How Passover Works


The Seder: Steps 6 – 15
Members of the Samaritan community seal the oven after placing slaughtered sheep during the traditional Passover sacrifice ceremony at Mount Gerizim near the northern West Bank city of Nablu.
Members of the Samaritan community seal the oven after placing slaughtered sheep during the traditional Passover sacrifice ceremony at Mount Gerizim near the northern West Bank city of Nablu.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

After Maggid, the Seder proceeds to the sixth step.

6. Rachtzah – The second washing of hands, this time with a blessing.

7. Motzi – This is the traditional blessing over bread; even though there is no actual bread at the Seder, the Motzi is recited as a blessing over the meal in general.

8. Motzi Matzo – The Motzi is recited again, this time with additional words that specifically apply to matzo. Each person eats a bite of matzo.

9. Maror -- A blessing is said over the bitter vegetable, often horseradish (or sometimes Romaine lettuce). Each person eats a bit of maror, and then eats another bit dipped in haroset (the "mortar").

10. Korekh – Each person eats a small sandwich of chazeret and haroset between two pieces of matzo.

11. Shulchan Orekh -- The meal! There are no specific foods required for Passover. They need only be free of forbidden grains in addition to the usual kosher laws. In the U.S., Passover meals often include items like brisket and matzo ball soup, both traditional to Ashkenazi Jews (those originally from Europe).

12. Tzafun – The half-piece of matzo set aside during step 4 becomes dessert (afikoman). In many homes, the afikoman matzo is hidden at some point during the Seder, to be found by the children during step 12 with the promise of a prize for the finder, in the hopes of keeping them engaged during steps 1 through 11 [source: Jewish Virtual Library].

13. Barekh – The traditional after-meal blessing is recited after drinking a third glass of wine. An extra glass of wine is set aside for the prophet Elijah (traditionally the forerunner of the Messiah), and the door is opened so he can (imaginarily) come in and drink it.

14. Hallel The Seder ends with a recitation of psalms. The fourth glass of wine is drunk.

15. Nirtzah – The leader of the Seder makes a simple statement concluding the meal. In homes outside Israel, the Seder typically ends with everyone at the table saying "L'Shanah HaBa'ah B'Yerushalayim," or "Next Year, in Jerusalem," which can either refer to the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem when the Messiah comes or, more broadly, a challenge to overcome personal struggles and enter the "Jerusalem" of freedom or to work for freedom for all peoples [source: Alperin].

During the remaining days of Passover, observers may attend services at synagogues; light more candles and participate in other holiday meals. On the last day of Passover, some people will also participate in a feast very similar to the Seder of the first day [source: Chabad].

Author's Note: How Passover Works

Writing about a religious observance is never easy. Writing about a religious observance as loaded with ritual as Passover is even harder. It's impossible to write comprehensively about the various ways in which members of a religion with global presence choose to carry out the directives of Passover. My goal then, here, was to cover some of the most traditional approaches, along with some of the more common variations. Especially when it comes to the Seder, many groups choose to add their own unique touches to make it more personal. The options are infinite.

Related Articles

Sources

  • Akhlah: The Jewish Children's Learning Network. "Timeline." (April 19, 2013) http://www.akhlah.com/jewish-traditions/timeline/
  • Amir, Nina. "If Israelis eat matzo for the eight days of Passover, what's that say about Jews around the world?" The Examiner. April 1, 2010. (April 20, 2013) http://www.examiner.com/article/if-israelis-eat-matzo-for-the-8-days-of-passover-what-s-that-say-about-jews-around-the-world
  • Biblos. "Exodus 9:1." (April 20, 2013) http://bible.cc/exodus/9-1.htm
  • Bratcher, Dennis. "Introduction to a Christian Seder." Christian Research Institute. (April 20, 2013) http://www.crivoice.org/seder.html
  • Chabad. "Chametz's Final Moments." (April 16, 2013) http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/117223/jewish/Chametzs-Final-Moments.htm
  • Chabad. "Festival of Freedom." (April 16, 2013) http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/default_cdo/jewish/Passover.htm
  • Dreyfus, Ben. "Is Passover 7 or 8 Days?" Reform Judaism. (April 24, 2013) http://www.reformjudaism.org/passover-7-or-8-days
  • JDCC. "Kosher Foods for Passover." (April 21, 2013) http://www.jdcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=690%3Akosher-foods-for-passover&catid=272%3Afeature-article&Itemid=30
  • Jacobs, Jill. "The Seder Plate." My Jewish Learning. (April 21, 2013) http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Passover/The_Seder/Seder_Plate_and_Table.shtml#.UXRff8pOCC1
  • Jewish Virtual Library. "Pesach – Passover: History & Overview." (April 16, 2013) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holidaya.html
  • Jewish Virtual Library. "Afikoman." (April 21, 2013) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0001_0_00507.html
  • Judaica Guide. "Seder Plate – Passover Platter." (April 21, 2013) http://www.judaica-guide.com/seder_plate/
  • Judaism 101. "Pesach Seder: How is This Night Different?" (April 21, 2013) http://www.jewfaq.org/seder.htm
  • Lukas, Michael David. "A Skeptic's Guide to Passover." Slate. April 8, 2009. (April 20, 2013) http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2009/04/a_skeptics_guide_to_passover.html
  • Lukas, Michael David. "Sympathy for the Pharaoh." Slate. April 18, 2011. (April 19, 2013) http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2011/04/sympathy_for_the_pharaoh.html
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "Ashkenazi." (April 20, 2013) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ashkenazi
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary. "Sephardi." (April 20, 2013) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sephardi?show=0&t=1366469738
  • Miriam's Cup. (April 16, 2013) http://www.miriamscup.com/
  • Prero, Yehudah. "Why 'Next Year in Jerusalem." Torah. (April 24, 2013) http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/pesach/5759/vol5no03.html
  • Sales, Ben. "On kibbutz, secular seders stray from tradition." March 14, 2013. (April 16, 2013) http://www.jta.org/news/article/2013/03/14/3119386/passover-seder-at-a-kibbutz-secularism-springtime-and-song
  • Teram, Jonathan. "Exodus 2:1-25." Wilmette Church of Christ. (April 20, 2013) http://www.wilmettechurchofchrist.org/Wednesday/Exodus/Exodus2v1-25.pdf
  • Zaklikowski, Dovid. "What are the answers to the Four Questions?" Chabad. (April 21, 2013) http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/511100/jewish/Answers-to-the-4-Questions.htm

More to Explore