"ליל הסדר"
“Night of the Seder.”

QUESTION: Why is tonight’s ritual called “the Seder”?

ANSWER:“Seder” means “order.” Every detail of tonight’s ritual represents an aspect of the redemption from Egyptian bondage and is meant to help us relive the experience of the Exodus. There are many profound lessons and esoteric explanations to every detail done tonight, which everyone should, of course, endeavor to understand to the best of their ability.

By properly and carefully observing the Seder — order — we will merit to be recipients of the Divine revelations which were manifest this night, years ago, and are repeated tonight. Moreover, we will be prepared for the ultimate illumination — the redemption by Mashiach.

(מהר"ל)

* * *

In the Torah (Shemot 12:42) it says that tonight is “shimurim” — “protection [for the Children of Israel for their generations].” The word “shimurim” — “protection” — is written in plural to emphasize that it has the potential to grant us protection throughout all the nights of the year, and for all generations — it depends on the way we conduct ourselves tonight.

(תפארת שלמה)


סימן סדר של פסח
Order of the Pesach Seder

QUESTION: There are 15 words in the “Order of the Pesach Seder.” (Excluding the word nirtzah,” which is a promise that Hashem will accept our Seder favorably, and not an action which we perform.)

What is the significance of the number 15?

ANSWER: The number 15 is the numerical value of the letters yud and hei,” the first two letters of Hashem’s name. “Yud” represents chachmah — wisdom — and “hei” is binah — understanding — the elaboration and expansion of the original spark of wisdom. These two make up the faculty of mochin — “intellect.”

The 15 words in the “Order of the Pesach Seder” teach us that though the essence of Pesach is faith and kabalat ol (submission to Hashem), we must still use our intellect and try to understand the meaning and significance of everything being done.

(הגש"פ עם לקוטי טעמים ומנהגים, וביאורים)



QUESTION: In the widely accepted version of the Order of the Pesach Seder, which is ascribed to Rashi or one of the authors of Tosafot, Rabbi Shmuel of Falaise, there are fourteen items listed. (See Avudraham for other versions.)

Why necessarily fourteen?

ANSWER: The number fourteen is the numerical value of the word “yad” — “hand” (יד). The fourteen stages of the Seder correspond to the yad hachazakah — strong hand — with which Hashem took us out of Egypt. It concludes with “nirtzah” — that the Seder is favorably accepted by Hashem — to indicate that in merit of doing our part, Hashem will reciprocate by doing His part — revealing His yad chazakah — strong hand — to take us out of exile through Mashiach.

(מהר"ל)


Meat Bone and Egg on Seder plate

QUESTION: What is the significance of the meat bone and egg placed on the Seder plate?

ANSWER: On Erev Pesach, in the times of the Beit Hamikdash, the Jews would bring a Pesach-offering and a Chagigah — Festival-offering. As a reminder of these two offerings, we place a bone with little meat on it, which is referred to as “zero’a,” on our Seder plate and also an egg, which is beitzah in Hebrew.

“Zero’a” literally means “arm,” and an egg in Aramaic is called “bei’ah,” which means “wanting.” The placing of these two together indicates that the All Merciful desired at the time of the Exodus to redeem us with an out-stretched arm. It also suggests that it should please Him to quickly redeem us with His outstretched arm — the coming of Mashiach.

(ט"ז סי' תע"ג סק"ד)

Alternatively, the egg symbolizes the character of the Jewish people. Unlike other foods which soften in cooking, the more the egg is cooked the harder it becomes. Likewise, in Egypt the more the Jewish people were tortured, the stronger they became, as the Torah says, “As much as they would afflict it so would it increase and so it would spread out” (Shemot 1:12). Throughout history, when the Jews were oppressed, they became stronger and more steadfast in their dedication to Hashem.

(חתם סופר)

Alternatively, when a creature comes into this world through live birth, it is complete at that time. An egg, in contrast, appears as a complete entity when it is layed. In reality, however, it is incomplete, and it only completes its development when the chick is hatched. The egg is analogous to our redemption from Egyptian bondage. Though it appeared complete, it was only fully realized when the Jews received the Torah fifty days later. This transformed them from an ordinary people to a holy nation — the people beloved by Hashem.

(תורת אמת מר' ליבלי זצ"ל איגר)