The Passover Symbols Remembered

March 25, 2015

Last week we started looking at the celebration of the Passover, explaining the components. We continue the celebration from the perspective of a young Jew.


Before my Abba (father), a bag with three compartments and three pieces of motza (like bread) waits for his attention.

He removes the middle piece of motza, breaks it in half, and returns a half back into the bag.

The other half he wraps in a linen napkin. He stands to hide it.

I must not look, so I press my eyes closed, but I try to hear where he walks. Why does he remember to remove his shoes on this night, when every other night he keeps them on and I could be able to hear where he goes?

I hear no sound until he returns.

I know my brother peeked; he always finds it.

Seder Plate

In front of every member of the family is a Seder plate. This helps me see the suffering of our people as they labored under Egypt’s bondage.

We eat each item together, reciting why it is on the plate.


My Abba picks up the mound of parsley. “This represents…”

He waits until someone answers, “A symbol of life.”

He dips it as we follow his leading into a bowl of salt water. “This represents….”

I hear the answer: “Tears.”

Then we all eat as one. “Our ancestors were immersed in tears.”

I chew, but have trouble swallowing the bitterness. I try not to choke, because I cannot get a drink until Abba does.

Baytzah—Hard Boiled Egg

Abba moves to the next item on the plate, the hard-boiled egg. He picks it up and looks to my older brothers. “The egg represents…”

“Fertility,” one answers quickly.

“And…” Abba waits.


He nods. “Mourning over the loss of the two temples.” He pops the egg into his mouth in one bite.

I always watch with amazement, for I must eat it with smaller bites or else really choke.

He swallows and continues the instruction. “Eggs remind us of the daily temple sacrifices no longer offered because the temple no longer stands. We had no sacrifice to make us righteous before God.”

I wait. Sometimes Abba tells of the history of the first temple’s destruction at the time of the Babylonians in 586 BCE and the second temple’s destruction at the time of the Romans in 70 CE.

I hold my breath. My mouth cannot wait for a drink.

Because we are Christians and know the true sacrifice, Abba adds, “Christ became that sacrifice making us righteous before God. We no longer need the temple sacrifices.”

I look at the next thing on my plate, and shiver. It will not help my thirst.

Abba must also be thirsty also, for he does not elaborate on the temple’s destruction.

I breathe a sigh of relief.

Maror—Bitter Herbs

A mound of horseradish paste, made fresh by my older sister this afternoon, waits for us. We dip a piece of motza into the dip. Even though I try to hold my breath, it still brings tears to my eyes.

Abba speaks. “We cannot appreciate the sweetness of redemption unless we experience the bitterness of slavery.”

I cough and try to swallow. My tears are enough for me to want redemption and I’ve never been a slave.

My older sister shakes her head at me. As if I could control a cough!

Hazeret—Bitter Vegetable

Abba says, “Hazeret represents…”

“Slavery,” Seth answers quickly. He knows his mouth will feel better with the water from the lettuce.

Abba lifts the lettuce to his lips.

We follow.

I like this part. The lettuce has enough water to keep my thirst from hurting, especially since Ima makes sure that I have a good amount on my plate. She also has taken off the bitter roots from mine, while the others eat it. My brother looks at my mound of lettuce. I know he wishes for more, too.


I chopped the apples for the Charoset.

Ima mixed them with nuts, honey, cinnamon and grape wine.

I almost tasted enough of it this afternoon to make me sick, but my sister stopped me.

Abba again is teaching. “Charoset symbolizes…”

My brother must have gotten enough lettuce to wet his mouth because he answers, “Mortar used by our ancestors to build bricks in the land of Egypt.”

Abba nods. “We remember an experience so bitter with something so sweet, why?”

My older brother answers, “Even the bitterest of labor can be sweet when our redemption draws nigh. Our salvation is near.”

Zeroa—Shank Bone of the Lamb

On every plate, even mine, is a bare shank bone of a lamb.

Abba holds his in his hand. “We have the bone of a lamb to remind us…”

My brother sits up straighter and leans forward in his seat. “In Exodus, Jewish firstborns were spared from the Angel of Death by blood of a spotless, innocent lamb painted on the doorpost of their homes.”

I don’t like the image of painting with blood, especially after seeing all that came from preparing the lambs for dinner. I shiver.

The shank bone also reminds us of the sacrificial lamb that was killed and eaten during the days when the Temple stood. I would have hated to see a lamb killed daily for my sin.

Today, because we know Jesus, we know that He was that perfect Passover Lamb. When we apply His blood to the doorposts of our heart, we are taken from death to life, from bondage to sin into freedom as a child of God’s.

John the Baptist spoke about Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).

No more sacrifices need to be made. I am thankful. 

Next week we will finish explaining the Passover feast. God uses its memory, rich in symbolism, to tell of His coming Salvation.


My series on the Passover is available in booklet form here.


How does knowing the symbolism of the Passover ceremony prepare you for Easter?

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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