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☞   Symbolic Foods

Ḥaroset, the Seder’s Innermost Secret: Earth & Eros in the Celebration of Pesaḥ, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

There it sits on the Seder plate: ḥaroset, a delicious paste of chopped nuts, chopped fruits, spices, and wine. So the question would seem obvious: “Why is there ḥaroset on the Seder plate?” That’s the most secret Question at the Seder – so secret nobody even asks it. And it’s got the most secret answer: none. . . .

כּוֹס לְמִרְיָם | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Miriam’s Cup of Water

Rabbi Yosi son of Rabbi Yehuda says: “Three good sustainers arose for Israel. These are they: Moses and Aaron and Miriam. And three good gifts were given because of them, and these are they: well, and cloud, and manna. The well was given in merit of Miriam… Miriam died and the well ceased, as it is written (Numbers 20:1-2) “And Miriam died there,” and it says right afterwards “and there was no water for the community.” . . .

קְלִפּוֹת לֶפֶת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Turnip peels, after the Holocaust remembrance of Pearl Benisch

Pearl Benisch… remembers Passover in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany in the spring of 1945, just days before her liberation. . . .

פִּלְחֵי תָפּוּ״ז | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Orange segments, after the teaching of Susanna Heschel

In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (suggesting that there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like ḥamets violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. . . .

סִילְקָא דְּרָב הוּנָא | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Beets, after the rabbinic teaching of Rav Huna (ca. 3rd c.)

The color of beets, which never leaves our hands, symbolizes the teachings of the sages, which are still passed down. And the redness symbolizes the blood of the covenant, still there after all these years. . . .

A Second Passover Seder Plate with Seven Additions, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

A Passover seder supplement containing seven additional symbolic foods and their associated ritual presentations, along with their collective organization on a second seder plate. . . .

סדר מימונה | Seder Mimounah

A Mimouna packet including havdalah, a Moroccan-rite birkat ha-ilanot, traditional study texts, and yehiretzonot. . . .

כְּרֵשׁוֹת | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Leeks

An old Persian tradition involves hitting each other with leeks during the recitation of Dayenu. Nowadays this is replaced with a gentle tap with a scallion for safety reasons. . . .

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

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. . . .

קָפֶה בֵּית מַכְּסְוֶיל | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Maxwell House coffee

Why is this coffee different from all other coffees? Because Maxwell House coffee is a deeply spiritual representation of the Diaspora experience. . . .

Addition to the Rosh Hashanah Seder for the Shmitah Year, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

Many people eat special foods as part of a mini-seder at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah meal and invoke blessings for the year as they eat them. This year, you can add figs to your Rosh Hashanah seder (apples and honey, or apples, dates, beets, etc.) and recite with this kavvanah (intention). . . .