Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion: Tvaz)
Passover 5773: Bride and Groom at the Seder
As the festive Holiday of Pesach is quickly approaching, it is imperative that we do our preparations around the house, and of course turn over the kitchen and pantry to a Pesach and Chametz free mode.
There is another area that requires preparation and focus; the major “sales meeting” that we will be presenting this coming Monday and Tuesday night.
The proven and enduring product that we have to offer, is called, Judaism. The Seder filled and saturated with Mitzvos, customs and an unbroken chain of tradition and practice going back to the major event of our miraculous Exodus from Egypt 3325 years ago, is a product like no other. However, like everything else, it requires time to organize one’s thoughts to prepare so that the participants at the Seder ‘sales meeting’ come out inspired, recharged and with a refreshed and rejuvenated desire to keep Judaism, its ideals, and G-dly mandate, alive! It would be worth our time to take a few moments to review the Hagadah and Seder.
Allow me to share with you an interesting and novel idea regarding the connection of the Pesach Seder to the traditions of wedding! I shared these thoughts last year with family and friends and misplaced my notes. I thank my son Chaim for helping me out by recalling certain aspects of the presentation.
The Talmud relates that the law is that one may not eat Matzah during the day of Erev Pesach – (Monday). The reason for this is so that we have a fresh appetite to enjoy and fulfill the Mitzvah of eating Matzah at the Seder.
The Talmud makes the following comment: One who eats Matzah on Erev Pesach is as if he was intimate with his intended bride prior to his wedding in the house of his in-laws. The equation of restraining from eating Matza on Erev Pesach to the discipline towards one’s bride is expanded on by the great commentator, Levush. The Levush tells us that just as seven blessings are recited at a marriage before intimacy is allowed. So too, there are seven blessings recited at the Seder before we partake in eating the Matzah.
Toward the end of the Seder we traditionally open the door and welcome Elijah the Prophet. How can a pure angel such as Elijah join with human beings who may have some residue of sin? The Bnai Yissochar explains that just as Elijah comes to every Bris – circumcision, where our tradition teaches us that the participants are atoned from their sins. So too, on the Seder night, we are forgiven for our sins – just like a bride and groom are forgiven for their sins on the day of their wedding. Thus it is a comfortable setting for Elijah to join us.
Thus we see in the words of our Sages that the Seder is compared to a bride and groom and a wedding ceremony. This piqued my interest to find other similarities between our Seder and a bride and groom.
Firstly, Seder means order, and the one who officiates a marriage is called a M’Sader Kidushin. Traditionally, the bride and groom fast on the day of their wedding, and there is a fast for the first born males on Erev Pesach.
A bride and groom are likened to a king and queen on their wedding day. So too, we display ourselves in a royal fashion at the Seder, i.e. reclining as kings.
A groom dons a white Kittel robe. So too, the married men wear a Kittel at the Seder.
The first step of the Seder is Kadash (over wine). When one betroths his wife it is called Kidushin.
Another step of the Seder is Urchatz – to wash. A bride immerses in a ritual Mikveh before she gets married.
A step of the Seder is to break the middle of the three Matzos. A plate is traditionally broken by the mothers of the bride and groom after the reading of the Tenaiim – engagement document.
An egg is present on our Seder plate, which represents a Chagigah sacrifice but also is a reminder of our mourning over the destruction of the Temple. At the conclusion of