Kenneth Cohen

Remember the Temple on Passover

If we carefully pay attention to the items on our Seder plate, we realize that there is a double message here.

We are to acknowledge the gravity of the miracle of our being taken out from Egypt all the days of our lives. This is why we eat the Maror, bitter herbs, to remind us of the bitter times. The salt water is a reminder of the tears we shed during our bondage. The Karpas reminds us that we were redeemed in the spring.

The two other symbols, the egg and the shank bone, are meant to acknowledge the second message of the Seder. The shank bone or זרוע, is a reminder of the Korban Pesach that needed to be offered on the fourteenth as a sacrifice, with the remainder eaten roasted at the Seder. The egg is a reminder of the holiday sacrifice known as Chagiga. This, too, was offered partially on the altar, and the rest, eaten by the one offering it. The lesson was that the true joy of the holiday is felt, by eating meat.

Our Seder is not complete by merely recounting all of the miracles witnessed in Egypt. True Pesach observance could only take place when there was a functioning Temple. There was a special connection with the rest of the nation, and with Hashem, when the masses made their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Telling the Passover story is extremely important. Every Jew should see his place as part of the Jewish people. But we must never minimize the importance of the role of our holy Temple. Our Seder plate confirms this.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at