The central task of the Seder is magid - retelling the story of the Exodus to teach its themes of freedom, redemption, empathy for the plight of others and our hope for the future. To emphasize this importance, the ancient rabbis said, "In every generation, one is to regard oneself as if personally taken out of Egypt. We ourselves are to understand that our own lives are stories of liberation, moving as it were from avdut/slavery toward cherut/freedom.
For the noble task of meaningfully recounting the age-old Passover story so it resonates with us today, the Seder table is filled with symbols that engage all our senses in the experience: there are sights, sounds, tastes, smells, touches that enhance the spiritual and intellectual journey intended as part of the celebration. In addition to the matzah (which certainly embodies all the senses; what else feels like matzah crumbling in our hands, or has its unique taste and texture?), the Seder plate has six items for our considerarion (z'roah/shankbone, charoset/mortar, maror/bitter herbs, karpas/greens, chazeret/bitter leaf and beitzah/roasted egg) representing various elements of the narrative. And it is never sufficient merely to refer to these things: we point to them, lift them up, touch and taste, smell and sometimes even combine them to take in all they have to offer. Additionally, we have salt water, Elijah's cup, the four children and have added Miriam's cup and an orange, and much more...This multi-sensory approach is why the Passover Seder is perhaps the single-most instructive annual Jewish ritual.
I've been thinking lately "what about my own PERSONAL Seder plate?" That is, if I were to come up with certain articles that each prompted me to recall or tell something significant about my life's journey - what would I choose, and why? For this year's Seder, I ask you to do the same. What are the symbols on the Seder plate of your life? Thinking about them, and using them to share your story, may you fulfill the command to tell you child: "it is because of what God did for ME, when I myself went free from Egypt."
CHAG PESACH SAMEYACH - Wishing a joyous Passover to all.