Strengthening our Interpretations with New Perspectives

In Beit Nitzanim (“Buds” for 1st/2nd) we are continuing to explore Rabban Gamliel’s (1st century CE) words in the Haggadah:

Whoever does not talk about these three things on Passover does not fulfill his/her responsibility, and these are they: פֶּסַח (pesach—Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror—bitter herb).

Last week, children connected פֶּסַח (pesach—Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror—bitter herb) to the Exodus story. They offered personal interpretations such as, “I think the bone’s for how thin the Israelites were [when they were slaves to Pharaoh.]”


Now, this week, we are complicating children’s interpretations by giving them alternative explanations. Children explored Rabban Gamliel’s explanations for these three symbols.


Children also interviewed grown-ups in our community to hear about their interpretations of פֶּסַח (pesach—Passover offering), מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread), and מָרוֹר (maror—bitter herb).


Finally, children sifted through interpretations from different Haggadah commentaries.


This exposure to different ideas helps children strengthen and clarify their own ideas. By going through the process of agreeing, disagreeing, or incorporating aspects of these other interpretations, children can stand firm in a final interpretation and be ready to design a project to bring home to their own Seders.

This second grader’s research notes show a shift in interpretation of מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread). At first, this child wrote that the מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread) represented how quickly the Israelites needed to leave Egypt. His notes today add the detail that the Israelites left Egypt in a hurry but also the מַצָּה (matzah—unleavened bread) needs help rising just like God helped the Israelites leave Egypt (an idea gleaned from Kabbalah commentary).


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