Pesach Vocabulary

Key words and phrases for Pesach.

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Pesach—literally, “pass over.” Cooked meat that, according to the bible, was eaten by the Israelites just before they left Egypt.
Chag Ha Aviv—literally, “The Spring Holiday.” One of the alternate names for Passover.
Matzah—unleavened bread. According to the bible the Israelites ate matzah right before they left Egypt. Today matzah is eaten during Pesach to commemorate the exodus.
Hametz—bread or anything that has been leavened or contains a leavening agent,, hametz is prohibited on Passover.seder
Gebrochts—literally, “broken.” An Orthodox Ashkenazi practice during Passover some people will not eat matzah that has absorbed any moisture.
Kitniyot—corn, rice, legumes, and beans, these items were prohibited for use on Passover by some Ashkenazic rabbis in the medieval period, but many Sephardic Jews do eat them on Passover.
Hol HaMoed—the intermediate days of the holiday, between the first two days of holiday, and the last two days of holiday.
Shir Hashirim—the Song of Songs, the book of prophets read in synagogue during the Shabbat of Passover.


Seder Words

Seder—literally, “order.” The Pesach ritual where family and friends gather on the first one or two nights of Passover to retell the story of the exodus. The story is told in a particular order.
Haroset—a sweet mixture of nuts, wine, and apples on the seder plate that symbolizes the mortar used by slaves in Egypt.
Zeroa—shank bone. The bone is placed on the seder plate and recalls the blood on the doorposts and the terror and the anticipation of the night of the plague of the first born.
Beitzah—literally, “egg.” A roasted or hard-boiled egg is placed on the seder plate to symbolize rebirth.
Arba Kosot—the four cups of wine drunk at the Passover seder.
Haggadah—literally, “telling.” A Haggadah is a book that is used to tell the story of the exodus at the seder.
Kaddesh—the first step of the Passover seder, in which a blessing over a glass is recited.
Urchatz—the second step of the Passover seder, in which the hands are washed but no blessing is recited.
Karpas—the third step of the Passover seder, in which a piece of greenery such as parsley is dipped into salt water and then eaten.
Yahatz—the fourth step of the Passover seder in which a piece of matzah is broken in half.
Maggid—the fifth and most substantial step of the Passover seder, in which the story of the exodus is recounted.
Dayenu—literally, “it would have been enough.” The name of a song sung at the Passover seder that tells of all the miracles God performed for the Israelites.
Rahtza—the sixth step of the Passover seder, in which the hands are washed for a second time, and a blessing is recited. 
Motzi Matzah—the seventh step in the Passover seder, in which a piece of matzah is eaten.
Maror—bitter herbs. The eighth step in the Passover seder, in which the herbs, symbolizing the bitterness of life under Egyptian rule, are eaten.
Korekh—the ninth step in the Passover seder, in which bitter herbs are eaten together with a piece of matzah.
Shulhan Orekh—the tenth step in the Passover seder, in which the meal is served. Pass the matzah balls!
Tzafun—the eleventh step of the Passover seder, in which the afikoman is found and eaten as dessert.
Afikoman—literally, “dessert.” A piece of matzah that is hidden during the course of the seder, found after dinner, and eaten as dessert at the end of the seder meal.
Barekh—the twelfth step of the Passover seder, in which birkat hamazon, the grace after meals is said.
Hallel—the thirteenth step of the Passover seder, in which psalms of praise are sung.
Nirtzah—the fourteenth and final step of the Passover seder, in which the night is concluded by saying “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Chad Gadya—literally, “one goat.” It is the last of the songs sung at the conclusion of the seder and tells the story of the little goat bought a father for a pittance.

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