Sitting this Yom Kippur at the Synagogue I was thinking about Passover Seder. No, not because I was so hungry that I was dreaming about a lavish meal of the Seder night…

What can be further apart than a festive meal of the Passover Seder and a solemn fast of Yom Kippur? And yet, there is one striking similarity that I realized yesterday.

As I have written in my earlier post, Pesach – Time of our Freedom, the word “seder” means “order.”  It is, first and foremost, the order in time. The Seder is comprised of three major parts – the first part is Magid – the recitation from the Hagada of the brief history of Jewish people through the Egyptian exile and the Exodus; the second, the festive meal; and the last, Nirtzo – a prayer for the Messianic redemption. It is easy to see how this structure mimics the structure of time – past, present, future.  Indeed, the first part, the Magid, literally speaks about our past.  The second part is the meal that can only be eaten in the present time.  The last part speaks about future redemption. We conclude the Seder by pronouncing – LeShanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim – Next year, in Jerusalem!  We speak of the future… Thus, the Passover Seder unifies Past, Present and Future.

On Yom Kippur, the main mitzvah (Divine precept) is teshuvah – repentance.  According to the Rambam (Maimonides) this mitzvah is comprised of three essential parts:

  1. haratah – regret for past misdeeds;
  2. viduy – oral confession; and
  3. kabalah l’habah – resolution for the future.

Clearly, the first part – harata – is about the past, the second – vidui – can only be done in the present, and the last part – kabalah – is about the future. Past-Present-Future – the same order (seder) as on the Seder night.

I found it very interesting that Passover Seder and teshuva-repentance on Yom Kippur are structurally so similar as they both define an arrow of time. Maybe this is why both Seder and Yom Kippur end  on the same note – Leshanah Haba b’Yerushalayim – Next Year in Jerusalem!