Seder Gems 2021-5781

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The Seder Plate
Why is every desk at Amazon made out of a Home Depot door? This quirk helps us understand the secret of the Seder experience that, 3,300 years after the Exodus, it has not been forgotten.

כָּל דִכְפִין יֵיתֵי וְיֵיכֹל
Although our bread is meager, and we have only a broken piece of it in our hands, the beginning of the holiday of freedom, the beginning of redemption, begins with our willingness to share the little we do have with others in need. It is an invitation, a welcome, and also our mission statement. A powerful Chasidic tale drives home the point.

מרור
Bitter Herbs and Building Empathy
At the center of the Thanksgiving table is turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato pie.  That’s a fine way to celebrate. But at the center of the Pesach Seder table are bitter herbs, the bread of affliction, and salt water.  Why do we insist on commemorating the darkest moments of our past? Why is our centerpiece reminiscent of tragedy? Why do we relive and taste the bitter herbs of our ancestors’ slavery in Egypt? What sort of people put their most unpleasant memories at the heart of their very identity?

A very unorthodox experiment by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz solved his company’s dilemma and lends insight to the transformative power of Maror.

אֶחָד חָכָם, וְאֶחָד רָשָׁע
A Lesson in Child-Rearing 
Before each child in the above, we say, “one.” One wise. One wicked…There are obviously more than one of each. So why do we say “one”? A surprising fact about George Washington’s mother provides the answer and a powerful lesson in how to educate the young.

מָרוֹר זֶה שֶׁאָנוּ אוֹכְלִים, עַל שׁוּם מַה?
Maror and the Psychology of Gratitude
Why did an enslaved nation have to eat bitter herbs? What reminder of the suffering could they have needed? The answer sheds light on the psychology of gratitude and the human propensity to forget.

וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנו
Jews in the Aspen Trees
The world's oldest known living organism is a grove of aspens in the Fishlake National Forest in Utah. It is over 100 acres and has existed in tranquility for thousands of years. How are we Jews like those trees?  How have we found the strength to meet every challenge?

וַיְעַנּוּנוּ
Words of Comfort 
The phenomenal story of the village that nearly disintegrated but was saved by just three words written by the Rebbe. A story that describes what Jews have always done. We spring back from destruction, and we build.

דַּיֵּנוּ
Is It Better to Win Bronze Than Silver?
Imagine that for most of your life, you have been preparing for the Olympics. In this hypothetical, you are told that in your event, only one person can win Olympic gold, and it won’t be you. There, are, however, two other medals to be won, the Silver and the Bronze. Which would you rather win, a silver or a bronze medal? Research shows that our intuitive answer is incorrect. We would actually be happier in the long run by finishing in third place. Yet jow could anyone not be happier with a silver medal than with a bronze?

The catchy song Dayenu contains the solution to this riddle.

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