Monday, March 25, 2013

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Tonight Jews around the world celebrate the first night of Passover. This commemorates the night that the Israelites were protected from death and sent forth from Egypt to freedom. The ritual meal brings together the family, and the story is retold how the Lord rescued their people from slavery. Sitting on the table is the Seder plate (here by Joanna Brichetto), with items that each bear symbolic meaning. Maror and chazeret (left and bottom portions here) are bitter herbs that symbolize the bitterness of slavery. Charoset (lower right) is a paste of fruit and nuts symbolizing the mortar used by the slaves to build in Egypt. Karpas (center) is a vegetable dipped in salt water or vinegar, symbolic of Joseph's coat being dipped in blood. Zeroa (upper right) is a roasted lamb or goat bone - during the days of the Temple sacrifices would be offered at this time in memory of the lamb's blood put on the doorpost. Beitzah (upper left) is a hard-boiled egg, also representative of a temple sacrifice, and additionally a symbol of sadness over the destruction of the temple. I've also seen it noted in connection to spring and new life.

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