And so our Virtual Seder comes to a close on this last day of Pesach. I hope you’ve learned a lot. We talked about the 4 questions traditionally asked to guide each seder—after the last question there is an additional blessing of the matzah, the eating of the bitter herbs and then finally the move to the meal itself. But wait…there’s one last item on the Seder plate before the meal! I think this is officially the LONGEST seder I’ve ever attended and even with all this I still haven’t really explained all the proper procedures. I didn’t realize how involved this holiday was until I started writing all this out for non-Jews. No wonder you must get so confused about it. Anyway on to the final piece of the traditional* seder plate: The final piece of the plate is….a hard-boiled egg – also known as the Beitzah.
Yup. It’s not just an easter thing though I’m guessing some of you have leftover pastel colored eggs that you’ve got to use up dontcha? Well let’s talk a wee bit about the significance of the egg in Judaism and then I’ll share with you a great skinny recipe for deviled eggs—half the calories!—that embraces all the delicious flavors of a good Jewish Deli.
After the story of Passover is told, hands are washed again, the Matzo is blessed, the Maror is eaten dipped in salt water and then in the Charoset only to finally be placed between two pieces of Matzo and eaten as a sandwich. Then the hard-boiled egg is eaten and the meal can begin. So what’s the significance of the Beitzah? The egg in Judaism is a symbol of mourning—served at funerals. I think this is because the egg is kind of the symbol of the opposite of death—new life and new beginning. It is a reminder to be resilient and that life continues even in the face of the inevitable cold grasp of mortality. Judaism is a very life affirming religion. You might be familiar with “L’Chaim!” as the traditional toast offered up by your Hebrew friends. This translates literally as “To Life!” Life, and the protection of it, is the most sacred thing in Judaism—even if to defend it means to defy G-d. That’s how important it is.
For Passover the egg as symbol of mourning ties back to the grief of loss of the Holy Temple. The egg is also dipped in the salt water to mimic tears. Such a happy holiday. Anyway with this last piece we move onto the actual meal which is concluded with additional prayers, two more glasses of wine and the eating of the Afikomen—that last piece of Matza that gets hidden for the kidlets to find. Between
the Matzo hunt, the paschal lamb and the eggs the holiday isn’t too far off from Easter after all is it?
My last piece to offer up is that the traditional seder plate contains all the items we discussed here but in recent years reform Jews have added a last element to the plate: an orange. The orange symbolizes women, as well as homosexuals, in the Jewish faith and their fruitfulness. Some families choose to incorporate this addition. Others don’t—either because they are more Orthodox or just more traditional about their practices. I’m not going to judge either way…at least not publicly. Though I may have an orange Passover friendly recipe to toss up here this week just to be fair—almond cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting anyone? Just depends on how much time I have and if I figure out something to do for SciFriday this week. But enough public pontificating. Mazel Tov! You made it through our Virtual Seder. Now use up those hardboiled eggs and join me for some pizza and beer when the sun goes down because DAMN I could use a beer.
Now onto the Deviled, or maybe in this case I should call them Heavenly Eggs because with a little thought and effort I managed to reduce the typical caloric content of one single serving by half. I don’t know about you but I can never eat just ONE deviled egg and after four or five you’ve basically consumed an entire meal. Not really the best nutrition option for something that’s traditionally an appetizer or Hors d’oeuvre right?
Pesach Heavenly Eggs
An Olivia Original
Makes 24 deviled egg halves from 1 dozen eggs Read more