Last week, we held a Seder dinner in observance of Passover, which officially begins on April 15 this year. Having visited a synagogue earlier in the MTC program, we were already familiar with the rich history, tradition, and symbolism found within the Jewish faith, and we loved the opportunity to explore more of this as we followed the Haggadah, the text outlining the Seder service. We learned about the importance of Passover and the Seder meal as a means of remembering—or better yet, re-enacting—the miracle of the Lord’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The table setting, the unique food and drink, the specific sequence of alternating praying and eating, and so many other aspects of the Seder all have a special meaning and symbolism. To give you a taste, the Seder meal includes the following items:
Lamb shankbone: represents the Passover lamb sacrificed by faithful Israelites the night before they were freed from Egypt.
Matzah: represents the unleavened bread baked on the backs of the Israelites as they fled Egypt.
Bitter herbs: symbolizes the bitterness of Egyptian slavery and our need for redemption.
Salt water: symbolizes the tears of oppression.
Haroset salad: mixture of apples, nuts, spices, and juice representing the mortar used by the Israelite slaves in Egypt.
Parsley: represents springtime renewal and awakening.
Boiled egg: another symbol of springtime renewal, and a reminder that just as the egg which is boiled hardens, so do a people grow and become stronger through their tribulations.
Of course, the restored Gospel gives us new insight into the symbolism of the Passover Seder: the shankbone represents Christ as the Lamb of God; the matzo symbolizes Christ as the Bread of Life; the salt water represents Christ’s sweat and tears as he suffered for us; and the egg represents Christ as the creator, the giver of life. Today, we participate in the Passover Seder each week as we partake of the Sacrament, renewing our covenants and reminding ourselves of Christ’s Atonement. The theme of Passover is deliverance, and as we participated in the Seder, we were grateful for the tangible reminder that the Lord through his Atonement delivers all of us from the bondage of sin, sadness, pain, and injustice.