The Passover Seder is called seder, i.e., “order” not without a reason. It is a highly structured and orchestrated ceremony that follows the ancient script—Passover Haggadah. The Seders is a play in four acts: Kiddush (sanctification), Magid (telling the story of the Exodus), Shulchan Orech (the festive meal), and Nirtzah (Hallel—the prayer for the Messianic redemption). This sequence sets the natural arrow of time past-present-future.

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The Past. During the Magid part of the Seder, we retell the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt—the narrative of our history. Eating of the matzah, drinking four cups of wine and other “simonim” (symbols) of the Seder table—bitter herbs, an egg, a bone, charoset, etc.—are all symbols that have historical significance. This part of the Seder clearly represents the past.

The Present. During the Shulchan Orech part of the Seder, we participate in the festive meal. We eat and drink. One cannot eat or drink in the past or the future—one can only eat or drink in the present. Thus, the Shulchan Orech meal represents the present.

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The Future. After the meal, we recite Nirtzah—the second part of the Hallel where we praise the Creator for future redemption. This part is directed towards the future.

Marranos: Secret Seder in Spain during the times of inquisition, an 1892 painting by Moshe Maimon.

Marranos: Secret Seder in Spain during the times of inquisition, an 1892 painting by Moshe Maimon. Credit: Wikipedia

As we see, the central parts of the Seder are arranged in the order of time: Past-Present-Future. Before it all, however, we begin with the Kiddush, when we proclaim the sanctity of the day. Kiddush represents the purpose. It is the purpose that orients the arrow of time from the past into the future.

Most physicists today do not believe that time flows from the past into the future, or that it flows at all. Since Einstein proved that simultaneity of events is not absolute, physicists and philosophers abandoned our intuitive notion of the time-flux and the arrow of time— it is all an illusion, they say. This intuitive picture is being replaced by the block universe theory where the time is viewed as a block of ice. There is no arrow of time in this theory, no flow of time, no purpose.

To me, this theory is utter rubbish. A world created by the Purposeful Being cannot be without purpose. Our Passover Seder is a testimony to the purposeful creation and our purposeful existence.

May we all have a purposeful and meaningful Seder, and a bright future ahead!

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A Ukrainian 19th-century lubok representing the Seder table. Credit: Wikipedia.