THE CHAGIGAH OFFERING
A “set table” is a reference to the festival meal that we are obliged to eat every Shabbat and Jewish Holiday. But the festive meal of Passover is unique in that, in the days of the Holy Temple, the festival meal’s main course was the Chagigah-Festival offering, and the Paschal offering was the “dessert.”
The reason for this is that it was important that one not eat the Paschal offering ravenously, but rather as a free person who eats his meal like a king. In addition, eating ravenously could have led to breaking and eating the bones of the offering, acts which are prohibited by the Torah.
THE LINGERING TASTE
It was also important that the Paschal offering be the last thing one would eat so that its taste would linger on through the night.
The entire meal facilitated the Paschal lamb’s effect. Its final taste was that of the Paschal lamb. Why was it so important that the taste linger on?
The Hebrew word for taste “ta’am” also means reason, for it is reason and rational explanations that contribute to the good taste and appreciation we have for the things that we do.
And so, although Passover is about transcendence and overriding the system of reason and logic, this transcendent mode finds its expression in our mind and heart through the physicality of lingering taste.
Thus, the entire “Set Table” is a prelude and preparation to the joy we must feel when we engage in an otherwise transrational Pass-Over experience.