(2) That you may recount in the hearing of your sons and of your sons’ sons how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I displayed My signs among them—in order that you may know that I am the LORD.”
(א) וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֵאמֹר. (ב) הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה. (ג) דַּבְּרוּ אֶל כָּל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר בֶּעָשֹׂר לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה וְיִקְחוּ לָהֶם אִישׁ שֶׂה לְבֵית אָבֹת שֶׂה לַבָּיִת. (ד) וְאִם יִמְעַט הַבַּיִת מִהְיֹת מִשֶּׂה וְלָקַח הוּא וּשְׁכֵנוֹ הַקָּרֹב אֶל בֵּיתוֹ בְּמִכְסַת נְפָשֹׁת אִישׁ לְפִי אָכְלוֹ תָּכֹסּוּ עַל הַשֶּׂה. (ה) שֶׂה תָמִים זָכָר בֶּן שָׁנָה יִהְיֶה לָכֶם מִן הַכְּבָשִׂים וּמִן הָעִזִּים תִּקָּחוּ. (ו) וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת עַד אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה וְשָׁחֲטוּ אֹתוֹ כֹּל קְהַל עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל בֵּין הָעַרְבָּיִם. (ז) וְלָקְחוּ מִן הַדָּם וְנָתְנוּ עַל שְׁתֵּי הַמְּזוּזֹת וְעַל הַמַּשְׁקוֹף עַל הַבָּתִּים אֲשֶׁר יֹאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ בָּהֶם. (ח) וְאָכְלוּ אֶת הַבָּשָׂר בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה צְלִי אֵשׁ וּמַצּוֹת עַל מְרֹרִים יֹאכְלֻהוּ. (ט) אַל תֹּאכְלוּ מִמֶּנּוּ נָא וּבָשֵׁל מְבֻשָּׁל בַּמָּיִם כִּי אִם צְלִי אֵשׁ רֹאשׁוֹ עַל כְּרָעָיו וְעַל קִרְבּוֹ. (י) וְלֹא תוֹתִירוּ מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר וְהַנֹּתָר מִמֶּנּוּ עַד בֹּקֶר בָּאֵשׁ תִּשְׂרֹפוּ. (יא) וְכָכָה תֹּאכְלוּ אֹתוֹ מָתְנֵיכֶם חֲגֻרִים נַעֲלֵיכֶם בְּרַגְלֵיכֶם וּמַקֶּלְכֶם בְּיֶדְכֶם וַאֲכַלְתֶּם אֹתוֹ בְּחִפָּזוֹן פֶּסַח הוּא לַיהוָה. (יב) וְעָבַרְתִּי בְאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בַּלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה וְהִכֵּיתִי כָל בְּכוֹר בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מֵאָדָם וְעַד בְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל אֱלֹהֵי מִצְרַיִם אֶעֱשֶׂה שְׁפָטִים אֲנִי יְהוָה. (יג) וְהָיָה הַדָּם לָכֶם לְאֹת עַל הַבָּתִּים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם שָׁם וְרָאִיתִי אֶת הַדָּם וּפָסַחְתִּי עֲלֵכֶם וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בָכֶם נֶגֶף לְמַשְׁחִית בְּהַכֹּתִי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. (יד) וְהָיָה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לָכֶם לְזִכָּרוֹן וְחַגֹּתֶם אֹתוֹ חַג לַיהוָה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם חֻקַּת עוֹלָם תְּחָגֻּהוּ. (טו) שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ אַךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם כִּי כָּל אֹכֵל חָמֵץ וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִיּוֹם הָרִאשֹׁן עַד יוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי. (טז) וּבַיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן מִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם כָּל מְלָאכָה לֹא יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם אַךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יֵעָשֶׂה לָכֶם. (יז) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַמַּצּוֹת כִּי בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הוֹצֵאתִי אֶת צִבְאוֹתֵיכֶם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם חֻקַּת עוֹלָם. (יח) בָּרִאשֹׁן בְּאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעֶרֶב תֹּאכְלוּ מַצֹּת עַד יוֹם הָאֶחָד וְעֶשְׂרִים לַחֹדֶשׁ בָּעָרֶב. (יט) שִׁבְעַת יָמִים שְׂאֹר לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְּבָתֵּיכֶם כִּי כָּל אֹכֵל מַחְמֶצֶת וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּגֵּר וּבְאֶזְרַח הָאָרֶץ. (כ) כָּל מַחְמֶצֶת לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ בְּכֹל מוֹשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם תֹּאכְלוּ מַצּוֹת.
(1) And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: (2) ’This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (3) Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’houses, a lamb for a household; (4) and if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbour next unto his house take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man’s eating ye shall make your count for the lamb. ...
(8) And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (9) Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with the inwards thereof.
(25) And when you enter the land that the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.
And it will be, when your children say to you: What does this service mean to you?
Then say: it is the Pesach offering to God, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, dealing a blow to the Egyptians and rescuing our houses. The people did homage and bowed down.
(8) And you shall explain to your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I went free from Egypt.’
(20) Tomorrow, when your child asks you: What are the precepts, the laws and the regulations that the Holy One our God commanded you? (21) Then you are to say to your child: we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Holy One took us out of Egypt with a strong hand; (22) God placed signs and wonders against Egypt and Pharaoh and all his house, before our very eyes.
The Seder Rituals and Vocabulary
The Shamash/ servant
There are a number of linguistic consistencies throughout the two types of literature that we are comparing: Rabbinic and Greek/Roman historical and we will note them as we continue.
One of the key characters that appears in both pieces of literature is the Shamash or servant who mixed the wine with water and served it, brought in the matzah, hazeret and haroset, and waited on the needs of the diners throughout the meal.
“The Banquet” of Philoxenes of Cythera (5 th -4 th century B.C.E.)
“the slave set before us.sweetest morsel of entrails ”
Tosefta Pesachim (10:5),
“the Shamash dipped the entrails [in salt water] and served the guests”
Athenaeus (4 th century B.C.E.)
“men still feasted sitting, but gradually they slid from chairs to couches , taking as their ally relaxation and ease”
Mishnah Pesachim (10:1)
"even a poor person may not eat on Erev Pesah “until he reclines ”
Talmud (Pesahim 108a)
one must recline on one’s left arm while eating.
Many Cups of Wine
Antiphanes (4 th century B.C.E.)
one should honor the gods to the extent of three cups of wine (Stein, p. 17)Mishnah Pesachim (10:1) You must not decrease from the four cups of wine, even if he is one who takes money from the community fund.
Antiphanes quoting from Homer
Such pouring of the water was done before and after eating
Socrates, in Plato's Symposium, is washed by a servant to make him ready for eating.
Tosefta Berakhot (4:8, ed. Lieberman p. 20)
the servant poured water over the hands of those reclining at a Jewish banquet.
The Hebrew term is ” natelu v’natenu layadayim ” (literally: “they picked up and poured water on the hands”) a translation of a Greek idiom which means “to take water on the hands”
Athenaeus (ca. 200 C.E.) a contemporary of Rabbi Judah HaNasi (the redactor of the Mishnah) mentions lettuce seven times in his “Learned Banquet”, an encyclopedic compilation about Greek and Roman food and drink.
Mishnah Pesachim (10:3)
The servant brings hazeret, (which is lettuce) before his master, who dips it (in salt water or other liquids) until the main course is served.
Athenaeus (ca. 200 C.E.) describes similar dishes at length, and discusses whether they should be served before or after dinner.
Heracleides of Tarentum, a physician of the first century B.C.E., recommended eating these dishes as appetizers rather than as dessert
Mishnah Pesachim (10:3)
The servant serves haroset with the meal. The tanna kamma (=the first or anonymous rabbi in the mishnah) says it is not a mitzvah, while R. Eliezer bar Zadok says it is a mitzvah .
Athenaeus (ca. 200 C.E.)
Sandwich bread eaten with lettuce is a part of the Greco Roman menu - often served with skewers of meat.
Talmud (Pesahim 115a)
They said about Hillel that he would wrap matza and bitter herbs together and eat them, as it is stated: “They shall eat it with matzot and bitter herbs” (Numbers 9:11)
Similarly, the Greeks and Romans used to eat sandwich bread with lettuce
Mishnah (10:8) Pesachim
“one may not add an afikoman after the paschal lamb”.
The Tosefta, Bavli and Yerushalmi give three different interpretations of this word. In 1934, Prof. Saul Lieberman proved that the correct meaning is “one should not stand up from this eating group and join that eating group”
He refers to the Greek word epikomon – at the climax of the symposium the revelers used to leave their house and barge into another house and force the family to join in their merry-making. The mishnah is saying that this particular Hellenistic custom may not be done after eating the paschal lamb
The Literary Forms of the Seder and the Haggadah
Since Plato, a literary species, the so-called Symposia, had developed in which a description was given of a banquet held by a few learned men who had met at a friend’s house to discuss scientific, philosophical, ethical, aesthetical, grammatical, dietetic and religious themes over a glass, and very often over a barrel of wine, after they had dined together.
Plutarch (46 CE - 120 CE)
A symposium is a communion of serious and mirthful entertainment, discourse and actions.” It is meant to further “a deeper insight into those points that were debated at table, for the remembrance of those pleasures which arise from meat and drink is not genteel and short-lived.but the subjects of philosophical queries and discussions remain always fresh after they have been imparted.and they are relished by those who were absent as well as by those who were present at dinner”.
Plutarch (46 CE - 120 CE)
“questions [at a symposium] should be easy, the problems known, the interrogations plain and familiar, not intricate and dark, so that they may neither vex the unlearned nor frighten them.”
Gellius (130 CE - 150 CE)
The questions [at a symposium] were not too serious; they may deal with a point touching an ancient history. Macrobius says that he who wishes to be a pleasant questioner should ask easy questions and be sure that the subject had been thoroughly studied by the other person. Many symposia questions deal with diet and food:
-are different sorts of food or one single dish eaten at one meal more easily digestible?
-Does the sea or land afford better food?
-Why are hunger allayed by drinking, but thirst increased by eating?
-Why do the Pythagoreans forbid fish more than other foods?
Mishnah Pesachim (10:4)
They (the servants) pour a second cup [of wine] for him. And here the son questions his father. And if the son has insufficient understanding [to question], his father teaches him [to ask]: Why is this night different from all [other] nights? ....And according to the son's intelligence, his father instructs him.
The All Night Element
The Haggadah contains one of the most famous stories in rabbinic literature:
A story is told of Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Elazar the son of Azaryah, Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Tarfon, who were reclining at Bene Berak and were talking about the Exodus from Egypt that entire night, until their pupils came and said to them: “Our masters, the time for the morning Shema has arrived.”
Similarly, the symposia literature is supposed to include the names of the participants, the place, the subject of discussion and the occasion.
Macrobius (early 5 th century C.E.) :
During the Saturnalia, distinguished members of the aristocracy and other scholars assembled at the house of Vettius Praetextatus to celebrate the festive time [of Saturnalia] solemnly by a discourse befitting freemen....
Sometimes, the symposium lasted until dawn. As early as in Plato’s Symposium (4 th century B.C.E.), the crowing of the cock reminds the guests to go home. Socrates, on that occasion, went on to the Lyceum (a gymnasium where philosophers also taught)
Begin with Disgrace and Conclude with Praise
Quintillian (30-100 C.E.)
“[It is good in a eulogy to]. have ennobled a humble origin by the glory of his achievements.at times weakness may contribute largely to our admiration”
Mishnah Pesachim (10:4)
the father at the Seder “begins with disgrace and concludes with praise”.
Pesah, Matzah and Maror
Rabban Gamliel said that one must explain ”Pesah, Matzah and Maror ” as symbols of different parts of the exodus
Talmud (Pesahim 116b)
Rav (Israel and Babylon; d. 220 C.E.) said that the items must be lifted up when explaining them.
Macrobius (early 5 th century C.E.):
“Symmachus takes some nuts into his hands and asks Servius about the cause and origin of the variety of names given to them”