By Rabbi Cornelius Vanderbilt Steinberg | In-House Rabbi for The Inquirist Magazine
Editor’s Warning: This Haggadah is not appropriate for children, unless they’re really cool.
Shalom and welcome to the Passover Seder! A seder is a traditional Passover celebration that takes something everyone likes (dinner) and ruins it with prayers. This is an inclusive event welcoming of both Jews and goyim (Yiddish slur for non-Jewish people).
But no matter how crazy the Passover story is, at least it’s not as wild as that cock-and-bull yarn about God having a son.
Passover is a special holiday, because its traditional rituals include the consumption of AT LEAST four full cups of wine. While Judaism is often a religion of asceticism and misery, Passover requires us to be merry as we celebrate our emancipation from the evil Pharaoh. It is considered a mitzvah to consume excessive amounts of food and alcohol during the seder. Based on how wild some parts of the Passover story are, it’s likely that LSD is also welcome. So knock yourself out, really. But no matter how crazy the Passover story is, at least it’s not as wild as that cock-and-bull yarn about God having a son (what a ridiculous concept – it sounds like an ‘80s sitcom premise)!
Sabbath Protocol (read only on Shabbat)
If your seder falls on Shabbat, there are some special prayers and rituals for that, but don’t be the guy who insists on doing extra prayers. That’s like telling the teacher they forgot to assign homework. Just do the normal seder and don’t be a baby.
II. THE HOLY ITEMS
The seder plate is very important. It’s a special plate with 5 ceremonial items on it: the carpas (green vegetable), baytzah (egg), maror (bitter herb), haroset (no translation/don’t remember this one off the top of my head and am too lazy to Google it), and z’roa (shank bone).
Another important holy item is Elijah’s cup. This is a cup of wine we leave for Elijah the prophet. He shows up after we finish dinner, drinks the wine, and leaves, which is pretty rude, if you ask me. I don’t know why we invite him back every year. He’s the worst guest ever.
III. GET YOUR SEDER DONE IN 9 EASY STEPS
In a traditional seder, there are 14 rituals that must be performed, ranging from praying to hand-washing to eating. We can streamline this down to 9 steps:
- Kaddesh (blessing of the wine)
- Urchatz (washing of the hands)
- Carpas (eat the carpas)
- Yachatz (break the matzah) Unnecessary… we can do this during the Motzi Matzah
- Magid (the Passover story)
- Rahtza (washing of the hands) Unnecessary… we don’t need to wash twice
- Motzi Matzah (bless the matzah)
Maror (eat maror dipped in haroset – gross!)Huge waste of time – this holds up the meal. Nobody should bother eating maror dipped in haroset while the perfectly good matzo ball soup is getting cold.
- Korekh (matzah and maror sandwich – gross!)
- Shulhan Orekh (Passover feast)
- Tzafun (find/eat the Afikoman)
- Subscribe to The Inquirist
- Barekh – prayer stuff
- Hallel – prayer stuff
- Nirtzah – prayer stuff
IV. KADDESH (blessing the wine)
Raise your Manischewitz and recite the blessing:
(Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei pri hagafen)
Blessed are you Adonai our god, creator of the universe, bearer of fruit of the vine.
Drink wine. Continue to do so in high volume throughout the seder to pass the time more quickly.
V. URCHATZ (hand washing blessing)
We can streamline this step. It’s unlikely that everyone at the table has dirty hands, but it’s possible that some people at your seder are generally more disgusting than others. We will go around the table, and one by one, everyone will nominate one gross person who they think needs to wash their hands. If nobody selects you, then congratulations – you are a clean person, and you may remain seated. If you are nominated, you must wash your hands in the sink, and as you dry them, recite the blessing on the next page.
Hand Washing Blessing: Baruch Atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvoh-tav vetzivanu al netilat yadaiyim.
Rabbinical commentary: I don’t have hard data to back this up, but I suspect that there is a strong correlation between people who get nominated to wash their hands and people who enjoy gefilte fish. Anyone willing to put gefilte fish in their mouth gives me an unclean vibe.
VI. CARPAS (green vegetable)
Finally, we get to eat something! Oh, wait, it’s fucking parsley. Way to go, Jews.
Dip your parsley two times in the saltwater. The saltwater symbolizes the tears of Jews who were slaves in Egypt. Yes, it does seem weird to commemorate the suffering of our ancestors by dipping our food in their tears. It’s a macabre and unsettling way to grieve. It feels like serial killer behavior. Just imagine Norman Bates sitting in the basement of his motel, dipping little parsley sprigs into a bowl — “Mother, your tears are so salty! Please, Mother, don’t make me eat any more parsley!” That is why on the last page of this Haggadah, there is a detachable letter you can mail to your estate lawyer requesting that your offspring do not dip food in your tears.
Blessing for the carpas
Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam borei pri ha’adamah.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, creator of the universe, bearer of fruit of the soil.
VII. MAGID (telling of the Passover story)
This is the long part. By now, you should be starving, even though nobody else appears to be even the slightest bit uncomfortable, like goddamn androids.
The Magid is comprised of several classic, delightful Passover traditions. The first is the singing of the Four Questions, usually done by the youngest or most annoying person at the seder. Please note: It is not customary to mock and abuse the singer of the Four Questions while they sing, but it is also unlikely that anyone would try to stop you if you did that.
The Four Questions
- Why do we eat matzah? We eat matzah because Mom will get unbearably passive-aggressive if we eat bread at any point during the next eight days.
- Why do we eat bitter herbs? We eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitter suffering Jews have endured over thousands of years of boring seders.
- Why do we dip twice? Because we need to impart as much flavor as possible onto that bland fucking parsley sprig.
- Why do we recline? Our ancestors weren’t allowed to recline, so now we recline in an exaggerated way to make fun of them.
The Four Children
The Torah (or the Talmud, or the Mishnah, or one of the other spinoff books – I don’t recall which) speaks of four types of children: the wise child, the contrary child, the simple child, and the child who does not know how to ask a question.
The wise child asks, “What is the meaning of the laws and customs our God has commanded?” You shall explain to him all the laws of Passover. You’re on your own if he has follow-up questions, though. Don’t try to bullshit him – he’s wise, remember?
The contrary child asks, “What is the meaning of this ceremony to you?” By tacking on that “to you” at the end of the question, he ostensibly excludes himself from the group and from the religion. Rabbinical scholars say this is a bad thing, but in all fairness to the kid, he probably shouldn’t include himself in the ceremony until he understands what it’s about, especially if it involves claims of frogs falling from the sky. Maybe this is the wise kid. At least you won’t have to worry about him joining QAnon when he’s older. You will have to worry about him posting an offensive Haggadah on the internet, though.
Anyway, you’re supposed to tell this kid, “God brought me out of Egypt,” which implies that had the contrary kid been there, God wouldn’t have saved him. Wow, what a sick burn. I bet that’ll show him. Also, did God really “save” the Jews he freed from Egypt? They had to wander the Sahara desert for 40 years. Thanks a lot, God.
The simple child asks, “What is this about?” Ignore him. You have three other kids to deal with, and this kid isn’t going places.
The fourth child does not know how to ask a question. First, you must find out why he does not know how to ask a question. Maybe he’s Stephen Hawking and needs one of those voice machines. Maybe he’s a foreign exchange student who just needs Google Translate. Or maybe he’s on the spectrum. You really should handle this on a case-by-case basis. There is no universal advice that works for every questionless child.
VIII. MOTZI MATZAH (blessing of the matzah)
Break the matzah. The bigger piece is called the afikomen. Hide it for people to look for after dinner, or throw it away (who cares?).
Blessing for the matzah: Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.
Another blessing for the matzah, because why not: Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vetzivanu al achilat matzah.
Now you can eat the matzah.
Rabbinical commentary: as a better-tasting, fiber-rich substitute for matzah, try cardboard.
IX. KORECH (sandwich)
The Torah or Talmud or whatever says that on Passover, “you will eat matzah and bitter herbs,” and one rabbi thought that it literally meant you must eat the matzah and bitter herbs together, so now we all have to make matzah-maror sandwiches because some idiot got hung up on semantics a thousand years ago.
Rabbinical commentary: Use this time to get a head start loading up your plate with brisket and potato kugel.
X. SHULCHAN ORECH (Passover feast)
Congratulations! You have survived the brunt of the Passover seder. No more foreplay – B’tei avon (Hebrew for bon appetit)!
Let everyone search for the afikomen. As a reward, the person who finds the afikomen gets to eat normal bread for the rest of Passover.
Cut out this page and deliver it to your estate lawyer:
To my friends and progeny:
I, the undersigned, hereby state my opposition to the memorialization or commemoration of my name and/or life (specifically as it pertains to any suffering I have endured) through the dipping of food items in saltwater or other liquid substances, so long as the liquid is understood by the memorializers/commemorators to represent tears induced as a result of suffering I endured.
Be it known that any effort to honor my memory through the consumption of edible representations of my tears achieves exactly the opposite purpose; I would perceive it as a disrespectful trivialization of the hardships I endured in my lifetime, especially because the saltwater actually improves the taste of the parsley. If they really want to suffer like I suffered, they should dip parsley in something disgusting, like diarrhea that’s been left outside in the sun for several days.
I explicitly implore my progeny to never willingly consume saltwater or other substances understood to represent my tears or my suffering, especially as an attempt to honor/memorialize/commemorate my memory.
XII. SUBSCRIBE TO THE INQUIRIST
Most Orthodox sects traditionally end their seders by subscribing to The Inquirist. This is considered a great mitzvah.