Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Ari's Seder plate

Today, on Twitter, we did a little of this and that on the following question:

Why and how did the Ari's seder plate arrangement (and not the Rama's) become the default arrangement?

No one seemed to know.

The basic difference between the two seder plate set-ups is as follows: The Rama puts the seder food in the order in which it will be used. The vegetable is at the bottom, near the right hand. The salt water is directly across from it on the left. And so on. The Ari, on the other hand, bases his arrangement on what his adherents call "kabala" but what sounds to uninitiants such as me like nothing but "hippie-drippy new-age magical reasons." For a taste see this (afterwards see this and tell me if you agree or not.)

Along with wondering when the Ari's seder plate arrangement superseded the other set ups, I'd also like an answer to the  larger question(s): What, exactly is so attractive about the Ari's innovations; why have they been so widely accepted; and why are his new ideas embraced, when Judaism in general treats new ideas with scorn and derision?

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