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The very hungry sederpillar

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The very hungry sederpillar

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The very hungry sederpillar

  1. 1. The Very Hungry Sederpillar Chaplain Daniel Coleman Illustrated by Michelle Zar Inspired by Eric Carle
  2. 2. In the light of the full moon, the very hungry Sederpillar sat down with her family at Seder. It began innocently enough, with a cup of wine, just like most other Jewish celebrations. Grandpa introduced Kiddush by saying that it was the first of 4 cups they would be having that night. As a sign of freedom, we are to recline while drinking each cup and eating matza at the seder. “But why 4 cups?” wondered Sederpillar. Dad responded that “according to tradition, each cup of wine corresponds to one of the 4 matriarchs, while the 3 matzahs correspond to one of the patriarchs.”
  3. 3. “But why wine?” Sederpillar asked. “Why not 4 strawberries or 4 oranges?” Mom explained that wine is used because on a night that celebrates our freedom, we relish and relive our freedom to make choices. “It would be easy to follow the example of Noah or Lot (Abraham’s nephew) who drowned their sorrows in alcohol after witnessing devastation all around them, but when we retell the story of our Exodus from Egypt and the suffering of 2 nations, we take wine, a potentially negative force, and choose to use it to celebrate and elevate our spirits.” Sederpillar wasn’t thirsty anymore, but she was still hungry. Sederpillars have many hands (legs really) to wash, so Urchatz seemed to take a long time. Finally, like the Priests who washed in preparation for the Temple Service, everyone finished washing in preparation for Karpas. Sederpillar ate the tasty parsley dipped in saltwater. But she was still hungry. Dad broke the middle matzah, and Grandma explained that Yachatz reminds us of the splitting of the red sea.
  4. 4. Mom said “matzah symbolizes both the bread of affliction and the bread of freedom so we break the matzah into two highlighting the dual symbols. It's also a symbol of how broken we were in Egypt, and that our search for wholeness continues.” “That's why,” noted Dad, “we hide away a broken piece till Tzafun, meaning hidden. Through the process of the seder, we acknowledge that God often
  5. 5. appears hidden from us and is hard to find - especially during difficult moments in the narrative – the haggadah - of our lives. It’s only much later, once we’ve had a chance to taste and celebrate our freedom from internal or external constraints that God’s ways appear less hidden. Then we can really thank and praise God as we do during the final stages of the seder: Barech, Hallel, and Nirtzah.” After all this, Sederpillar was feeling no less hungry.
  6. 6. Sederpillar watched eagerly as the second cup of wine, honoring the matriarch Rebecca, was poured. As they began Maggid, Grandpa announced that they weren't going to be drinking this cup for some time while they discussed some of the events that shaped Jewish history, and, like the Talmudic Sages, questioned how to best apply the lessons and symbols to their contemporary lives. Sederpillar was hoping her hunger wouldn’t prevent her from successfully reciting the mah nishtanah.
  7. 7. She needn’t have worried. Proud of how well she read, Grandpa gave Sederpillar some grapes and a lollipop to enjoy while the family proceeded with the rest of Maggid, concluding with the 2nd cup of wine. But she was still hungry. It was almost time to eat. Before washing once again for Rachtzah, in anticipation of Motzi & Matzah Grandma invited everyone to spend a few minutes in silent reflection as they ate their matzah. She encouraged the gathering to mindfully review the journey they had just discussed and celebrated from slavery to freedom, and the burdens in their own lives that they'd like to feel freer from. Sederpillar knew that the word Mitzvah derives from tzav meaning 'connection;' Mitzvahs are opportunities to connect with our Creator, ourselves, and each other. As she ate her matzah, Sederpillar recalled another teaching highlighting the similarity between the words Matzah and Mitzvah, implying that our observance of this special mitzvah to eat matzah on Pesach should make us hungry to perform many more Mitzvahs. Even after eating from both the top and middle matzahs, Sederpillar was still hungry. Luckily, the meal was rapidly approaching. Sederpillar's Maror consisted of romaine lettuce - a true delight, especially when dipped in her Grandma's
  8. 8. charoset. Were it not for Mom's insistence that they each come to the seder with a shortlist of some of the bitter things that had happened to them in the last year, Sederpillar might have found it hard to connect to the theme of bitterness. Sederpillar enjoyed the next stage of the seder, Korech, comprising another nice green leaf of lettuce sandwiched between more matzah. “Ultimately,” reflected Dad, “bitterness and freedom are wrapped up in each other: those that feel enslaved yearn to be free, and those fortunate enough to feel free must be prepared to emerge from their cocoon and take up the cause of those that are embittered and enslaved.” Sederpillar wasn’t hungry anymore, but she was tired, and yearning for her cocoon. After curling up on the sofa, Grandpa covered her with a blanket. She watched her family begin the festive meal, Shulchan Orech, with the customary eggs and started to feel queasy. As a strict vegan, even the thought of eating eggs gave Sederpillar a stomach ache. Grandma explained that eggs are a symbol of life and rebirth – the place where our story begins. The egg provides another prompt to thank God for the gift of life, and for transforming us from the confines of Egypt into a beautiful nation. “Maybe that’s why it’s called the Egg-sodus,” joked dad.
  9. 9. Sederpillar had so much to digest; contemplating the responsibilities and privilege of freedom, she finally fell asleep.
  10. 10. Glossary: The Haggadah’s 15 Steps At the start of the Seder (meaning “order”) the 15 steps are often sung to a special melody. (This corresponds to 15 steps in the Temple upon which hundreds of Levites would stand to accompany the Temple service with their music.) 1 Kadesh (Kiddush over 1st cup) Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt, derives from Metzar, meaning narrow or constraint. Wine can help decrease our inhibitions so that we can better imagine how to make an Exodus from the ideas and things that enslave us and prevent us from being free. 2 Urchatz (Ritual hand washing) 3 Karpas (Eat a green vegetable) Symbolic of Spring and new life we dip in salt water - reminiscent of the tears shed by Jews in Egypt and throughout history. 4 Yachatz (Dividing the middle matza) One piece, representing the “bread of affliction,” is eaten later for the Mitzva of Matza (step #8) while the larger piece is (sometimes hidden, and) eaten at the end of the meal (Afikoman,”Desert”). 5 Maggid (Storytelling) Tell the Exodus story with a focus on examining what enslaves us today. By inviting the youngest to recite the Mah Nishtanah, we remind all participants that questioning is an ancient Jewish practice, central to developing our knowledge and identity. 6 Rachtzah (Ritual hand washing before matza) 7 Motzi (Blessing before bread/matza) Say Hamotzi while holding the 3 matzas (minus the piece broken from the middle one for Afikoman). 8 Matza (Special blessing for seder night) Eat part of the top and middle matzas. 9 Maror (Bitter herbs)
  11. 11. Lettuce leaves or stalks are eaten after dipping into Charoset (a mix of nuts, apples, cinnamon, and sweet wine). Some add horseradish. 10 Korech (Sandwich) Eat the bitter herb together with (the lower) matza. 11 Shulchan Orech (Meal!) Many have the minhag (custom) to begin the festive meal with an egg dipped in salt water. 12 Tzafun (Eat the Afikoman - “desert”) The afikoman symbolizes the Pesach Sacrifice eaten at the end of the meal during the Temple era. 13 Barech (Grace after meals) The 3rd cup of wine is drunk after saying grace over it. The cup of Elijah, the Prophet of redemption, is filled. (A Chassidic custom involves each participant contributing from the remainder of their 3rd cup to fill Elijah’s. This symbolizes the need for each of us to make our own personal contribution to redemption.) 14 Hallel (Songs of Praise) We recite the latter part of Hallel (having begun it in step #5). This selection of Psalms is used as special praise for God and imagines the joy of a redeemed/ free world. 15 Nirtzah (Acceptance) We conclude with a prayer that we conduct the next Seder in Jerusalem, followed by celebratory songs. Your feedback is deeply appreciated: dcoleman@northwell.edu

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