israelites did
not leave the time to let their dough
sit and rise. As a result, again they
ate unleavened bread, hence matza
got the name, Bread of Freedom.
Thus, matza is the link between
both slavery and freedom, making it
a central symbol of the seder.
At the beginning of the seder,
the middle matza (there are three) is
broken in half, placed in a bag or
pouch, and hidden by the head of
the household. It is to be eaten at
the end of the meal to remember
the Pascal Lamb, which in the days
of the Temple in Jerusalem, was
eaten at each seder's table.
The piece, afikoman (light
dessert), sets off an exciting game
of hide-and-seek for the children of
the family. The young sleuth who
finds the bag will drive a hard
bargain and demand "ransom" for
its safe return. The reason behind
this amusing custom is to involve
the children in the seder and keep
their interest throughout the

When we talk about children,
we can't forget to mention the Four
Questions. Designed to challenge a
response from all those gathered
around the table, "why is this night
different from all the other nights,"
is customarily sung or chanted by
the youngest present.



20300 Civic Center Drive
Suite 240
Southfield, Michigan 48076
March 25, 1988

Associate Publisher Arthur M. Horwitz
News Editor Heidi Press
Jewish Experiences for Families
Advisor Harlene W. Appleman
Illustrator Neil Beckman

L 2


FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 1988

During the course of the seder,
there are a number of other
interesting customs. A vegetable is
dipped in salt water. The primary
reason is to arouse the curiosity of
the children who are present. Also
dipping has always been a sign of
freedom and luxury; the vegetable
reminds us of spring, when the
original Exodus took place; and the
salt water to symbolize tears —
those shed during the years of
bondage and oppression.
Reclining on a pillow is also a
clear sign that we are free to act as
kings. Some have the practice to

We remove the drops of
wine to show that . . . our
joy takes into
consideration the
feelings of those who

remove from their cups a drop of
wine when each of the Ten Plagues
are read aloud. The reason behind
this is to clearly indicate we
commiserate with suffering of the
Egyptians, since, despite the fact
that they were our oppressors for so
many years, they still are human
beings. We remove the drops of
wine to show that our "cups are not
full," so to speak, namely our joy
takes into consideration the feelings
of those who suffered.
At the seder, we eat bitter herbs
(this might include romaine lettuce
horseradish or endive). This is to
remember how the lives of the
Israelites in Egypt were made truly
bitter with back-breaking labor and
various forms of harassment. It is
noteworthy that we so vividly recall
our hardships in order to bring into
focus the beauty of freedom.
Another custom at the seder is
"Hillel Sandwich." Originating
during the times of the Temple in

Jerusalem (more than 2,000 years
ago) and made famous by Hillel the
Elder, the practice was to eat a
piece of Pascal Lamb together with
matza and bitter herbs in sort of
sandwich fashion. (This might be
the original sandwich, hundreds of
years before the Earl of Sandwich
ever lived.) Although nowadays we
don't have a Pascal Lamb at our
table, the custom has remained to
eat the remaining two ingredients
together as a sandwich.
The candles which are present
at every seder, are standard to a
Jewish holiday. The songs and
hymns are from Psalms and early
Jewish literature. Some of the
popular ones such as Dayenu (It
would have sufficed us) "Who
knows one," and Had Gadya,
(father bought a young goat) are
said to contain deep kabbalistic
We would be remiss in any
Passover discussion if we forget to
mention the seder plate. The plate
itself has no special significance,
although customized seder plates

are quite wmmon. In the center of
the plate are the bitter herbs. Some
place the head of a horseradish
intact with the greens on the plate.
The right rear section contains a
shank bone. This is a reminder of
the Pascal Lamb eaten in each
household. The right front section is
for the haroset. This is a mixture of
apples, nuts and a little wine
combined to resemble the mortar
used in the construction projects
done by the Jews in Egypt. A leaf of
romaine lettuce sits in the front of
the plate. Occupying the front left
area is the vegetable used to dip in
the salt water and to the left rear is
an egg, a symbol of one of the
sacrifices in the Temple, and a
reminder of its demise.

All said, the color and flavor of
the seder remains to be the spirit
and good cheer of the people who
attend it. Holiday dress, mouth-
watering culinary delights and family
by dozens also add a tremendous
amount to an ancient holiday of
remembering and Jewish pride.

Jewish Holiday Of Liberation

Continued from preceding page

children! Dear little boys! Oh, you
perpetuate the ideals of the
fighters! A chapter in Jewish history
liberation and redemption of our
marches in the streets tonight ... to
fight, to die for the honor of our
Consider the Jewish uprising in
Warsaw during the Nazi occupation people!" (From The Diary of Rachel
of Poland. This ominous event took
On April 23, 1943, an appeal of
place on the very eve of Passover:
the Jewish Fighting Organization
Sunday, April 18, 1943. From
went out to the Polish population
original sources of some of the
participants in the fateful struggle of seeking support and comradeship.
"It is a fight for our freedom as well
the "few against the many" we
as yours" the appeal read. "It is a
learn that on the eve of Passover
fight for our human dignity, and
". . families are busy carrying
social and national honor, as well as
bundles into bunkers . . . windows
yours. Long live freedom! Let us
are darkened ... there is feverish
wage the life and death struggle
activity ... The Jewish Fighting
Organization is emerging . . . Armed against the German occupation
forces until the very end!" But no
Jewish troops in German uniforms
help came. The Warsaw resistance
appear in the streets, banging on
doors and gates . . . Oh, you Jewish fighters were destined to hold out

against the brutal Nazi forces
singlehandedly. Toward the end of
the revolt, Mordecai Anilewicz, the
young leader of the Warsaw Ghetto
resistance, wrote the following: "The
last wish of my life has been

"The last wish of my life
has been fulfilled. Jewish
self-defense has become
a fact:'

fulfilled. Jewish self-defense has
become a fact. Jewish resistance
and revenge have become
actualities. I am happy to have been
one of the first Jewish fighters in
the ghetto."
The Pesah spirit of liberation

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