Passover Seder plate

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Passover Seder plate Pesahplate.jpg
Passover Seder plate

The Passover Seder plate (Hebrew : קערה, ke'ara) is a special plate containing symbolic foods eaten or displayed at the Passover Seder.

Contents

Significance

Each of the six items arranged on the plate has special significance to the retelling of the story of Passoverthe exodus from Egypt—which is the focus of this ritual meal. A seventh symbolic item used during the meal—the three matzos—is not considered part of the seder plate proper.

Symbolic foods

Passover Seder plate. Categories (with imaged examples in brackets): edit
1. Zeroa (shankbone)
2. Beitza (roasted hard-boiled egg)
3. Maror /Chazeret (horseradish)
4. Maror /Chazeret (onion)
5. Charoset
6. Karpas (parsley) Passover Seder plate, numbered.jpg
Passover Seder plate. Categories (with imaged examples in brackets): edit
1. Zeroa (shankbone)
2. Beitza (roasted hard-boiled egg)
3. Maror / Chazeret (horseradish)
4. Maror / Chazeret (onion)
5. Charoset
6. Karpas (parsley)

The six traditional items on the Seder Plate are as follows:

Maror and Chazeret

Maror and Chazeret – Bitter herb symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that the Hebrews endured in Egypt. In Ashkenazi tradition, fresh romaine lettuce or endives (both representing the bitterness of the Roman invasions) or horseradish may be eaten as Maror in the fulfilment of the mitzvah of eating bitter herbs during the Seder. Chazeret is additional bitter herbs, usually romaine lettuce, used in the korech sandwich.

Charoset

Charoset – A sweet, brown mixture representing the mortar and brick used by the Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. In Ashkenazi Jewish homes, Charoset is traditionally made from chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine

Karpas

Karpas – A vegetable other than bitter herbs representing hope and renewal, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley or another green vegetable. [1] Some substitute parsley to slice of green onion (representing the bitterness of slavery in Egypt) or potato (representing the bitterness of the ghetto in Germany and in other European countries), both commonly used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water and the resulting dripping of water off of said vegetables visually represents tears and is a symbolic reminder of the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Usually, in a Shabbat or holiday meal, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush over wine is bread. At the Seder table, however, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush is a vegetable. This leads immediately to the recital of the famous question, Ma Nishtana—"Why is this night different from all other nights?" It also symbolizes the springtime, because Jews celebrate Passover in the spring.

Zeroah

Zeroah – Also transliterated Z'roa, it is special as it is the only element of meat on the Seder Plate. Roasted chicken neck or shankbone; symbolizing the Paschal Lamb (Passover sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Since the destruction of the Temple, the z'roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice; it is not eaten or handled during the Seder. Vegetarians often substitute a beet, quoting Pesachim 114b as justification; other vegetarians substitute a sweet potato, allowing a "Paschal yam" to represent the Paschal lamb.

Beitzah

Beitzah – A roasted egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered at the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Although both the Pesach sacrifice and the chagigah were meat offerings, the chagigah is commemorated by an egg, a symbol of mourning (as eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a funeral), evoking the idea of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and our inability to offer any kind of sacrifices in honor of the Pesach holiday. Since the destruction of the Temple, the beitzah serves as a visual reminder of the chagigah; it is not used during the formal part of the seder, but some people eat a regular hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water or vinegar as part of the first course of the meal, or as an appetizer.

Sterling silver seder plate SederPlate.jpg
Sterling silver seder plate

Many decorative and artistic Seder plates sold in Judaica stores have pre-formed spaces for inserting the various symbolic foods.

Table set for the seder with a seder plate, salt water, matza, kosher wine and a copy of the Haggadah for each guest Seder Table.jpg
Table set for the seder with a seder plate, salt water, matza, kosher wine and a copy of the Haggadah for each guest

Three Matzot

The sixth symbolic item on the Seder table is a plate of three whole matzot, which are stacked and separated from each other by cloths or napkins. The middle matzah will be broken and half of it put aside for the afikoman . The top and another half of the middle matzot will be used for the hamotzi (blessing over bread), and the bottom matzah will be used for the korech (Hillel sandwich).

Salt water

A bowl of salt water, which is used for the first "dipping" of the Seder, is not traditionally part of the Seder Plate but is placed on the table beside it. However, it sometimes is used as one of the six items, omitting chazeret.

Variants

Passover Seder plate including an orange. Passover Seder plate with wine and matzot.jpg
Passover Seder plate including an orange.

Over the years, Pesach has often been used as an occasion for political or social commentary. This was often the case when the departure of Soviet Jews was compared to the departure of the Jews from Egypt.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Passover, also called Pesach, is a major Jewish holiday that occurs in the spring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. One of the biblically ordained Three Pilgrimage Festivals, Passover is traditionally celebrated in the Land of Israel for seven days and for eight days among many Jews in the Diaspora, based on the concept of yom tov sheni shel galuyot.

Passover Seder

The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted throughout the world on the eve of the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar. The day falls in late March or in April of the Gregorian calendar and the Passover lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel. Jews generally observe one or two seders: in Israel, one seder is observed on the first night of Passover; many Diaspora communities hold a seder also on the second night. The Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus (Shemot) in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: "You shall tell your child on that day, saying, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, an ancient work derived from the Mishnah. The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs.

Haggadah

The Haggadah is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your son" of a story from the Book of Exodus about Israelites being delivered from slavery, involving an Exodus from Egypt through the hand of Yahweh in the Torah.

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Charoset

Charoset, haroset, or charoises is a sweet, dark-colored paste made of fruits and nuts eaten at the Passover Seder. Its color and texture are meant to recall mortar which the Israelites used when they were enslaved in Ancient Egypt as mentioned in Tractate Pesahim of the Talmud, which says " The word "charoset" comes from the Hebrew word cheres — חרס — "clay."

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Karpas is one of the traditional rituals in the Passover Seder. It refers to the vegetable, usually parsley or celery, that is dipped in liquid and eaten. Other customs are to use raw onion, or boiled potato. The word comes from the Greek karpos meaning a fresh raw vegetable. The karpas is traditionally placed on the seder plate on the left side, below the roasted egg. The liquid is usually salt-water or wine vinegar. The idea behind the salt water is to symbolize the salty tears that the Jews shed in their slavery in Egypt.

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Maror

Maror refers to the bitter herbs eaten at the Passover Seder in keeping with the biblical commandment "with bitter herbs they shall eat it.".

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Afikoman

Afikoman is a half-piece of matzo which is broken in two during the early stages of the Passover Seder and set aside to be eaten as a dessert after the meal.

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Sephardic Jewish cuisine

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Ma Nishtana

Ma Nishtana, are the first two words in a phrase meaning "Why is tonight different from all other nights?" The phrase appears at the beginning of each line of The Four Questions, traditionally asked via song by the youngest capable child attending Passover Seder.

Zeroa

(Hebrew: זרוֹע‎) is a lamb shank bone or roast chicken wing or neck used on Passover and placed on the Seder plate. It symbolizes the korban Pesach, a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted during the destruction of the Temple, the z'roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice. In Ashkenazi and many Sephardi families, it is not eaten or handled during the Seder, as it represents a sacrifice made at the Temple, but is not actually, making it taboo to eat. Vegetarians often substitute a beet, quoting Pesachim 114b as justification.

Tu BiShvat seder

A Tu B’Shevat seder is a festive ceremony, often accompanied by a meal featuring fruits in honor of the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat.

Ancient Israelite cuisine refers to the food eaten by the ancient Israelites during a period of over a thousand years, from the beginning of the Israelite presence in the Land of Israel at the beginning of the Iron Age until the Roman period. The dietary staples were bread, wine and olive oil, but also included legumes, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, fish and meat. Religious beliefs, which prohibited the consumption of certain foods, shaped the Israelite diet. There was considerable continuity in the main components of the diet over time, despite the introduction of new foodstuffs at various stages. The food of ancient Israel was similar to that of other ancient Mediterranean diets.

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Pesach Sheni Jewish holiday of Second Passover

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White House Passover Seder

The White House Passover Seder was an annual private dinner held at the White House on the Jewish holiday of Passover during the presidency of Barack Obama. Obama initiated it in 2009 for his family, staff members, friends, and their families. The gathering recited the Passover Haggadah, discussed the themes of the Passover Seder and their relation to current events, and partook of a holiday-themed meal. Obama hosted and attended the Seder each year from 2009 to 2016. It was the first Passover Seder to be conducted by a sitting U.S. president in the White House.

References

  1. A Passover Haggadah: As Commented Upon by Elie Wiesel and Illustrated by Mark Podwal (Simon & Schuster, 1993, ISBN   0671799967)
  2. Hamburger, Rav Binyomin Shlomo (2009). "Guide to Minhag Ashkenaz". Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz.
  3. Cohen, Tamara. "An Orange on the Seder Plate". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  4. Eisehnbach-Budner, Deborah; Borns-Weil, Alex. "The Background to the Background of the Orange on the Seder Plate and a Ritual of Inclusion". Ritualwell . Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  5. Appell, Victor. "Why do some people include an orange on the seder plate?". ReformJudaism.org. Union for Reform Judaism. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  6. "Non-traditional items showing up on Seder plates". The Jerusalem Post . Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  7. Fishkoff, Sue (April 12, 2011). "From oranges to artichokes, chocolate and olives, using seder plate as a call to action". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.