Jon Kaufthal
December 1995


In Judaism, a religion with no shortage of ritual, Passover is one of the most sacramental holidays. The Seder service is one of the festival's central components. It is essentially a special meal, with an accompanying order of service. The entire Seder is a symbolic act, on several levels, which functions to facilitate memory over time by merging past and present, and, in the process, binds families together through shared beliefs and experiences. Using my own experience as a model, I will further examine the Seder and its tradition.


Passover is the Jewish holiday which commemorates God's taking the Jews out of Egypt and the miracles which accompanied this event. The major purpose of Passover and of the Seder service is to commemorate the Exodus and to give thanks to God for it. The holiday is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Nissan. The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with adjustments made to keep it in step with the solar year. Because of this, Passover falls on a different Gregorian date each year, but is always sometime in the Spring.

Of all Jewish holidays, the laws of Passover are probably the most stringent. One of the major prohibitions is that of eating or even possessing any form of leavened bread. A great deal of care is taken to assure that no bread crumbs are lying around the house. In addition to the usual laws of kashrut, there are special requirements for any food eaten on Passover. Any type of food made with certain grains is called chametz, and is prohibited on Passover. Kitchens must be specially prepared, and special plates and silverware, used only for Passover, are put to use.

The primary food traditionally associated with Passover is matzah, the special unleavened bread that is eaten throughout the festival. In addition to the prohibition of eating leavened bread, there is a specific commandment to eat matzah on Passover, because this "bread of affliction" serves to remind one of slavery in Egypt, and of how the Jews did not have time to wait for their bread to rise as they hastily left Egypt.


"Seder" is the Hebrew word for "order"-a fitting title for the Seder service because of its highly ordered structure. 1 While the Seder ritual varies from family to family and group to group, there are some major aspects that all have in common with one another.

The Seder is performed on the first and second nights of Passover, an eight day holiday.2 Like any meal, it takes place at a table. There are no special requirements for the room in which the Seder takes place-it generally occurs at home or in some type of hotel or restaurant (as many families go on vacation for the holiday). The basic unit of the Seder is the family. In addition to the family (often the extended family), there are often guests. There are no hard and fast rules here-two or more families may (and often do) eat together, and, in fact, it is not uncommon for larger groups (at hotels, for example) to have communal, or "organizational" Sedarim.3

The table is set, as if for a formal meal, but with several specific additions. There is the "Seder plate"-not an ordinary plate of food, but rather a special plate, often decorated and made of silver or another precious material.4 Several distinct items are placed on it, each with its own significance. Most are food items, but they serve a mainly symbolic purpose-though some are also eaten for symbolic reasons as part of the Seder.

The first is the z'roah, a cooked thigh or neck of a chicken, broiled a little over a fire, which comes in memory of the paschal lamb which was sacrificed on Passover during the days of the temple. Z'roah is Hebrew for arm, which reminds one of the "outstretched hand" with which God delivered the Jews from bondage. The beitzah, or egg, hard-broiled over the fire, is a reminder of the special sacrificial offering which was brought in honor of the holiday. The marror, or bitter herb, is a reminder of the bitter life the Jews experienced in Egypt. Romaine lettuce or horseradish is commonly used for this item. Another bitter herb, called chazeret, is also placed on the plate. This differs from marror only in function, the chazeret being used for the korech portion of the Seder. The charoset is a sweet paste-like mixture made of apples, wine, ginger, and other ingredients. Each component has its own symbolic significance-for instance, the thick consistency of the charoset is a reminder of the mortar used in Egypt. Karpas is a green vegetable which serves a variety of purposes, one of which is to simply arouse the curiosity of children. A bowl of salt water is also placed on the table, and used later in the Seder, when the karpas is dipped into it. This salt water represents the tears of the Jews as well as the sea that the Jews crossed to leave Egypt. 5

In addition to the Seder plate, there are several other items on the table to be used later in the Seder. There is the matzah, which is arranged in stacks of three, symbolic of several things, among them the three forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Additionally, there is Elijah's Cup, which is dealt with later in the Seder.

The Seder has a special text, called the haggadah. This text contains the entire order of the service-both the actions and readings. Parts of the haggadah text are ancient, dating back thousands of years, others are more recent. The haggadah itself has become a type of art form. Thousands of different editions exist, all with different translations, commentaries, and often accompanying art work. Certain sections of the text must be recited exactly as written, others are more malleable, serving mainly as jumping-off points for further discussion. All of the actual text is Hebrew6 (with several minor parts in Aramaic), but a major part of the Seder, as in a typical family meal, is the spontaneous discussion, which occurs in whatever the native tongue happens to be.

The Seder itself is broken up into fifteen major sections, some taking just a few seconds, others often taking well over an hour. The Seder begins sometime after sundown, and traditionally continues to the late hours of the night, often beyond midnight.

Each of the Seder's components has a name, and a specific purpose. The Seder itself begins with the recitation, usually to a melody, of the names of the different parts. That this is how the Seder begins is an indication of just how important structure is in the Seder ritual.

The Seder proper commences with the first part, kadesh. Wine glasses are filled, and a blessing is said over the wine. Everyone drinks the wine, reclining to the left. The custom of reclining is based on the fact that the monarchy and the rich used to recline while eating. Reclining during the Seder is an attempt to emphasize the freedom now enjoyed, as if every person were a king. This glass is the first of the "four cups" to be drunk at the Seder. The reason commonly given for the drinking of the four cups is that they are parallel to the four stages of the redemption: "I bring you out," "I will deliver you," "I will redeem you," and "I will take you." 7

Next is urechatz, the washing of the hands for the eating of the green vegetable. Karpas, the subsequent part of the Seder, is simply the eating of the vegetable with the accompanying blessing. The following stage, yachatz, consists of breaking the middle matzah in two, and hiding the bigger piece for the afikomen. The remaining piece is replaced between the two full matzahs.

Each of these three acts is performed to arouse the curiosity of the children. Certain portions of the Seder are intentionally unusual, not necessarily for any intrinsic reason, but simply to prompt the child to ask questions. On one level, the entire Seder is scripted, and the "four questions" that the child asks are anything but spontaneous. On another, however, there is a real concern that the child's curiosity be aroused and that he ask sincere questions, to be answered by explaining the story of the Exodus.

Another function of these unusual acts is create a special bond between the participants. By doing the same unusual act, a special bond is formed between those who do it-the stranger the action, the stronger the bond. The Seder thus creates what folklorist George Schoemaker calls "high-context" moments.

The Seder really begins in earnest with maggid. This section of the Seder is where the majority of the readings from the haggadah are found. Maggid, from the Hebrew for "to tell", is where the story of the Exodus is recounted. It begins with the Jews' descent to Egypt, and culminates with their leaving Egypt and all the miracles associated with this departure. 8 There is a wide range of readings, all playing on various themes of the Exodus. One of the major raisons d'être for the Seder itself is that each participant in the Seder to feel like he was personally taken out of Egypt. Most of what is done at the Seder is simply a means to this end. The following passage, taken from the haggadah, illustrates this point:

In every generation a person is obligated to see himself as though he had gone out of Egypt. As it says in the Torah: "And you shall explain to your child on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt'" (Exodus 13:8). For not only did God redeem our ancestors from Egypt, but we were redeemed along with them.9

This attitude is typical of the Jewish worldview of time. This one example of a myriad number of places in Jewish tradition where the present is closely linked to this past. It is through subtle lessons like these that the Jewish worldview is "taught" from one generation to the next. 10

Folklorist Barre Toelken, in his essay, "Folklore, Worldview, and Communication," asserts that the common Anglo-American view of time is a very linear one, where everything occurs in a logical progression of neatly ordered moments. The Jewish view, as typified by the Seder, is a much more circular one. The entire Jewish calendar, in fact, is evidence of the Jew's cyclical view of time. The various holidays that mark off the year occur every year, always in the same order. Each holiday, though, is not merely a commemoration, it is an event in and of itself. A parallel to Passover is the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which celebrates the receiving of the Torah. In much the same way as on Passover, Jews are commanded each year to feel as if they personally were receiving the Torah anew from God. Judaism reinforces this responsibility through the tenet that the soul of each and every Jew was present at Sinai, when the Torah was given.

Israeli folklorist Shimon Levi, in "The Passover Haggadah Narrative Text as a Significant Act of Tangible Performance," sees this worldview evidenced throughout the Seder by the preoccupation in the haggadah with narrative-a "living" genre rather than a dry historical one. One example of this outlook can be seen at the very beginning of maggid, where the matzah is lifted and the following is read:

This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let anyone who is hungry come and eat. Let anyone who is in need come and celebrate Passover. This year we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year may we be free.

Levi points out the fact that the above text addresses the matzah not as something figurative or metaphorical, but rather as the actual matzah that was eaten by our forefathers. The matzah that sits on the table is not merely seen as a symbol; it is considered to be the original matzah that was eaten in Egypt. This belief is a central part of the ethos behind the Seder, and it is through this perspective that the entire Seder is performed.

One of the highlights of the Seder is when the youngest child present "asks" the four questions (by singing them). These questions are a part of the haggadah itself, not actual off-the-cuff queries (though these are in fact encouraged afterwards). This "performance" is usually a "big moment" for the little child involved, who has typically been practicing the "mah nishtana," as the questions are called in Hebrew, for weeks, working on getting the Hebrew words and the tune perfect. The child is typically taught the questions either in school, or by his parents, or both.

There is also a definite "cuteness factor" involved here, which holds the attention of all the adults. The sight of seeing a small child, nervous at first, and then finally proudly reciting the questions has a charming quality to it. This entire routine is quite similar to a grade-school play, with the proud parents beaming at their child as he or she reads his part for the audience.

The four questions, in many ways, serve as a theme for the entire Seder. They are the following:

Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights, we eat either chametz or matzah, but tonight-only matzah! On all other nights, we eat herbs of any kind, but tonight-bitter marror! On all other nights, we do not dip our food even once, but tonight-twice! On all other nights, we eat sitting either straight or reclining, but tonight-we all recline!

There are endless explanations on the significance of these questions, but one way to see them is to view them all as one long question, which is the following: we eat matzah and marror, which remind us that we were slaves, and we dip our food and recline on pillows as if we were kings-how can we be both on the same night? The answer is found in the first sentence after the four questions, "We were slaves . . . and God . . . took us out." In Egypt, during the celebration of the first Seder, the Jews were still slaves, but in the middle of the night, they were freed. This emancipation is part of the miracle that is celebrated at the Seder (The Artscroll Youth Haggadah, 16).

The four questions also serve as a segue for the telling of the Exodus story, the primary focus of maggid, and of the haggadah itself. Immediately after the four questions, the reader answers by explaining that, "We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and God took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm," thus beginning the tale of the Exodus.

After a brief interlude with a story of several Rabbis, and short blessing of God, the haggadah moves on to tell of four children: one wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who does not know how to ask. Each has a distinct view of Passover, and the haggadahinstructs one to instruct each according to his own outlook in order to effectively impart the story of Passover.

Some further passages relating to Passover are read next, followed by excepts from the Torah's account of the Exodus along with an in-depth discussion of each excerpted passage. Because each and every word is dissected, this part can last for quite a while. Following this, the ten plagues brought by God on Egypt are recounted, and a bit of wine is removed from the cup for each one. This is done in order to show that despite the fact that the Egyptians were the enemies of the Jews, it is still forbidden to rejoice in their dying. Wine symbolizes happiness, and the removal of a drop of wine is the show that the happiness is not complete because of the loss of human life. Another three drops are removed from the cups when the mnemonic for the ten plagues, using the first letter of each, is read.

Following this, the haggadah brings in a discussion among several Rabbis about exactly how many plagues were brought on the Egyptians.11 This debate is followed by a listing of the many miracles that God performed for the Jews. Each miracle is followed by the word "dayenu," meaning, "it would have been enough for us" if God had only done this much and not (as he actually did) even more. The dayenu is usually sung to a festive, celebratory tune, and is one of the highlights of maggid.

The next part of the haggadah begins with a Rabbinical quotation: "Any person who does not make mention of the following three items on Passover has not fulfilled his obligation, and these are they: pesach (the paschal lamb), matzah, and marror." Following this statement, each of the three items (the z'roah is used in lieu of the paschal lamb) is lifted for all to see, and each is discussed in turn. Next is the passage quoted earlier discussing the obligation of the members of each generation to regard themselves as if they had personally been taken out of Egypt. This passage is followed by several paragraphs of praise and thanks to God. Finally, maggid is concluded by a special blessing, thanking God for his redemption.

Maggid having been completed, the Seder now moves on to rachtzah , the washing of the hands before the meal. 12 The next part is motzi, the blessing over the matzah. The matzah section, which follows, consists of another blessing on the matzah, recited by all, and the actual eating of the matzah. While it may also be (and generally is) eaten over the course of the main meal, there is a minimal requirement for eating the matzah, and this obligation is fulfilled here.

The next section is known as maror, the name of the bitter herb that is eaten to commemorate the bitter lives of the slaves in Egypt. A blessing is recited on the marror, and it is eaten dipped in the haroset. Korech is the last part of the Seder before the "regular" meal begins. In this part, a short passage in the haggadah discussing the origin of korech is read, and then the marror (sometimes dipped in haroset) is placed between two pieces of matzah, and the entire "sandwich" is eaten.

Shulchan orech is the part of the Seder where the meal is actually eaten. In the haggadah itself, there is no script here, other than a brief note that the meal is now to be eaten. Obviously, the meal itself takes up a sizable chunk of time. Other than eating, there is conversation, ranging anywhere from thoughts on the Seder to the usual gossip about family and friends.

There are no prescribed foods for the meal, though many families have foods that are traditionally served each year. This is a major part of the Seder where custom, rather than law, dictates behavior, and therefore necessarily one of the sections where there are some major differences from one group to the next.

Following the meal, the afikomen is eaten during tzafun. Since it was hidden during yachatz, it must now be found. Usually, the afikomen is hidden by a child, and it is up to the father to find it, so that the Seder may continue. Customarily, it is "ransomed" to the father by the child in exchange for a gift. This is done primarily to keep the children interested, despite the late hour.

Barech is simply the standard grace after meals, after which the third cup is drunk. Before the fourth cup of wine is poured, a special cup of wine, filled to overflowing, is set at the center of the table for the prophet Elijah. The door is opened for the prophet, an allusion to the hope that he will soon come, heralding the coming of the Messiah. The fifth cup is parallel to the fifth stage of redemption, "I will bring," referring to the final redemption. Hallel, the next part of the Seder, is a special prayer said for the holiday, after which the fourth cup is drunk. The Seder concludes with nirtzah, where several songs, all well-known traditional Passover tunes, are traditionally sung.


Despite the many elements shared by all Sedarim, there is generally a great deal of variety between different Sedarim. Each one has its own traditions, explicit or implied, and each its own unique feel. As a case study, and as a device by which to see how Sedarim vary, I will briefly describe several aspects of my own family's most recent Seder, April 1995.13

My family comes from a strong Orthodox background.14 The children all attend schools where both Judaic and secular studies are taught. Synagogue attendance is regular (weekly, or even daily for some), and most of the family members are fairly familiar with the classical Jewish texts.15 For more than the past decade or so, the Seder has been an extended family affair. Most of the family's members live in the New York area, fairly close to one another. For more than a decade, the Seder has been held in a hotel, not a private house. The specific guests and the location changes, but many aspects remain constant from one year to the next.

This past Passover, our Seder was held in a hotel in Rye, New York. For several years prior, we had spent Passover in Israel, at a hotel in Jerusalem in which my grandparents have a permanent apartment. This year, for various reasons, among them the fact that a large part of the family would not be able to go to Israel, the Seder was held more locally. The hotel in which we stayed was one of many to run a special program for Passover. Families staying at the hotel were provided with kosher-for-Passover meals as well as religious services for the duration of the eight-day holiday. This program is a business venture like any other-the information about it is spread through word-of-mouth as well as through traditional advertising. Each year, there is a communal Seder in a large hall where families sit at separate tables while a Rabbi in front of the room leads the Seder. Additionally, a number of conference rooms are made available for private Sedarim. It was in one of these rooms where ours was held. Being in a smaller room gave the Seder a more intimate feel. The room's privacy helped make the Seder feel more special, and led to more of a bonding between all of the participants. Even on a simple physical level, it was easier to talk and be heard because of the lower noise level.

In attendance were myself, my two younger brothers and our parents. Both sets of my grandparents attended, as well as my great-grandmother. My aunt's family (on my mother's side), which included three small girls-one three years old and two sixteen-month-old twins, also participated. Also present were my uncle's parents. Adding in the two women hired to help with my grandfather and great-grandmother, the guest list was complete.

This group, in addition to any and all other bonds that are formed in a family, shared the unique bond of sharing a Seder. The Seder is a time when the family feels close to one another, sharing in a special experience. My mother, when asked what some of her most memorable moments of the Seder were, responded:

I don't know…really just everyone being together. I used to love to sit next to Oma [my great-grandmother], and I loved buying her a special haggadah she'd like because she loved art. Just listening to you boys maturing as you spoke, while at the same time using the things you made me in kindergarten…but really just all being together with each other.

Because of its high-context nature, the Seder strengthens bonds between family. The memories which are family oriented are often the strongest ones.

My family's Seder is traditionally led by my maternal grandfather, and this time was no exception. My grandfather sat at the head of the table and made sure all went smoothly. His being the one to lead was never a formal decision, it was merely assumed that he would. This was probably because he was among the oldest participants, and there was no one else with either the familiarity with Hebrew and/or the desire to lead. The haggadah was read primarily by my grandfather, myself, and my two brothers. The fact that all of us were male was fairly coincidental-women were welcome to read and occasionally did; we were simply the ones most comfortable with the Hebrew, which can be difficult at times. Certain sections were said by everyone, in unison.

Each person had his or her own haggadah, nearly all different. The differences between one haggadah and the next were not in the actual Hebrew text, which is standardized, but rather in a number of other aspects. Each haggadah had its own look and layout, along with unique art to accompany the readings. Each translation has its own tone, and each haggadah generally had its own unique commentary to accompany the text. In any given haggadah, any or all of these elements could be absent as well; all that is absolutely necessary is the standard Hebrew text. Any time when someone saw something particularly interesting in his or her version (or had learned something not in the haggadah) related to the appropriate section, they would share it with everyone after the reader was done with that passage. Most of the Seder continued this way, with the text being read alternately by a group of people, with occasional interjections of commentary on the text. My mother summed up the "rules" for speaking as follows:

Even though Bipa16 always led the Seder, he was always very careful to makes sure that Daddy [my father] felt like it was his Seder too. Daddy and the boys always had a chance to read, and even I always felt very comfortable speaking up whenever I found something interesting.

When it came time to read the mah nishtana, Elana, my three-year-old cousin, was ready. With a little coaxing from her mother, she sang the four questions in Hebrew, to the delight of an approving family. After seeing the fuss that was made over her performance, Elana broke out with a wide grin of her own. Maggid followed this, proceeding as described above.

Eventually, it came time for the meal. The meal was a regular, formal meal, with waiters, menus, and all. There were several courses, each with a number of options. Most of the food did not have any meaning for any of the participants, due to the fact that none of it was inherently symbolic, as well as because it was prepared by a caterer rather than a family member. This was one example of where the standardized, impersonal aspect of the hotel was set in opposition to the inherently personal, family-oriented Seder. Folklorist Linda Lehrhaupt observes that:

As the Seder moves from the domestic to the public institutional setting, there is a new dynamic between the formal elements of the Seder and the character of the group that gathers to celebrate Passover. A crucial question is whether or not the organizational Seder does do (or even can do) the important ritual work accomplished by the domestic Seder. Can the participants in an organizational Seder make the event their own? (187)

Lehrhaupt sees the organizational Seder as a "rich case study in the transformation of a traditional domestic celebration in response to modern circumstances."(187) While my family's Seder was not a full-scale organizational one, like those held in larger settings, the fact that it was part of a larger program led to the fact that many of the forces at play in an organizational Seder were also factors in ours, setting the family in opposition to the larger group.

The meal itself was relaxed, with conversation focusing mainly on the day-to-day gossip about friends and relatives. Family members who hadn't seen each other in a while caught up on each other's lives. While the food was being eaten, stories were traded back and forth involving friends and family.

My youngest brother had hidden the afikomen, and after the meal, my father searched for it, eventually giving up. After a while, my brother finally retrieved it from his hiding spot, in return for a gift to be specified in the future. The rest of the Seder did not take very long, maybe half an hour, since there was not much left to do, and everyone was anxious to get to sleep, which we finally did. This entire routine, with minor variations, was repeated the following night, during the second Seder.


Looking at my own family's Seder, one can easily see some of the functions that the Seder performs. By sharing a "high-context" experience, the Seder's participants undergo a bonding experience, bringing them closer together. By deliberately involving all of its participants, men, women, and children, the Seder serves to create an unforgettable experience for all. Creating these positive memories also helps to give the participants a stronger feeling for Judaism. The commemoration of the Exodus is accomplished in a unique fashion, not merely by a passive representation, but rather by an interactive ritual that calls on all its participants, in every generation, to feel as if they had personally been taken out of Egypt. This ceremony, by making heavy use of symbolism and simulation serves to create a tangible link between past and present, effectively merging the two for a few brief hours. It is the unique way in which all of these techniques are combined that creates the magic of the Seder.


1 Ruth Gerber Fredman, in The Passover Seder: Afikomen in Exile, analyzes the ways in which Jewish culture attempts to create order. Fredman's work additionally serves as an excellent source of background information on the Seder.

2For technical reasons, Passover is celebrated for only seven days in Israel. The Seder is performed only once there, on the first night.

3 Sedarim is the plural form of the "Seder".

4 The plate may be a simple plate as well; what is important is what is on it. There is, however, a Jewish concept of beautifying any object to be used for a mitzvah, and it is for this reason that the Seder plate is often made of silver or otherwise ornamented.

5 A discussion of the symbolism of the Seder plate can be found in Rabbi Avrohom Blumenkrantz's The Laws of Pesach: A Digest ("Pesach" is the Hebrew word for Passover).

6While Hebrew is the preferred language, the haggadah may be recited in any language if Hebrew is not spoken.

7 Each of these is the beginning of a biblical quotation describing each stage in the redemption. In Hebrew, each phrase is just one word.
There are many other reasons given for the four cups. A good summary of the Talmudic debate over this symbolism, as well as of other opinions, can be found in Eliyahu Kitov's The Book of Our Heritage (II, 268-273).

8 These miracles included the parting of the Red Sea, the provision of the manna and of water, and the miracle of the Jews' clothing keeping for forty years in the desert.

9 The English translation is my own, as throughout the remainder of this essay. It is based on the original Hebrew text that can be found in any edition of the haggadah.

10 The argument that worldview is "learned" through language and a series of other subtle cultural cues is advanced by Barre Toelken in "Folklore, Worldview, and Communication."

11 The major disagreement among the Rabbis is over how many "sub-plagues" each of the plagues is made up of. At first glance, the entire discussion seems somewhat strange and irrelevant. The reason there is such preoccupation with this topic is that God makes a covenant with Israel that he will never again bring any of the plagues brought in Egypt. For this reason, each Rabbi attempts to count more plagues than the next.

12 According to Jewish law, at any meal where bread (or, in this case, unleavened bread) is eaten, the hands must first be washed with a vessel. A blessing is then said on the washing, and another is said on the bread.

13 A look at another Seder, and an excellent analysis of much of the folklore behind the ritual, can be found in Sharon Sherman's "The Passover Seder: Ritual Dynamics, Foodways, and Family Folklore".

14 Throughout this paper, in fact, most of the discussion relates specifically to Orthodox practice. Many aspects of the Seder are typical of all denominations of Judaism, but in certain areas, generalizations have been made based solely on Orthodox doctrine.

15 These include the Torah and the books of the Prophets, the Mishnah, and the Talmud, among others. There are many other important "standard" books of Jewish law and philosophy of more recent authorship as well.

16 "Bipa" refers to my grandfather. This name originated when I, as a baby, tried to say "grandpa" and instead said "bipa." Somehow, the name stuck, to the point where he now has a vanity license plate that reads "BIPA."

Appendix-Partial Glossary

afikomen - the piece of the middle matzah which is hidden during yachatz and is eaten during tzafun.

kashrut - noun form of the adjective "kosher." Something kosher is in accordance with the dietary laws of kashrut.

mitzvah - a commandment. A mitzvah (pl., mitzvot) has important legal status in that utmost care must be taken to ensure that it is properly performed. All of the mitzvot are specifically enumerated in the Torah-many acts performed by nearly all Jews are nevertheless merely traditions, and do not have the legal status that the mitzvot do.

Torah - the "five books of Moses." This is the central source of all Jewish law and belief.

Works Cited

Blumenkrantz, Rabbi Avrohom. The Laws of Pesach: A Digest. New Jersey: Gross Bros. Printing Co., Inc., 1988.

Fredman, Ruth Gerber. The Passover Seder: Afikomen in Exile. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.

Kaufthal, Judith. Telephone interview, 3 December 1995.

Kitov, Eliyahu. The Book of Our Heritage, vol. II. New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1978.

Lehrhaupt, Linda. "The Organizational Seder in American Jewish Life" Western Folklore 45, (July 1986): 186-202.

Levi, Shimon. "The Passover Haggadah Narrative Text as a Significant Act of Tangible Performance" Yeda-Am: Bamah le-Folklor Yehudi/Journal of the Israel Folklore Society (YA) 21.49-50 (1982), 81-85.

Schoemaker, George H. The Emergence of Folklore in Everyday Life: A Fieldguide and Source Book. Bloomington, IN: Trickster Press, 1990.

Sherman, Sharon R. "The Passover Seder: Ritual Dynamics, Foodways, and Family Folklore." In "We Gather Together": Food and Festival in American Life, eds. Humphrey, Theodore L., and Lin T. Humphrey, 27-42, Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1988.

Toelken, Barre. "Folklore, Worldview, and Communication." in Folklore Performance and Communication. Ben Amos, Dan, and Kenneth S. Goldstein, eds. The Hague: Mouton, 1975.

Zlotowitz, Rabbi Meir, and Gold, Rabbi Avie, eds. Artscroll Youth Haggadah. New York: Mesorah Publications, Ltd., 1987.

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