Passover: The Seder Plate

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There are so many elements to the Passover meal. One that is full of symbolism is the Seder plate. During the Passover meal the father goes through the elements of the Seder Plate. The Seder plate is used to remind the Jews of the first Passover that happened so long ago. As they talk through the different elements they teach their children about God’s faithfulness and the hope of a Savior to come.

Praise God that today we understand that our Savior, Jesus Christ has come!  We can use this time to remember how God saved the Israelites from Egypt AND how Jesus saved us once and for all from our own sins. Because of this wonderful gift we can spend eternity with Christ.

Today I am going to discuss the different elements of the Sedar plate. Seder is the Hebrew word for ‘order’.

The Seder plate consists of the Matzo bread plus 5 different elements:

  • Matzo is another word for the unleavened bread.  This bread was made without yeast by the Israelites during the exodus because there was not time to wait for it to rise.  It is also a symbol of purity and righteousness, because yeast is a symbol of sin.
  • Karpas is typically parsley or chervil. These are the first greens of Spring. These represent life. During the meal it is dipped into salt water as a symbol of the covenant between God and His priests. Salt purifies what it touches to ward off evil. It also represents the tears shed by the Israelites who were forced to be slaves to Egypt. Greens symbolize rebirth and offer hope for the future as you remember the bitter past.
  • Salt water represent the tears of life. It symbolizes that a life without redemption is a life filled with tears. We believe that we now can partake in a life redeemed from tears by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
  • Maror is a bitter herb such as chicory, cress, or horseradish. This represents the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt. The Jews take the Matzo and dip it into the prepared horseradish and then eat it. The horseradish will make you cry. This act is is a reminder of the tears that the Jews shed in Egypt.
  • Charoset is an apple and nut mixture. This represents the mortar the Jews used to make bricks in Egypt. They would take the Matzo and dip it into the Charoset and eat it to make the bitter taste of the horseradish disappear. During the first Passover in Egypt it was a sweet reminder that they knew their freedom from Egypt was near. The Jews believed that even the bitter things that occur in this world can be made sweet by the promise of God’s redemption. We believe that the promise of God’s redemption was fulfilled by Jesus. Now our lives can become sweet in the glorious power of redemption through Jesus Christ.
  • Chagigah is a brown egg that has been hard boiled. This represents the sacrifices that the Jews made during Passover. It symbolizes the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem as well as the festival sacrifices. The egg is also a symbol of rebirth which is a reminder of future promise as well as past tragedy. They peel the egg, slice it and dip it into the salt water to again remind them about their tears. Then they eat it.
  • Z’roah is the shank bone, forearm, of a lamb. It refers to the outstretched arm of God when He delivered the Israelites from Egypt. It also represents the lamb that was killed and had its blood put on the doorposts of the Israelites. The bone reminds them of the miracle that spared the Jews when God passed over their houses. When the temple was destroyed the Jews no longer were able to offer animal sacrifices. Since that day, the Jews no longer eat lamb at the Passover meal. They place a shank bone on the Seder plate to remind them of all the lambs sacrificed in previous Passovers. We believe Jesus is our Passover lamb. Like the original Passover lamb, our savior did not have his bones broken as He sacrificed once and for all for our sins.  (We don’t actually use a real bone and use a wooden spoon instead.)

Each of these object lessons illustrates an element of the Passover story, and today we can use them as a way to remember the past and look forward to the future.  By participating in this ritual we can take hold of a common thread that runs back through the millennia.


 Other Resources/Works Cited:

Jews For Jesus has a lot of information and books/DVDs you can purchase.  We have learned so much from their literature!

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