At dinner tables around the world, families sit together to tell the story of how the Jewish people went free from slavery in Egypt. The seder is a meal at which people sing, ask questions, and tell stories. At the seder, we travel back in time to ancient Egypt. Our guide for the journey is the Haggadah, which means “telling” in Hebrew. Telling the Pesach story helps us feel that we ourselves are going free from slavery tonight.
Follow along with these videos as you read through your PJ Library Haggadah.
Kadesh Urchatz, Order of the Seder
At the seder, we do 15 activities in a certain order. Some take only a minute to do, while others include many things to read, talk about, or sing. Reciting the 15 steps of the seder lays out the order of the seder, like a programme at a play or a menu at a meal.
Kadesh, First Blessing Over Wine or Grape Juice
Four times during the seder, we raise our cup of wine or grape juice and say a blessing before we drink it. The first cup is called Kadesh, which means "make it holy" or "make it special" in Hebrew.
Full Kiddush Over Wine or Grape Juice
With this first cup, we add a blessing announcing the season of our freedom.
Shehecheyanu, Additional Blessing
On the first night of Pesach we add a blessing to celebrate this moment in time.
Urchatz, First Hand-Washing
We wash our hands so they will be ready to do special work. During the seder we wash our hands in an unusual way, and we do it twice. This first time – washing with no blessing – is Urchatz (oor-CHATZ), which means “...and wash!”
Karpas, Green Vegetable in Salt Water
To mark spring’s return, we eat karpas (kar-PAHS), which means “green vegetable.” Parsley or celery can be good karpas. Before we eat the karpas, we dip it in salt water. The salty taste reminds us of the tears that the slaves cried in Egypt. It also reminds us of the sadness and pain of slavery.
Yachatz, Breaking Off the Dessert Matzah
The seder table has a ceremonial plate with three pieces of matzah. The middle matzah on this plate has a special job. Half of it, the afikoman, will “hide” and come back later as the last bite of our meal. Yachatz (yah-CHATZ) means “split in two.”
Magid, Telling The Story of Freedom
Magid (mah-GEED) means “tell.” It is the longest part of the Haggadah, when we tell the story of how the Jewish people became slaves in Egypt and then became free. As part of the telling, we ask questions, invite discussion, and experience the story with acting and singing.
Ma Nishtana, The Four Questions
Traditionally, the youngest person or people at the table get to ask the Four Questions.
These questions are introduced with the Hebrew phrase Ma Nishtana (MAH neesh-tah-NAH), which means “What is different?”
Avadim Hayinu, We Were Slaves
In this song we imagine that WE were slaves in Egypt, and now we are free.
The Pesach Story
On Pesach, we encourage everyone to talk about this story — the more, the better!
The Ten Plagues
On Pesach, we are grateful that extraordinary things happened to help us go free. But we’re also sad that other people suffered while we were saved. When we remember the Ten Plagues, we dip a pinky finger into our cup of wine or grape juice and take one drop out for each plague. We’re still joyful, but our cup of joy is not quite as full.
Dayenu, More Than Enough For Us
Dayenu (die-AY-new) means “It is more than enough for us!” God has given the Jewish people so many gifts — and even just one of them would have been enough for us to feel grateful and happy.
Venomar Lefanav, Let Us Sing
This is the beginning of the section where we give thanks and praise. We are starting to sing and celebrate!
Betzeit Yisra’el Mimitzrayim, Marching Out of Egypt
Another song of thanks and praise, as the Children of Israel march out of Egypt.
Ma Lecha Hayam, How Did You Do It, Sea?
A final pre-meal song before we begin to eat the symbolic foods from the seder plate.
Special Blessing for the Second Cup
The second cup of wine or grape juice ends the storytelling part of our seder and begins our meal. While you recite this blessing, lift up your cup of wine or juice, like a toast to freedom.
Blessing Over Grape Juice or Wine (Second Cup)
Lift up the second cup of wine or grape juice, say the blessing, and then drink while leaning.
Rachtza, Second Hand-Washing
It is time to taste matzah for the first time this evening! Before we eat it, we wash our hands (rach-TZAH), this time to get ready for eating our main meal.
Motzi, the Blessing Before Eating
The Motzi (MOE-tzee) is the blessing for eating bread. (In this case, it's a different kind of bread!)
The Blessing for Matzah
Right after saying the motzi, say this special blessing for the very first bite of matzah at the seder.
Maror, Eating the Bitter Vegetable
Maror (mah-ROAR) means "something bitter." Maror’s harshness reminds us how hard and painful it was being a slave in Egypt. It helps us imagine soreness in our backs from lifting heavy bricks. It reminds us of the pain in our hearts when we thought we would never be free.
Korech, Eating the Matzah Sandwich
Korech (koe-RECH) means “make a sandwich.” Korech brings together all of the three foods that are symbols of the freedom story into one spicy bite.
Shulchan Orech, The Holiday Meal
Shulchan Orech (shool-CHAN oh-RECH) means “put dinner on the table.” Enjoying the beautiful holiday meal is another way to show we are free. After the meal, the seder will continue.
Tzafun, Finding And Eating the Dessert Matzah
At the start of this seder, the adults hid the Afikoman. The meal cannot finish without this very unusual dessert – a last taste of matzah. The children have to find the Afikoman and make a deal with the adults to return the missing Afikoman. Remember, there is a prize for returning it! The return of the Afikoman from its hiding spot means we are ready to finish our meal.
Shir Hama'alot, Song of a Journey
We thank the cooks for preparing our delicious dinner, and we thank God for creating the food we ate. The thank-you blessing we say after eating begins with a Psalm.
Call to Blessing After Meal
The blessing continues with an announcement section, where the leader and the rest of the seder participants call out to each other.
Blessing After Meal
In the main blessing after the meal, we're thankful for food and the freedom to enjoy it.
Blessing After Meal (continued)
The blessing after the meal includes a special wish for peace.
Blessing Over Grape Juice or Wine (Third Cup)
Lift up the third cup of wine or grape juice, say the blessing, and then drink while leaning.
Eliyahu Hanavi, Welcoming Elijah the Prophet
In many Jewish stories, a special man named Elijah the Prophet helps us dream of a happier and fairer world. On Pesach, Elijah has a special job: he travels around the world to visit every seder, reminding us to have hope and keep working for fairness and justice. We welcome Elijah with a special cup of wine, just for him. .
The Jewish people would not have gone free from Egypt without the actions of many brave women. Moses’ mother Yocheved and his older sister Miriam hid baby Moses in a basket on the Nile River. The Egyptian princess who found little Moses kept him safe in the palace. Shifra and Puah were midwives who also saved Jewish babies. After the Jewish people escaped through the Sea of Reeds, Miriam led them in song.
Hodu L'Adonai Ki Tov, Let's Thank God who is Good
Hallel means “praise.” The English word “Hallelujah!” is related to “hallel” and means “Praise God!” Before our meal we sang thanks to God for having saved us from slavery in Egypt, and now we sing about hope for the future.
Blessing Over Grape Juice or Wine (Fourth Cup)
Lift up the fourth cup of wine or grape juice, say the blessing, and then drink while leaning.
Nirtzah, The End
This last part of our seder is called Nirtzah (near-TZAH), a quick way to say: “Our seder is ending and we hope God accepts our thanks.” We celebrate the end of the seder with a few classic Pesach songs.
Adir Hu, God Is Strong
Adir Hu means “God is strong.” In Hebrew, each line of the song begins with a different letter of the alphabet. Each letter starts a word that describes one of God’s qualities: strong, wise, and caring. We hope to act in these kind ways, too..
Echad Mi Yode’a, Who Knows One?
“Echad Mi Yode’a” goes in order of the numbers. With each number, the song asks a question: “Who knows what this number means?” The answer each time is something Jewish. Sing along and have fun!
Chad Gadya, Just One Little Goat
The Haggadah has one last song. It’s also a game: a long chase, with one verse after another describing someone chased by someone else stronger, until in the end only God’s power remains.
L’shana Haba’a, Next Year in Jerusalem
Our job of remembering and re-living this amazing adventure is now complete. We have finished our seder and told our story of freedom. We now move from the past to the future. How will I grow this year? How will the world change? How can we keep moving from slavery to freedom?
February 10, 2021