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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


With Pesach less than two weeks away, I’d like to share with you some Pesach-dik food for thought. You might even want to print this blog and refer to it during your Seder.

As I’m sure you recall, the Seder opens with a poem that lists the fifteen steps of the Seder; it begins with the words Kadesh, Ur’chatz, Karpas, Yachatz…. The number fifteen is by no means coincidental – the sages intentionally incorporated fifteen steps in the Seder so that they should correspond with the fifteen steps in the Holy Temple that led from the outer courtyard up to the inner courtyard. The reason for fifteen steps was to correspond with the fifteen Songs of Ascent (literally “songs of steps”) that appear in the books of Psalms. These songs were sung by the Levites while standing along the steps as worshipers ascended to the inner recesses of the Temple.  

The idea of fifteen is very closely related to the first half of G-d’s four-letter name. The first two letters of this divine name are yud and heh; they themselves combine to comprise a Name of G-d. The Kabbalists point out that the numerical value of these two letters is fifteen. Hence, this two-letter name is in a sense, the gateway leading to the complete four letter name of G-d. Based on this correlation, the Maharal of Prague explains that man’s connection to G-d is represented by the number fifteen –the ascent to the Temple via fifteen steps symbolizes the connection between our current spiritual level and our pursuit of higher spiritual achievements.  

This, too, is the essential purpose of the fifteen steps of the Seder – to elevate and intensify our relationship with G-d. However, how do we accomplish this? Just by reading each paragraph of the Haggadah? I think not. At each stage of the Seder, we need to give some thought to what this stage represents and how it can upgrade my spiritual life. Hopefully the following fifteen discussion points formulated by my friend, R. Sharga Simmons, will enhance your Seder experience.