Passover Seder

(A Supplement)

Rabbi Laurence A. Alpern

Before beginning. This is a very short and open ended Passover supplement. It may be done in less than one half an hour.

This Seder has ten reader leaders so you will have to divide up accordingly if you are less than a Minyan. Assign now.

First, three introductory readings, which are optional.

 Genesis and Exodus and the Song of Songs: A Discussion and a Decision


(Assign three readers, Genesis, Exodus, and Song of Songs)

Genesis: The Torah begins with me to teach that Judaism is much more than Law.

The stories set, forever, the future structure of our people. The exile from Eden foreshadows the exile into Egypt.

Exodus: True, but the story of our people begins in my book. We are forged in the crucible of Egypt. Our principle teachings are revealed in my book. I am a sequel but could easily stand on my own.

Genesis and Exodus argued throughout the night each scoring points about their importance. Each wanted to make one final point before breakfast.

Exodus: If not the story of our people, then what is Torah?

Genesis: If about Israel alone, what about the redemption of all of humanity from history?

Song of Songs: Sorry guys I will no longer sit here in silence. I see you try to avoid my eyes. Genesis you are Holy. And Exodus so are you. But the greatest of the rabbi’s, Akiba, has proclaimed me to be the Holy of Holies. Why not begin the Torah with my lovesong?

God said; Dayanew, enough already. This is my decision:

We will begin Torah in the beginning. Character is essential. The Matriarchs and Patriarchs are living Torahs. All their actions are exemplars for future generations for all people.

For you my, Children of Israel, ( I pray, you someday become the Adults of Israel), I will make the theme of the book of Exodus supreme.

Every time you say Kiddush, on the Sabbath and holydays you will sanctify time by mentioning the Exodus. The essence of our memory and remembrance will be the miracle of being led out of bondage.

Genesis and Exodus were not quite convinced. They pouted.


Listen, God said, Torah is a double helix with two supreme themes, Creation and The Exodus. I am the sovereign over nature and over history. Every week on the Sabbath during Kiddush you mention both. The Sabbath is a taste of the coming world of Tranquility and Redemption. We start the Sabbath with a singing of the Song of Songs because it is so special. I now announce the 614th Commandment. Every Passover Seder must begin with some version of the Song of Songs. Every Seder is about emancipation and intimacy. Remember. To love is a commandment. In fact, it is the greatest of the commandments.

Exodus and Genesis, you are really a couple. You must learn how to get along if you expect people to reread you every year. Neither of you is greater than The Song of Songs.

So Exodus said to Genesis; “After you,” and Genesis said to Exodus; “After you.”

And God liked all this, and smiled.

A Song of Passing Over and of Spring

The song of songs which is for wisdom.

The power of asking

What and Why.

Four and forty and to the tenth power.

Passed over once, and in that spring

We sang our song.

But then in the mystery that is our history

You destroyed our Home.

We were a lover spurned

And still wrote you poetry

And sang your songs

And praised your Name.

Hallel lu ya.

But Babylon?



Gog and Magog?

Who will answer these four questions?

And a fifth.

Will a final redemption ever come?

A day like Purim?

Atonement? Peace?

You Command Love

A moment of whole heart.



Of our very being

And with all this upon our hearts

You break us.

You break our hearts.

You attack.

And still and still.

We suffer in love

And daily weekly and each spring hear you say:

I love you

So, what may we say but

We love you too?

Listen none or perhaps some or a few

still recite Solomon’s Song of Songs

Sabbath to Sabbath

Passover to Passover.

O the mystery of history

Your face veiled if not hidden

Why do you hide?

May we begin again?

The Song of Songs by Solomon

The solo man

Who haremed love till his Ester came and sang this song:

A Passover Song.                                                                                                    

  First, a love song.

The love of a woman for a man.

Learn from human love.

Let her words instruct:

(Pesach Seder Song)

Raise the banner of love.

And again sing the old song.

The winter is over.

The rain is past and gone.

The flowers appear.

A Spring song within a song.

O solo mon o solo man.

This day we marry.

Put on the crown your mother made you,

which circumscribes our hearts.

To what may I compare you?

That which is beautiful

I compare to you.

Open to me as I open to you.

I was asleep.

Yet my heart is awakening.

Running and returning.

Pulsating to your beat.

Drenched in dew.




Our firstborn is due next spring

Creation is renewed.

We live in a Garden.

Within our home.

You may wish to start your Seder with this reading:

Leader #1 Rabbi Joshua the son of Levi met Elijah the Prophet who was standing at the entrance to the cave of Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai, the entrance to the Garden of Eden.

“When will the Messiah come?

“Ask him yourself.”


“He sits at the gates of Rome.”

Rabbi Joshua went and asked.


Said the Rabbi to the Prophet, “He lied.”

Elijah explained: This is what he meant” Today if you would but listen to his voice.” (Psalms 95:7) (Based on Talmud, Sanhedrin 98a)

Searching for leaven. (Chamatez)

Before the Ten Commandments, which were given for Tikkun Olam, to fix our broken world, the children of Israel witnessed the Ten plagues. Updating the ten Plagues we have:

1.) Ignorance

2.) Idolatry

3.) Profanity

4.) Violence

5,) Dishonor

6.) Death

7.) Adultery

8.) Stealing

9.) Dishonesty

10.) Coveting

Discuss these Ten, fill in the particulars, and hide the pieces. (First, write the name of one plague on each of ten pieces of paper with a piece of bread.) Find and dispose.

The Seder Plate: Explain and add:

The Orange on the Seder Plate: A True Telling

Our story actually begins with toast. Wait a second. Bread on the Seder Plate?

Yes, this was the thought of gay’s way back when. Lesbian feminists felt as out of place in the Jewish community as toast on the Seder plate. My dear friend Susannah Heschel had a better idea. An orange. She thought of the orange as fruitful and juicy; and many segments making up a whole. Homophobia is the pits, to be spit out.

Being a new ritual the orange on the Seder plate was ripe for misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding is in the voice of a man who says a women on the Bimah ; or as I heard it, a women in a Minyan, is about as appropriate as an orange on the Seder plate. This Susannah tells me is a Midrash woven out of hot air.

The orange she puts on her plate is a symbol of acceptance of gays.

I suggest one for your Seder plate.

Miriams Cup

This year, next to Elijah’s Cup we are putting a cup for Miriam. Elijah’s is filled with wine and Miriam’s with water. Children who await Elijah sipping from his cup must now also be alert to see if the water in Miriam’s cup turns into wine. We honor Miriam with water since her Well followed the children of Israel in their journeys.

In our spiritual journey this evening we draw, with jubilation, the waters of salvation. Those with imagination will transform the water into sanctification. Imagine Elijah announcing a feminine redeemer.

Shechena? Meshecha?

If we do not discuss this tonight, then when?

An Intense Telling of the Passover

Leader #1

Shalom and welcome. This Haggadah is a script for a participatory play.

You all will be given a part.


The supreme themes of the play are Freedom and Hope for a better future. These themes are relevant to every family. The reenactment of the Exodus at the Passover Seder is theatre for the recovery of experience. Yemenite Jews place a sack with their possessions on their backs and walk around the table saying “We were slaves. Now we are free.”


A meaningful Seder pivots on questions. The Four Questions in the Haggadah are for the child who does not know how to ask. The beginning of the Seder is ordered for that child.

Leader #4

How different this night is!  This is the observation of the wise and learned. The questions of the wise should drive this Seder. Ask everyone at the table to list their expectations and questions. Now. Discuss.


Remember, the reason we are together is to fulfill the mitzvah of the Haggadah, to tell the story in every detail. The Kabballahistic dimension is best described by our teacher Rabbi Sam Lewis. The Sod or secret of the story is revealed when you understand that the story of Passover is your personal story. Enjoy.


Reader #6

Remember, on the Sabbath and Holydays our custom is to recite Kiddush, wash our hands and without interruption or speech to break bread. The reordering prompts the children to question.

Kavannah (Meditation)


We are ready to follow Gods path with the first cup to recall the Redemption and the burden of our first exile and the afflictions of that Pharaoh.

Baruch ata adoneigh elohaynew melech haolam boray pree hagafen.

Urchatz.   We wash our hands.

Reader#8    We separate ourselves to the way of holiness. Praise be to the God of the Pharisees.

Karpas   Dip a green in salt water and say:  The First exclamation:


How different this night is from all other nights!

On all other nights to sanctify the holiness of time we wash and break bread without interruption. Tonight we eat a green in-between.

My friends, what other questions will we explore during this Seder? (Examples)

Why is everyone reclining? Why the pillows at the table?

Where is the bread? Why the bitter herbs? Passover in Prison?

The Four Questions and the Fifth

How different this Seder is from all other Seders!

At all other Seders the youngest asks four questions.

At this Seder all are to question:

What do you hunger for?

What is freedom?

What is this dream of redemption?

Who will lead?

When do we eat?

Eat now if the food is ready and you want to continue the narrative of the Haggaddah at the meal.


Reader #10

Everyone receives a Matzhah and splits it into two pieces. One piece is put in a napkin with a question for Elijah the Prophet. Everyone hides their piece (Afikomen) for the end of the Seder.


When will we see a world without the plagues of poverty and war?

What would a leader who is a modern day Moses be like?

What will the role of religion be?

Maggid– The Haggadah


This is the essential moment of the Seder. If anyone is hungry it is time to eat. I ask all here to tell you their understanding of Passover in their own words. Continue.

We are going to tell this story in the round. When it is your turn, continue, ask for help or pass. A Hebrew pun reads Passover Pesach as Pe sach, the mouth speaks. Listen carefully for your part in the story.

Lift your Matzhah. Recite together:

(Reader#2 leads)

This is the bread of the poor, the same type our ancestors ate as slaves.

Let all who hunger enter, let all who yearn for wisdom question.

This year we are here. Next year let us be reborn as people of freedom.

The First Telling

Our story begins with the first exile, when Adam and Eve were forced to leave Paradise, the Garden of Eden. We are told in the Book of Genesis that a flaming sword flashing back and forth guards the way to the Tree of Life. This myth inspires us to ask: How do we turn our knowledge of the past into the wisdom needed to have a better future? How do we experience knowledge that leads to life?


Our story continues with a mixture of history and myth, the first time the children of Israel come (return) to their homeland. Joshua sets the stage for the future history of our people, when imprisoned strangers in a strange land return once again to the Land of Promise.

This night we review the Judges of Ancient times and the Kings as recorded in the Torah and we ask: Why were they so easily led astray? The memory and spirit of the Hebrew prophets demand an answer. Why were the ways of the Cohaneem and the Maccabbeans corrupted, leading to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem?


Who are our leaders today and what is the way to our redemption?

When will the nations wars stop raging?

Who will redeem us from the plagues of our modern world?



A Maggid is a storyteller. Tonight we tell our story, and retell, as we break this bread.” We then pronounce:

This is the bread that tells the story of the poor

Whose bodies were broken as bread by the taskmasters.

All who hunger now enter and eat.

All seeking wisdom, we welcome your questions.

This year we are here.

In the coming year we pray for redemption.

We pray for the end of this final exile.

Let liberty be proclaimed in every land.


Our story, retold yearly, must begin in the beginning, in Genesis. Adam and Eve, who are make believe, teach us many lessons. After they eat from the Tree of Knowledge their eyes are opened. They are not happy with what they see. God proclaims them to be free. They see into the future all the bad choices all of their children will make. Humans will forget that we all come from one set of parents, as the story is told, which means we are all brothers and sisters. Every beggar you meet on the street is a relative. How can you turn away? Every war is brother against brother. How can you join? The Earth began as a Garden. Good. How do we pass through the flaming sword? Why do we pollute? How do we return to the Garden, our Promised Land?


Our story continues with Joseph, the guy with the amazing techno-color dream coat. Joseph was exiled to Egypt by his own brothers. He was a stranger in a strange land and was exiled again within his exile by being thrown into prison.

All our people were incarcerated by history to be the slaves that built the giant grave markers called the Pyramids. The children of Israel were worked to death by the cruel taskmasters. To save time they were not buried but mortared into the stone bricks of the pyramids. All remember and visit the Pharohs who inspired these atrocities. This night we remember our brothers and sisters as the eye in the pyramids. Novas ordo memoriam.

Reader #8

The telling of our story includes a narrative of cruelty and persecution that is difficult to talk about and even more difficult to imagine. This is a night when we grow up, when children grow up, when the children of Israel become the adults of Israel, when meaning is more than food and ritual. This is the night we recite the overwhelming questions.

When will we be one family again?

When will we treat earth as a mother, once again?

When will all exiles end?



Who am I in the context of this story?

How do I save my own life?

Is this story about me?

My family?

My people?

All people?


In the Jewish tradition Elijah the prophet is the answer man. At least one of you must dress up as Elijah and offer some form of an answer to all these questions. In fact, if all agree pass around Elijah’s cup and offer a question or an answer. Play a variation of musical chairs and move around the table giving all a chance to sit in the Chair of Elijah the Prophet.

O Elijah, Elijah:

When will all this suffering end?






When will a leader come?

After the heart of Moses?

To lead us into the Promised Land

Of an earth we till as a garden?

Who will inform our corrupt political leaders?

Who will inform our lost religious leaders?

Who will proclaim in the voice of Elijah

a declaration of independence from the violence that is history and the plagues of the modern world?

Let the symposium begin.

Watch the evening turn to morning

Elijah is coming for all this and for more!

The Ten Plagues (Traditional) May be done in Hebrew.

Reader#5 Updated version

1.) Aids

2.) Pollution

3.) Anthrax

4.) Mad cow disease

5.) Tuberculosis

6.) Malaria

7.) Acid rain

8.) Locusts

9.) Fallout

10.) War

Compare with:

1.) Blood

2.) Frogs



5.)Cattle disease


7.) Hail

8.) Locusts

9.) Darkness

10.) Death of the firstborn.


Chief Rabbi Gamliel taught: The spirit of the ritual of the Seder includes three supreme themes:

1.) The Passover Sacrifice

2.) The Matzah

3.) The Maror Bitter herbs

(The Pesach Passover offering is discussed because The Holy One passed over

the homes of our ancestors. The unleavened bread is eaten because we had no time to wait for the bread to rise. The bitters are eaten to experience the bitterness of our lives back then.)

Hallel  Singing (Traditional and modern songs about freedom)


The Second Cup

We are ready to fulfill the teaching of remembering the Exodus by recalling the second promise of Redemption (Exodus 6:6) “I will deliver You from bondage”

Bless the wine.

Rachtzah Washing of Hands



In Ancient times, in The Holy Home of Our Lord, the Temple in Jerusalem, the Priests were required to wash their hands before approaching the Altar.

In our time we have no Temple, no Sacrifices and no Priests as of old.

May this Covenant Meal hasten our Redemption.

We do this in Remembrance of You

Lord our God

Guardian of the doorposts of Israel.

Washing of Hands


“Lift up your hands toward the Sanctuary and bless The Lord.” (Psalms 134:2)

Baruch ata ado nigh elohanu melech haolam asher kiddhsanu b mitzvotav vitzivanu al netalat yadim.


Praised are you Ado nigh, ruler of the world, who sanctifies us through the commandments and commands us to wash our hands.

The Meal

Reader#10 Rabbi Shimon Ben Yochai teaches that three who eat at one table and discuss the truths of Torah dine with the divine, as The prophet teaches, (Ezekiel 41:22) “This is the table which is in the presence of the Lord.”


(Note that Ezekiel’s vision of the future Temple includes the Table that holds the Bread of God’s Presence and the mystic Rabbi Shimon is teaching that this also refers to your dining room Table.)


Rabbi Chalafta adds: How do we know this also applies to two?  “Then those who revered the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard.”(Malachi 3:16.) Study the Chapter. Discuss.

(Malachi is teaching that those who practice true religion discuss the truth at their tables.)

How do we know the above applies even to one person? This was taught to Moses in The Book of Exodus, after The Ten Fundamental teachings:

“In every place my name is mentioned I will come to you and bless you. (20:24)

(Our rabbis teach that it is a great virtue to invite guests to your table. “With a multitude of people is God’s glory” (Proverbs 14:28). Still, if you are alone, and mention your creator, the meal is set as a Table for two.

Motzee Matzah

Look at the Ten fingers holding the Matzah and recite the following ten words in Hebrew:

Baruch Attah Adoneigh Elohanu Melech Haolam Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha arêtez.

Combine with bitters and add:

We eat these bitters as a reminder of our bitter lives as slaves.

We take responsibility for the Egypt of our incarceration.

Combine with charoset and add;

In remembrance of the ancient custom we eat this charoset, symbolic of the mortar used to make the Tombs for the tyrants of old. We will eat this mortar as a reminder of the Temple which we will rebuild with our own hands, beginning with our homes and then every structure sanctified in your Name, the Lord of Peace.

Eat. Quotes from order of meal.

At the Meal continue discussing the Exodus

A.)   As the story of the liberation from Egypt

B.)   As The story of every tyrant and liberation.

C.)   As the story of the life of each and every one of us.

Revealing the Hidden. Afikomen

Now the real Haggadah begins. Go in search of the hidden pieces of Matzhah from the beginning of the Seder. Discuss the questions you will ask Elijah. Agree upon their order of importance. Ask one another. Ask Elijah to come and answer.

May the All merciful send us Elijah the prophet, who brings good news deliverance and comfort. (From the traditional Grace After meals)

The Cup of Blessings. (Drink half)

Baruch Ata Adoneigh elohanew  melech haolam boray pri Hagafen.

We finish this cup only when our exile ends.

Feed all who are hungry Lord,

Save us from ourselves.

Teach us that to be your people.

We must be one people.

Turn the hearts of parents to children

And children to parents. Send us Elijah and our Redeemer

So the final chapter of your story, The Redemption, may begin.

Amen. Sealah.

Continue by passing around Elijah’s Cup. Ask and answer and discuss.


Rabbi Alpern