By Rabbi Cornelius Vanderbilt Steinberg | In-House Rabbi for The Inquirist Magazine
Transcribed by Nathan Mostow.
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 (derogatory slur for non-Jews).
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 usually 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 hard drugs like crack and LSD are welcome, too. 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.
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), 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.
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!)
- Korekh (matzah and maror sandwich – gross!)
- Shulhan Orekh (Passover feast)
- Tzafun (find/eat the Afikoman)
- Barekh – prayer stuff
- Hallel – prayer stuff
- Nirtzah – prayer stuff
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 so that it sucks less.
We can streamline this step. Not everyone here has dirty hands, but some people here are probably more disgusting than others. We will go around the table, and everyone will select one gross person who they think needs to wash their hands. If you are selected, you must wash your hands in the sink, and as you dry them, recite the blessing on the next page.
VI. CARPAS (green vegetable)
Finally, we get to eat something! Oh, wait, it’s fucking parsley. Way to go, Jews. This is one of our rare holidays where we’re supposed to be happy, and we still find a way to make it miserable.
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 disturbing, honestly. 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.
VII. MAGID (telling of the Passover story)
This is the long part. Don’t worry if you’re uncomfortably hungry – that’s how you’re supposed to feel. Judaism isn’t about being comfortable. 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 for 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? This one is a real mystery; nobody knows.
- Why do we recline? The slaves weren’t allowed to recline, so now we recline to rub it in their faces. Suck it, slaves!
The Four Children
The Torah 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 too wise.
The contrary child asks, “What is the meaning of this ceremony to you?” By saying to you, he ostensibly excludes himself from the group and from the religion.
Honestly, this question isn’t that bad, because he probably shouldn’t include himself in the ceremony until he understands what it’s about. If you’re telling this kid that God sent frogs down from the sky and parted the Red Sea, then the burden of proof should definitely be on you. Maybe this is the wise kid.
Anyway, you’re supposed to tell him, “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?” Give him a simple answer, like, “The Lord brought us out of Egypt.” If you actually believe the entire literal interpretation of the Passover story, chances are you used to be the simple child yourself.
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. Or maybe he’s a foreign exchange student who just needs Google Translate. You really should handle this on a case-by-case basis. There is no universal prescription that works for every questionless child.
This is where you can break the matzah and do the afikomen thing.
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.
Dip the maror in the haroset. Gross!
Blessing for the maror: Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vetzivanu al achilat maror.
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. Enjoy!
B’tei avon (Hebrew for bon appetit!)
Search for the Afikomen. If you cannot find it, threaten to burn the house to the ground. That usually works.
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’ve endured) through the dipping of food items in saltwater and/or consumption of said saltwater or other liquid substances, so long as the liquid is understood by the memorializers/commemorators to represent tears I may have shed as a result of suffering I endured.
Be it known that any effort to honor my memory through the consumption of physical 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 lukewarm 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.