The Meaning of the Seder (Part 2)
Recounting the story
Rabban Gamliel's Three Essential Symbols
Before eating the seder's edible symbols, the Haggadah brings us Rabban Gamliel's checklist on the three essential foods, whose significance must be understood by all the participants at the seder.
Why these three? The Pesach lamb, matzah, and maror [bitter herbs] constituted the original menu in the Egyptian seder. "They shall eat the meat (of the lamb)… roasted over the fire, with matzah and maror" (Exodus 12:8).
As in a three-act play, Rabban Gamliel identifies these foods with three progressive historical moments in the Exodus:
1) Maror captures the bitterness of enslavement.
2) The Pesach lamb, represented today by the roasted bone (zeroa), recalls the blood on the doorposts and the terror and the anticipation of the night of the plague of the first born.
3) Matzah stands for the following morning, when Israel was rushed out of Egypt with no time to let the dough rise.
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