The Seder Plate is the placed at the head of the table on Passover Eve. Passover is celebrated by Jews all over the world in the Hebrew month of Nissan. The month of Nissan falls in the spring time. Passover is a time of remembrance of the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 2448 after the creation of the world. Each food item on the Seder plate alludes to something different.
The food items on the Seder Plate
The following foods are placed on the Seder plate;
- A shank bone
- An egg
- Bitter herbs- usually horseradish or horseradish root
- A mixture of apples, nuts, wine and spices
- A bitter vegetable such as celery or lettuce
- A vegetable- usually a parsley or potato
What do these foods symbolize?
- The shank bone represents the lamb that was sacrificed by each household in Egypt on the eve of the exodus. A lamb was also sacrificed in the afternoon before Pesach in the Temple.
Some communities have the custom to use an obviously different kind of bone from a lamb to symbolize that we can’t actually offer the Temple Paschal sacrifice. Some use a roasted chicken neck.
- The egg is hard-boiled. It represents the offering brought on holidays in the Temple.
Before the meal at the Seder the egg is eaten. It is often eaten dipped into salt water.
- The horseradish are eaten as their bitter taste are meant to represent the bitterness of the slavery of the Jewish people in Egypt.
The horseradish is eaten after the majority of the Haggada is recited. It is eaten after the matzah is eaten. After, it is also eaten with the bitter vegetable and matzah.
- The mixture of apples, nuts, wines and spices symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews when they slaved for Pharoah in Egypt.
The bitter vegetable is dipped into this mixture and then shaken off before it is eaten with the matzah.
- The vegetable in Hebrew is called Karpas. The letters of Karpas can be rearranged to spell “Perach Samech”. “Perach” means back-breaking labor and “Samech” is numerically worth sixty (letters in the Hebrew alphabet have different numerical values). This sixty refers to the sixty myriads of Jewish males who left Egypt in the exodus.
The bone is not eaten at the Seder.
After the blessing over the wine at the beginning of the Seder the family members wash hands. The head of the Seder then cuts up the vegetable, dips each piece in salt water and each person eats a piece.