The Structure of the Seder

Exercise and Creative Writing, Transparency

1.  The First   The kiddush is said over the first      Kiddush - the    Cup -       of the four cups; everyone must drink   mitzvah of    Kiddush     at least over half the cup (leaning).   declaring the                                                        day a holy day.________________________________________________________________________2.  The Second  a. i.   The invitation to guests.       Preparations    Cup -               Ha lachma.  [This is the        for the                        bread].                         mitzvah of                                                        telling the story.    Telling        ii.  The child asks Mah nishtanah.    the Story           [Why is this night different?]                  iii.  The first answer to the child:                        Avadim hayinu [We were slaves]                   iv.  The obligation to tell the                        story [Even if we are all wise]                    v.  The meeting at Bnei Beraq and                        the story of Rabbi Eliezer.                   vi.  The discussion of the rabbis at                        the meeting: 'I am as if                        seventy years old'.                  vii.  The Torah speaks of the four                        sons.                 viii.  When to relate the story.                        [From the New Moon?]                   ix.  The second answer to the child:                        'Originally our ancestors were                        idol worshippers'.______________________________________________________________________                b.  i.  "Go and learn what Laban tried  The mitzvah                        tried to do.'                   of telling the                                                        story of the                                                        Exodus.                   ii.  Slavery in Egypt. 'The                        Egyptians treated us                        wickedly.'                                    iii.  The Exodus. 'G-d brought us                        out of Egypt.'                   iv.  God punished the Egyptians                        -- Rabbi Jose the Galilean.                    v.  Pesach, matzah and maror as                        symbols of the Festival --                        'Rabban Gamliel used to say.'______________________________________________________________________                c. i.   The Hallel -- 'Therefore are     Thanks and                        we obliged to thank...'          praise to                  ii.   The Blessing of the Redemption                        -- G-d, 'Who redeemed us and                        our fathers...'                 iii.   Drink the second cup (leaning).___________________________________________________________________________3.  The Third      i.   Wash hands and bless 'Al                                 netilat yadayim'.    Cup                 netilat yadayim'.    The Meal      ii.   Bless Hamotzi                    The meal (This                                                         itself is a                 iii.   Bless Al akhilat matzah and      mitzvah).                        eat 'the volume of a large                        olive' (leaning).                                                                           iv.   Bless Al akhilat maror and                        eat 'the volume of a large                        olive'.                   v.   Hillel's sandwich -- eat                        'volume of a large olive'                        of matzah (from the bottom                        one) with 'volume of a                        large olive' of maror                        together.                   vi.  Eat the meal.                  vii.  Eat 'volume of a large                        olive' of matzah from the                        afikoman.                 viii.  Say Grace After Meals.                   ix.  Drink the third cup (leaning).__________________________________________________________________________4.  The Fourth      i.  Words of vengeance -- Shefokh    The Complete    Cup -               hamatekha.                       Hallel.    Completing    the Hallel     ii.  Praise:  Complete 'The                        Egyptian Hallel' (Psalms                        113-119) and 'The Great                        Hallel' (Psalm 136), Nishmat,                        and the closing blessing.                  iii.  Drink the fourth cup (leaning).                   iv.  Acceptance:  Finish the evening                        with songs.


1. Visual Aid:

The above table can be made as a transparency or wall chart for reference during study and student use.

2. Research for older students

[Double or triple session]

  • Prepare the above chart and duplicate files 1 and 2 as lists. Mark off the above chart as follows: Section One - 1, 2a; Section Two - 2b; Section Three - 2c; Section Four - 3, 4[i]-[iii]; Section Five - 4[iv].
  • Divide the class or group into five sub-groups, each of which will focus on one section of the Haggadah.
    The assignment is to find the expression of the aims and goals of the Seder in each group's section of the Haggadah. The study can be charted either chronologically or thematically, but all groups must use the same chart format!
    Notes should be written as to the manner in which each goal is achieved or message conveyed, and how successfully this is done.
  • Review. Charts, if large enough, should be hung on the wall. Otherwise, photocopy each group's work for the others.
    1. Which were the most commonly expressed messages/goals?
    2. Which were least commonly found?
    3. Give some outstanding examples of their expression.
    4. Which messages and texts seem most relevant today? Why?
    5. What new elements of the Haggadah and the Seder came to light in this study? [individual responses]

    3. Creative Writing

    [Advance preparation and 2-3 sessions]

    Aims: a. Enhance relevance of the messages of Pesach and the Seder by transference of the context to immediate family and community; b. Enhance the involvement of participants in the Haggadah and the Seder through a creative form of expression.

    Materials: Chart, as above Albums for final version Writing materials Photocopies of family photos or scanner for dtp


    1. Explain that the assignment is to recreate a modern context for the experiences and values in the traditional account by bringing in elements from our own family sagas, from our community's history. Divide group as for exercise, above; go through the structure of the traditional Haggadah before they split up to work.
    2. Groups should have time to discuss how they are going to start some advance preparation in their own families. Below are some ideas for different sections of the Haggadah, based on the use of parallels.

      Avadim hayinu - A story about our own families escaping to freedom, seeking a new life
      The four sons - The different choices made by our families/ communities under different circumstances. Find four options, if possible
      Dilemmas and controversy in the community about future challenges and how to respond to them.
      Slavery - Survival in difficult times.
      Hallel - Expressions of thanks and gratitude
      Songs - Compose your own songs; bring traditional family melodies, anecdotes...
      and so on...

    3. Two sessions for creative writing, plus an editorial meeting to finalize layout.
    4. Production, duplication.
    5. Review, presentation to other groups [selections only!]...



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20 Jul 2005 / 13 Tamuz 5765 0