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The salt water is placed on the table as part of the Passover Seder.
Throughout the Seder, there are many different customs to follow, according to the Haggadah. When it is time to remember the hard times of the slaves, one way is to take a piece of Karpas or green vegetable and dip it into salt water.
This symbolizes the slaves sweat and tears while they were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt.
On the Passover Seder plate lies a roasted Egg, or Beitzah in Hebrew. The egg symbolizes many different things.
1) The roundness of the egg resembles the earth and life which constantly is moving in a circle.
2) Life - We are all born from an egg.
3) An egg is the traditional food for mourners and was brought to Jerusalam after the destruction of the temple.
4) The egg symbolizes the spring time since Passover is celebrated during the season of spring.
Throughout the Passover Seder, there are four cups of wine poured.
An individual is not suppose to pour their own wine as Passover is a celebration of freedom from slavery.
Anytime the wine is drank, it should be drank in a reclining position. Again, this is to symbolize and celebrate the freedom of not being slaves of Pharaoh.
The promises G-d made to the Jewish people:
1) I will deliver you out of Egypt
2) I will take you out of slavery
3) I will show you my powers
4)I will make you a great nation
These are times throughout the Seder the wine is drank.
A fifth cup of wine is poured and left on the Seder table. This is for the prophet Elijah who comes and visits each Passover Seder and shares in the celebration.
A green vegetable or Karpas (in Hebrew) symbolizes the spring time. It also symbolizes the bitter times the Jews had to endure in slavery.
It is believed the stem of the lettuce is bitter and as it grows up from the ground, the leafy part begins to taste less bitter.
The most common green vegetable which is used is lettuce. Some people use celery. The Maror and Charoset is placed inside the lettuce leaf and eaten.
The Karpas is also used to dip into the salt water at the beginning of the seder.
The Hebrew word Seder means "order" in English. If you ever attended a Passover Seder, there is a specific order which is followed and can be found on the third page of the Haggadah.
The order of Seder is as follows:
1) Kaddesh - Kiddush (saying blessing over the first cup of Wine and drinking it.)
2) Urechatz - First time washing your hands without saying a blessing to eat the Karpas.
3) Karpas - Dipping the green vegetable dipped into salt watert to remind us of the tears of the Jewish slaves in Egypt.
4) Yachatz - Breaking of the middle matzah and placing the smaller part back in the matzah cover. The larger part becomes the Afikomen.
5) Maggid - The telling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold. Asking of the Four Questions by the youngest person at the table.
6) Rachtzah - Washing of hands for the second time while saying a blessing before eating the matzah.
7) Motzi - A blessing for bread or grain products is recited over the matzah.
8) Matzah - A blessing just over the matzah is said and then a little matzah is eaten.
9) Maror - A blessing is said for Maror and is dipped in charoset and eaten.
10) Korech - A sandwich is made with Matzah, Charoset, and Maror and eaten as a symbol of the paschal offering.
11) Shulchan Orech - The main meal! No yeast products are served. Some foods which are served are: gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, roast chicken, turkey, and beef brisket.
12) Tzafun - The middle piece of Matzah called the Afikoman was hidden for the children. Now is the time to find it and eat it as the dessert or the last food of the meal.
13) Barech - Birkat ha-mazon or the grace / blessings after the meal is said. The third cup of wine is poured then drank. Elijah's cup of wine is poured set aside. The door is opened to invite him in.
14. Hallel - Songs are sung and the blessing over the last cup of wine is said and drank.
15) Nirtzah - The Seder ends with the saying, "Next year in Jerusalem."
Charoset (in Hebrew) is a mixture of apples, nuts, spices, and wine or grape juice. It symbolizes the mortar that the Jewish people used to build and keep the bricks together when they were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt.
There are many different traditional ways of making Charoset from using dates and raisins to bananas and figs. The taste is sweet.
During the Passover Seder, the Charoset is eaten with Matzah, Karpas, and the Bitter Herbs.
Bitter Herbs or Maror (in Hebrew) symbolizes the bitter times the Jews had to experience while slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt.
The common food used for Bitter Herbs on a seder plate is horseradish. Some people use the horseradish in the jar while others will use fresh, and slice pieces from the horseradish root.
The Bitter Herbs is eaten alone on a piece of Matzah and in a (Hillel) sandwich with Maror.
The Shankbone or Zeroa in Hebrew, is considered the Passover offering. The Pashcal lamb was sacrificed as the Passover offering.
The sacrifice was done the night the Jewish people were fleeing Egypt from Pharaoh.
The shankbone can be bought at a Kosher butcher and roasted at home over an open flame. All sides should be roasted and any meat should be removed from the bone.
The symbol of the Zeroa is not eaten but refrigerated after the meal to use on the second night of Passover for the second Seder.
On the Passover Seder table, there are three Matzot placed in the middle.
The Matzot are covered and separated into three sections. Many people will use a cloth Matzah cover which can be purchased at any Judaica shop.
Each Matzah symbolizes a tribe of the Jewish people.
All three tribes were saved by Moses and the Exodus from Egypt.
The Passover Meal or Shulchan Orech comes in the middle of Seder.
Each family may follow their own traditions but below are a few common food choices for a Passover meal.
1) Gefilte Fish - White colored, usualy eaten with horseradish and cooked carrots
2) Matzah Ball Soup - Chicken broth with Matzah Balls. Some people add chicken and vegetables.
3) Beef Brisket
4) Roasted Turkey
5) String Beans, Carrots
7) Israeli Salad
Depending on the traditions being followed, some Jews will eat Kitniyot or legumes during the Passover holiday.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|