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דָּג לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Fish, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq

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To be inserted after discussing the Pesaḥ offering.

A millennium-old tradition, recorded by Rav Sherira Gaon in 10th-century Iraq. He would always have three cooked foods on the seder plate. The egg, a product of the birds of the sky, a sign of renewal and rebirth, represented Moses, the law, the heavens, and the revelational aspects of faith. The shankbone, a product of the animals of the field, a commemoration of the original Pesaḥ sacrifice, represented Aaron, the priesthood, the earth, and the ritual aspects of faith. And the fish, representing the constant flowing nature of water, represented Miriam, prophecy, the waters, and the spiritual aspects of faith.

We read, as Rav Sherira suggested, Micah 6:4:

כִּ֤י הֶעֱלִתִ֙יךָ֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם
וּמִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִ֖ים פְּדִיתִ֑יךָ
וָאֶשְׁלַ֣ח לְפָנֶ֔יךָ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֖ה אַהֲרֹ֥ן וּמִרְיָֽם׃
“For I brought you from the land of Egypt,
and from the house of bondage redeemed you;
and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.”

And we read Psalms 8:8-10:

צֹנֶ֣ה וַאֲלָפִ֣ים כֻּלָּ֑ם
וְ֝גַ֗ם בַּהֲמ֥וֹת שָׂדָֽי׃
צִפּ֣וֹר שָׁ֭מַיִם וּדְגֵ֣י הַיָּ֑ם
עֹ֝בֵ֗ר אׇרְח֥וֹת יַמִּֽים׃
יְהֹוָ֥ה אֲדֹנֵ֑ינוּ מָה־אַדִּ֥יר
שִׁ֝מְךָ֗ בְּכׇל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃
The flock and the oxen all,
as well as the animals of the field.
The birds of the skies and the fish of the seas,
traveling the path of the sea.
Oh Adonai Adoneinu, how awesome
is Your name throughout the earth!

And we read from the Talmud (Sotah 11b):

דָּרָשׁ רַב עֲוִירָא: ”בִּשְׁכַר נָשִׁים צִדְקָנִיּוֹת שֶׁהָיוּ בְּאוֹתוֹ הַדּוֹר נִגְאֲלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרַיִם. בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוֹלְכוֹת לִשְׁאוֹב מַיִם, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְזַמֵּן לָהֶם דָּגִים קְטַנִים בְּכַדֵּיהֶן, וְשׁוֹאֲבוֹת מֶחֱצָה מַיִם וּמֶחֶצָה דָּגִים, וּבָאוֹת וְשׁוֹפְתוֹת שְׁתֵּי קְדֵירוֹת, אַחַת שֶׁל חַמִּין וְאַחַת שֶׁל דָּגִים.“
Taught Rav Avira: “In the merit of the righteous women of that generation Israel was redeemed from Egypt. When they would go out to draw water, the blessed Holy One would make for them small fishes in their pails, and they would draw half water and half fishes and would come home and pour two pots – one of boiling water and one of fish.”



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