Pesach Seder: A very Jewish version of a symposium
The most well-known thing that Jewish people do during Passover is to gather together for a ceremonial festive meal called a seder. The main thing to understand about a seder is that it combines a delicious meal, the telling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, and a lot of symbolic foods and rituals tied to the Exodus story. Whether you are hosting a seder at your home or you are a guest at someone else’s, a typical seder is set up like a dinner party with a script. There’s a book, called a Haggadah in Hebrew, which contains the ritual order of the meal – traditionally comprised of 15 steps, or ritual units.
History: The seder and the Haggadah were developed by a group of ancient rabbis who lived in the Land of Israel under Greco-Roman cultural influence. They did some cultural borrowing in crafting the Haggadah, using the Greco-Roman concept of a symposium and filling in Jewish content. A symposium was a meal with guests during which an important subject would be discussed and a specific number of cups of wine would be served. The hosts would issue invitations, which would state the topic for the evening’s discussion and the number of cups of wine that would be served. At the beginning of the evening, guests would arrive and be invited to get comfortable – reclining on pillows and cushions and preparing to eat and drink, talk and argue deep into the night. Familiar? Exactly, the seder is our very Jewish version of a symposium:
The Topic: The Exodus from Egypt and freedom,
How many cups: 4 cups of wine and lots of food.
Wishing you all a very meaningful Pesach
Rabbi Adrian M Schell
(Source: ITJ Handout on Pesach)
Torah Reading – Shabbat Hagadol
Leviticus 6:1-8:36 Reading Lev 8:10-36
(Plaut 694; Hertz 436)
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-3:24 (P1459 Hertz 1005)
In our weekly Torah portion the five sacrifices that the priests are to perform are described. Further, limitations on the consumption of meat are outlined by the Torah.
Our portion concludes with details about the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests and the preparation of the Tabernacle as a holy place.
Exodus 12:37-42;13:3-10 (Plaut 414) and Numbers 28:16-25 (Plaut 1082)
Haftarah: Isaiah 43:1-15 (P 1462)
Beginning with the second night of Pesach we count the Omer until we arrived in our calendar at Shavuot. To help you with the counting, we have prepared for you a leaflet with a calendar, the blessings and the numbers (COUNTING THE OMER 2017). Traditionally the Omer is counted in the evening, after sunset.