Juxtaposition of diverse parts of our experience can be a great impetus to spiritual growth, a stretching of our boundaries. This seder is such a juxtaposition. Some of the prayers are almost 3000 years old; some elements of the service have been written in the past year. In creating this service it was important to maintain the seder's integrity as a Jewish family ritual; however, Commentator B brings a Christian perspective. Material which I found written in archaic English I have freely re-written into contemporary forms; yet have deliberately replaced 'law' with 'Torah' and 'sabbath' with 'shabbat' lest too-familiar Bible passages lose their impact. May this event prove as spiritually enlivening to you as it has to me.
Jackson H. Day, Maundy Thursday, 1991
Room arrangement. There should be a head table. Commentators A and B stand at either side of the head table to read their parts. When this seder was done at Christ Church, six additional tables, each seating 8 persons, were arranged in a semi circle around the head table. Against the walls of the room two serving tables were placed.
The announcement of the service informed congregants that the service included an actual meal, to be served "covered dish supper" fashion. Out of respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters and the nature of this service, it was specifically requested that no pork or ham products be brought.
Before beginning, cards will be given out designating these roles:
** Mother (one per table)
** Leader (numbered 1-6, one per table and HT [Head Table])
** Youngest (four total in the room)
** Readers (numbered 1-23)
Commentators A and B stand at either side of the Head Table during the ceremonial portions. A rabbi or other Jewish person, if present, may be Commentator A. The pastor of the church will be Commentator B.
Each table will seat eight people. Before the leader at each table is a plate on which there are three large matzohs placed separately in the folds of a napkin. Each table will have two candlesticks, and one or more dishes containing a sprig of parsley (green herb), ground horseradish (bitter herb), and haroset. Each table will have a bowl of salt water.
The Head Table will have a seder plate containing the parsley, horseradish, haroset, shankbone, and roasted egg, and will have the Cup of Elijah in the center.
BEFORE THE PASCHAL MEAL
Commentator A: Welcome to this Seder! The seder is a meal which commemorates the mighty acts of God in freeing humanity from oppression. The seder is the meal in which the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold, as commanded by God. (1)Seder is an Aramaic word meaning "order", as in "order of service". It is the name given to the festival meal and home service on the first and second night of Passover. The seder has changed and developed over the years. For modern-day Jews, the Exodus in this century from oppression in Europe to new lives elsewhere is an obvious new association of the seder. In modern seders, the Nazi Holocaust is often remembered as a contemporary act of oppression.
Commentator B: For Christians, a momentous change in the seder took place at the Last Supper, when the Jewish seder began its transition to the Christian Eucharist. Looking back, St. Paul, who had studied with Rabbi Gamaliel(2), saw the crucifixion of Jesus as comparable to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb at the temple: "Christ our passover has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the feast!" (3)
1. The Lighting of the Festival Lights (All Stand)
Commentator A: According to ancient custom it is the task of the mother to light the festival lights in every service which takes place in the Jewish home.
Mothers (Light the candles at each table, and say in unison:)
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe. You have sanctified us by your commandments and told us to light the festival candles. You have kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this season: may our homes be consecrated by the light of your countenance, shining upon us in blessing and bringing us peace.
2. Kiddush, The Blessing of the Feast
(All may be seated. The leaders of the tables speak in unison.)
Leaders: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, You have chosen us from every people, exalted us among every tongue, and sanctified us by your commandments. In love you have given us holidays for gladness, festival seasons for rejoicing, and this day of the feast of unleavened bread, the time of our freedom, a holy convocation of remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. For you have chosen us and sanctified us from all peoples, and you have given your holy seasons for our inheritance. Blessed are you, O Lord, who makes Israel and the festivals.
Commentator B: Luke writes of Jesus that "when the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God."(4)
2a. The First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification
(The wine and grape juice are passed at each table and the first cup is filled.)
Commentator A. Four times during the paschal meal the wine is passed, twice before and twice after the actual meal, symbolizing the four-fold promise of redemption.(5)
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, WHO CREATES THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.
(All drink the first cup of wine.)
2b. Urkhatz: The Handwashing
Commentator A: The washing of hands during the paschal meal symbolizes the interior cleansing necessary for those partaking in the ritual. One of us will symbolically wash on behalf of us all.
Commentator B: Either at this point of the ritual or the handwashing after the meal, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to show the thoroughness of the cleansing and the primacy of service in the Kingdom of God.(6)
(The ushers will bring the Leader at the Head Table a pitcher, basin and towel. The Leader washes his/her hands while saying the prayer below.)
Leader at Head Table: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Who has hallowed us with your commandments and has commanded us concerning the washing of hands.
2c. Karpas, The Green Herb (Parsley or Lettuce)
Commentator A: The next traditional act of the Passover meal is the eating of the green herb. In partaking of this food we give thanks to God for all God's bounties. We also recall that our forefathers were tillers of the soil, who were ever grateful for the earth's produce. In tasting the salt water, we remember the tears which our ancestors shed while suffering the tortures of slavery.
(The green herb is passed; each takes a sprig of parsley or lettuce from the plate and dips it in one of the bowls of salt water, symbolic of tears and sorrow. All say together:)
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, WHO CREATES THE FRUIT OF THE EARTH.
(All then eat the green herb.)
2d. Yakhatz - Breaking The Middle Matzoh
(The leaders at each table uncover the upper piece of matzoh and lift them above the plate.)
Commentator A: Unleavened bread is prescribed for the eight days of the passover, to commemorate the first passover, for in the flight from Egypt there had been no time to make leavened bread.
Commentator B: Thus the bread which Jesus used at the Last Supper was unleavened, a custom which we often preserve in our day.
Leaders (Unison): This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want come and celebrate the passover with us. May it be God's will to redeem us from all evil and from all servitude.
(The leaders at each table break the middle matzoh and leave one half on the Seder plate while putting away the other half, the 'Afikomen' or dessert, to be eaten at the close of the meal.
3. Mageed: The Haggadah, Story of the Deliverance from Egypt.(7)
(The wine and grape juice are passed at each table and the second cup is filled.)
Commentator A: Now the story of the first passover is retold, as commanded by God in the book of Exodus.
Commentator B: The youngest person present (at the Last Supper this was probably St. John) asks the four traditional questions.
3a. Mah Nistanah: The Four Questions
Youngest 1: Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
Youngest 2 On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs. Why on this night do we eat especially bitter herbs?
Youngest 3 On all other nights we do not dip herbs in any flavoring. Why on this night do we dip them in salt water?
Youngest 4 On all other nights we eat without special festivities? Why on this night do we hold this passover service?
Reader 1: How is this night different from all other nights? This night is different from all other nights of the year because on this night we celebrate our liberation from slavery.
Reader 2: Why do we eat matzoh today? When we left Egypt, we left quickly. The Egyptians pursued us, and we did not have to bake our bread. The hot sun baked it into flat unleavened bread, which we call matzoh. We eat only matzoh at the Seder to commemorate our flight.
Reader 3: Why do we eat bitter herbs at the seder? We eat bitter herbs because we were enslaved, and our lives made bitter.
Reader 4: Why do we dip the green herbs tonight? We dip green herbs in salt water to remind us of renewed life in the Spring. We dip the bitter herbs in sweet haroseth as a sign of hope, remembering that our ancestors were able to withstand the bitterness of slavery because it was sweetened by the fight for freedom. Had our ancestors not sought their liberty from Egypt in those days, we and our children might not have learned to fight for liberty. Therefore we tell the story of freedom every year at this time.
3b. The Story of Deliverance
Leaders (unison): Even if all of us were wise and well versed in the Torah, it would still be our duty from year to year to tell the story of our deliverance from Egypt. Our story begins with degradation; our telling ends with glory.
All: OUR ANCESTORS WERE WANDERING ARAMEANS. THEY WENT DOWN TO EGYPT. THEY LIVED THERE AS STRANGERS, FEW IN NUMBER. THERE THEY BECAME A GREAT NATION, MIGHTY AND NUMEROUS. BUT THE EGYPTIANS WERE CRUEL TO US. THEY AFFLICTED US. THEY IMPOSED HARD LABOR UPON US. THEN WE CRIED TO THE LORD, THE GOD OF OUR ANCESTORS; THE LORD HEARD OUR CRY, SAW OUR PLIGHT, OUR WOE, OUR OPPRESSION. THEN THE LORD LED US OUT OF EGYPT WITH A MIGHTY HAND, WITH AN OUTSTRETCHED ARM, WITH AWESOME POWER, WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS;(8)
Reader 5: A new Pharaoh arose over Egypt, who had not known Joseph. Joseph had brought his father Jacob and all his brothers to Egypt during the famine, and they had stayed and prospered. They had become a populous tribe and the new Pharaoh feared them, for they were strong and united. He took action to remove this threat to his power by assigning the Jews hard labor, building cities and temples. He even threatened their male children with death.
Reader 6: Jochabed and Amram, two Jews of the tribe of Levi, hid their child to save his life. His sister put the baby in a basket and set him in reeds at the edge of the Nile River to hide him. She watched at a distance as Pharaoh's daughter found him. When she took him out of the water she fell in love with him and decided to take him to the palace and raise him as her own son. His sister Miriam came out of hiding and offered to find a nurse for him, so he was returned to his own mother.
Reader 7: Although he was raised as an Egyptian prince, he soon realized he was a Jew. One day he saw an Egyptian soldier beating a Jewish slave. In furious anger, he killed the solder. When he realized that his act had become known, he fled Egypt. After a long journey across the desert and wilderness, he reached the hills of Midian, where he was taken in and became a shepherd. There he married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, his host.
Reader 8: One day while tending his sheep in the desert he noticed a burning bush on the mountain. Soon he noticed that although the bush was burning it was not consumed. From the bush a Voice spoke to him, saying, "I am the God of your ancestors. I have heard the cries of the Jewish slaves, and I will heed them. Go to Pharaoh and tell him that I have said to let my people go, that they may serve me." When he protested that he was not a skilled orator and would not be listened to, God gave him a staff and told him to take his brother Aaron along for help.
Reader 9: When he returned to Egypt, he gathered the Jews and told them God's message. Then he and Aaron went to the Pharaoh and told him that God said to let the Jews go. Pharaoh laughed. Who did Moses think he was, and who was this God of Israel to tell him, Pharaoh, the most powerful ruler in the world, what to do? He became angry and increased the burden on the slaves by ordering them to make bricks from clay without straw.
Reader 10: After his first encounter with Pharaoh, he became discouraged and God had to convince him to return. He went back with the magical staff and tried to convince Pharaoh of the power of God with his tricks, but Pharaoh was not impressed.
Reader 11: Moses then held the staff over the Nile river and the water turned to blood. At this first plague, the Egyptians panicked as their river of life became blood, and agreed immediately to his demands. As soon as the water became clear again, God hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he changed his mind.
Reader 12: Thus began a series of plagues, each one worse than the last, each preceded by a request to "Let my people go, that they may serve me," each followed by a recapitulation when God hardened Pharaoh's heart. After pests and wild animals had destroyed the land, and darkness forced all residents indoors, God told him to warn the Jews to smear lamb's blood on their doorposts, so the Angel of Death smote the firstborn son of every Egyptian, but spared the Jews whose homes were marked with lamb's blood.
Reader 13: As we recount the plagues, we spill some wine from our cup, in order to reduce our pleasure in remembrance of the suffering of the Egyptians. Tradition tells us that the Angels were rejoicing at the cries of the Egyptians when God rebuked them, saying, "Are these not my people also, and the work of my hands?"
(Each person dips finger into wine cup and shakes drops off finger onto plate.)
All: EACH DROP OF WINE WE POUR IS HOPE AND PRAYER THAT PEOPLE WILL CAST OUT THE PLAGUES THAT THREATEN EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE THEY ARE FOUND, BEGINNING IN OUR OWN HEARTS:
THE MAKING OF WAR
THE TEACHING OF HATE AND VIOLENCE
DESPOLIATION OF THE EARTH
PERVERSION OF JUSTICE AND GOVERNMENT
FOMENTING OF VICE AND CRIME
NEGLECT OF HUMAN NEEDS, OPPRESSION OF NATIONS AND PEOPLES
CORRUPTION OF CULTURE
SUBJUGATION OF SCIENCE, LEARNING, AND HUMAN DISCOURSE
THE EROSION OF FREEDOMS.
SLAYING OF THE FIRST-BORN
Reader 14: After the tenth plague, Pharaoh insisted that the Jews leave Egypt immediately. Because they left in haste, they took their dough with them and baked the matzoh in the sun as they travelled. As soon as he realized they were actually leaving, the Pharaoh sent his troops after the Jews. As the soldiers reached the Red Sea, and disaster seemed imminent, God parted the waters and the Jews were able to escape. As the soldiers entered the sea, the waters closed in on them and they were drowned.
Reader 15: After their escape, the Jews began their journey across the wilderness of Sinai. As the trip grew arduous, they had second thoughts, and bemoaned their fate. At least in Egypt, they had food and shelter. Although God provided manna to eat and water from rocks for them to drink, they still complained. They could not believe the promise that God would lead them back to the land he promised Abraham.
Reader 16: When they reached Mount Sinai, God commanded them to assemble at the base of the mountain. As the earth trembled and the sky filled with smoke, every Jew heard God's voice as he commanded us:
Leader (Head Table): I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Leader 1 You shall have no other gods before me.
Leader 2 You shall not make a sculptured image of God, or any likeness.
Leader 3 You shall not take the name of God, your God in vain.
Leader 4 Remember the Shabbat day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Shabbat of God, your God. On that day you shall do no work.
Leader 5 Honor your mother and your father.
Leader 6 You shall not murder.
Leader 1 You shall not commit adultery.
Leader 2 You shall not steal.
Leader 3 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Leader 4 You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor your neighbor's goods.
Reader 17: As our spiritual ancestors all heard God's commandments, all said, "We have heard and we will obey." God then promised to take them to the land of their ancestors and give it to them forever.
Reader 18: After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the Jews came to the land they had been promised and founded a nation where they could be free.
All HOW MUCH MORE, THEN, ARE WE TO BE GRATEFUL TO GOD FOR THE WONDERFUL DEEDS THE ETERNAL ONE PERFORMED FOR US! GOD BROUGHT US OUT OF EGYPT, AND SPLIT THE RED SEA FOR US, AND BROUGHT US THROUGH DRY LAND, AND SUSTAINED US IN THE WILDERNESS FOR FORTY YEARS, AND FED US WITH MANNA, AND GAVE US THE SABBATH, AND BROUGHT US TO MOUNT SINAI, AND GAVE US THE TORAH, AND BROUGHT US INTO THE LAND OF ISRAEL.(9)
4. Explanation of the Ceremonial Foods
Commentator A: It has been said by Rabbi Gamaliel that the seder is not complete until all symbols are explained in detail.
4a. Paschal Lamb
(The leader at the Head Table lifts the shankbone and all say:)
All: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS SHANKBONE?
Leader 5: The lamb bone is the symbol of the paschal lamb which our forefathers sacrificed to the Lord in memory of that night when the Holy One passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt, as it is written: "When your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service,' you shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our homes.'"(10)
4b. Roasted Egg
(The leader at the Head Table holds up the Roasted Egg.)
All: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE ROASTED EGG?
Leader 6: The egg reminds us of the Festival Offering through which the priests in the days of the Temple expressed their prayers for the wellbeing of the people. It is also a sign of rebirth. As around us nature dances with new life, so may this season awaken within use new strength, new hope, and joy.
(The leader at the Head Table holds up the upper matzoh.)
All: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MATZOH?
Leader 1: This is the bread of affliction which our fathers took with them out of Egypt as it is written: "And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any provisions."(11)
4d. Moror - Bitter Herb (Horseradish)
(The leader at the Head Table lift ups the dish of horseradish.)
All: WHAT IS THE MEANING OF MOROR?
Leader 2: Moror means bitter herb. We eat moror to recall that the Egyptians made our people's lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field."
Reader 19: Still we remember: "It was we who were slaves...we who were strangers." And therefore, we recall these words as well:
Reader 20: You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feeling of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.
Reader 21: When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong the stranger. You shall love the stranger as yourself.
All: FOR YOU WERE STRANGERS IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
Reader 22: You shall rejoice before the Lord with your son and daughter...and the stranger, and the orphan and the widow in our midst.
All: ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT YOU WERE SLAVES IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
Reader 23: You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the orphan.
All: REMEMBER THAT YOU WERE A SLAVE IN THE LAND OF EGYPT.
5. Prayer of Thanksgiving: The Hallel, First Part
(As a preface to the Hallel Psalms, the Leader of the Head Table, lifting his/her cup of wine, says:)
Leader, Head Table: In every generation each one ought to regard himself as though he had personally come out of Egypt, as it is written: "And you shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" (13) Therefore it is our duty to thank, praise, glorify and adore Him who did all of these miracles for our fathers and for ourselves. He has brought us forth from slavery to freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festive day, from darkness to a great light, and from subjection to redemption. Let us then recite before him a new song.
(The Leaders replace their cups of wine.)
Commentator A: Psalms 113-118 are called the Hallel Psalms, and are traditionally read during the seder. Hallel, from which our word alleluia comes, means literally, "Praise the Lord." Psalms 113 and 114 are read before the seder meal.
5a. Psalm 113 (All stand.)
Leaders: Alleluia! You servants of the Lord, praise, praise the name of the Lord!
All: BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD, HENCEFORTH AND FOREVER!
Leaders: From east to west, praised be the name of the Lord!
All: HIGH OVER ALL NATIONS, THE LORD! HIS GLORY TRANSCENDS THE HEAVENS!
Leaders: Who is like the Lord our God?--enthroned so high,
All: HE NEEDS TO STOOP TO SEE THE SKY AND EARTH!
Leaders: He raises the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the dunghill
All: TO GIVE THEM A PLACE WITH PRINCES, WITH THE PRINCES OF HIS PEOPLE.
Leaders: He enthrones the barren woman in her house by making her the happy mother of sons, Alleluia!
5b. Psalm 114
All: WHEN ISRAEL CAME OUT OF EGYPT, THE HOUSE OF JACOB FROM A FOREIGN NATION,
Leaders: Judah became his sanctuary and Israel his domain.
All: THE SEA FLED AT THE SIGHT, THE JORDAN STOPPED FLOWING,
Leaders: The mountains skipped like rams, and like lambs, the hills.
All: SEA, WHAT MAKES YOU RUN AWAY? JORDAN, WHY STOP FLOWING?
Leaders: Why skip like rams, you mountains, Why like lambs, you hills?
All: QUAKE, EARTH, AT THE COMING OF YOUR MASTER, AT THE COMING OF THE GOD OF JACOB,
Leaders: who turns rock into pool, flint into fountain.
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD, RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO REDEEMED US AND REDEEMED OUR FATHERS FROM EGYPT, AND BROUGHT US TO THIS NIGHT, TO EAT UNLEAVENED BREAD AND BITTER HERBS.
6. The Solemn Blessing of the Food.
6a. The Second Cup.
(All may be seated. The leaders takes their cups in their hands and say:)
Leader 4: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who has redeemed us and has redeemed our fathers from Egypt and has permitted us to live until this night, to partake of the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs. So may the Lord our God and the God of our fathers permit us to live unto other festive seasons and holy days. May your will be done through Jacob, Your chosen servant, so that Your name shall be made known in the midst of all the earth, and that all the peoples be moved to worship You with one accord and we shall sing new songs of praise unto You for our redemption and the deliverance of our souls.
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO CREATES THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.
(All drink the second cup of wine.)
6b. Hamotzi: The Blessing Over Bread
Commentator A: The seder is a family festival. At this point in the service, the first blessing of the bread, the family is formally together and the meal formally begins. After this, it is not proper for others to enter.(14)
Commentator B: This corporateness formed by the seder has always been part of the Christian understanding of the Eucharist. Paul wrote: "The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread."(15)
(The leaders take the upper matzoh and hold it.)
Leaders: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Commentator B: At this moment in the Last Supper it would have been natural for Jesus to have thoughts about family. It would have been natural for him to remember his boyhood when, as the youngest, he asked the four questions. Lately, these twelve gathered in the room have been his family. He lifts the matzoh to break it. This family would soon be broken. Perhaps his mind turns to the brokenness of Israel in Egypt, preparatory to the Exodus story recounted in each seder. Perhaps his mind turns to the brokenness of Israel in the Babylonian exile, preparatory to the return, and to the brokenness of Israel now, oppressed under the heel of Rome. In the hands of God, brokenness nourishes the family and brings it together. This bread is my body, he tells them, broken for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Do this to make the family whole again.(16)
(The leaders at each table then break the matzoh, eat a fragment themselves, and distribute the rest to those at their respective tables. Holding the matzoh portion in their hands all say:)
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS SANCTIFIED US BY YOUR COMMANDMENTS AND TAUGHT US CONCERNING THE EATING OF UNLEAVENED BREAD.
(All eat the matzoh.)
6c. Bitter herbs (horseradish)
Leader 5: Let us combine the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs and eat them together, as it is written; "With unleavened bread and with bitter herbs, they shall eat it."(17)
(Each person takes a piece of matzoh and combines it with bitter herbs (horseradish) and eat it after saying together:)
All: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, WHO HAS COMMANDED US CONCERNING THE EATING OF BITTER HERBS.
Leader 6: We will now partake of the Haroset between two pieces of matzoh. The haroset is made to resemble mortar to remind us of the mortar with which our forefathers made bricks for the building of Egyptian cities. It is sweet to remind us that God's redemption can sweeten even the bitterness of slavery. Life is a mixture of bitter and sweet. So, we take some of the bitter herbs of slavery and mix them with the sweet haroset of deliverance.
(The leaders breaks the bottom matzoh and puts some haroset sandwiched between two pieces. The remaining matzoh is passed around and each person then does the same. All eat of this 'sandwich' and then dip a piece of matzoh in the horseradish (bitter herbs) and eat it.)
(The Seder platter is removed. At this point the Seder meal is eaten.)
II. SCHULKHAN OREKH: THE PASCHAL MEAL(18)
III. AFTER THE PASCHAL MEAL
(After the meal the Seder platter is again placed on the table.)
1. Tzafood: The Afikoman (Dessert)
Commentator A: The second matzoh is now brought forth. It was the custom to conclude the passover meal with this piece of unleavened bread. The second matzoh is called the afikomen, which means "dessert."
(The matzoh which has been set aside for afikoman is distributed by the leaders at each table among the Seder company. All eat. This concludes the meal.)
2. Barekh: The Blessing after the Meal
(Before the Blessing, the third cup of wine, the Cup of the Blessing, is poured).
2a. The Benediction/Grace/Thanksgiving
Commentator A: The Benediction or Grace after the meal is very ancient, having come into existence long before the destruction of the Temple.
Commentator B: The Grace was undoubtedly used by Jesus after he and the disciples had finished the Passover meal. The Grace, which begins with a preface, is the source of the Great Thanksgiving in the Communion Service.
(All hold the cup of the blessing in their hands, while the Leader at the Head Table says:)
Leader at Head Table: Let us bless the Lord.
All: MAY THE NAME OF THE LORD BE BLESSED FROM NOW UNTIL ETERNITY.
Leader at Head Table: Let us bless the One of whose bounty we have partaken.
All: BLESSED BE GOD OF WHOSE BREAD WE HAVE PARTAKEN AND THROUGH WHOSE GOODNESS WE LIVE.
Leader at Head Table: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Ruler of eternity. You feed the whole world with your goodness, with grace, with lovingkindness and with compassion. You give bread to all flesh, for your lovingkindness endures forever. Through your great goodness, food has never failed us, and may it never fail us, for your great Name's sake, for you feed and sustain all, and do good to all, and prepare food for all your creatures which you have created. Blessed are you, O Lord, who gives food to all.
We thank you, O Lord our God, because you gave those who came before us a good and abundant land, and because you brought us forth from the land of Egypt and redeemed us out of the house of slaves. We thank you for your Covenant which you have sealed in our flesh; for your Torah which you have taught us, and your laws which you have made known to us; for the life, grace and lovingkindness which you have bestowed upon us; and for the food with which you constantly sustain us, in every day, season and hour. For all this, O Lord our God, we thank you and bless you. Blessed be your Name in the mouth of each living thing forever; as it is written, "And you shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you." (19) Blessed are you, O Lord, for the land and for the food.(20)
2b. The Third Cup of Wine, The Cup of the Blessing
Commentator B: At this point in the service, with the cup of the blessing in his hand, it would have been totally natural for Jesus to be thinking about covenants. He had just thanked God for God's covenant with God's people, sealed with the flesh of those who had given their lives for God. Jesus had spent long months talking to crowds of the nearness of the Kingdom of God. How easily he was misunderstood. The people wanted a new David with armies to enforce the Torah. Even his disciples spent their time arguing about their rank in the court of the new King. What could he say to emphasize it was something deeper that God sought? Perhaps Jesus recalled the prophet Jeremiah's words, "the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel...I will put my Torah within them, and I will write it upon their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."(21) Again, the words of the grace may have returned to mind: "Your covenant, which you have sealed in our flesh." Jesus turns to the disciples: "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood...Drink from it, all of you."(22)
Leader at Head Table: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, sustainer of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
(All drink the third cup, the cup of the Blessing)(23)
2c. The Hallel, Second Part: Psalm 116 (abbreviated)
Leaders: What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
All: I WILL LIFT UP THE CUP OF SALVATION AND CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.
Leaders: I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
All: PRECIOUS IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD IS THE DEATH OF HIS FAITHFUL ONES.
Leaders: O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the child of your serving girl.
All: YOU HAVE LOOSED MY BONDS. I WILL OFFER YOU A THANKSGIVING SACRIFICE AND CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.
Leaders: I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
All: IN THE COURTS OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, IN YOUR MIDST, O JERUSALEM. PRAISE THE LORD - ALLELUIA! (24)
3. The Final Blessing.
3a. The Fourth Cup, the Cup of Melchizedak
(The cups are filled for the fourth time, for the cup of Melchizedek, and the Hallel recital is concluded.)
3b. The Great Hallal -- Psalm 136 (abbreviated)
Leaders: O Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
All: FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
Who struck Egypt through their first born,
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
and brought Israel out from among them.
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
who divided the Reed Sea in two,
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
and made Israel pass through the midst of it.
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
and rescued us from our foes.
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
Who gives food to all flesh.
FOR HIS STEADFAST LOVE ENDURES FOREVER.
All: PRAISED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, WHO HAS CREATED THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.(25)
(All drink the fourth cup of wine.)
4. The Fifth Cup, the Cup of Elijah
Leader at Head Table: Elijah, the Prophet, comes to Earth from time to time, when hearts are open and the need for peace is great. And it will be Elijah who will herald the End of Days, when harmony will reign upon our planet. He is welcome into our home.
(The cup of Elijah is now filled in the Center table. The Youngest opens the door to the sanctuary for the coming of Elijah, the coming of a more perfect world of justice and joy for all humankind.')
All: ELIJAH, THE PROPHET, ELIJAH OF THE VILLAGE OF TISHBI, ELIJAH OF GILEAD, SPEEDILY IN OUR DAYS, COME TO US, WITH THE MESSIAH, OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID.
5. Nirtzah: Conclusion
Commentator A: Our Passover service is completed. We have told once again the story of God bringing us from oppression to freedom. We have tasted the bitter and the sweet. We have praised God with ancient alleluias. May the One who broke Pharaoh's yoke forever shatter all fetters of oppression, keep us in the Covenant, and hasten the day of Shalom.
Commentator B: We have re-experienced the Last Supper of Jesus as he faced the ultimate oppression humanity could offer. We have broken the bread that makes us whole and shared the cup of blessing. Go now in the peace of the Lord. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.
(All Sing:) SHALOM, MY FRIENDS, SHALOM, MY FRIENDS, SHALOM, SHALOM
WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN, WE'LL SEE YOU AGAIN, SHALOM, SHALOM
Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, London, Dacre Press, 1945
Jan Nyquist, with Denise, Jacob and Daniel: Passover Haggadah, 1990
Nahum N. Glatzer, The Passover Haggadah, New York: Schocken Bros., 1953
1. Exodus 12:26-27. "And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this observance? you shall say, 'It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.'
2. Acts 22:3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city (Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral Torah...
3. I Corinthians 5:7-8
4. Luke 22:15-16
5. At the Last Supper Jesus passed this first cup of wine to his apostles, saying "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." Luke 22: 17-18
6. John 13:1-20. The Roman Catholic communion service still retains the handwashing of the priest as part of the ritual.
7. A note of appreciation is due to Jan Nyquist, of the Columbia Jewish Congregation, from whose Passover Haggadah, 1990, almost all of the text in the Story of Deliverance is taken.
8. Deuteronomy 26:5-8
9. End of major quotation from Jan Nyquist service
10. Exodus 12:26-27
11. Exodus 12:39
12. Exodus 1:12-14
13. Exodus 13:8
14. Dix, Shape of the Liturgy
15. I Cor 10:16-17. Christians frequently assume that Jesus' famous words over the bread and wine took place at the same time in the Last Supper since they take place together in the Communion service. However, most scholars believe the words took place as shown in this service: the blessing of bread before the paschal meal, and the blessing of wine after. Paul's comment here associating the breaking of the bread with "we who are many are one body" strongly supports placing Jesus' words over the bread here; just as reference to the cup "after supper" and as "the cup of the blessing" places the words over the wine at that point. The early church probably continued with a meal such as we are sharing tonight until it became unwieldy to do so. The actual meal then was removed from the service and became a "love feast." Without the meal in between, the blessing of the bread and of the wine came much closer together in the service.
16. Luke 22:19; I Cor 11:24
17. Numbers 9:11
18. At this point in the Last Supper, several conversations took place between Jesus and the disciples which are recorded in our Scriptures: the announcement of imminent betrayal and the disciples each wondering, "is it I?"; the dispute about greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven; and Jesus prediction of Peter's denial.
19. Deuteronomy 8:10
20. Modern English translation based on Glatzer (pages 69-77) and Dix (53). "All Jewish scholars seem to be agreed that at least these two paragraphs in substantially the present form were in use in Palestine in our Lord's time...the bread and wine blessings and the first two paragraphs of the Thanksgiving can be taken as those which our Lord himself habitually used as a pious Jew. Dix, pp 53-54.
21. Jeremiah 31:31,33
22. Luke 22:20; Matthew 26:27.
23. St. Paul referred to this cup in his letter to the Corinthians: When we bless 'the cup of blessing,' is it not a means of sharing in the blood of Christ? I Cor 10:16
24. Psalm 116:12-19
25. Psalm 136, 1, 10-11, 13-14, 23-25. Matthew (26:30) records the conclusion of the seder, "When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.