Liberal Arts Blog — Passover Seder: Charoset, the Haggadah, Dayenu

Liberal Arts Blog: Tuesday is the Joy of Literature, Language, Culture, and Religion Day

Today’s Topic: Passover Seder: Charoset, the Haggadah, Dayenu

Passover celebrates the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Older Jews consider it to be the second most important Jewish holiday — after Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.” While only 23% of American Jews attend synagogue, 70% take part in a Passover Seder. Highlights of the celebration include readings from a special prayer book (the Haggadah), seven Passover foods (including matza and charoset), and singing songs (eg. “Dayenu”). Today, a few random notes. Experts- please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. Drinking four cups of wine is a traditional requirement. “Even the poor are obliged to drink the four cups. Each cup is imbibed at a specific point in the Seder.”

2. Seven Passover foods: matza (unleavened bread), maror (bitter herbs), chazeret (romaine lettuce or endive), charoset (sweet mix of fruit and nuts), karpas (usually parsley), zeroa (roasted lamb or goat bone), beitzah (hard boiled egg).

3. The four questions are asked by the youngest child at the table. The common theme is: why is this night different from all other nights? For example, “On all other nights we eat chametz (leavened bread) why tonight only matza (unleavened bread)?

THE DAYENU: “If he had brought us out from Egypt…it would have been enough”

1. Above is the music to “Dayenu” (“It would have been enough”) a song of gratitude that lists the things that God has done for Israel — split the seas, given the Torah, and the Sabbath.

2. There are fifteen stanzas, fifteen gifts. Just one of them “would have been enough.”

3. The song dates back to the 9th century.

NB: Some of the things God did for Israel were not very nice. For example, killing every firstborn Egyptian, taking all their wealth.

EXODUS — fact or fiction?

1. The scholarly consensus is that the story is a founding myth, not fact.

2. In Exodus 12:40 it is said the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 420 years.

3. Many rabbinical calculations come up with 210 years.

NB: the story is that Moses, after leading the Jews out of Egypt, set up a base at Mt. Sinai, where he received the Ten Commandments. After wandering about in the desert for 40 years, he died in sight of the Promised Land.

A Passover Unlike Any Other

Opinion | The Power of Passover During a Plague

This too shall pass (over) — The Boston Globe


Passover Seder

How many years did the Jews spend in Egypt?

How Many Years Were the Israelites in Egypt? —



Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.