Pesach is a night of remembering not just the Exodus from Egypt, but also other events and times in our lives. It’s a great opportunity to share memories of Pesach past with your guests, to hear their experiences, and to talk about unique ways in which you all have personalized the night.
Consider if you want to ask your guests any of these questions in advance, so that they come prepared with answers. Alternatively, you can ask these questions as a surprise at the Seder table. When asked as a surprise, people’s responses are much more open and revealing, but when given time to think ahead their answers might have more depth.
As well as having the leader of the Seder ask questions of his/her guests, guests could ask each other some of these questions. Either way, encourage your guests to keep their answers short and concise.
Ask people questions by name, especially if you see that one guest is in danger of dominating the Seder table conversation.
Ask at: The beginning of the Seder, as an ice-breaker to help your guests get to know each other. This is an especially good idea if your guests do not know each other already.
Prepare ahead: None if you ask the questions aloud. Or you can copy the questions onto note cards, and place a little card with one question on it next to each guest’s place. Invite them to draw out the card, read the question and answer it, at whatever point they like during the Seder.
- What is your most memorable Seder? Who was your most memorable Seder guest (or fellow guest)? Where is the most unusual place you’ve had a Seder?
- Having experienced Seder night in a variety of life stages (as a child, an adult, perhaps as a parent and even grandparent), what was the best? When you made it yourself or were a child or guest participant?
- How does your experience at your Zaidy’s/Father’s Seder compare to your current Seder? To your children/grandchildren’s experience at your Seder?
- What says Pesach to you? Is it a smell, a particular food, a tune, an activity (like chopping the charoses), an item (like your grandmother’s Pesach china)?
Each Of Us Should View Ourselves As Though We Were Freed From Egypt
Ask at: B’chol dor v’dor chayav adam liros es atzmo k’ilu hu yotzo mimitzrayim
“In every generation, each man should view himself as though he was brought out of Egypt”
Prepare ahead: Ask your guests in advance to consider the question, and come with their answer written on a note card (you can reassure them that they will not have to share it with anyone). It is a personal and quite sensitive question, but one that is very appropriate to consider at the Seder table.
- What are you enslaved to this year that you hope to be free from next year? It could be a habit of behavior, a negative tendency of thought, a way of talking, a lifestyle or diet choice, etc.
- At this point in the Seder, ask if anyone wishes to share their answer, but don’t press anybody to do so.
- Then, ask your guests to think of one small step they can take towards freeing themselves, that they can commit to right now. Redemption comes in small steps. Allow a minute or two for people to reflect on an ideal first step.
- Suggest that your guests keep the note card inside their haggadah, so that next year they can look at it and reflect on how far they have come since then.
What Is Your Dayenu?
Ask at: Dayenu “It would have been enough for us”
Prepare ahead: Ask some of your Seder guests to prepare their own dayenu-style account of their life journey. It does not need to have 15 stages in it, just a few that took them from where they began to where they are now. (EG: Moving from Eastern Europe/Russia to the USA and adjusting to life in the West; making aliyah; becoming observant from a non-observant background; changing from an unhealthy to a healthy lifestyle; extricating themselves from an unhealthy relationship.)
You can also ask your guests some of these questions at the Seder table:
- Has there been any stage of your life when you felt that you could not say ‘dayenu’, since it was such a hard and difficult time, or has everything led to something good?
- Do you feel that you have reached a period of ‘rest and settlement’ in your life now, or are you still in the midst of a personal exodus or other form of transition?
- Is there ever a time in life when we can feel that we’ve ‘arrived’, or are we always on just another step of dayenu?
Download the full Staje Seder Guide from http://www.staje.org/free-seder-guide-download/