Something to discuss at Passover seder?
April 11, 2006 3:10 PM   Subscribe

I have been invited to a Passover seder, with the following wish: "It would be great if everyone could prepare something for the Seder (a question for discussion, a commentary on the Hagadda, an idea about Pesach, a poem…)" Any interesting suggestions?
posted by grouse to Religion & Philosophy (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My suggestion would be to start and look at what Passover is about -- the story about a people overcoming slavery.

There's some really cool themes to talk about here -- slavery, freedom, liberation (personal, political, physical, etc.).

It doesn't have to be all high-minded. At last year's seder, we got into a great discussion about how slavery seems to inspire the coolest music.

Another idea is to look at Moses. He was a flawed man who had a speech impediment. And yet he overcame it and led a people out of slavery. Ask people about their own personal impediments and what's kept them back from achieving their full sense of freedom.

The key thing is not to let it get all high-minded. Keep it fun.
posted by zooropa at 3:43 PM on April 11, 2006

Laptop with the 60-second Flash Seder? I don't read Hebrew, but I suspect it's not particularly thought provoking. However, it might be amusing as a pre- or post- Seder thing.
posted by teg at 3:45 PM on April 11, 2006

This question is a good opportunity to plug an excellent book co-authored by David Mamet that's filled with relevant suggestions.
posted by cribcage at 3:47 PM on April 11, 2006

How are you at telling jokes?

An old Jewish man took his Passover lunch to eat outside in the park. He sat down on a bench and began eating. A little while later a blind man came by and sat down next to him. Feeling neighborly, the Jewish man passed a sheet of matzoh to the blind man. The blind man handled the matzoh for a few minutes, looked puzzled, and finally exclaimed, "Who wrote this crap?"
posted by wryly at 3:52 PM on April 11, 2006

You can have some fun talking about loony Velikovsky and his theory of how the Ten Plagues were caused by a close encounter of Earth with Venus.
posted by greatgefilte at 4:30 PM on April 11, 2006

You can lobby for the passover orange.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:39 PM on April 11, 2006

The requirement for the mitzvah of passover is to tell the story of the exodus from egypt (and there's some other, eating related stuff, too). But everybody's got to take part in the *telling.* At many houses this means going around and taking turns reading from the hagadah. But anything counts (there's nothing special about the particular words in the hagaddah). So find some way to help tell the story: I might bring the lyrics of the spiritual "Go Down Moses(Let My People Go)".

Or one can bring a meditation on the notion that, though we are physically free today, we are not truly free. We are all slaves to something (to money, status, food, american idol...). My dad always gives this speech at our seder and it is always the highlight for me.
posted by zpousman at 5:03 PM on April 11, 2006

Jewschool has a page of Passover related links. Enjoy.
posted by dismitree at 5:58 PM on April 11, 2006

Chad Gadya!
posted by Izzmeister at 6:45 PM on April 11, 2006

You could share some literature about the fact that there were probably never any Hebrew slaves in Egypt. But that might be kind of a downer. Personally, I'd stick with the "spring is a beautiful time when a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of romance" type stuff.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:06 PM on April 11, 2006

I like a lot of these ideas, although it will be at the home of someone more Orthodox and I'd rather not ruffle too many feathers.

Another idea is to look at Moses.

The whole idea of God picking Moses, of all people, for this important role, has always been fascinating. I think it may be in order to discuss why.
posted by grouse at 11:19 PM on April 11, 2006

Dig up a copy of the Lauterbach translation of the Mekhilta deRabbi Ishmael. The Mekhilta is an anthology of early rabbinic homilies and commentaries on the Exodus narrative. It's full of fantastic midrashim, any one of which should provoke an interesting theological discussion with your Orthodox hosts.
posted by felix betachat at 12:45 AM on April 12, 2006

I'd rather not ruffle too many feathers

In that case, you probably shouldn't do your impression of Edward G. Robinson saying, "So, Moses, where's ya god now?" Though I think at a more swinging Seder it might be fun to do a five-minute one-man re-enactment of The Ten Commandments. ("You will have to pry these tablets from my cold dead hands!")
posted by La Cieca at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2006

Here's a Q I asked a couple of years ago that got some good discussion/explanation going:
Why is Pesach so central (other than the high holy days) to Judaism when it's not a religiously central holiday? Why is Shavuot, celebrating the giving of the Torah on Sinai, not the central holiday? We got into a lot of discussion about the importance of shared suffering to the creation of community.
posted by johngumbo at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2006

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