About Hebrew Pronunciation
Hebrew long vowels are pronounced like Spanish: ah,
ay, ee, oh, ooh.
Hebrew short vowels are like English short vowels: Brit, bet
An apostrophe after a consonant represents a semi-vowel like the a in about. It is a very quick sound. For example, b'rit (covenant, agreement, contract) would be pronounced buh-RIHT with the uh extremely fast. It would not be pronounced Brit, with the 'br' as a consonant cluster.
Both 'ch' and 'kh' represent the 'ch' sound in the name Bach.
The accent is usually on the last syllable, e.g., bah-ROOKH
There are two major dialects of Hebrew. Israeli (Sephardic) Hebrew usually accents the last syllable. Ashkenazic (European) Hebrew usually accents the penultimate (next to last) syllable. For example:
Because European Jews often lived in such dire poverty and were so severely persecuted for so many centuries, among Jews Ashkenazic (European) pronunciation brings about an impression of "hick", "uneducated", or "low class". However, among American Jews a few words have become set with the Europen pronunciation.
European Hebrew has never been a "living" language. Modern spoken Hebrew always uses the Sephardic dialect (accent on the final syllable).
Hebrew Names of God
Adonai - ah-doh-NIGH - literally 'Lord'
HaShem - hah-SHEM - literally, 'The Name'. (Ha means 'the'.)
El - literally, 'God'
Elohim - ehl-oh-HEEM - literally, 'Gods'. However, although the Bible often refers to God as 'Elohim', it always uses a singular verb, as if to say "Gods goes" or "Gods does". This is God's way of showing there are three Persons in God but only one God.
Eloheynu - ehl-oh-HAY-new - literally, "our God".
Significance of the Egg
The significance of the egg in the Seder is a matter of great debate among Jewish scholars. It is readily apparent to readers of the Bible that eggs are barely mentioned (nine times in the New International Version) and have no symbolic meaning.
Most explanations attempt to find some symbolism in the roundness of eggs. One traditional commentary says that the egg symbolizes "the cycle of life and death."
Sadly, the egg is probably of pagan origin, just as "Easter" eggs, the "Easter" bunny, and in fact the word "Easter" are of pagan origin. It should be noted that about one million Jews went into captivity in Babylon, but only about fifty thousand of their descendants returned to Israel. The rest remained and gradually became assimilated into the local culture. And, yes, that does mean that many Jew-hating/Israel-hating Iraqis have very distant Jewish ancestors!
Charoset is a mixture of apples, walnuts, honey, cinnamon, etc. It is sort of a thick apple sauce and is sweet and quite tasty. Its significance in the Seder is that it has the consistency and color of the mortar the Hebrews used during their slavery in Egypt.
Quick Charoset Recipe: Because it is a once-a-year item, Charoset is the one item you will probably not be able to buy in a food store. Here's a quick and cheap recipe that does not require cooking: Mix one 46 ounce jar of Mott's Unsweetened Apple Sauce (made only from water and apples), and two jars of Gerber Baby Food: Prunes. It will give you a similar texture and color, and taste almost the same as the apple sauce alone. (Note however, that tradition—which is very important in Judaism—is that the Charoset contains nuts, and the colored apple sauce doesn't comply with this tradition.)
Remember - this is not dessert: Hence, one jar (about 2 quarts), can serve a lot of people!
Although the Bible specifically says to use a lamb for Passover, in modern usage sometimes this is not done, and a chicken bone is substituted. There are various explanations for this which are beyond the scope of a basic Haggadah.
The plate shown on the home page is typical of the plates used in most American Seders. They include 'sections' for each item and have a space for lettuce. The plate on the Haggadah page (with the links) is not typical.
Dr. Mitch Glaser, a life-long New York Jew, former director of Jews for Jesus and now director of Chosen People Ministries, and Martin Waldman, past President of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, and Senior Rabbi at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas, Texas, each of whom was raised and bar-mitzvahed in traditional Judaism, have both stated that the space is normally not used and no one seems to know why it is there.
One person stated that she had "read somewhere" that lettuce is bland and it is supposed to symbolize how tasteless life was under slavery in Egypt.
Warning About Maror
American Seders tend to use horseradish dip for the "bitter herb" (maror). Although it is "spicy", it's not too bad. Take a small helping and have a glass of cold water ready! It is supposed to make your eyes water!
Some Seders use horseradish root. This is about ten times hotter than jalapeño or tabasco peppers! I have seen people gag, start choking and start gasping for breath from just a small taste!
If anyone has respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema, please be very careful!
I strongly recommend wrapping the afikomen in cloth rather than using an afikomen pouch. I was not even aware that afikomen pouches existed until I searched the Web for a photo of a matzoh pouch in March 2007. Apparently a separate afikomen pouch is a relatively recent development (like bar and bat-mitzvahs and use of the Star of David, contrary to common belief). From a religious symbolism perspective wrapping the piece in cloth makes a lot more sense than putting it in a specially-designed bag.
I did not write this haggadah. It is based on materials that were handed out at a seder demonstration presented at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas, Texas around March 2000. It is my understanding that the haggadah was not written by that synagogue. I basically reformatted those materials as a website.
Since then I have attended the Messianic synagogue weekly, taken some Hebrew courses, attended a number of seminars and courses and done extensive reading on Messianic topics, attended various congregations' seders each year and also attended a Reform (non-messianic) Synagogue regularly since about April 2003. I have become much more familiar with both Messianic and traditional (non-messianic) traditions, beliefs, teachings and practices.
In March 2007 in response to an email I reviewed the site. I found that a number of the sections did not explain matters sufficiently, so I expanded and clarified them. They mainly deal with the matzah pouch. The printout haggadah does not have those changes.