Holidays / Passover / Passover Prayers And Blessings

Passover Prayers & Blessings

Candle Lighting

-Author Unknown

Don’t miss this one. You are supposed to light the candles anyway on Passover and this reading is a notch above. It includes an introduction to bring attention to our quest for truth, social justice, and peace.

First line: READER: The day ends. The earth turns from sunshine to dusk and then to darkness. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who has made us distinct through your directives and has directed us to kindle [the Shabbat] and holiday lights…

Woman's Prayer At Candle Lighting

-Author Unknown

An additional candle blessing for women to read. It’s sweet.

First line: May you grant my family and all Israel a good and long life. Last line: Let the light of Your face shine upon us. Amen…

Kiddush (Blessing Over The Wine)

-Author Unknown

Kiddush, the traditional blessing over the wine, is said as we fill the first of four cups of wine. We also add in Shehecheyanu, a blessing said during celebrations, to say thank you for bringing us to this happy moment.

First line: Fill your cup with the first glass of wine, lift the cup, say the Kiddush, and drink, leaning to the left. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment…

Urchatz (Hand Washing In Preparation For The Seder)

-Author Unknown

We wash our hands twice during the Seder. This first hand-washing comes at the beginning, to prepare us for the experience of the Seder. The traditional way to wash your hands with a blessing is to fill a large cup with water and put the cup in your left hand and pour three times over your right hand. Repeat this by pouring on to your left hand. As you dry your hands, you recite the blessing. Don’t get all JewBarrassed on us if you don’t do it this way or at all, it’s just that we figured we’d explain the traditional hand washing steps. By the way, everyone going into the kitchen or bathroom to use the sink does take a few minutes, so if you don’t think this is a great use of Seder time, just send one person to be the hand washing representative.

First line: Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. Last line: Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands…

Karpas (Dipping A Green Vegetable In Salt Water)

-Author Unknown

We say this blessing before dipping a green vegetable into salt water. The vegetable represents Spring and renewal… as Passover always takes place at the beginning of Spring. The salt water represents the tears and the sweat of our ancestors when they were slaves out in the hot sun building those enormous pyramids. It’s a good idea to put a few small dishes with greens and a few small dishes with salt water around the table. That way it doesn’t take forever for everyone to get their dipped greens.

First line: Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with recognition of the cycles of nature. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who creates the fruits of the earth…

Yachatz (Breaking The Middle Matzah)

-Author Unknown

It’s nice if you do break the middle matzah with a little dramatic flair: It’s easy. Somewhere on the table you should have three pieces of matzah together on a plate. Take the middle piece and hold it up for everyone to see. Then break it in half. Then, take the larger half and wrap it up in a napkin and if there are any kids at your table, tell them that this is now the afikomen and that you can’t finish the Seder without it. Afikomen really means, “that which comes after,” or dessert.  Anyway, this is the clue for the adults to steal the afikomen at some point, (probably during the meal) and hide it. And then the kids need to find it before the Seder can conclude. Do the afikomen hunt however you want. In our house, we break the afikomen into like 30 pieces and some adult hides it and the kids look. With so many pieces, everyone’s kid finds some which can help avoid fights or tears. Like the tooth fairy, it’s traditional to give a prize to the kids who find the afikomen, so someone needs to have dollar bills on hand. The Afikomen hunt and the four questions were invented ages ago with the sole purpose of keeping little kids interested during a long dinner.

First line: There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. Last line: This year we are slaves; next year we will be free…

Four Questions

-Author Unknown

There are two kinds of kids: ones who love reciting The Four Questions and those who break into a cold sweat at the mere thought of it. If you have the first kind, then carry on. If you have the second, like we did, then for God’s sake, figure this out before the Seder and so your child doesn’t get Passover ambushed.  The Questions are usually asked by the youngest person at the table. There is a sweet tune that the four questions is sung in when they are done in Hebrew, and if the kids at the table know it, then do that. If not, English is fine. Or maybe the whole table sings the Hebrew together. You guys decide. Just don’t JewBarrass anyone.

First line: The telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with questions and answers. Last line: Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?…

Rachtza (Hand Washing With A Blessing)

-Author Unknown

It’s time to wash our hands again, but this time we say a blessing first.

First line: It’s customary not to speak at all between washing your hands and saying the blessings over the matzah. Last line: We praise God, Spirit of the Universe, who commands us to wash our hands…

Motzi Matzah

-Author Unknown

Even though we don’t eat bread on Passover we still say HaMotzi (the blessing over the bread) during our Seder. Why? Because traditionally, HaMotzi is recited at the start of every meal, so this one is not different. Then we recite a special blessing to fulfill the commandment to eat matzah on Passover.

First line: Raise the matzah and recite two blessings: the regular bread blessing and then one specifically mentioning the mitzvah of eating matzah at Passover. Last line: Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, who commands us to eat matzah…

Maror (The Bitter Herb)

-Author Unknown

We say this short blessing after we all get some bitter herbs aka: horseradish, on our matzah. The bitter herbs symbolize the bitterness of the slavery our ancestors endured. Like the salt water and greens, it’s best if you have a few small dishes of the horseradish so that it doesn’t take forever for everyone at the table to get some.

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror. Last line: Blessed are You, Spirit of the Universe, who commands us to eat bitter herbs…

Korech (Matzah Sandwich Of Bitter Herb And Charoset)

-Author Unknown

There’s no formal blessing for this 10th step of the Seder, which is when we eat a “Hillel Sandwich” made from matzah, charoset, and bitter herb. Hillel, a first century rabbi, made this up. Back in the olden days, they also added lamb meat to the sandwich because what do you know? There was lamb meat handy since they had just sacrificed a Passover lamb. We don’t do that anymore. Thank goodness.

First line: While the English Earl of Sandwich is generally credited for inventing the snack of his namesake, Hillel may have originated it two thousand years ago by combining matzah, a slice of paschal lamb, and a bitter herb, often referred to as a “Hillel Sandwich.” Last line: “This is what Hillel did, at the time that the Temple stood. He wrapped up some Pesach lamb, some matzah and some bitter herbs and ate them together”…

Barech/Birkat Hamazon (Grace After The Meal)

-Author Unknown

For those who went to Jewish camp, benching (aka Grace) after the meal is a terrific throwback to fun times. The tune is catchy and uplifting. The name benching came from the Yiddush term bentshn which means “to bless.” There is a much longer version of benching, but this relatively short and sweet one is really lovely. Just a nice way to end the Seder by giving thanks for the food we’ve just eaten.

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, hazan et ha’olam kulo b’tuvo b’chen b’chesed w’rachamin. Last line: May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen…

Elijah's Cup

-Author Unknown

This section is about the cup of wine set on the table for Elijah and the cup of water for Miriam. Don’t miss either of these at your Seder. I mean, really, you get to open the door into the night and wait for a ghost to come drink wine! The cup of water for Miriam is to remember her bravery from the time when Moses was a baby and she saved him, until she was the one who motivated everyone to dance and sing once they made it across the sea. According to legend, Elijah will return right before the messiah and the world will be at peace. Elijah must not be watching CNN, or otherwise he would get here faster!

First line: We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet, Elijah to join our Seder. Last line: For the sake of our righteous women were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt. Amen…

Nirtzah (Ending The Seder)

-Author Unknown

This is when we say, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Which is not a cue for a big political argument. You can think of this as really trying to be in Jerusalem for next year’s Passover celebration, which would be super cool! Or, you can think of this metaphorically and Jerusalem in your heart can be your place of peace.

First line: Our Seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. Last line: NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM…

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