(These are the prayers and blessings for a Seder plate)
The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast. Below is an over view of the focal points of the Seder and the 15 steps of the feast.
At the bottom of this page, you'll find a downloadable document with all the prayers and blessings you need for a full Seder meal.
The focal points of the Seder are:
Eating matzah. This symbolizes the Bread that the Israelite's took with them from Egypt. In their haste, they did not have time to let it rise. The bread that Jesus broke at the Last Supper was without yeast or unleavened. Yeast stands for sin. Jesus said the bread represents his body. He was without sin. His body was broken for us.
Eating bitter herbs—to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelite's. [This is] a reminder of the bitterness the Israelites experienced while they were slaves. We remember how bitter our lives are when we are slaves to sin. The parsley is a symbol of new life. We are reminded of the sorrow we feel when we think of Jesus dying on the cross. But the green reminds us of the new life that we have in Him.
Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice—a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom. Jesus said this cup was a sign of his shed blood for us on the cross. Whenever we drink it, we should drink it in remembrance of Him. While left empty or untouched in Jewish observance, in the Christian Seder it represents the Cup of Redemption which Christ offered to his disciples at the Last Supper. This cup is also symbolic of the Marriage Cup shared by young Jewish couples in biblical times to seal their wedding engagement.
The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.
1. Kaddesh: Sanctification
A blessing over wine in honor of the holiday. The wine is drunk, and a second cup is poured. A ceremony of prayer and blessing over wine, performed by the head of a Jewish household at the meal ushering in the Sabbath (on a Friday night) or a holy day, or at the lunch preceding it.
2. Urechatz: Washing
A washing of the hands without a blessing, in preparation for eating the Karpas. "Why do we wash our hands at this point in this Seder?" the Talmud asks. "Because it is an unusual activity which prompts the children to ask questions." The very name Haggadah means "telling," for the goal of the Seder is to arouse curious questions, and provide satisfying answers. But Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, saying, unless I wash you, you have no part with me`, John 13:8`
3. Karpas: Vegetable A vegetable (usually parsley) is dipped in salt water and eaten. The vegetable symbolizes the lowly origins of the Jewish people; the salt water symbolizes the tears shed as a result of there slavery.
4. Yachatz: Breaking One of the three matzahs on the table is broken in half. Part is returned to the pile, the other part is set aside for the afikomen*, which is eaten at the end of the meal for dessert.
5. Maggid: The Story
A retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the first Pesach. This begins with the youngest person asking The Four Questions, a set of questions about the proceedings designed to encourage participation in the seder. The Four Questions are also known as Mah Nishtanah (Why is it different?), which are the first words of the Four Questions. This is often sung.
The maggid is designed to satisfy the needs of four different types of people: the wise one, who wants to know the technical details; the wicked one, who excludes himself (and learns the penalty for doing so); the simple one, who needs to know the basics; and the one who is unable to ask, who doesn't even know enough to know what he needs to know. At the end of the maggid, a blessing is recited over the second cup of wine and it is drunk.
6. Rachtzah: Washing
A second washing of the hands, this time with a blessing, in preparation for eating the matzah
7. Motzi: Blessing over Grain Products
A traditional blessing is recited before eating bread product
8. Matzah: Blessing over Matzah
A blessing specific to matzah is recited, and a bit of matzah is eaten.
9. Maror: Bitter Herbs
A blessing is recited over a bitter vegetable (usually raw horseradish; sometimes romaine lettuce), and it is eaten. This symbolizes the bitterness of slavery. The maror is dipped in charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine, which symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews in building during their slavery.
Note that there are two bitter herbs on the seder plate: one labeled Maror and one labeled Chazeret. The one labeled Maror should be used for Maror and the one labeled Chazeret should be used in the Korekh, below.
10. Korekh: The Sandwich
Rabbi Hillel was of the opinion that the maror should be eaten together with matzah and the paschal offering in a sandwich. In his honor, we eat some maror on a piece of matzah, with some haroset (Grind apples, nuts and a little honey together.) The haroset is eaten as a symbol of hope. Jesus is the hope of the world. He is sweeter than the honey in the honeycomb. Psalm 19:9-10 The ordinances of Jehovah are true, [and] righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb.
11. Shulchan Orekh: Dinner
A festive meal is eaten. There is no particular requirement regarding what to eat at this meal (except, of course, that chametz cannot be eaten). Among Ashkenazic Jews, gefilte fish and matzah ball soup are traditionally eaten at the beginning of the meal. Roast chicken or turkey are common as a main course, as is beef brisket.
12. Tzafun: The Afikomen
*The piece of matzah set aside earlier is eaten as "dessert," the last food of the meal. Different families have different traditions relating to the afikomen. Some have the children hide it, while the parents have to either find it or ransom it back. Others have the parents hide it. The idea is to keep the children awake and attentive throughout the pre-meal proceedings, waiting for this part.
13. Barekh: Grace after Meals
The third cup of wine is poured, and birkat ha-mazon (grace after meals) is recited. This is similar to the grace that would be said on any Shabbat. At the end, a blessing is said over the third cup and it is drunk. The fourth cup is poured, including a cup set aside for the prophet Elijah, who is supposed to herald the Messiah, and is supposed to come on Pesach to do this. The door is opened check if Elijah has arrived yet (but apparently there was a historically rumor that Jews were accused of putting the blood of Christian babies in matzah, and they wanted to show our Christian neighbors that we weren't doing anything unseemly, and so they actually left the door open for a time.)
14. Hallel: Praises
Several psalms are recited. A blessing is recited over the last cup of wine and it is drunk.
15. Nirtzah: Closing
A simple statement that the seder has been completed, with a wish that the Lord grant us all peace and that next year, may we celebrate this is Jerusalem.
Just below you'll find a downloadable document with all the prayers and blessings you need for a full Seder meal.