20 April 2016

Mystical Dimension of the Seder Plate

The Passover Seder is replete with revealed and hidden significance. The following is a brief outline of the mystical dimension of the Seder Plate. By Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Z’roah (“Arm”–Shankbone)

Corresponding to the sefirah of chesed, lovingkindness, the Z’roah represents G-d’s outstretched arm to redeem His People. We are thus reminded to emulate this trait, and to display lovingkindness toward G-d’s creations.

Beitzah (Egg)

Corresponding to the sefirah of gevurah, awe, the beitzah represents our awe of G-d and awakens our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot. Two separate verses guide us in our service of G-d. The first says, “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha,” “Serve G-d with joy.” The second enjoins us to serve G-d with awe and to rejoice with trembling. The inner dimension of this awe is joy.

Maror (Bitter Herbs)

Corresponding to the sefirah of tiferet, beauty and mercy, the maror represents the bitterness of the trials and tribulations of this world, and our prayers which arouse G-d’s great and infinite mercy to redeem us.


This mixture of apples, pears, nuts and wine traditionally symbolizes the brick and mortar used by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Corresponding to the sefirah of netzach, victory, the charoset represents our confidence in the strength which G-d gives us to succeed in life’s endeavors.

Karpas (Greens)

Corresponding to the sefirah of hod, thanksgiving, the karpas represents our sincere thanksgiving for all the good G-d bestows upon us, particularly, on this evening, our redemption from Egypt.

Chazeret (Bitter Herbs)

Corresponding to the sefirah of yesod, foundation, the chazeret reminds us of our strongest existential connection to G-d in all situations of life. This is a state of continual repentance, chazarah (“return”–same root aschazeret) b’teshuvah.

Three Matzot

Corresponding to the sefirot chochmah, binah and da’at (chabad), the matzot represent our meditation and knowledge of G-d in an inner state of bitul, self-nullification. The matzot also remind us to continually be aware of Jewish continuity through our love for all Jews, who are divided into the three categories of Cohen, Levi and Israel (which correspond to the three matzot).

Four Cups of Wine

The ability to flow freely and connect all these levels together is accomplished by drinking the four cups of wine on the Seder night. “When wine enters the secret emerges.”

The Recital of the Haggadah

The revelation of the secret is the recital of the Haggadah of Pesach, relating and revealing the wonders that G-d lavished upon His people, Israel.

With blessings for a kosher and happy Pesach

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