- The Four Questions
- B’Chol dor vador (Making Passover Your Own)
- The Mashal of the Four Sons
- Go and Learn, the Narrative of our Slavery
- Retelling the Story of the Exodus
- The Ten Plagues (Eser haMakot)
- The Second Cup (Deliverance)
- Korban Pesach
Telling the Story (the Haggadah).
At this point, the poor are invited to join the Seder. The Seder tray is moved aside, a second cup of wine is poured, and a child asks the time-honored questions: Why is this night different from all other nights? Why only matzah? Why the dipping? Why the bitter herbs? Why are we relaxing and leaning on cushions as if we were kings? The child’s questions trigger one of the most significant mitzvot of Passover, which is the highlight of the Seder ceremony, the haggadah. This is the time when the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt is remembered and retold.
The narrative of the Exodus includes a brief review of history, a description of the suffering that was experienced by the Israelite slaves, a listing of the plagues visited upon the Egyptians, and an account of the miracles that were performed by the Almighty for the redemption of His people.
The Seder Leader calls out Maggid.
And it shall come to pass that your child will ask you, “What do you mean by this service?” And you shall tell him: “With a mighty hand, the Almighty One took us out of Egypt.” The Seder meal cannot be eaten until the story of Passover is told with joy and gratitude. The Maggid section of the Passover Seder is when we read from our Haggadahs about yetziat mitzraim (the Exodus from Egypt). This part of the seder is composed of the following sections:
Section #1. The Four Questions
Section #2. We were slaves…
Section #3. The Four Sons
Section #4. The Story retold
Section #5. The Second Cup
The Four Questions:
To help get the narrative started, a young child is asked to recite (or to sing) the “Four Questions” about this special evening. The child first recites the opening question regarding the purpose of the Passover Seder:
“Why is this night different from all other nights?”
“Mah nishtanah ha-lailah hazeh mikol ha-leilot?”
He or she then continues with the Four Questions:
Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzah, but on this night we eat only matzah?
She-b’khol ha-leilot anu okhlin chameytz u-matzah. Ha-lailah hazeh kulo matzah?
Matzah reminds us that when the Jews left Egypt, they had no time to bake their bread, but took raw dough and baked it (in the desert sun) into crackers.
Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?
She-b’khol ha-leilot anu okhlin she’ar y’rakot. Ha-lailah hazeh maror?
Maror reminds us of the bitter and cruel way the Pharaoh treated the Jewish people as slaves in Egypt.
Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once, but on this night we dip them twice?
She-b’khol ha-leilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa’am echat. Ha-lailah hazeh she’tei fe’amim?
We dip bitter herbs into Charoset to remind us of the bitterness of our slavery. The chopped apples and nuts look like clay used to make bricks for Pharaoah’s buildings. We did parsely in salt water to remember the tears of our captivity.
Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?
She-b’khol ha-leilot anu okh’lin bein yosh’vin u’vein misubin. Ha-lailah hazeh kulanu mesubin?
We lean on our pillows to remind us that we are now free and no longer live as slaves. The Response: Avadim Hayinu. The Seder Leader and everyone present replies with the Avadim Hayinu, a combination of Deuteronomy 6:21 and Deuteronomy 4:34:
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. But the L-rd our G-d brought us out from there by a mighty and outstetched arm.
Avadim hayinu le-pharaoh b’mitzraim. vai-yotzieinu Adonai Eloheinu misham b’yad chazakah u’vizeroah netuyah.
B’Chol dor vador (Making Passover Your Own):
An individual should look upon himself or herself as if he or she had in actuality left Egypt.
The sages teach “b’chol dor vador,” in each and every generation an individual should look upon himself or herself as if he or she had in actuality left Egypt. It is not sufficient to recall in an impersonal sense the deliverance of the children of Israel in Egypt. Each person is responsible to view Passover as a time to secure their own personal deliverance from the bondage of Pharaoh. Therefore, the Seder Leader will call each person to recite the following in unison:
Had the Holy One, blessed be He, not taken out our forefathers from Egypt, then we, our children, and our children’s children would still be enslaved to Pharaoah in Egypt.
V’ilu lo hotzi, hakadosh barukh hu, et-avoteinumi-mitzraim, harei anu u’vaneinu uv’nei vaneinu, m’shubadim hayinu le-pharaoh b’mitzraim.
Blessed is the omnipresent, blessed be He! Blessed is He who gave the Torah to His people Israel Blessed be He!
Barukh Ha-Makom, barukh hu! Barukh she-natan Torah le-‘amo Yisrael! Barukh hu!
A midrash states that at the time of the great Exodus a significant number of the people of Israel died in the maka (plague) of darkness. These persons died because they did not believe in the redemption or even want to be redeemed. For deliverance to be in full effect there must be a sincere and honest exercise of faith in the Seh Elohim haGadol (the Great Lamb of the Almighty One). This exercise of faith is not something impersonal. It is completely personal. It is not superficial. It is whole-hearted. If it were not for the chesed-steadfast love of the Father toward us and His personal sacrifice for us, the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would still be enslaved to the “greater Pharaoh” (haSatan), the false deity of this world who “blinds the eyes” of those who do not believe.
The Mashal of the Four Sons
The story of the Four Sons is also read at the Passover seder. Each of the four sons symbolizes a different type of Jew and their relationship with the Torah.
The Torah speaks of four kinds of sons. One is wise; and one is wicked; one is simple-minded, and one doesn’t know what to ask.
Keneged arba’ah vanim dib’rah torah. Echad chakham; v’echad rasha’, v’echad tam, v’echad she’eino yodea lish’ol.
Son #1. The wise son (chakham) inquires about why the children of Israel practice the customs of Passover. The Seder Leader describes this son as wise, since he wants to know more about the traditions of his people. The seder is for him!
Son #2. The wicked son (rasha’) wants no part of the Passover traditions and asks why the Children of Israel, other than him, practice the customs of Passover. The Seder Leader responds by describing this son as wicked, since he thinks Passover customs are meant to be observed by other Jews, but not him. He is a hypocrite.
Son #3. The simple son (tam) is somewhat bewildered by the Passover Seder and its rituals. The Seder Leader responds by admonishing him about the Eternal Father’s chanan—favor toward His children the Jews—during the time of their slavery in Egypt and why it is so important to remember the Father’s salvation with gratitude.
Son #4. The son who does not know enough to ask (she’eilo yodea lishol) is simply told about the Passover story in accordance with the Torah command: “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying: it is because of what Adonai did for me when I came forth out of Egypt” (Exodus 13:8). Sadly, most secular Jews today are like this son.
The story of the Four Sons is intended to commend the wise son and to encourage the Children of Israel to remember the roots of our faith. We must study the Scriptures and respect the Torah way of life, for if we neglect this we will have failed in our responsibility to be the heritage, the People of the heavenly Father. The wise son understands the importance of his inheritance-destiny as a Child of Israel and sees it as a means of preserving the knowledge of the One Who is the L-rd G-d Almighty of Israel forever.
Go and Learn, the Narrative of our Slavery:
Most Haggadahs will begin the story of our slavery in Egypt by reading from Deuteronomy 26:5-8 (from parashat Ki Tisa) which is used as a summary statement:
“A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord G-d of our fathers, and Adonai heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And Adonai brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders.” The Seder leader may then (depending on the haggadah selected for use with the seder) go into detail regarding Yetziat Mitzraim (the Exodus from Egypt), beginning with the story of how the Children of Israel became slaves in Egypt and their miraculous salvation by our heavenly Father, culminating in the enumeration of the Ten Plagues.
Retelling the Story of the Exodus:
Retell the Story of the Exodus by reading from the following Torah portions:
1. The Birth of Moses (Exodus 1:1-2:10).
2. Moses in Midian (Exodus 2:11-4:17).
3. Moses Returns to Egypt (Exodus 4:18-6:12).
4. The Ten Plagues (Exodus 6:28-11:10).
5. The Blood of the Lambs and the Holy One’s Passover (Exodus 12:1-30).
6. The Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:31-13:16).
7. Crossing the Reed Sea (Exodus 13:17-15:21).
8. From the Sea to Mount Sinai (Exodus 15:22-18-27).
The Ten Plagues (Eser haMakot):
First we will spill three drops of wine (from our second cup onto a plate) and say:
Blood and fire and thick smoke.
Dam va’ eish v’ timerot ‘ashan.
These are the ten plagues that the Holy One, blessed be He, sent upon the Egyptians in Egypt. And they are:
Eilu eser makot she-heivi hakadosh baruckh hu al ha-mitzrim b’mitzraim. v’eilu hen):
As the Haggadah is read, spill a drop of wine at the mention of each maka (plague), since the suffering of the Egyptians lessens our joy:
1. Dam; blood; (Exodus 7:14-25).
2. Tzefardea; frogs; (Exodus 7:26-8:11).
3. Kinim; lice; (Exodus 8:12-15).
4. Arov; swarms of flies, beetles; (Exodus 8:16-28).
5. Dever; sickness (on cattle); (Exodus 9:1-7).
6. Shechim; blisters; boils; (Exodus 9:8-12).
7. Barad; hail (mixed with fire); (Exodus 9:13-35).
8. Arbeh; locusts; (Exodus 10:1-20).
9. Choshekh; darkness; (Exodus 10:21-29)
10. Makat bechorot; death of the firstborn. (Ex 11:1-12:36).
[Do not drink the Second Cup of wine at this time.]
After this, sing some verses of the ancient Hebrew song Dayenu (“it would have been enough for us”). The Hebrew lyrics mean that if He (Adonai) had only brought us out of Egypt it would have been enough. The second verse adds that if He had only given us Shabbat, it would have been enough; the third if He had only given us the Torah, it would have been sufficient. The song goes on and on recounting how Adonai has blessed His people Israel. Here is a transliterated excerpt from the song:
Ilu hotzi, hotzianu
Hotzianu miMitzrayim (2x)
Dai, dai, yenu (3x)
Ilu natan natan lanu
Natan lanu et haShabbat (2x)
Ilu natan natan lanu
Natan lanu et haTorah (2x)
The Second Cup (Deliverance):
Before we partake of the Second Cup (kos sheini) we must first be sure to explain to everyone present the meaning of the three main elements of the Seder: the Passover Lamb (korban Pesach), the matzah, and the maror.
We escaped death in Egypt by applying the shed blood of the paschal lamb to the doorposts of our homes (hearts).
Korban Pesach. The Children of Israel escaped death in Egypt by applying the shed blood of the paschal lamb (the korban, i.e. sacrifice) to the doorposts (symbolic of their hearts, spirits) of their homes. Followers of the Messiah believe that Messiah Yeshua is the true Seh Elohim, the Lamb of of Adonai who provides everlasting redemption for our sins. Messiah’s sacrifice on the tree configured in the Hebrew sign of the Tav causes the wrath of the Righteous Father to pass over us. (In non-temple times the shank bone has been used to represent the Korban Pesach that speaks of the sacrifice of Messiah).
The Haggadah clearly tells us how the blood of a lamb, placed on the doorposts of every Hebrew dwelling, caused the Angel of Death to “pass over” the children of Israel. It was not gemillut chasadim (good deeds). These replacement works that are sourced in human vanity and pride Isaiah called, “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Only the blood of the lamb will cause the judgment of death to pass over the Children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. At this time, the Seder Leader lifts up the shank bone from the Seder plate, and recites the words of the Prophet of El-Elyon (the Most High), who is the Elijah to come:
“Behold the Lamb of the Almighty who takes away the sin of the world!”
“Hinnei seh ha’Elohim hanosei et-chatat ha’olam!”
On the Seder Plate, the shank bone of the lamb is left untouched, because the Korban Pesach is no longer sacrificed. But we understand that the once-in-eternity sacrifice of the Messiah permanently satisfies the need for sacrifice to become acceptable to the heavenly Father. In the shedding of His blood (Life) we obtain remission of sin, and by means of his death are we given life.
Matzah. The unleavened bread remembers that when the Children of Israel fled Egypt, they had no time to bake their bread. [The matzah represents the purity of the body of the Messiah, the eternal sacrifice of our Father in heaven. The stripes and piercings of the bread of affliction, remind us of how the Suffering Messiah Ben Joseph gave Himself up as a sacrifice for us.]
Maror. The bitter herbs helps us to recall our former life of slavery and how bitter our lives were before the Merciful Father delivered us from bondage. [The maror represents the bitterness of our life before we believed in the Besorah of the Mashiach.]
After discussing the main elements of the Passover Seder, we drink the second cup of wine (the “Cup of Deliverance”) and say:
“Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”
“Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, borei peri hagafen.”
The second Cup of Deliverance brings to remembrance our deliverance from bondage in Egypt. If the Righteous Father had not rescued us from bondage, then the evil one would have prevented the coming of the Messiah, the Savior of Israel (chas v’shalom!). We give heartfelt thanks to our Father in heaven for His saving acts and glorious power as we drink the from the Cup of Deliverance.