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Passover: Food for Thought

Food for Thought...


Passover is one of the best known Jewish holidays. It is a celebration of something most of us hold quite dear – freedom. Passover commemorates the Israelite’s escape from slavery in Egypt as told in the Exodus. On the first evening of Passover families gather for a festive traditional meal called the Seder. Seder means “order” in Hebrew and refers to the specific order of the Passover meal.

Passover gives new meaning to “food for thought.” The Passover Seder is filled with traditional foods each with a meaning and an allusion. As we refer to each food item on the Seder plate, we think about what it represents and how we can take meaning into our modern lives. It is a time to reconnect with the plight of the Israelites and what freedom really means. For many families the Seder is the most sparkling night of the Hebrew calendar.


Matzah Plates and Covers at JesusBoat.comThe Matzah


Probably the most recognized Passover food is the Matzah. Matzah is an crisp, cracker-like unleavened bread made with flour and water. To be sure matzah is kosher for Passover, no more than 18 minutes can pass from the time the flour and water are mixed until the time the dough is put into the oven. For matzah to be kosher for Passover it must be made under rabbinical supervision.


At the Passover Seder we use three unbroken matzahs. It is said that these three matzahs have three meanings. The three represents: the three measures of fine meal from which Sarah baked cakes for her husband Abraham's three angelic visitors (Genesis 18:6); the three categories of Jews--Kohen, Levi, and Yisrael--that make up the Jewish people; and the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


Matzah commemorates the haste unto which the Israelites had to flee Egypt. Many just think of the literal representation: the Israelites had no time to let their bread rise before they had to flee. However, the matzah can help us reflect on those who do have freedom in our modern world and the urgency for which they yearn for it. This is why matzah is called, “the Bread of Affilication.”





The Haggadah


The Haggadah is the text used during the Seder to tell the story of the Exodus. It also sets the order of how we eat and drink the traditional Passover foods. Included in the Haggadah are the blessings for the foods, wine and other activities of the night.


The Hagaddah is essential to the Seder. It is important to include all the special meanings the Passover meal offers us. Using the Haggadah ensures that we do just that.


The reading of the Hagaddah fulfills another Passover commandment. In Exodus 13:8 we are commanded  to pass to future generations what G-d did for His people when He liberated them from slavery.


Passover is a chronicle of freedom. We reflect on the freedom we enjoy and contemplate what we can do for those without freedom. We thank G-d for all He has given us. Passover is also about faith. The Passover story ultimately symbolizes that having faith in the One, True G-d will free you from your bonds whether physical, emotional or spiritual. G-d is always with us and will reveal Himself if we open ourselves to receive his message.


The Seder Plate


The Seder Plate holds six traditional foods that will be used throughout the Seder. These foods are:


1. Beitzah – The Hard Boiled Egg. This is symbolic of the ritual sacrifice that was made on Passover in the Temple. Since the destruction of the Temple there is no place to make the sacrifice therefore an egg is used in its place. Many also believe this represents the enduring nature of the Jewish people and the generations that have been created and will be created since the time of the Exodus. This is eaten before anything else during the Seder.


2. Zeroa – The Shank Bone. It is usually roasted lamb, although many families use chicken, with most of the meat removed before placing it on the Seder Plate. It is not eaten; it serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of a lamb made the night before the Israelites fled Egypt. And the blood put on the doorposts so Angel of Dead would spare the Israelites' first born.


3. Maror – Bitter Herbs. The most common is Horseradish or Romaine Lettuce, however, endives or scallions are also used. The bitter herbs are washed and put on the Seder Plate plain – no adornment is permitted. When first eaten they do not taste bitter, but leave a bitter aftertaste. This represents the Israelites’ experience in Egypt. Eating the Maror is one of the most important parts of the Seder. While we eat we remember that we are now free but the Israelites lived in harsh conditions as slaves. And we reflect on what we can for those in the world who are suffering and not free.


4. Karpas – The Vegetable. This is usually parsley but can also be celery or a boiled potato. It is eaten by dipping it into salt water right before we begin the story of the Exodus. This represents the 600,000 Israelite males who were in servitude in Egypt. Karpas means celery in Hebrew and is spelled כרפס. Spelled backwards it bears the symbolic meaning of this food. The letter "ס"(samech) represents the number 60 and פרך “perech” means servitude. The salt water represents the tears of the Israelites.


5. Charoset – The Sweet Paste. This is a mixture of apples, pears, nuts and sweet wine all crushed together to form a paste. It is eaten with the Maror, but just a little as the sweetness of the Charoset should not overpower the bitterness of the Maror. The Charoset represents the motar the Israelites were forced to use while build for the Egyptians.


6. Hazeret –More Bitter Herbs. This is a revisit to the bitter herbs from the beginning of the Seder. The word Hazeret, which literally means horseradish, is related to the Hebrew word “hazra” which means repeat. 


The Kiddush Cup and Wine


During the Seder we drink four cups of wine. The wine should be kosher. The ceremonial cup that the wine is poured into is called a Kiddush Cup. In some families only the head of the Seder table drinks from the Kiddush Cup and in others everyone at the table takes a sip. Everyone should have their own cup of wine as well.


The four cups represent four expressions of redemption written in Exodus 6:6-7. These expressions are represented as such: the first cup “and I removed you” (physically from Egypt); the second cup “and I freed you” (from the bonds of slavery); the third cup “and I redeemed you (with outstretched arms and mighty acts); and the fourth cup “and I took you” (as G-d’s own people).




Start your own Passover traditions

At JesusBoat.com want to encourage you to discover the Jewish Roots of your faith. It is said that Yeshua's Last Supper was the Passover Seder. Therefore, celebrating Passover is awonderful way to begin your journey.


For the Passover Seder we have Seder Plates, Matzah Plates and Covers, Kiddush Cups, Kosher Wine and Haggadahs.


We will be more than happy to assist you in choosing what you need to celebrate Passover. Below is a short guide to the traditional foods of Passover. We hope you will find it interesting and helpful. Additionally, it is illustrated with items from our inventory.


To see everything we have for Passover, click here.



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