Haggadah means “the telling” of the story. The order in which the story of the Passover has been told throughout the centuries has changed so little that there are moments in the Passover even as it is celebrated today that we can identify as they are described in the Gospel accounts of “The Last Supper.” May you and your loved ones be blessed as you participate in this meaningful and joyful celebration.
Brechat Haner – Lighting of the Candles
The woman of the house lights the candles with the following prayer:
Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel yom tov.
Blessed art thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us with His commandments and commands us to light the festival lights.
The Passover is structured around four cups of wine that are ritually drunk in the course of the Seder. They are taken from the Lord’s four “I wills” in Exodus 6:6-7:
The Cup of Blessing –
“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
The Cup of Sanctification or “Plagues” –
“I will rid you out of their bondage.”
The Cup of Redemption –
“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
The Cup of Praise –
“I will take you to me as a people and I will be your God.”
It is traditional to drink the cups leaning to the left. This “reclining” position symbolizes liberty to rest in the freedom the Lord has won for us.
Kiddush – First Cup:
The Cup of Blessing
The wine blessing is offered and the cup is consumed:
Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam boray pri hagofen.
Blessed art thou O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Karpas – Dipping of the Parsley in Salt Water
All take a sprig of parsley, dip it in salt water and eat it. The parsley symbolizes the hyssop used to place the blood of the Passover lamb upon the doorposts and lintels of the homes of the Israelites (Exodus 12:22) during the tenth and most terrible plague that the Lord visited upon Egypt—the slaying of the firstborn.
Yachutz – Breaking of the Middle Matzah
The middle matzah of the Matzah Tash is broken in half. One half is returned to its place among the three, and the other (called the Afikomen) is hidden away, only to reappear at the conclusion of the Passover meal.
Maggid – Story of the Passover
The story of Passover is read from the Scripture (Exodus 12:1-27). Its dramatic themes of danger, flight, and deliverance are timeless—they continue to move us to this day.
Ma-Nishtanah – The Four Questions of Passover
A child reads the questions:
1) Why is this night different from all other nights?
2) Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?
3) Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice?
4) Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?
The leader responds to each of the questions. (Visit www.chosenpeople.com/passover for the answers and more information).
Makkot – Second Cup: The Cup of Sanctification or “Plagues”
The second cup is filled. The leader of the Seder leads the group in a recitation of the list of plagues the Lord visited upon the wickedness of Egypt: Blood! Frogs! Lice! Flies! Pestilence! Boils! Hail! Locusts! Darkness! Slaying of the Firstborn!
It is traditional to spill a drop of wine for each plague as it is spoken in unison. The cup is consumed after the wine blessing.
The leader of the Seder fulfills his duty to mention the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs, and the Passover sacrifice.
Maror – Eating of the Bitter Herbs
The matzah is dipped into the bitter herbs and is eaten. As the first of the four questions reminds us, the matzah is the unleavened bread that the children of Israel carried with them, for they departed Egypt in such great haste that they did not have time to add leaven to their dough so that their bread could rise (Exodus 12:39). The second question reminds us that the bitter herbs refer to our bitter hard labor in bondage to Pharaoh (Exodus 1:12-24).
Korech – Eating of the Charoseth
The Charoseth symbolizes the mortar the children of Israel used to make the bricks as they toiled under Pharaoh’s harsh taskmasters. It is eaten with matzah.
In order to settle a controversy about how the Passover is to be eaten, a famous sage, Rabbi Hillel, began the tradition of the “Hillel sandwich,” which today is made by eating the maror and the charoseth together between two pieces of matzah. It is also said that this combination of bitter and sweet reminds us that God’s promise can bring joy in the midst of sorrow.
Shulchan Orech – The Set Table
The Passover meal can now be served. Eat, tell stories and enjoy!
Tzaphun – Eating of the Afikomen
Traditionally, during dinner the children are seeking the hidden Afikomen. The finder brings it to the leader, who must “redeem” it with a gift of money. Although the exact meaning of the word “Afikomen” has been lost, it is thought to mean “dessert,” as it is the last food eaten at the Passover. But “Afikomen” also means, “He who comes.” It was the unleavened bread that Messiah consumed before the cup of redemption over which He spoke the words, “This is my body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19b).
Ha-Geulah – Third Cup: The Cup of Redemption
The wine blessing is offered and the cup is consumed. This cup is the cup over which Messiah also spoke the words, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20b).
It is fitting at this time to speak more about the Zorah (shank bone of the lamb), Beitzah (hardboiled egg) and the empty seat that is traditionally set for the Prophet Elijah.
Hallel – Fourth Cup: The Cup of Praise
The wine blessing is said and the wine is consumed, remembering the blessings of the Lord and the miracles He has wrought for us and for those who came before us.
Next Year in Jerusalem
The service concludes with the hopeful prayer,
L’shanah habah b’yerushalim!
Next year in Jerusalem!