PASSOVER TO- GO 26 PERSONAL QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE SEDER
Preview THE EXODUS It’s a dramatic, inspiring story, the story of our heritage—but do we need to tell it again every year? I get it, we were slaves in Egypt, now we’re free, let’s eat! So...how about this Passover we just get straight to the food? As we Jews like to say, “Rather than respond to a question with an answer, we will answer this question with a question. Actually, 26 questions.
Let’s get personal.
Preview CLEANING FOR PASSOVER
Preview Before Passover, we clean our homes to remove every speck of chametz—food made of dough that rises, filling up with hot air, just like an inflated ego. We scour the stovetops and cabinets, and within, we cleanse and polish our hearts until they shine with humility and gratitude. That’s how Passover begins. With a thankful heart, like the flat, humble matzah. And that’s the beginning of every exodus to freedom.
What are you thankful for today?
Preview The Seder is a fifteen-step marathon involving lots of storytelling, singing, strange foods, and wine. And it’s all laid out for us in this neat process. It’s a typical Jewish paradox: On the night that freedom was born, we practice being free by following fifteen defined steps. Because there’s no freedom in doing whatever you feel like at any given moment.
Why does true freedom need to be defined?
Drink four cups of wine or grape juice, minimum 2.9 ounces each Eat at least 27 grams of matzah Eat 27 grams of maror Recline while drinking the wine/grape juice and eating the matzah Ask a question about the Seder Discuss: A. Our journey from slavery to freedom B. D iscarding idol worship for worship of G-d C. Pesach, Matzah, and Maror D. The Passover miracles
Let’s get started!
Non-stop notifications and alerts clamor for your attention. You hold down the power button and silence them all. Now you can really connect. The first step to breaking free is Kiddush, which actually means to separate. Once we disconnect from all distractions we can focus on the real depth and purpose in our lives.
What are the distractions in your life? What do you want to focus on more?
Preview WASHING Just as the priests would wash their hands before serving in the Temple, we cleanse our hands in preparation for mitzvot. We are washing away the spiritual impurities we’ve picked up working with a materialistic world. Now it’s just a pure Jew and G-d above.
Let the real Passover cleaning begin: how will you purify your mind, body, and soul?
Preview DIPPING A VEGETABLE IN SALT WATER To celebrate the joy of redemption one must first recognize the pain of exile. We dip a vegetable into salt water to taste the bitter tears of slavery, in preparation for experiencing the joyous tears of redemption.
Was there a painful experience in your past that prepared you for joy?
Preview BREAKING THE MATZAH In this Seder step, we pick up a flawless, round matzah, and break it in half. What’s going on? Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk used to say, “There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.” We should always try to be happy, uplifted— but once in a while life is crushing. This brokenness can actually be a good thing. When you feel whole, there’s no room to grow. When you realize that you’re just a fragment, that you need others, that you need help from Above, that’s when miracles start to happen.
Where will you reach out to when life gets rough?
Preview STEP 5
Preview THE HAGGADAH The Haggadah isn’t just a history book. The story is still very real today. In each of us there is a Pharaoh that chains us down, saying, “Why try to change and grow? Aren’t you good enough just as you are?” And in each of us there’s a Moses, a force that connects us up above, way beyond any boundaries. Every moment is an opportunity for another Exodus. To break free from who you were yesterday, shine a new light, and surprise the world.
What mitzvah can you do today that defies who you were yesterday?
Preview HEI LACHMA ANYA It’s Passover night, we’re sitting around our Seder table, and we read out loud: "All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover!" One second—what’s the point of inviting the needy here and now? They can’t even hear our invitation! This invitation is not just intended for outsiders. While we may be sitting at the Seder, our minds can be miles away. Don't just sit there—enter the Passover experience with your entire being.
What is your soul hungry for?
Preview MAH NISHTANAH The whole Passover Seder is supposed to revolve around questions. Hopefully by this point many have come up already, but just in case, the Haggadah throws some in for us to ask. Why? Good question. Because learning begins when a question is asked. And here’s another paradox of Judaism: You don't learn by having faith. You learn by asking questions, by challenging everything. And yet, all of this is done with faith— faith that there is a truth to be found.
What questions will you ask this Passover?
Preview AVADIM HAYINU When Moses came and told the Jews they would leave Egypt, many refused to believe him. Why? Because in their minds they were slaves—they couldn’t imagine being free people. So G‑d had to schlep them out of Egypt with a mighty hand and bring them to Mount Sinai, to give them His precious Torah. This story isn’t too far from home for us. Ever wake up feeling like you’re not good enough? G‑d thinks otherwise. He made you just the way He wanted. He has a mission just for you. And He gave you a fresh, new life this morning, and the power to achieve your mission.
Your Creator thinks that you are good enough. Can you try to see yourself in the same way?
Preview THE FOUR SONS Tonight, all four types of Jews gather together to share and discuss, ask and debate. All are welcome around the table, and all voices are to be heard. But we mustn’t forget the voice that isn’t heard— the voice of the Jew that doesn’t even know it’s Passover, or why it’s important to gather with fellow Jews on this night.
What can you do this year to ensure that next year at least one more Jew will gather around the Seder table?
Preview VEHI SHEAMDA Throughout the centuries, we have faced many oppressors and tormentors. But a Jew never despairs. He knows that unlike the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, and Persians, he is still around to tell the story. We were promised by G‑d that we will always endure. Begin your morning thanking G-d for giving you another day. If not from faith in Him, then at least from His faith in you.
How will your day be different when you think about G-d’s faith in you?
Preview THE 10 PLAGUES Before we got out of Egypt, the country needed to go through a deep spiritual cleansing—the land reeked of the Egyptians’ evil practices. The ten plagues were like ten wash-and-rinse cycles that purified the land. But the Exodus and the giving of the Torah changed everything— today we don’t need plagues to purify the atmosphere. We only need to speak words of Torah, and do beautiful shiny mitzvot. Through those, we purify and uplift the whole world around us.
We all know the environment needs our TLC. Have you ever thought about giving it a spiritual boost?
Preview DAYENU! Dayenu means “It would have been good enough for us.” This song of gratitude recounts the many miracles G-d performed for the Jews during their flight from Egypt. You don’t have to see the sea split to experience a miracle. Little miracles are constantly sneaking into our lives.
What “ordinary” parts of your life can you classify as miracles?
Preview THE 10 COMMANDMENTS Why ten commandments? The number ten represents completeness. There are ten ways the soul finds expression, ten sayings with which G‑d made our universe, and ten commandments He gave us on Mount Sinai. And they’re all tied together. Why did G-d create the world? So that He could give us the Ten Commandments and the Torah, with which we would refine the ten expressions of our souls, and uplift the world He created with ten sayings.
The whole world is waiting for you to learn more Torah. When can you fit more Torah learning into your hectic schedule?
Preview IN EVERY GENERATION Every day since we stepped foot out of Egypt is another day of breaking free. Breaking free from our impulses, our mood swings, our own perception of “this is who I am and will always be.” As soon as we stop leaving Egypt, we are back there again.
What kind of Egypt will you break free from today?
ָ ּברו ְּך ַא ָּתה יְ ‑יָ ֱא‑ל ֵֹהינ ּו ֶמלֶ ְך ָהעוֹ לָ ם ֲא ׁ ֶשר . וְ ִצ ָ ּונ ּו ַעל נְ ִטילַ ת יָ ָדים,ִקדְּ ׁ ָשנ ּו ְ ּב ִמ ְצוֹ ָתיו Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Haolam Asher Ki-d’shanu Be-mitzvotav Vetzivanu al Netilat Yadayim.
Preview WASHING BEFORE THE MEAL We wash our hands, yet again. In our nation’s exodus, we were granted eternal freedom. Not because we were released from slavery, but because we were given the power to keep rising above. You can’t buy freedom. You can’t lock it in a safe. It is kept alive only by constant renewal. Constant purification. Let’s wash again.
What is something you worked on in the past that can use another wash?
BLESSING ON GRAINS The journey of bread is similar to our own. The bread begins as a seed buried beneath the ground. And then, a miracle happens: As it decomposes and loses its original form, it comes alive, beginning to sprout and grow. We too began buried in Egypt, losing everything but our identity. And from there we were born into something completely new and miraculous.
Have you ever been challenged in a way that brought out strengths you never knew you had?
ָ ּברו ְּך ַא ָּתה יְ ‑יָ ֱא‑ל ֵֹהינ ּו ֶמלֶ ְך ָהעוֹ לָ ם .ַה ּמוֹ ִציא לֶ ֶחם ִמן ָה ָא ֶרץ Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Haolam Hamotzi Lechem Min Ha’Aretz.
Preview WE EAT THE MATZAH Our ancestors left Egypt in such a hurry, there was no time to let their dough rise. So instead of bread, they had matzah: a simple flatbread made of water and flour. Simple, but deep. You see, an inflated ego is a prison with no room for growth. But when we make ourselves small, like the flat matzah, we can fit through any bars and reach the highest heights. With a humble heart and faith in the One Above, we can break free of any prison.
What is holding you back in your life?
ָ ּברו ְּך ַא ָּתה יְ ‑יָ ֱא‑ל ֵֹהינ ּו ֶמלֶ ְך ָהעוֹ לָ ם ֲא ׁ ֶשר . ַעל ֲאכִ ילַ ת ַמ ָ ּצה,ּ ְ ּב ִמ ְצוֹ ָתיו וְ צ ָ ּונו,ִּקדְּ ׁ ָשנו Baruch Ata Ado-nai Elo-heinu Melech Haolam, Asher Ki-d’shanu Be-mitzvotav Vetzivanu al Achilat Matzah.
Preview THE BITTER HERBS It’s a mitzvah to eat maror, bitter herbs, which remind us of the bitterness of our slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh had whip-wielding taskmasters to enforce his work edict. Today, millions voluntarily subject themselves to work that has become its own aim and objective. Instead of seeing work as a means to support our family and create a better world around us, we idolize the bridge, the "career" itself.
Do we ever stop and think about the purpose of work?
Preview THE HILLEL SANDWICH The Korech sandwich combines the bitter, the sweet, and the tasteless. In the Temple, maror, matzah and the sacrificial lamb were also eaten together as one. Take a moment to transcend worldly perceptions of sorrow and joy, and experience all of life as the grand, mysterious, orchestrated plan.
What happens when you view your life from a bird's eye view?
Preview THE FEAST When we take foods that grow from the earth and say a blessing over them, we bring purpose to the food. On Shabbat and the holidays, this ability to transform food is even greater as it is a mitzvah to enjoy the food.
What will you think about the next time you take a bite?
Preview OUT OF HIDING The afikoman matzah is referred to as “tzafun”—that which is hidden. When we eat the afikoman it brings out something which is hidden inside of us: our most inner core. Our essence. This Passover, let your inner core shine with all its might. Be proud of who you truly are. Be unapologetic. Wear your Jewish pride everywhere you go. Don’t hide your light—the world needs it.
How will you reveal your Jewish soul?
Preview BLESSINGS AFTER THE MEAL The theme of Grace After Meals is confidence— confidence in the source of all blessings. When we open our hearts with trust in the One above, miracles start to pour into our lives. That’s what happened in Egypt—the women believed, and prepared tambourines with which to dance out of Egypt. G‑d saw, and He split the sea.
Is there an area in your life where you could use a little “let go and let G-d?”
Preview SONGS OF PRAISE Towards the end of the Seder, we pour a glass of wine for Elijah the Prophet and open the door to greet him. When we open the door, the gateway to heaven, too, is opened. This is an opportune time to pray for the things you need and want.
What will you pray for, and why?
Preview NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM! We’ve so far journeyed through 14 steps of the Seder, transforming ourselves from the inside out. At least, we tried the best we could, given our human abilities. Now we make a simple request: G-d, take all our hard work and bring it across the finish line. Bring us the day when the whole world will shine with kindness, love, and respect. The exodus from Egypt was pretty mind-blowing, but we’re still waiting for the real thing: The liberation of the entire world from darkness to light. Let it happen now, so that next year our Seder will take place with the Holy Temple, in Jerusalem.
Can you imagine what the world will be like, after the ultimate exodus we’re waiting for?
Preview You thought freedom meant there were no limitations. Nothing to hold you back. Through the Seder, we’ve learned that freedom is not about doing what you want. When you are controlled by your money, by your circumstances, by your desires… that is the opposite of freedom. Freedom comes from within. Freedom is doing what is right, what G-d wants you to do. It’s about giving the real you a chance to shine.
The original Exodus was just the beginning. This Passover, when you retell the story, think of what you are enslaved by, and trust in G-d to give you the strength needed to transcend your barriers. Take these to-go questions along with you on the road from Egypt to your personal Promised Land.
לזכות רפואה שלימה וכל טוב סלה דוד בן לטיפה
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