The Passover Haggadah
Revised Edition © 2002,2003 by D.D. Sharma
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, whose essence is embodied in the inner nature of all creation. We strive to be present to the divine energy that is the essence of each moment of consciousness experienced by our minds and hearts.
We welcome into this house and at this table all those who wish to share in our celebration of the sacredness of life and who wish to participate in this commemoration of freedom and liberation from suffering.
This celebration symbolizes Life, Suffering and Liberation from Suffering using the allegory of these five foods:
EGG: The potential of new life exists as an embryo, which in the fullness of time can develop into a sentient being - a living creature that is aware of it’s own existence.
AVOCADO PIT: The microcosm and macrocosm. The complete identity of each living organism is present in the DNA in every seed and in each cell of their body.
GREEN VEGETABLE: A reminder of the sacredness of life and the holiness of the food that we eat, which becomes part of our bodies and sustains our spirit.
WASABI: The bitter taste that reminds us that in life we sometimes experience the bitterness of suffering
HAROSETH: The sweet taste that reminds us that despite the bitterness of suffering, life is a worthwhile and worthy journey towards the sweetness of MOKSHA (liberation) and the celebration of joy.
In Egypt, the suffering of the Hebrew Slaves was not understood or acknowledged by the tyranny of their oppressors. From lifetime to lifetime, we sometimes find ourselves in the role of the tyrant or in the role of the victim. When at last we accept responsibility for both of these roles, we can transcend the suffering of Samsara (Illusion) and achieve the liberation of Divine Realization. That realization consists of knowing that there is no separation between each of us and all other sentient beings, and that there is no separation between God and all living creatures in the universe.
The Kiddush – Blessing of the first cup of wine
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
The grapes from which this wine was made grow and ripen every autumn on the same vine, and are then harvested, leaving the vine bare and empty. But the following spring, a new crop of grapes springs forth from the empty vine, to grow and ripen again in a never-ending cycle.
So too, our lives are the fruit of the “Chi” or “Prajna” (the life force) that is embodied in all living things that blossom or are born in this world. Just as the grapes spring forth from the vine, our lives emerge as an emanation of the Divine power at the heart of the universe.
Eating a Green Vegetable
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.
Just as the plants, grains and fruits that grow on planet Earth are freely available to people and animals for their nourishment, we dedicate our actions to bringing benefit and sustenance to all other living beings that share this planet with us. The eating of green vegetables symbolizes longevity and vitality in our lives.
The Symbolism of the Matzah - The Passover Story
Matzah is the bread that was baked in haste when the tribes of Israel were preparing to leave their lives of slavery in Egypt to journey to the Promised Land, to live in freedom. Because they urgently had to flee from Egypt, where they had lived in bondage for 400 years, as strangers in a strange land, there was no time to wait for the bread to rise. Matzah is a reminder to us to appreciate the gift of freedom, to have compassion for those who are still denied this gift, and to remember to appreciate the time for quiet meditation that we can now enjoy, without haste, as free men and women.
Let all those who are hungry or needy come and share in our abundance, and celebrate with us. Now we are here, dwelling in this physical body, bound by the limitations of human existence; but one day we will experience liberation from this world of Samsara, of illusion, and once again know the joy of Nirvana, of Divine, infinite wisdom and unlimited cosmic consciousness.
Why is this night different from all other nights?
1. On this night, we eat only unleavened bread. This serves as a symbol and a reminder of the haste with which our ancestors fled from slavery. They did not have the time to wait for the bread to rise. We must always appreciate the time we do have in life to step back from the haste to smell the roses, to enjoy life’s abundant and natural beauty, and to spend time with our families and with our loved ones.
2. On this night, we eat bitter herbs. This serves as a symbol of the suffering that can be part of the experience of human life. Let us remember that the suffering of slavery may be forced upon us or may be self-imposed, and let us appreciate the happiness of freedom. Remember that pain can be unavoidable, but suffering (which is our reaction to pain) is optional.
3. On this night, we dip our herbs in salt water. The salty taste reminds us of the sadness that we feel in our hearts when we are separated from our loved ones and the alienation we experience when we are in conflict with our brothers and sisters or even with ourselves. Everyone that we share this planet with – all the other members of the human race – is part of our extended, divine family. It is never too late to achieve reconciliation when conflict arises in this global family. All that is necessary to resolve our conflicts and restore peace and harmony in this world is forgiveness and love.
“THERE IS NO EVIL IN THE LIFE OF ONE WHO HOLDS THE SUN IN THEIR HEART”
We have free will, and we can choose loving-kindness and forgiveness. Nonviolence is love. It is the loving choice. Make the choice to forgive, not because those who wish to harm us have earned it, but because it is the only loving choice. Forgive in your own heart all of those who, responding in fear or anger, may have caused harm to others or to you.
4. On this night, we recline and relax as we eat this symbolic meal together. Tonight, we do not have to rush to complete our meal. We have the luxury of taking our time to enjoy this celebration together, at our leisure.
Drink the second cup of wine
At this time, before we drink our second cup of wine, we will meditate for a few minutes on any suffering that may be experienced by anyone who now shares this planet with us, and direct our thoughts to mercy, compassion and loving-kindness. We dedicate our actions in the coming year towards helping to eliminate the suffering of all sentient beings in every way that we can, starting with our own lives. We specifically remember those who’s lives are threatened at this very moment by war, disease and malnutrition, and vow to help eliminate these sources of suffering by helping to create a more just, fair and equitable world through taking action to improve our global society in the future.
The Motzi – Blessing of the bread
Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.
The rocks and soil and minerals that the planet Earth is made of are the raw materials of life. But we are more than the atoms and molecules that make up our bodies – we are more than the sum of our physical and chemical components. We are alive, and that life energy that animates us is the Divine, magical force that we all share. Just as the wheat that bread is made from is alive and growing, so we too are more than just dust – we are the spiritual equivalent of the bread that God’s power brings forth from the inanimate earth. The great gift of consciousness that has been bestowed upon us conveys not only God’s blessings, but also brings with it responsibility. What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.
(The Passover meal is served)
Drink the third cup of wine and honor Elijah and Miriam
We now fill an extra cup of wine for the prophet Elijah and an extra cup of water for Miriam, sister of Moses. The cup of wine symbolizes our gratitude and honor for the patriarchs and spiritual teachers whose wisdom has contributed to our lives. The cup of water symbolizes the miracle of Miriam's well, which sustained the Israelites during their long journey in the desert, and is a tribute to the matriarchs and women in our lives who have nurtured us and given us life.
In Praise of Divine Love and light
Blessed art thou, the eternal source of divine love and light, who sustains the whole universe with goodness, grace, loving kindness and mercy.
Praise be to the jewel in the lotus
Gone, gone, gone beyond….praise be to all those who have thus gone.
Aum Namah Shivaya
Aum Mani Padme Hum
Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Elohaynoh Adonai Echod.