What is a Seder ?
Seder means "Order" in Hebrew and refers to the fact that the festive meal that highlights the Passover or Pesach festival - known simply as the Seder - is properly performed according to a specific order of rituals that are arranged into 15 steps. For Jews who celebrate Passover or Pesach for seven days - the original length of days for the festival - these include Jews living in Israel, most Reform Jews and some Conservative Jews, the Seder is held on the first evening of Passover or Pesach. For Jews who celebrate Passover or Pesach for eight days - these include Jews living outside Israel except for most Reform Jews and some Conservative Jews, the Seder is held twice and is performed in the exact same manner - on the first evening and also on the second evening of Passover or Pesach.
Why an eighth day of Passover or Pesach ? The addition of an eighth day for Passover or Pesach for Jews living outside Israel was instituted by Rabbi Hillel II in the 4th century C.E. for the primary purpose of making the members of the Jewish communities living outside of Israel more aware of the fact that they did not yet take up residence in Israel. However, prior to the time of Rabbi Hillel II, the original reason for adding the eighth day was due to the uncertainty of the members of the Jewish communities living outside of Israel of the exact day on which to celebrate the Passover or Pesach festival since they relied on special messengers sent from Israel to tell them the exact day on which to celebrate Passover or Pesach. These special messengers were sent out once the sighting of the New Moon and hence new month was officially confirmed by rabbinical authorities in Israel which then enabled the rabbinic authorities to calculate and determine the dates for any festivals and/or holidays in that new month whereupon they sent the special messengers to tell all the Jewish people, both within and outside of Israel, when those dates occurred. Since the arrival of the special messengers before the actual date of the festival and/or holiday could not be guaranteed, to ensure that the festival and/or holiday was commemorated and/or celebrated on its proper day, Jews living outside of Israel added an extra day to the festival and/or holiday to make sure that they commemorated and/or celebrated the festival and/or holiday on its religiously prescribed day.
One Seder For Seven Days Of Passover or Pesach, Two Seders For Eight Days Of Passover or Pesach
Which of the eight days of Passover or Pesach was the extra or additional day that was added? The answer is that the second day of Passover or Pesach was the extra or additional day that was added into the Passover or Pesach festival for Jews living outside of Israel. Deriving from the uncertainty of Jewish communities living outside of Israel concerning knowing the exact day on which to commemorate and celebrate Passover or Pesach around the beginning of the Common Era, the additional, second day of Passover or Pesach was therefore to be an exact duplicate of the first day of Passover or Pesach to ensure that the Jews living outside of Israel commemorated and celebrated the festival on its proper day, and so a second Seder meal was instituted for the second evening of Passover or Pesach.
The Seder As A Lesson In Linking Generations: Past, Present, And Future.
The Seder is a child-focussed exercise that first links past lessons learned from the Passover or Pesach story to similar situations that exist in contemporary times which must be worked at to be resolved, and then turns toward the future to focus on more hopeful, peaceful times, to ultimately reach the pinnacle of times, known in Judaism as Messianic Times, when not only the Jewish people but all humanity will live in eternal peace, harmony, and physical, political, and spiritual freedom, with social justice for all. Why is the Seder child-focussed? This is done so that future generations will be able to know about the lessons of Passover or Pesach at an early age, enabling them to have a firm knowledge of the timeless lessons of the festival so that when they become parents, they will be able to transmit this knowledge to the next generation. The 15 Steps of the Seder are well-equipped to deal with this goal by teaching the child according to the type of personality he or she is, as exemplified in the Seder when the Seder leader or a Seder participant discusses the Four Sons, where each Son represents a different type of personality. The father then teaches his Son or Daughter about the Passover or Pesach story and its lessons according to which of these four types of personalities he or she represents. It is this emphasis on passing the universal messages of Passover or Pesach to the next generation that makes the Seder the highlight of the Passover festival or Pesach festival.