This Is The Bread Of Our Affliction

Right now, throughout the world, people are busily cleaning their homes. They’ve cleared all yeast-based foods from the fridge and pantry and the dining table is being set with the finest dinnerware and cutlery. Small pillows may be placed at each dining chair. And throughout the house, the most wonderful aromas fill the air.

At the dining table there will be a special plate. It will display six symbolic items: egg, parsley, horseradish, lettuce, a shank bone and a mixture of honey, nuts, and fruit called ‘Haroset.’

As the sun sets this evening, the eight-day holiday of Passover will begin. Tonight, family and friends will gather together for their celebration dinner called ‘Seder.’ It’s a time to give thanks to G-d* for all that is good in this world.

The celebration of Passover commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their escape from slavery to freedom. As they fled across the Red Sea, they consumed unleavened bread.

The Seder celebration has special meaning for children. There will be great animation from the adults and their actions will help to inspire the children to ask questions. The youngest child will be asked four questions.

Why do we eat matzoh (unleavened) bread at our Seder?
Matzoh reminds us that as we left the slavery of Egypt we had no time to bake bread. So we took dough with us and baked it in the desert and it turned to a hard cracker called Matzoh.

Why do we eat bitter herbs (horseradish and lettuce), called ‘maror’ at our Seder?

Maror reminds us of how cruelly Jewish people were treated as slaves.

Why do we twice dip parsley in salt water and the bitter herbs into the fruit nuts and honey?
We dip the herbs into the Haroset as a reminder of how hard the Jewish slaves were forced to work. The fruit and nuts look like the clay used to make the bricks in building the Pharaoh’s palace.

We dip the parsley into salt water as a reminder of the tears that were shed by the Jewish slaves.

The parsley reminds us that spring has arrived and from spring new life will begin.
Why do we lean on a pillow during our dinner?The pillow is to make us comfortable and it serves as a lasting reminder that once we were in slavery, but now we are free.
Tonight, the book of Exodus (Haggadah) will be read at the table. Songs will be sung and prayers will be said. And families will give thanks for all that is good in their lives.

During Passover, people around the world work to connect with one another and share the joy of freedom.

Regardless of our faith, our nationality, our political affiliation, or the colour of our skin, each of us should have the right to live in freedom.

‘This is the bread of our affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt; let all those who are hungry enter and eat thereof, and all who are in distress, come...’ Haggadah: The Seder
*I am always humbled when I receive a communication from one of my Jewish friends. When there is a reference made to God, a good Jew will always omit the ‘o’ from His name. It is directly related to the Ten Commandments; ‘Thou shalt not take the Lord’s name in vain.’ It is believed that if the L-rd’s name was written on a sheet of paper and then the paper was mutilated or destroyed, it would then be considered a sin.


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