guest post · Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

The Most Important Word of the Seder

I am so thrilled to have my friend (IRL), band sistah, fellow blogger, and someone who I just all-around look up to, Ruchi Koval, guest posting today.  Ruchi has a fabulous blog, Out of the Ortho Box, that I highly recommend you go and check out.  It’s one of the only places I’ve seen on the web where people with very disparate opinions and beliefs  talk nicely to each other about contentious issues.   I know that Ruchi is genuinely interested in understanding where people are coming from, which seems to be a rare thing sometimes.  And it’s  great content, the amazing atmosphere aside.

Ruchi has plenty of experience with making Pesach, and running a Seder, so I asked her for some tips on how to make the sederim meaningful, for everyone.  Here’s what she has to say:

~ ~ ~

Word association game:  Seder.

What do you think of?

Brisket.  Matza.  Family.  Bitter herbs (maror).  The Four Questions.  The Four Cups.  Afikoman.

Yup, all those are features of the seder.  But I’ll bet the most important word is the one you haven’t thought of.


Amidst all the traditional foods, cousins, and hoopla, it’s easy to forget that the actual mitzvah of the seder, its raison d’etre, is to talk to your children about our national history.  Kids: we’re here.  We’re Jews.  And we used to be in Egypt.  And God saved us.  Miraculously!  And then he gave us the Torah!  And we still have it till today!  We’re so happy and grateful!  Let’s eat.  After we do some other stuff.  ‘Kay?

If you don’t have kids, talk to someone else’s kids!  If you’re not with kids, talk to each other!  And if you’re alone, well, the Talmud actually says you should ask yourself the Four Questions, and then answer yourself.  Not a sign of dementia, just a sign that communication is the name of the game.

So before the Seder, ask yourself these Four Questions.

1. What is it that I would like the next generation to know about Judaism?
2. How can I communicate that message most effectively?
3. At what part of the Seder can this be done?
4. What will I, personally, get out of this process?

Blessings on the journey – and have a wonderful holiday!

~ ~ ~

19 thoughts on “The Most Important Word of the Seder

  1. I like the idea of communication being a focal point of the seder. What a wonderful list of four questions, particularly as teacher. Sounds like a good guide to preparing a classroom lesson.

    I’m going to give your questions some thought in a blog post.

    Thank you, Rivki and Rochi

  2. It’s so easy to forget that this is the real point of the Seder, in their mad dash toward finish-maggid-already, eat-some-matzah, afikoman-by-chatzos, bed-at-a-normal-time… Take the time, make it an experience to remember, to relive. One year, any time someone asked a question, someone at the table would pipe up “so the children will ask.” But that’s the whole point, it’s for them. Yeah, it’s late, yeah Shmully has a 270 page book on every single line in Maggid, but the whole point is to help build the next generation of Jews. Good luck!

    1. Some of my favorite seder memories were at tables where there was lively discussion. I look forward to when my children are big enough to participate. We still have a few more years (understatement).

  3. Love this post! What a great way to think even more about Passover and how it relates to communication ans talking about Judaism. I think I’ll integrate those questions into my Seder.

  4. We always talk about current events. Sadly, there is always some place in the world where people are still enslaved — and we try to make that connection for the younger generation. That the story isn’t just a story. It is a lesson. Really nice.

    Funny how I thought you were Ruchi at first. Do you remember that? I’m so glad I met you via Nina.

    And tomorrow you will see precisely how glad I am! ;-)

    1. I see how glad! It’s a contagious gladness! I totally forgot about the Ruchi/Rivki thing back around Chanukah time. Funny indeed! It is indeed a sad truth that slavery is not gone from the world. Even in countries or societies where, on the surface, there may not appear to be slavery, people can be enslaved to negative patterns, or poor choices, or other behavioral troubles. It’s a multifaceted problem.

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