The word 'Seder' is Hebrew for 'order'. The Seder is the 'order' by which we remember and celebrate the Pesach story - G-d's redemption of our Jewish ancestors from slavery in ancient Egypt. At its most basic, the Seder is a retelling of the Pesach story. However, over thousands of years that has changed and the telling of the Pesach story has become the heart, rather than the whole, of the Seder.

Today, the Seder follows the Haggadah, which has developed over thousands of years and guides us in telling the Pesach story. In addition to the Haggadah, we have symbols on the Seder table - visual and sensory aids - to help us in telling the Pesach story. We also have special traditions and customs - physical, mental and emotional aids - to help the Pesach story come alive for us and for everyone at our Seder ...

Enjoy looking at this overview of a traditional Seder. Not all Seders follow this pattern exactly - but all Seders will include most of these steps. If this is a pattern of Seder that you are unfamiliar with, enjoy learning about something new!

The Seder
Every traditional Pesach Seder begins with the lighting of candles. As with the candles we light at the beginning of Shabbat, the candles mark the beginning of a special day. After the candles are lit, Pesach has begun.
 
There are fifteen sections in a tradition Pesach Seder. At the beginning of the Seder each of these steps is read aloud in a list - so that everyone at the Seder, from the eldest to the youngest, knows what is going to happen during the course of the evening and in what order ...
 
One: Kiddish
We recite Kiddish - the blessing thanking G-d for the wine - over the First Cup of wine. This sanctifies Pesach as a time set apart and special.

We drink the First Cup of wine ...
Two: U'rechatz
We wash our hands because it is tradition to wash before eating and we wish to remind ourselves of the immersion we would have taken if the Temple was still standing. We do not recite a blessing at this time.
Three: Karpas
We dip parsley in salt water to remember the life that G-d creates and sustains, but also to remember the tears our ancestors shed in slavery. We say a blessing before eating the parsley and salt water.
Four: Yachatz
We take the three matzot and break the middle one in half. The larger half is wrapped up and hidden - it is now the Afikomen. From his point on, all the children keep an eye on the Afikomen and look for a chance to 'steal' it!
Five: Maggid
We 'Recite the Haggadah' - tell the Pesach story. There are several different steps within this section of the Seder. Someone once said that the Maggid need only take half an hour ... but usually goes on for two hours as everyone recites the Haggadah and discusses the commentaries and stories. The story of Pesach is told and we all rejoice in G-d's deliverance of His people!
We drink the Second Cup of wine ...
Six: Rachtzah
We wash our hands again and recite the traditional blessing.
Seven: Motzi
We break the two remaining whole matzot and the half matzah. We recite the traditional blessing thanking G-d for bread.
Eight: Matzah
Then we recite a traditional blessing thanking G-d for commanding us to eat matzah. We eat the matzah.
Nine: Marror
We say recite a blessing thanking G-d for commanding us to eat bitter herbs. We eat marror - bitter herbs - and charoset - the sweet chopped apple and nuts.
Ten: Korech
We make a sandwich out of matzah, marror and charoset. We remember that it was Rabbi Hillel who first ate the matzah-marror-charoset sandwich. We eat the sandwich.
Eleven: Shulchan Orech
We eat our Pesach meal!
Twelve: Tzafun
Where has the Afikomen gone? If the children have 'stolen' it, it is ransomed back by the Leader of the Seder. We share the Afikomen out between us and eat it This is the last thing we eat at the Seder.

Those of us who believe in Yeshua as Messiah remember that He shared matzah with His disciples during His last Pesach Seder. We thank Him for rescuing us from slavery to sin ...

Thirteen: Berech
We recite Birkat Hamazon - Grace After Meals - to thank G-d for the meal we have just eaten. In four blessings, we thank G-d for providing food, thank G-d for giving the Jewish people Israel, pray for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and thank G-d for all His goodness.
We drink the Third Cup of wine ...
 
At this time those of us who believe in Yeshua as Messiah remember that He shared the 'cup after the meal' with His disciples at His last Pesach Seder. We thank Him for rescuing us from slavery to sin ...
 
We open the door to Elijah and invite him into join our Seder, in the hope that he will come and announce the arrival (or return!) of Messiah ...
Fourteen: Hallel
We sing the Hallel Psalms. These are Psalms 113 - 118. They thank and praise G-d for everything He has done.
We drink the Fourth Cup of wine ...
Fifteen: Nirtzah
The Seder is now complete. We hope and pray:

"Oh, pure G-d, who lives in Heaven, please bring back the honour of the congregation of Jews, which You said would be too many to count. May You soon guide us, who are the fruits of Your Jewish vine, and bring us free, to Jerusalem, with a happy song."

Next Year in Jerusalem!

Copyright J. E. Allen - MET


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