“Seder” Is the Hebrew Word for “Order.” But the Passover Seder Is Anything but Orderly

March 25 2021

One of the handful of Hebrew words known to virtually every American Jew is seder, literally “order,” referring to the liturgical meal that constitutes the main rite of Passover. But although the seder has a strictly scripted series of steps, its retelling of the story of the Exodus verges on chaotic. Yosef Lindell writes:

We seem to begin this narrative [at a natural point, with the words], “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the Lord our God took us out with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” Yet the Haggadah quickly gets sidetracked, speaking of rabbis who stayed up all night telling the story, expounding on the commandment to say the sh’ma morning and night, discussing four different types of children, trying to determine the appropriate day for holding the seder, and backtracking to the patriarchs and their idol-worshipping ancestors. When we then raise our glasses in joyful praise of the One who saves us time and again, it is long after sundown, and we still haven’t begun explaining how God redeemed the Children of Israel from Egypt.

To Lindell, the Haggadah’s haphazardness is not the result of editorial incompetence, or the accumulation of additions and insertions over the centuries, but of a deliberate effort to create a text that demands to be studied rather than recited.

Thus, spirited discussion becomes central to the seder. Around the seder table, we must study the Haggadah together. Its words are the beginning, not the end, of the conversation. The maggid, [the narrative portion of the Haggadah], is lively: full of questions [and] answers. . . . We interrupt, talk over one another, discuss the meaning of passages, or perhaps even demonstrate the plagues with plastic frogs. The Haggadah says that “whoever tells more about the Exodus is praiseworthy,” and the sages of Bnei Brak, [as the Haggadah itself recounts], led by example: going strong all night until their students reminded them to recite the morning sh’ma.

[T]he seder is many . . . things: a conversation between parents and children, a spirited discussion as colorful and sometimes as inscrutable as the Talmud, a family affair around the table with food. The seder is not exactly orderly, but it is all the richer for it.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Haggadah, Judaism, Passover, Seder


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria