The Sacredness of the Passover Table
As the Passover season approaches we start to contemplate what the holiday means. We think about what it means as a whole, what it means to our faith and what it means to us individually. Passover is about salvation, freedom and faith. Passover is also about passing down these messages to future generations.
The most customary way to share the ideas of Passover is through a traditional meal called the Seder. The Seder table is a sacred place: here we tell the story of the Exodus, we remember that G-d delivered His faithful from slavery and we share our faith in His words. The Seder table is set with traditional items, each of which is important in conveying the messages of Passover.
The Seder Table
The Seder table is set with a Seder Plate, the Haggadah, the Kiddush Cup and a bottle of kosher wine. These are the basic blessed elements needed for a Seder. However, most families add additional elements such as special matzah plates, candlesticks, pillows and even tambourines.
The Seder Plate
The Seder Plate coupled with the Haggadah is the heart of the Seder table. If you have nothing else for your Seder table, these are the most significant. The Seder Plate holds six food items each of which has special significance to the retelling of the Exodus.
The Haggadah is the book that re-tells the Exodus story. This book not only tells the story, but when to make the blessings, when to eat the ritual foods and when to drink the wine. The Haggadah is our guide though this sacred meal.
The Kiddush Cup
The Kiddush cup and the kosher wine symbolize the expressions of freedom mentioned in Exodus 6:6-7. When the Israelites were freed from slavery their transition to becoming a free people did not happen immediately; G-d gave them four stages to accomplish. At the Seder we drink four cups of wine with the Kiddush cup to symbolize each stage.
Other Passover Table Items
Candlesticks are also used at the Seder to light the candles as the holiday begins, as we do with all Jewish holidays. The Matza plate holds the three matzot which symbolize the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites and Israelites. The pillows are used for reclining while eating which indicates that we are now free and can eat leisurely as in accordance with the our new position.
Finally, the tambourine is new newest addition to the Seder table. As the freedom from slavery is a joyous occasion, and some families sing with tambourines just as Miriamdid when the Egyptians drown in the Red Sea. This new tradition also exemplifies the importance of the role of women to the survival of the Israelites in slavery and in the desert.
The Seder is an amazing spiritual experience. If you have not celebrated G-d’s redemption in this way before, this may be the year!