Monday, April 02, 2007
PASSOVER IN ISRAEL TODAY
What is the significance of the Passover Seder? RABBI ECKSTEIN APR 02,07
The Hebrew word Seder means order of service, and refers to the order of ceremonies performed at the festive Passover meal. The Bible says that on Passover we are to tell the story of God's redemption of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 13:8-10). The Seder is the way in which we fulfill this biblically ordained obligation. We not only retell the story of the Exodus, but also feel as if we ourselves experienced the pain of slavery and joy of liberation. In the words of the Haggadah (the text containing the readings and ceremonies of the Seder) recited at the meal, In each generation a person must feel as if he himself just came out of Egypt.The Bible stresses the need to teach our children about the Exodus. Therefore, the Seder is structured to heighten the children's inquisitiveness and to sustain their interest. Indeed, the children are the central characters in the Seder meal— we do not begin telling the Exodus story until the youngest child asks, Why is this night different from all other nights of the year? Only after this question is asked does the family proceed to recount the story of the Exodus.
We drink four cups of wine (or grape juice) during the Seder meal to symbolize our trust in God's fourfold promise of redemption expressed in Exodus 6:6-7. The four promises are: I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians; I will free you from being slaves to them; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment; and, I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Thus, the first cup of wine is called the cup of bringing forth, the second is the cup of deliverance, the third cup is the cup of redemption, and the fourth is the cup of acceptance.It is also customary to pour a fifth cup of wine representing the fifth and final stage of redemption— the Messianic promise, whereby God assures Israel that He will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession (Exodus 6:8). For centuries Jews have poured, but not drunk from this fifth cup of wine because God's promises regarding their return to the Jewish homeland and the dawn of the Messianic Age remained unfulfilled. This cup, therefore, became known as Elijah's cup since Jews expect the prophet Elijah to usher in the Messiah and the Jewish ingathering into the land of Israel.
In recent years the custom has taken root of setting aside an empty chair, a piece of matzoh, or a cup of wine. This custom symbolizes the incompleteness of our own joy and freedom as long as any of our fellow Jews are not free to celebrate, too. Jews in many countries are still living in bondage and are unable to freely practice their ancestral faith. We support their fight against oppression and attest that they will not be forgotten. During the Seder, we demonstrate our freedom by reclining slightly in the manner of Roman emperors.
Even if we live under oppressive conditions and are not, in fact, physically free, on this night we are to feel as if we were. Passover reminds us that true freedom is spiritual as well as physical, and that a condition of slavery and servitude cannot be externally denied or outwardly imposed. I have often marveled at how Jews living in oppressive conditions such as concentration camps during the Holocaust could recline and feel inwardly free on Passover. It is an amazing testimony to the power of God's spirit within us that many Jews did find the spiritual strength and courage feel free despite their wretched conditions.
Curiously, although Moses was the key figure in the Exodus, his name is not mentioned during the Seder. This omission was deliberate, say the Rabbis, so that we would not confuse Moses, the instrument of God's salvation, with God Himself.
Many of us today need to be reminded not to confuse God with those who speak in His name. Instead, we should reaffirm that God alone is Lord and man is simply His servant.In addition to recalling the ancient Jewish Exodus from Egypt, we are encouraged to actively pursue freedom for all those presently in bondage. Those in bondage are strangers in a foreign land and since we, too, were once strangers in Egypt, we can understand the grief in their hearts. Although the Jewish mission is to bring about man's spiritual freedom and redemption, Judaism regards the poor, the hungry, and the oppressed as equally enslaved and thus also in need of redemption. In the Jewish view, freedom and redemption have spiritual and physical dimensions.
Finally, there is a lesson taught by the first of the Ten Commandments, I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Jewish tradition explains that the Bible seeks to teach us that God is not merely an abstract idea or object of philosophical speculation Who has no relevance to our daily lives and conditions.
The God of Israel, as the FirstCommandment states, is a God who hears the cries of the oppressed and of all who call upon him in truth (Psalms 145:1). He is a God who cares deeply about humankind so much so that He intervened in human history to liberate His people from oppression in Egypt.It is this message of a loving, caring and personal God that Israel, His holy people, are to carry to all humankind. This central Jewish affirmation is based on the Exodus experience and is celebrated in the Passover festival. It has guided Jews for centuries and continues to do so today.
PASSOVER DAY 1 SCRIPTURES.
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27 That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.
32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:
36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.
42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:
44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.
45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.
46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.
16 And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD.
17 And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.
18 In the first day shall be an holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work therein:
19 But ye shall offer a sacrifice made by fire for a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, and seven lambs of the first year: they shall be unto you without blemish:
20 And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil: three tenth deals shall ye offer for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram;
21 A several tenth deal shalt thou offer for every lamb, throughout the seven lambs:
22 And one goat for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you.
23 Ye shall offer these beside the burnt offering in the morning, which is for a continual burnt offering.
24 After this manner ye shall offer daily, throughout the seven days, the meat of the sacrifice made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD: it shall be offered beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.
25 And on the seventh day ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work.
5 And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you.
6 And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
7 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.
2 At that time the LORD said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.
3 And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4 And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.
5 Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.
6 For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
7 And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way.
8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.
9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.
11 And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the selfsame day.
12 And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.
13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?
14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?
15 And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
1 Now Jericho was straitly shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
ANYTIME DURING THE FESTIVAL
MATTHEW CHAPTERS 26-28
MARK CHAPTERS 14-16
LUKE CHAPTERS 22-24
JOHN CHAPTERS 13-21
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