Passover Seder Traditions

   Posted by: anj68   in history

Preparing the Seder meal requires several hours of work. I strongly recommend that the main cook gets other members of the house to help, so that the meal will be completed before the Seder would begin at sunset. It is best to prepare all the seder foods before the onset of the Holiday in order to avoid pre-meal chaos or halachic questions.

The Passover meal allow the family to think and reflect and has plenty of meaning and allusion. The Seder plate has six items on it, arranged in a special order. The plate is placed on top of the covering of the three matzo and is placed in front of the head of the household.

The foods of the Seder plate are listed below, with the reason each is included, the method of preparing it, and its role in the Seder meal.

A piece of roasted meat represents the lamb that was the special Paschal sacrifice on the eve of the exodus from Egypt, and annually, on the afternoon before Passover, in the Holy Temple.

Since Jews cannot offer the Paschal sacrifice in the absence of the Holy Temple, they take care to use something that is relatively dissimilar to the actual offering. Accordingly, many communities have the custom to use a roasted chicken neck or the like.

Preparation: Roast neck on all sides over an open fire on the stove. Afterwards, some have the custom to remove the majority of the meat of the neck.

Role in the Seder: The shank bone is not eaten. After the meal it is refrigerated, and used a second time on the Seder plate the following night.

The hard-boiled egg represents the holiday offering brought in the days of the Holy Temple. The meat of this animal constituted the main part of the Passover meal.

Preparation: Boil one egg per Seder plate, and possibly more for use during the meal.

Role in the Seder: Place one egg on each plate. As soon as the actual meal is about to begin, remove the egg from the Seder plate and use during the meal.

A popular way of eating these eggs is to chop and mix them with the salt water which was set on the table. The eggs prepared this way are then served as an appetizer before the fish.

Bitter herbs (maror) remind us of the bitterness of the slavery of our forefathers in Egypt. Fresh grated horseradish, romaine lettuce, and endive are the most common choices.

Preparation: This must be done before the holiday begins. Peel the raw horseradish roots, and rinse them off well.

Note: Dry the roots very carefully, since they will be eaten with the matzah later on for the Korech sandwich; to avoidgebrokts, not even a drop of water should be left on the horseradish.

Next, grate the horseradish with a hand grater or electric grinder. (Whoever will be grating the horseradish will begin to shed copious tears or cough a lot. Covering the face with a cloth from the eyes downwards helps prevent inhalation of the strong, bitter odor.)

The lettuce or endive leaves must be washed, carefully checked for insects, and thoroughly dried. You can instead use just the stalks, which are easier to clean and check.

Place the horseradish on the Seder plate, on top of a few cleaned, dried leaves of romaine lettuce.

Role in the Seder: After the recital of most of the Haggadah comes the ritual hand washing. Then matzah is eaten, followed by some maror, followed in turn by a sandwich of matzah and maror.

A mixture of apples, nuts and wine which resembles the mortar and brick made by the Jews when they toiled for Pharaoh.

Preparation: Shell walnuts and peel apples and chop finely. Mix together and add a small amount of wine.

Role in the Seder: This is used as a type of relish into which the marror is dipped (and then shaken off) before eating.

A non-bitter root vegetable alludes to the back-breaking work of the Jews as slaves. The Hebrew letters of karpas can be arranged to spell “PerachSamech“.

Perach means backbreaking work andSamech is numerically equivalent to 60, referring to the 60 myriads (10,000), equaling 600,000, which was the number of Jewish males over 20 years of age who were enslaved in Egypt.

Preparation: Peel an onion or boiled potato. Cut off a slice and place on Seder plate. On the table, next to the Seder plate, place a small bowl of salted water.

Role in the Seder: After recital of Kiddush, the family goes to the sink and ritually washes hands, but without saying the usual blessing.

Then the head of the household cuts a small piece of the root vegetable used, dips it in salt water, and gives each person at the table a very small piece over which they say the appropriate blessing. Care should be taken that each person eats less than 17 grams ( 1/2 ounce).

The lettuce symbolizes the bitter enslavement of our fathers in Egypt. The leaves of Romaine lettuce are not bitter, but the stem, when left to grow in the ground, turns hard and bitter.

So it was with our enslavement in Egypt. At first the deceitful approach of Pharoah was soft and sensible and the work was done voluntarily and even for pay. Gradually, it evolved into forced and cruel labor.

Preparation: Romaine lettuce is often very sandy. Wash each of the leaves separately, checking very carefully for insects. (Pat gently with a towel and let sit until completely dry, so that there will be no moisture to come in contact with the matzah.)

Depending on how much romaine lettuce is needed, it can take several hours to prepare. This task should be completed before candle lighting time on the first night. Prepare enough leaves for both nights and store in the refrigerator. Soaking of the Romaine leaves may not be done on the Holiday.

Role in the Seder: the Lettuce is used in conjunction with horseradish. It is used when eating the marror and when eating the matzoh andmaror sandwich.

Place the leaves in two piles on the Seder plate, one under the maror and one separately at the bottom.

Keep a stack of extra cleaned leaves handy in the refrigerator in case additional leaves are needed.

Although I have participated in several Passover Seders, many of the meanings were lost over time by my own memory.  In a rare instance, I have had to tap into another resource for this entry. The information above,came courtesy of http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/270478/jewish/The-Seder-Plate.htm

I always enjoy the Passover season as certain delicacies become available.  Pavre pastries, passover items such as soda pop (made from real sugar and basic ingredients) also become available.  Many good foodies have the drive to taste and experience other cultures.  I would recommend that my readers not only investigate other cultures, but the foods and recipes of other faiths as well.

Since this week also culminates in Easter, I will later include traditional Easter recipes and add an Eid-Ul-Fitr holiday feast recipes and information as well.  Later, I hope to add some traditional feasts from other faiths and important historical holidays from the British Isles and the rest of Europe.

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