Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tunisian Jews Remember Moses through an Unusual Seder Plate Custom

How many times have we heard that Moses -- the hero of our Passover story -- is never mentioned in the Hagaddah? Apparently Tunisian Jews try to rectify this situation through an unusual Seder plate custom. Instead of adorning their table with a variation of the Seder plate familiar to all of us, they use a reed basket (since I'm not sure of the size, I'll let you pick). They put all the Seder plate symbols inside the basket. Before reciting Ha Lachma Anya -- "this is the bread of affliction" --  the woman of the house takes the basket, and circles it over the head of each Seder participant while saying "we quickly left Egypt." The participants answer by reciting these words: "Yesterday we were slaves. Today we are free. This year we are here. Next year we will be free people in the land of Israel."

I think this subtle remembrance of Moses as a baby in a reed basket is brilliant. Similarly, so is the subtle reference to his mother Yocheved and sister Miriam by having the woman of the house take on this role. Finally, doesn't this custom complement the Bukharan Seder overture that I discussed two weeks ago? Start putting all the customs together that I have brought up and you have the makings of a Passover play.

Enjoy your Seder and Bravo to all the actors!
חג שמח

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