There were only four people at the seder last night, but we discovered that the quality of a seder is not a function of the number of people. We had an awesome time.
The same four people had been to last year’s seder, but that wasn’t quite the same. I don’t know what the difference was, but this year was better than the last. Maybe it was because the discussion was really interesting this year. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t bother making baked potatoes.
The main theme of last night’s seder seemed to be, "I forgot." I forgot to bring the apple kugel; I’ll bake it for my Wicca group when we meet this Saturday. I forgot to bring the yarmulkes; I don’t always wear them, but I like to bring them in case I’m in the mood. I forgot to order a separate Passover bone for the seder tray, but we put the orange in its place on the seder tray and focused on religious tolerance issues.
That last omission would seem particularly bothersome to an observant Jew. The name for the Hebrew holiday is "Pesach," which means both the paschal lamb and "pass-over." An important theme of the ceremony is that the tenth plague, the one that slew the first-born of all the Egyptians, skipped over the homes of the Jews who had daubed their doorposts with the blood of the sacrificial lamb.
That’s all well and good, but it isn’t that important to me. It suggests the notion of "I’m special; my tradition is special; my tribe is better than everyone else." In today’s world, I think we have more than enough of that. I like the idea of substituting the orange, a tradition that’s quite modern, to represent inclusion rather than exclusion. It’s even more practical: What’s better, to get a lamb shank that’s going to thrown away at the end of the seder anyway, or use an orange that can be eaten as dessert?
Pesach, matzoh, and moror are the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. They represent sacrifice, preparedness, and hope. I want those three things for everyone, for they are important to everyone, not just to my tribe.