The hard-boiled egg in the Jewish faith has significant meaning, both for the Passover Seder plate and for the Meal of Condolence. The hard-boiled egg, often also slightly roasted, is a mourning food in the Jewish Faith, but also signifies the cycle or circle of life.
Meaning of the Hard-boiled Egg
In Judaism, Beitzah, the hard-boiled egg, also usually slightly roasted after boiling, signifies loss and mourning. The roasted hard-boiled egg symbolizes the festival sacrifice that was offered in the temple in Jerusalem. The sacrifices were actually meat offerings, but the egg is symbolic as a visual reminder of the destruction of the temple.
The roundness of the hard-boiled egg also “symbolizes the cycle of life; the continuous flow between life to death to rebirth, and the springtime renewal of Passover,” according to My Jewish Learning.
Hard-Boiled Egg on the Passover Seder Plate
Passover is defined by the foods eaten more than on other Jewish holidays. Eggs were not commanded to be eaten at Passover. The hard-boiled egg represents the pilgrimage sacrifice, while meat served on the Passover Seder plate represents the Passover sacrifice.
Each of the six foods on the Seder plate has special significance (Karpas -- usually parsley or boiled potato; horseradish and romaine for the two bitter herbs; pasty mixture of dates, nuts, apples, cinnamon and wine for Charoset; lamb or chicken bone for Zero'ah; and the egg for Beitzah). In addition to the roasted hard-boiled egg representing the pilgrimage, it also represents the mourning of the Jews over the loss of the holy temple, which was destroyed twice, and the inability to be able to offer sacrifices at the temple.
One boiled egg is served per Seder plate. The hard-boiled egg is removed as the meal begins and not used during a formal part of the Seder. It is often eaten at the beginning of the meal. The eggs are often chopped and then mixed in the salt-water at the table.
Hard-boiled Eggs at Seudat Havara’ah
Seudat Havara’ah is the first meal, known as the meal of condolence, that mourners partake of after attending the funeral of a loved one. This is a private meal for close family members. The meal is provided by other relatives or sometimes prepared by the Jewish community. The foods served in the first meal are round foods, as these foods symbolize the circle of life. One food traditionally served is hard-boiled eggs.
The hard-boiled egg also symbolizes hope. In the article "Meal of Condolence," AM Israel Mortuary explains that hard-boiled eggs are eaten “to symbolize our determination to be resilient in the face of tragedy.”
Kosher Eggs Served
Kosher eggs must be used and therefore care must be taken to ensure that even a spot of blood is not visible, even in a boiled egg. When boiling eggs, it is customary to boil at least three eggs at one time. Some families reserve a special pot used just for boiling eggs. Care must be taken, whether the eggs are being served on the Seder plate or at the Meal of Condolence, to prepare the hard-boiled eggs in accordance with tradition and the Jewish faith.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images