Signs and Wonders – For The Family

OTOT U-MOFETIM
SIGNS and WONDERS
(Exodus 7:3-11:10)

Raphael Abecassiss

Raphael Abecassis (Israeli) PASSOVER

The following family activity based on the ten plagues can add fun and drama to your Pesach Seder meal.

Make a  gift “Plague Packet” for each child and insert small labelled bags containing each of the plagues that offer ‘hands-on’ application. At the appropriate plague they can open the small bag and toss the contents at their friends!

Or, as we have done in our (Cindy’s) home, enjoy one sign and wonder on each of the 9 days prior to Pesach eve with the hope of stirring up questions and discussion, and of building excitement in anticipation of the Seder.

Enjoy and adapt according to your child / family. Use any or all ideas.

1.  WATER INTO BLOOD (Exodus 7:14-25) You need red food coloring.

I’m not sure if this one is more fun for the child or the parent. Put a few drops of food coloring in a glass prior to the family sitting down at the breakfast table. Once everyone is seated, pour water into each glass — oooh… the water turns red!

At the Seder table you also can have fun with the food coloring and water. To add to the ‘Plague Packet’ you could make drops of blood by cutting two tear drop shapes out of red felt. Sew the top of the tear drop together and a child can slip it over his / her finger.

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2.  FROGS (Exodus 7:25-8:11) You need little plastic frogs.

These little guys are way too much fun! On frog day, you can put them in a lunch bag, or half in and half out of a sandwich (you want your family to see them not eat them); strew some on the breakfast table or place some on your child’s bed before he or she wakes up.

The possibilities are endless! In shoes, on toothbrush etc., etc.

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3.  LICE (Exodus 8:16-19) You can use llittle beads or confetti.

Sprinkle the beads / confetti over your child when sleeping so they have to shake them off when they wake up. Put some in their hairbrush. Sprinkle on your table and counters. Again, the possibilities are endless…the clean up is worth the fun.

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4.  WILD BEASTS, possibly flies* (Exodus 8:20-32) You need toy plastic lions and tigers and bears, insects. Oh my!  Place them around your house.

Flies are just too hard to resist. Freeze them in your ice cube tray and put the cubes with the frozen flies in your families beverages.**  Enjoy the beverage with wild / zoo animal cookies.

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I (CIndy) found a fun alternative for this sign and wonder to use this year — a fun little ‘beast’ straw to enjoy juice or milk with the wild animal cookies.

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5.  DISEASED LIVESTOCK (Exodus 9:1-7) You need a toy cow, goat, sheep etc..

Place them around your house in strategic places.

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6.  BOILS (Exodus 9:8-12) You need round colorful stickers.

Place the stickers on everyone’s face.  Another option is to get those wonderful gel stickers, cut into circles and place on all the mirrors in the house.

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7.  HAIL  (Exodus 9:13-35) You need styrofoam or  marshmallows.

Cover your table top and counters. Be ready for some snowball fights!

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8.  LOCUSTS (Exodus 10:1-20) You need toy winged insects.

Set around your house, on meal plates…etc.

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9.  DARKNESS (Exodus 10:21-29) You need sunglasses.

Wear sunglasses inside. At Seder meal you can turn off the lights suddenly.

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10. PESACH EVE – SEDER

If you would like a beautiful picture book to use along with, or in place of, the ideas mentioned above, consider From Darkness to Light by Gadi Pollack — it’s a gem! Stunning illustrations, simple text, and a special study section at the end of the book to help understand the meaning of each sign and wonder and how it might correspond to the hardships suffered by Bnei Yisrael – the Israelites.

You can purchase this book via Amazon.com From Darkness to Light

from darkness to light

 

ONLINE RESOURCES***

Rabbi David Fohrman

In his six part Passover series, Rabbi Fohrman opens up layers of meaning of Biblical text, asking questions most of us have never even thought of asking and bringing it all home to who we are and the time we find ourselves in.  An absolute favorite teacher!

Rabbi Sacks

Visit Rabbi Sack’s website and type Passover in the Search box. You’ll find a number of inspiring and thought provoking teachings that are perfect for this season.

Avivah Zornberg

Avivah Zornberg, a Torah scholar, is one of the most original Biblical teachers I have ever heard. Inspired by Scripture and Rabbinic midrash, Zornberg illuminates Scripture; injecting life into them.

You can enjoy two of her teachings pertaining to this season for free on iTunes Exodus, Cargo of Hidden Stores and The Transformation of Pharaoh, Moses, and God. If you don’t have access to iTunes visit On Being with Krista Tippett and type Avivah Zornberg in the search box.

 Footnotes:

* The majority of Rabbinic commentators say that the fourth sign was wild beasts. They understand the Hebrew word arov ( עָרֹב ) to mean a mixture. Rashbam translates arov as a wolf-like beast. The wolf – arov, attacks at night and is related to the Hebrew word erev (עֶרֶב) meaning evening.

** Be careful that as the ice melts you or your little ones don’t swallow any flies!

*** You can access each of the teachers websites by clicking on their names.

 

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A BLESSED CHAG PESACH SAMEACH TO YOU
FROM HIS-ISRAEL!

Haggadah for Passover ~ pdf

Haggadah for Passover in PDF format for easy download.

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 May you and yours be richly blessed with our Father’s full and timely provision of every need, as we celebrate  the ” Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Season of our Freedom”
in the light of His Redemption in our Messiah and King, Yeshua!

Haggadah ~ of the Lord’s Passover

Chag Sameach!

Mail Attachment

PASSOVER III – Haggadah for the Seder

HAGGADAH ~ of the Lord’s Passover

[Welcome the guests. A shofar can be blown, if possible and suitable, to signal the start of the Passover “journey” together.]

>Leader: B’ruchim Ha’Baim! A warm welcome to all at this table. May we unite our hearts in reverence and thanksgiving as we remember and retell the powerful salvation brought about by our Almighty God when He delivered His people from slavery in Egypt and brought them to Himself by His outstretched arm and with many wonders and miracles.

How blessed, happy, to be envied are the people who know the joyful sound; the people who understand and appreciate the spiritual blessings symbolized by the feasts. (Psalm 89:15 Amplified)

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Light the Festival Lights

[As on all Shabbats and Festivals, the woman of the home, or a representative, lights two candles with a blessing. This blessing is one that may be said at the Passover Seder.]

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam,
she’shelach et bincha, Yeshua Hamashiach, lehiyot ohr ha-olam
ve’zeh ha-Pesach shelanu. Amen.

Blessed are you O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sent Your Son, Yeshua the Messiah, to be the light of the world and our Passover Lamb. Amen.

Begin Narration

>Leader: [Note: To encourage participation, the Seder leader is advised to appoint others, preferably ahead of time, to read certain verses or commentary.]

“The returned exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Passover lamb… was eaten by the Israelites who had returned from exile and by all who had joined them and separated themselves from the pollutions of the peoples of the land to seek the Lord, the God of Israel” (Ezra 6:20-21).

Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover” (Luke 22:8).

Yeshua knew that this would be his last earthly Passover meal with his friends, and he approached it with great anticipation. Although it has serious spiritual implications, it is always a celebratory fellowship meal with cause for laughter, song and, of course, feasting!
[Leader can give a friendly alert. E.g. “By the way, please don’t eat any matzah until we say the special blessing for matzah!”]

We will be drinking four cups of wine/grape juice during the Seder. These reflect the four stages of deliverance wrought by God when He brought His people from slavery to freedom, as recorded in the book of Exodus, chapter 6, verses 6-7:

  1. The Cup of Salvation – “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.”
  2. The Cup of Deliverance – “I will rid you of their bondage.”
  3. The Cup of Redemption – “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments.”
  4. The Cup of Restoration – “I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God.”

1. KADESH – The Cup of Salvation and Sanctification

Passover3-2 >Leader: During this season of Passover may our hearts and minds realize more fully our gratitude to God for His goodness, grace and redeeming power. We thank Him for giving us this festival to remind us of our deliverance from the Egypt of sin and death and for sending His Son to draw all mankind closer to God. In gratitude we now say the Kiddush blessings.

Wine is a biblical symbol of joy. Let us raise the Cup of Salvation and give thanks for the joy that is given to those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this special season. All: Amen.

Blessed are You, O Lord, Who has chosen us from all nations and set us apart by Your commandments. In love You have given us specially appointed times for gladness, feasts, and seasons for joy; You have given us this Festival of Unleavened Bread, the time of our freedom, a holy assembly to remember the Exodus from Egypt.

Blessed are You, O Lord, who sanctifies Israel and the Festival Seasons. All: Amen.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, Borei P’ri ha-Gafen.

“Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who Creates the Fruit of the Vine.” All: Amen.

[Drink first cup while reclining to the left. Slaves don’t recline, so this is a gesture to indicate that we are free indeed!]

2. UR’CHATZ – Washing

[Servers take bowl/s, jug/s of water, towel/s around to guests. To wash, hold hands over bowl while server pours water over them, dry hands with towel provided by server. If this is too difficult to implement, the leader’s hands can be washed on behalf of all.]

>Leader: We wash our hands to indicate a dedication of ourselves and our time together this evening in honor of the Lord and for His purposes. This was the time, at his Last Seder, that Yeshua astonished his disciples when he assumed the role of a servant and he washed their feet. Let us wash in humble dedication.

3. KARPAS– Green Vegetable

>Leader: Take a small piece of parsley and dip it into the bowl with salt water. The salt water reminds us of the tears caused by slavery and the green of the parsley represents freedom and new life.

The simple vegetable is also a sign of humility and the water symbolizes tears of repentance. The journey to new life and holiness must begin with repentance and a humble heart.

[Leader says blessing, then all dip and eat.]

Baruch Atah Adonai ELoheinu, Melech ha-Olam, Borei P’ri ha-Adamah.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who Creates the Fruit of the Earth. All: Amen.

4. YACHATZ – Break Middle Matzah

[Lift matzah bag]

These three matzot can represent our forefathers Abraham, Isaac (who lay himself on the altar and was prepared to be sacrificed) and Jacob; also, the unity of the Godhead – the Father, the Son (who indeed lay down his life as the perfect sacrifice) and the Holy Spirit.

[Remove the middle of the three matzot. Replace bag and hold up matzah.]

I have removed the middle matzah that represents Yeshua as our sacrifice. Notice that it is striped and pierced and is unleavened, denoting the absence of sin. It is a perfect picture of Isaiah’s description of Messiah the Suffering Servant:

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded [pierced] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).

It is broken in two uneven pieces. [Break matzah and hold pieces up.]

The larger one will be wrapped in a white napkin and hidden as the Afikoman – which represents the burial of Yeshua after his crucifixion. The children will hunt for it after the meal. We will then all eat a small piece of it as the final ‘dessert’. As a symbol of the Risen Lord of whom we all partake and in whom we all are united as one flock under one Shepherd, this sharing of the larger piece will complete the ‘big picture’ of the redemption story.

The smaller piece, which represents all the intervening steps of the Seder, reminds us that in order to successfully complete our journey of freedom and sanctification we need to take one small step at a time.

[Wrap larger piece in a white cloth/napkin. Remind children not to peep and hide the Afikoman. Return the smaller piece to the middle section of the Matzah bag.]

5. MAGGID – The Story

[Hold up a piece of regular matzah and say the following:]
This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry come and eat; come and join in celebrating Passover!

[Raise the Seder plate and, indicating the elements in turn, say the following:]
These are the symbols that remind us of the Exodus from Egypt, the liberation from slavery, the journey from darkness to light! Each element illustrates key concepts of the Passover story, and hence our own journey of spiritual freedom.

1. The Beitzah – An egg symbolizes new life. It is brown/browned to represent the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial offerings that were burnt on the altar to illustrate the eradication of the sin of the repentant sinner.

2. The Chazeret – horseradish, and 3. The Maror – romaine lettuce, represent bitter herbs that remind us of the bitterness suffered by the Israelites as slaves in Egypt, and by all who are enslaved to sin.

4. The Zeroah – represents the Passover Lamb that was slain.

5. The Charoset – reminds us of the mortar and clay used by the slaves.

6. The Karpas – parsley, represents the hyssop used by the Israelites to paint the blood on their doorposts; a key tool in receiving a new life of freedom. The hyssop is the most humble of biblical plants and reminds us of the humility that is necessary to apply the blood of the Lamb on one’s heart.

Ma Nishtanah? The Four Questions

[Pour the second cup of wine. The appointed child, or children – usually beginning with the youngest, now ask/s the questions. Have their question numbered and written on a piece of paper and ensure they are prepared in advance!]

>Children, or youngest at the Seder!

  1. Why is this night different from all other nights?
  2. On all other nights we may eat leavened or unleavened bread, and on this night why can we only eat matzah?
  3. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, why on this night do we make sure to eat bitter herbs?
  4. On all other nights may we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night why do we all recline?

>Leader: 

The answers to these questions are to be found in the history of the people of Israel, which is God’s plan of redemption for all. We remember that it is through His great love and faithfulness that we are set free, as we read in
Deuteronomy 7:8,
…It is because the Lord loves you, and is keeping the oath which He swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of
Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Let us read together a short account of the amazing story of deliverance. The first person plural “we” is used to underscore the fact that we all were “slaves” and ate the bread of affliction while in Egypt, the kingdom of darkness. ‘In every generation all individuals should regard themselves as if they had personally gone out from Egypt, as it is said: “And you shall tell your son on that day, It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt”’ (Exodus 13:8).

>All:
We all were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. We were treated harshly and we were afflicted with hard labor. We cried out to the Lord, the God of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Lord heard our cries and saw our affliction, our toil and oppression.
The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, with great signs and wonders. Therefore tonight we recline at table, in the manner of free men, to remind ourselves that if God had not saved us out of Egypt, we would still be slaves to sin.

Thanks be to God for freedom and new life in our Messiah, Yeshua.

The Ten Plagues

[If there are young children present much fun can be had with the plagues if “visual aids” are prepared in advance. For example: red food dye can be dropped into a glass of water for no.1; candy/gummy frogs, insects can be thrown for nos. 2 & 3 & 8; toy jungle animals for no.4; ping pong balls can be thrown in the air for no.7; the lights can be turned off for a second or two at no. 9]

>Leader:

We now recall the miracles that God did on our behalf against the wicked Pharaoh. Each time a plague is mentioned, take a drop of wine or juice from your cup with the tip of your little finger, and deposit it on your plate. This shows that a measure of our joy is lost at the suffering of our enemies. Let us now declare the plagues together:

  1. Blood!
  2. Frogs!
  3. Lice!
  4. Wild beasts!
  5. Pestilence!
  6. Boils!
  7. Hail!
  8. Locusts!
  9. Darkness!
  10. Death!

How abundant are the blessings the Almighty has bestowed upon us in delivering us from our enemies! And let us all say, “Amen.”

Dai’yeinu! It Would Have Been Enough!

>Leader:

After the mention of each mighty act of the God of Israel, let us shout, “Dai’yeinu!” (It would have been enough!) and sing the refrain together.

[It is well worth learning and teaching the simple one word refrain that all can sing with gusto. Safe Link: Dai’yeinu

Had He brought us out of Egypt and not judged the Egyptians … Dai’yeinu!

Had He judged the Egyptians and not divided the sea to let us pass through … Dai’yeinu!

Had He divided the sea and not sunk our foes into the depths … Dai’yeinu!

Had He sunk our foes into the depths and not given us the manna … Dai’yeinu!

Had He given us the Torah on Mt. Sinai and not brought us into the Promised Land … Dai’yeinu!

HalleluYah! For all God’s blessings we give thanks. He has done above and beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

Thanks be to God for freedom and new life in our Messiah, Yeshua.

The Second Cup – the Cup of Deliverance.

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>Leader: Let us raise the Cup of Deliverance with a blessing:
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who redeemed us from Egypt with Your outstretched arm and by the blood of the Lamb, and brought us to this night so that we could eat Matzah and Maror.

O Lord, God of Israel, enable us to experience future holidays and festivals in peace; to take joy in the rebuilding of Jerusalem Your holy city; and to be happy in Your service. In Your honor we will sing a new song that will celebrate our redemption and spiritual freedom. Blessed are You, O Lord, Who will redeem all of Israel. All: Amen.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, Borei P’ri ha-Gafen.

“Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who Creates the Fruit of the Vine.” All: Amen. [Drink second cup].

6. RACH’TZAH – Washing Before Meal

>Leader: We will now wash our hands, with a blessing, before eating the meal: [Leader to wash hands first before reciting blessing]

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, she’kiddishanu b’mitzvotav ve’tzivanu al netilat yadaim.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, who has sanctified us by His commandments and has commanded us regarding the washing of hands.

[Repeat procedure in step 2.]

7. MOTZI – Blessing for Food/Bread

[Leader hold up the Matzah bag containing the remaining matzot and recite blessing]

>Leader: Let us give thanks to God:

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, ha’Motzi lechem min ha’Aretz.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

All: Amen.

8. MATZAH – Special Blessing for Matzah

>Leader: Let us now say a special blessing as we eat our first piece of Matzah!

[All hold up a piece of Matzah. Leader recite blessing]

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, asher kid’eshanu be’mitzvotav, ve’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us regarding eating matzah.

All: Amen. [All eat a small piece of matzah.]

9. MAROR – Bitter Herbs

>Leader: Using a piece of Matzah as a spoon, dip into the Maror (horseradish) and eat it, remembering the bitterness of sin and exile from the Presence of the Lord.

It is possible that it was at this juncture that Yeshua handed the Matza with Maror upon it to Judas, and said, “The one who dips his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” (Matthew 26:23)

10. KORECH – “Hillel” Sandwich

[Make a sandwich by adding charoset and maror (romaine lettuce and horseradish) between two pieces of Matzah. If available in bowls on table, slices of boiled egg can be added. Make sure salt and pepper shakers are also handy. This serves as an appetizer.]

>Leader: As a remembrance of the days of the Temple, we now do as the Sage Hillel did. He would combine the Passover Offering, Matzah, and Maror in a sandwich and eat them together, in fulfillment of the verse in the Torah: “They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” (Exodus 12:8)

11. SULCHAN ORECH – Serve the Meal

>Leader: At long last! Time to feast on the Passover Meal as we celebrate this Season of our Freedom.

B’tei’avon! (Good Appetite!)

12. TZAFUN – Eating the Afikoman

[After the meal it is time for the children to search for the hidden Afikoman.
When it is found, the leader proclaims the following then breaks off a small piece for each person. It is the last food eaten. Make sure third cups are filled.]

>Leader: Yeshua, on the night that He was betrayed, took the unleavened bread and proclaimed a blessing. Then He broke the bread, and handed it to His disciples, saying: “Take and eat, this is my body” (Matthew 26:26).

The Third Cup – The Cup of Redemption.

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>Leader: Let us raise the Cup of Redemption:

And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20)

Let us drink the Third Cup, in remembrance of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, Borei P’ri ha-Gafen.

“Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who Creates the Fruit of the Vine.” All: Amen. [Drink third cup].

13. BARECH – Blessings After the Meal
[Different readers can be allocated to read a blessing.]

>Leader: My friends, may the Name of God be blessed from now unto eternity, With your permission, let us bless the One of whose food we have eaten.
“Blessed is the One of whose food we have eaten and through whose goodness we live.” And let us say, “Amen”.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who nourishes the whole world. In Your goodness, with favor, with loving-kindness, and with compassion You give sustenance to all flesh, for Your steadfast love is eternal. You are the God Who nourishes and sustains all beings and prepares food for all the creatures that You have made. Blessed are You, Who provides food for all. And let us say, “Amen.”

We thank You, O Lord our God, because you brought us forth from bondage in Egypt, and have given us a godly heritage in Messiah. We thank You for Your Torah which teaches us, and for the life, favor and kindness You grant us; and for the food with which You feed and sustain us constantly, every day, in every season, and in every hour. And let us say, “Amen.”

For all this, O Lord our God, we thank You and bless You. May Your Name be blessed continuously and forever by the mouth of all living things. And let us say, “Amen.”

Have mercy, O Lord our God, upon Your people Israel, upon Jerusalem Your city, and on Zion the resting place of Your Glory. Remember all of Israel for survival, for well-being, for favor and kindness, for life and for peace on this day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. And let us say, “Amen.”

May the Merciful God reign over us forever. May the Merciful God send abundant blessings to this house and upon this table at which we have eaten. May the Merciful God send us Elijah the Prophet to proclaim to us good tidings of Messiah. May He Who makes peace in the highest heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel. And let us say, “Amen.”

14. HALLEL – Psalms of Praise

>Leader: Psalms 113 – 118, the “Hallel,” were sung at the Passover festival to echo the songs that were sung in the Temple during the slaying of the Passover lambs. Yeshua and His disciples would have sung Psalm 118 at the conclusion of the Seder in the Upper Room:
“After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mt. Of Olives” (Matthew 26:30). They would therefore have sung the words,

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in Him” (Psalm 118:24).

[Optional: Sing songs in accord with these Psalms and/or recite selected verses from Bible.]

>Leader: Let us unite our hearts, joyfully giving thanks to God for the Passover Lamb who was slain for the forgiveness of our sins, who rescues us from the Egypt of sin and death, and who sets us free to become the People of God. Let us declare together:

>All:
From slavery … to freedom
From sorrow … to joy
From mourning … to festivity
From bondage … to redemption
From darkness … to light !
HalleuYah!

The Fourth Cup – The Cup of Restoration

>Leader: [Make sure fourth cups are filled and alert the children to get ready for your signal to run to the door to check whether Elijah has arrived to signal Messiah’s return!]

The Cup of Restoration is also known as Elijah’s cup. According to the Scriptures, a prophet like Elijah will announce the coming of Messiah. We know that the Son of Man is coming again and the Kingdom of God will be fully restored under his Kingship.

During his last Passover Seder, Yeshua spoke about his return, saying:

“I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

The prophet Zecharaih tells us:

On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east… And the Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one (Zechariah 14:4,9).

We must always be prepared to receive Him. Children, quickly run to the door. See if Elijah is there!

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Let us drink the fourth cup, Elijah’s cup, in anticipation of the soon return of Messiah Yeshua to be crowned as King and to reign in all the earth.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-Olam, Borei P’ri ha-Gafen.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who Creates the Fruit of the Vine. All: Amen. [Drink fourth cup].

15. NIRTZAH – Conclusion of Seder

We have been blessed to experience this Passover Seder, and now may we go forth from here to be a blessing.

O Lord, quickly bring all Your children to Zion, and may our hearts be filled with excitement, with joy and with song, as we welcome Messiah to the City of the Great King. Then we shall say:

Baruch ha’ba b’Shem Adonai!

“Blessed be he who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Matthew 23:39).

With God’s people around the world, we end our Passover Seder tonight with this declaration:

Le’Shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim!

Next year in Jerusalem!

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Artwork: New Jerusalem, Ligtenberg, Blue and White Gallery, Jerusalem.

PASSOVER II – The Seder Meal

A person’s life is a movement through chronological time that is encapsulated on a memorial stone as ‘year of birth’ – ‘year of death’. Our journey from cradle to grave becomes a dash! At times, life does seem to be as fleeting as a mere dash; and in the context of eternity that may be true. One’s physical “three score years and ten” would indeed have as much meaning as a dash – even a minus sign – unless we were simultaneously undertaking an additional journey; the journey through sacred time. This journey is walked on the “highway of holiness”, which is not a dash, a straight line from point A to point B, but a line that spirals ever upwards. It is cyclical in nature, and each cycle raises one higher and instills a deeper awareness and fosters a more intimate relationship with the Beloved of our souls, the One who is the Source of Life and the reason for it all.

The progression of this cyclical journey through sacred time is mapped out for us by God in His Word. As we now walk through the deeply significant season of Passover, and then count the days of the Omer that culminate in the glorious revelation of Pentecost, we are given the opportunity to revise, relive and realize afresh the purpose and value of this journey. It is a time of strategic review and also a time of intense spiritual enrichment. We are reminded that our life is more than a journey forward to an ultimate end; rather, we are growing in covenant relationship – a relationship of deepest love and commitment. For this reason, the supreme love story Shir haShirim, the Song of Songs, is read on the Shabbat that falls during the week of Passover. The loved one, chosen by the Lover, was enslaved, unprepared and undeserving of His love. Yet, He heard her cry and came to save her, to take her from her captivity and to bring her to Himself. “Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?” (Song of Songs 8:5)

Passover2 - 1Artwork: Marc Chagall – Three Candles

 Thus the unconditional covenant relationship of love was forged between God and His people Israel. Similarly, “…when the fullness of time came, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4) in order that His love might reach out to all people; that each one who cries out in repentance and receives Him might be drawn into this Covenant of Love.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

Covenant is always celebrated with a meal, and this chapter of the wondrous covenant love story is enacted on the eve of Passover at the Seder meal. Seder [pronounced say’der] means ‘order’. Each year as we celebrate the Seder meal we remember, and reinforce with deeper understanding, God’s order for the process of spiraling upwards from spiritual slavery to freedom in relationship with Him.

THE FIFTEEN STEPS

There are fifteen segments that make up the Seder. Interestingly, this corresponds with the large flight of fifteen steps  in the Holy Temple that led up to the enormous brass Nikanor Gates that connected the general gathering place of the Women’s Court to the Court of Israel. The priests and Levites would ascend these steps in order to perform their duties before the altar. At Sukkot the Levitical choir and musicians would pause on each step and sing one of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 130–145).

The ‘guide book’ through the Seder, which contains the outline of the fifteen steps, is called the Haggadah – ‘The Telling’. Each participant needs a copy in order to follow along comfortably. The Seder is an enjoyable, enlightening experience, during which we celebrate our identity in the family of God, in Messiah, and aim to communicate the richness of our inheritance to the next generation. So, relax and enjoy!

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Artwork: Family Seder by N.Y. artist Lynne Feldman

 

Note: Passover III will offer an abridged Haggadah ~ The Lord’s Passover that will be suitable for those celebrating the resurrection of Yeshua, our Passover Lamb. The leader/s can insert additional commentary if desired. For examples, see the outline of the Seder steps described below.

The symbols around which the story is told, and the central items on the Seder table, are the Seder Plate and the Matzah.

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SEDER PLATE

The elements are, in clockwise order:

  1. beitzah (boiled or roasted egg)
  2. chazeret (horseradish)
  3. maror (romaine lettuce)
  4.  zeroah (the bone of a leg of lamb, or a chicken drumstick bone)
  5. charoset
  6. karpas (parsley)
  7. the plate itself!

Each element carries much symbolism and illustrates key concepts of the Passover story, and hence our own journey of spiritual freedom.

1. The Beitzah – an egg symbolizes new life. It is brown/browned to represent the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrificial offerings that were burnt to illustrate the eradication of the sin of the repentant sinner.

2. The Chazeret – horseradish, and 3. The Maror – romaine lettuce, represent bitter herbs that remind us of the bitterness suffered by the Israelites as slaves in Egypt, and by all who are enslaved to sin.

4. The Zeroah – represents the Passover Lamb that was slain.

5. The Charoset – reminds us of the mortar and clay used by the slaves.

6. The Karpas – parsley, represents the hyssop used by the Israelites to paint the blood on their doorposts; a key tool in receiving a new life of freedom. The hyssop is the most humble of biblical plants and reminds us of the humility that is necessary to apply the blood of the Lamb on one’s heart.

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MATZAH

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded [pierced] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes [or also translate from Hebrew as  ‘in fellowship with him’] we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

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MATZAH BAG

Three pieces of matzah are placed in a special bag with three sections. (One can also use four cloth napkins discreetly pinned together.)

Three can represent our forefathers Abraham, Isaac (who lay himself on the altar and was prepared to be sacrificed) and Jacob; also, the unity of the Godhead – the Father, the Son (who indeed lay down his life as the perfect sacrifice) and the Holy Spirit.

 

Brief Overview of the Fifteen Steps of the Seder

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1. KADESH – means to ‘sanctify’ or ‘to set apart’. The Kiddush blessing is recited over a cup of wine to indicate that we are setting ourselves apart, as well as this special time, for God’s purposes. We focus our minds on the remembrance of the first miraculous salvation at the Exodus from Egypt and the powerful, equally miraculous salvation performed by God in the provision of the ultimate Passover Lamb, His beloved Son, Yeshua.

2. URCHATZ – means ‘washing’. A cup is used to pour water twice over each hand. This is a sign of purifying our intentions and preparing our hands to receive all that God has for us. This was the time Yeshua astonished his disciples when he assumed the role of a servant and he washed their feet. Some groups choose to do this, but it usually is not possible. It also is very meaningful, when the intention of humble preparation is understood, if two or three people (particularly the hosts/leaders) ‘serve’ by taking the jug of water, and the cup and bowl and a towel, around the table to the participants.

3. KARPAS – The blessing for food is recited and the green vegetable (parsley or celery) is dipped in the salt water and eaten. The simple vegetable is a sign of humility and the water symbolizes tears of repentance. The journey to new life and holiness must begin with repentance and a humble heart.

4. YACHATZ – The middle matzah of the three in the bag is removed and broken in two uneven pieces. The larger one is wrapped in a white napkin and hidden as the Afikoman, which, when found later at the end of the meal, will complete the ‘big picture’ of the redemption story. The smaller piece, which represents all the intervening steps of the Seder, reminds us that in order to successfully complete our journey of freedom and holiness we need to take one small step at a time.

5. MAGGID – The telling of the Passover story begins with four questions asked by the children. In order to move forward we need constantly to be aware and to always question and examine the progress have we made, by asking ourselves: Where am I now?  Where am I heading? and, Why am I doing what I am doing?

6. ROCHTZAH – Before the meal we wash our hands again, this time we dedicate them to God, desiring that all we do will be for His glory and the building of His Kingdom. We are reminded that we need to take creative action if we are to grow and move forward in the plans He has for us.

7. HAMOTZI – Bless God for the meal.

8. MATZAH – Special blessing before eating the matzah.

9. MAROR – Eating the bitter herbs.

10. KORECH – Eat the matzah and bitter herbs together, like a sandwich.

11. SHULCHAN ORECH – Enjoy the festive meal!

12. TZAFUN – At the end of the meal, the children prepare to hunt for the hidden Afikoman. The lights can be dimmed, which adds to the suspense, but also is a reminder of the darkness and hopelessness of a world without the Light and the Presence of God. The children can search with flashlights, or partially dimmed lights, and when the Afikoman is found the lights can be raised with a cheer! The Light of the World has come – He is Risen to bring hope to all! With deep gratitude at the realization that the “large piece” of the Redemption picture has been put into place, it is broken and shared amongst all participants. It is the last thing eaten by all before Grace is said and Praises are sung.

13. BARECH – Express gratitude to God for the meal.

14. HALLEL – Praises. “…Thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). Our praises prepare the Throne of the King. We offer a place where He can be seated in our midst. Traditionally, Psalms 113-118 are recited or sung.

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FOURTH CUP – ELIJAH’S CUP

During this time of praise the cup set for Elijah is raised and the children go to the door to see if Elijah has arrived! According to the Scriptures, the prophet Elijah will announce the coming of Messiah. We know that a type of Elijah came in the person of Yochanan HaMatbil (John the Baptizer), who prepared the way for Messiah. And when he saw Yeshua, John announced: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The tradition of Elijah’s cup at the Passover table reminds us that the Son of Man is coming again. We must always be prepared to receive Him.

15. NIRTZACH – The conclusion.

The Seder ends with a message of hope. We can go forward with the understanding that a new cycle of growth has begun in our lives. The path that stretches before us is filled with opportunity because we are in the hands of the One who is infinite and whose will it is that His children achieve the potential for good and for holiness that He has planted within each one.

We proclaim with all Israel, “Next year in Jerusalem!” God is restoring His Land and rebuilding His holy city, the City of the Great King, and He is drawing many of His people home to physically participate in the building. Wherever we are we can actively support and participate in this great restoration and proclaim in faith and with hope in our hearts, “Next year may we celebrate in Jerusalem, rebuilt and prepared for her King to take His place on His Holy Throne!”

Le’Shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim!

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New Jerusalem – John Ligtenberg, Blue & White Gallery, Israel

Checklist of Items Needed for the Seder

  1. Haggadah for each person.
  2. At the leader’s place: A Seder plate with the elements: boiled egg, horseradish, lettuce, bone, charoset, parsley; a Kiddush cup with wine, a small bowl of salt water.
  3. Small bowls of salted water, parsley, horseradish, lettuce and charoset to place on table – enough for the participants to share.
  4. A cup to use for the Kiddush and wine glasses at each place, as well as water/juice glasses.
  5. A special cup with wine for the prophet Elijah, which is placed on the table. Sometimes a place is set for him in case he arrives before the meal!
  6. A matzah ‘bag’ with sections to hold three pieces of matzah. Containers of matzah on table for eating.
  7. A prize, e.g. a bag of candy, for the child who finds the Afikoman.
  8. A jug of water, cup, bowl and towel – for hand washing.
  9. Bottles of wine and/or grape juice and jugs/bottles of water.

Yummy, Easy Recipe for Charoset!

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Looks bad but tastes good!

  • 3 apples – cored, finely chopped or grated. (It can be allowed to become brown, as it is intended to resemble the mortar used by the Israelites to build the pyramids for Pharaoh.)
  • 3⁄4 cup walnuts or almonds or pecans – finely chopped.
  •  2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp grape juice or red wine
  • Mix all ingredients together.

Enough for 6 people.

You can find helpful and delicious Passover recipes for cakes, desserts etc. on Aish in the Holidays section. Also fun coloring pages to print for the children!

Be’taya’von! Bon appétit! Enjoy the meal!

~Keren Hannah

PASSOVER I – PESACH – Overview

Passover is, as it were, the “firstborn” of the biblical festivals. God set it in place when He proclaimed at the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt: “You shall therefore keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year” (Exodus 13:10). As the first, Passover also sets a precedent for the purpose of the mo’edim, the set times of the Festival Cycle. Arnold Eisen describes this basic purpose in saying that they are a remembrance that we are between redemptions.

“We are commanded to recall the past, in order to remember the present – to see it clearly, to know it fully, in all its possibilities – in the light of our future [full] redemption.” [1]

These appointments with God offer unique opportunities that enable us to look back on God’s mighty deeds, to live in His light in the present, and to look forward in faith.

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Together with remembrance; rebirth and hope  also are key elements of Passover. The week-long festival is always celebrated in the Spring, when fresh new life is bursting forth after the gray confines of the winter. (Southern hemisphere readers please see footnote) [2] As we prepare for and participate in this rich and redemptive appointed time, we discover its gifts of the possibility and hope of renewal, of spiritual growth and positive change.

The festival of Passover is in fact a composite of four significant appointed times, namely: the Time of our Freedom (Z’man Cheruteinu), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot), the Feast of First Fruits (Chag HaBikkurim), and the start of the Counting of the Omer (Shemirat HaOmer).

Time of our Freedom – Zman Cheruteinu

Z’man Cheruteinu focuses on God’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt. Passover Eve, when the special Seder meal is enjoyed, commemorates the momentous events of the Exodus. The Hebrew name for Egypt is Mitzraim, which is derived from the Hebrew words tzar – narrow and confined, tza’ar – pain, and meitzar, meaning constriction of vision, all of which are aspects of slavery. This season of freedom reminds us that, no matter the constraints or challenges we face, our God who delivers from evil always offers the hope of redemption.

The transition of the redeemed Israelites, from slaves bound in Egypt to a people following God in the wilderness en route to their Promised Land, required movement; a movement away from and a movement towards. To gain freedom we need to be ready to move with God in the direction He leads and in the way He opens up before us, which always will be closer to Himself. At this season, let us press forward with renewed dedication to move further away from the limitations of our own ‘Egypt’ and closer towards the Beloved of our souls.

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This movement from bondage towards freedom, from exile to redemption, is recounted at the Seder meal in the form of a haggadah, a special retelling of the Exodus story. We re-enact the meal the Israelites ate in anticipation of their liberation, as directed by God, with matzah, green and bitter herbs, and a reminder of the lamb that was sacrificed. We remember that on the eve of deliverance, a Passover lamb was slaughtered by each family and its blood applied to the doorposts of the home. At this sign of the blood, the plague of death would pass by their door but would enter the houses of those spiritually bound to Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, and the first born sons in those homes would die.

We also remember that through the sacrifice of the last Passover Lamb, Yeshua ben Yosef, God offered His own without-blemish, first-born son as a sacrifice for His Household. He is offering another opportunity for the nations – for Egypt – to receive redemption. All who apply this Lamb’s blood to the doorposts of their hearts are spared spiritual death as children of the Father and, as Yeshua said, can enter his “new creation” life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears [the Hebrew word indicates ‘hears and actively obeys’] my word and believes on Him [the Father] who sent me, has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
(John 5:24)

The Seder night  also is known by its biblical reference, Leil Shimurim, a ‘night of vigil, or watching’ for God.

And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching (leil shimurim) by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:41-42)

World history was critically impacted on Leil Shimurim. It was a night of great anticipation. The Israelites had seen the power of their God unleashed upon the great nation of Egypt with its gods that represented the forces of nature. He had demonstrated that all nature was in the hands of the one God and Creator of all. Now His people would be delivered and brought to Himself. The birth of His nation would prove that He also was the Master of all mankind’s history.

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Centuries later, Yeshua and twelve close disciples would celebrate their last Seder meal together on another history-shaking “night of watching”. After the meal they would keep vigil in an olive grove on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. For Yeshua, as the Lamb about to be sacrificed, it would be a time of agonizing anticipation as the weight of mankind’s history pressed upon him. Would the light of Truth he carried go forth to illumine the darkness of the nations and bring to further fullness the freedom and redemption offered by his Father? Would hearts be prepared to hear?

Where were his disciples? Were they keeping vigil with him? No, they were asleep!
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter,
“So, could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40)

Yeshua, as the Servant Messiah, would drink the cup of suffering alone. He would be betrayed by his brothers, be captured, mocked and whipped, and suffer death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans; then he would be raised to new life by his Father and open the gate of freedom for all. During the forty-nine days of the Omer that followed, the disciples would truly awaken and experience a dramatic transformation on the Jubilee day of Shavuot-Pentecost. As a result, the good news would spread like holy fire to all corners of the earth. All who received it could then sing in praise and thankfulness,

“We have been set free from slavery in Egypt.
Behold our God, who is majestic in holiness, doing wonders!
Our Father is God and we will exalt Him!
The Lord will reign forever and ever!” (Exodus 15:1-18)

The Festival of Unleavened Bread – Chag ha’Matzot

Matzah is a central symbol of Passover. The first matzah is eaten at the Seder and is the staple ‘bread’ during the next seven days, when no leavened products are eaten, in accord with Exodus 13:3-8′

“Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. This day you are to go forth, in the month of Aviv. And when the Lord brings you into the land …which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; …and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.”

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Matzah is called both “bread of our affliction” and “bread of our freedom”. It is prepared with flour and water, with no chametz (yeast or leaven). On the eve of departure from Egypt, in their haste to be packed and ready to leave immediately they heard the call, the Israelites needed to bake bread that did not require time to rise. Thus it is connected with the affliction of those who were still slaves.

Leaven is often a metaphor for sin in the Bible. Therfore, spiritually as well as physically, unleavened matzah presents a perfect picture of the one who bore our affliction in order to procure our freedom. He became the “bread of our freedom”. The Lamb without sin, who was bruised, pierced, striped with a whip, and broken, that we might be healed and made whole and set free to live a truly “risen” life!

 

The Festival of First Fruits – Chag Ha’Bikkurim

The first celebration of the bikkurim, the first fruits of the harvest, occurred on 16 Nissan, the day after the first day of the very first Passover (Leviticus 23:10-11). This was the time of the barley harvest, and on the evening of 15 Nissan the first barley sheaves would be cut, put into baskets and stored until the next day, when they were brought, in lively procession singing praises to God, to the Temple to be ceremonially waved by the priests. Together with the priest, the participants would proclaim:

“A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt …and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which thou, O Lord, hast given me.”
(Deuteronomy 26:5, 8-10)

The first barley sheaf was called the Omer, the waving of which indicated the consecration of all the harvest to God and marked the start of the counting of fifty days until the final wheat harvest, which occurred at Shavuot, Pentecost. As the ‘first fruit’ sheaves were being lifted to God, the Bread of Life that had come from Heaven was already raised from the earth as the first fruit of a completely new harvest. Interestingly, as recorded in Joshua 5:11-12, the manna from heaven that God had provided throughout the forty years of the Israelite’s journey in the wilderness ceased on that same day. From then on they would eat of the grain from the earth.

And on the morrow after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased…and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land…

When the Father raised Yeshua from death to life, he was the first to receive a resurrected body. It was literally a new creation of God. No body had been like it before. Therefore, on the day appointed to offer the first fruits of one’s first grain harvest to the Creator, he became the “First fruit” of the harvest to come at the great and final resurrection of the dead. ( See Luke 23:56; 24:1; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 20)

Counting the Omer – Sefirat HaOmer

The day of resurrection and new life establishes a connection between Passover and Pentecost. The two Feasts, in conjunction with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, were holy convocations when all males, as representatives of the whole community, went up to the House of God in Jerusalem. These three pilgrimage festivals physically enacted the great sweeping plan of God to bring His people from the exile of bondage to full and universal redemption.

And you shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath [of Passover], from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven full weeks shall they be, counting fifty days to the morrow after the seventh Sabbath…
(Leviticus 23:15)

The festival of First Fruits is celebrated the day after the first day of Passover. The Omer sheaf is waved and, in expectation of the joyful festival of Pentecost – Shavuot, the counting of the interim seven weeks begins. This ‘counting’ links physical liberation with spiritual redemption; the bread of the earth with the bread of the spirit – the Word of God. The latter is revealed by God to His newly formed people at the first Pentecost at Sinai. It is then reaffirmed by the empowering outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God at the celebration of Pentecost on Mount Zion.

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Detail from Marc Chagall’s Blue Window

The Plus of Preparation

Preparation is a significant and integral part of every biblical holiday. The planning during the week prior to each Sabbath usually culminates on Friday in a bustle of cleaning, last minute shopping, food preparation and welcoming guests. Then the candles are lit and the peace of Shabbat is ushered in like a radiant, beautiful Queen. Without some advance planning and preparation this would not be possible. The same principle applies to the Shabbatot, the set-apart days, of the annual Festival Cycle.

Preparations for the annual festival of Pesach, or Passover, begin at least a month before the holiday, with a planned schedule of thorough housecleaning – the model for “spring-cleaning”! Invitations are given or received for the Seder meal, which is prepared for in fine detail.

Immediately after Passover one spiritually prepares oneself through the forty-nine days of the Omer for the powerful fiftieth day of the Festival of Shavuot, or Pentecost.

Preceding Rosh HaShana, the whole month of Elul is regarded as a time of preparation, which intensifies after Rosh HaShana with the Ten Days of Awe before Yom Kippur, the great Day of Atonement. In the Land of Israel, after the solemn hush of Yom Kippur, when the final soul-stirring blast of the shofar is stilled, almost immediately one can hear the tap-tapping of nails being hammered into wooden frames as families make a symbolic start on the erection of their sukkahs, or booths – the fragile temporary dwellings they will eat in, and some will sleep in, for the impending week-long celebration of Sukkot – the Feast of Tabernacles.

Why this emphasis on preparation in the annual round of festivals? One answer is that the core of each festival is spiritual. If you’ve been to New York and haven’t seen the Statue of Liberty, you haven’t been to New York. If you participate in a biblical Feast and you haven’t grown as a person, and matured a little more spiritually, then you miss the point of the Feast. In the same way that a holiday or trip will be as successful as the preparation made beforehand, so the enormous God-given opportunities afforded in the participation of every Feast of the Lord will only be fully taken advantage of if the appropriate preparations have been made, with conscious, eager anticipation.

Even with preparation one may sometimes feel that one is simply “scratching the surface.” But, take heart; even the surface of each Feast is fertile and rich with possibilities for growing in understanding of our God and His ways. As one enters in and participates in the annual cycle of the Biblical Feasts, one realizes that it is not merely an endless repetition of “same-old, same-old.” Each time around is a new and fresh encounter, because you are not the same. Each year you “scratch” a little deeper and discover riches not imagined and come to appreciate that, with the necessary preparation, the journey on the “highway to Zion” is exceedingly joyful and rewarding.

Cleanse out the old leaven (chametz) that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Messiah, our Paschal Lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

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As Passover preparation is time to consider, in a practical hands-on way as we “spring-clean” our homes, that we who were once slaves to the world are now willing servants of God. The extra physical effort involved of thoroughly cleaning the refrigerator and oven, sorting our cabinets and shelves, checking everything for chametz, removing all breadcrumbs, etc., etc. can enable us to empathize more with the hardworking slaves!

As one cleans out the crumbs, which seem to multiply and hide in the most unexpected places, one comes to more deeply appreciate the nature of “sin that so easily besets” and the watchful eye needed in order to conquer it and keep it at bay. The cleaning and preparation also imparts the valuable lesson that true freedom requires our effort and participation. God wants us to partner with Him on our journey through life. As we persevere in faith and become more Messiah-like, we trust that our hearts, as well as our homes at Passover, are becoming chametz-free zones.

A few Passover cleaning and preparation tips from Blu Greenberg! [3]

1. Start with the bedrooms and bathrooms first. Clean out dressers and closets; check all pockets for left over snacks etc.! Once a bedroom is declared chametz-free, no food should be allowed in. Stock up with new toothbrushes and throw out old ones before the Seder. Make sure toothbrush holders are cleaned well.

2. Begin checking pantry shelves and start using up or packing away grain products you won’t be using (such as flour, barley, grain cereals, pastas etc.) Any unopened products can be packed away and stored out of sight until after Passover. Mark the boxes/bags Chametz! so you don’t open them inadvertently. Seal off an area in a closet if necessary and also a section of the freezer for any frozen goods. Remember that whiskey and beer are grain products.

3. The kitchen is the biggest challenge. Storage cabinets and drawers should be cleaned out and wiped with a damp cloth. The week before Passover, refrigerators, freezers, ovens, dishwashers should be carefully cleaned, checking all linings, folds etc. Once cleaned, label e.g., Chametz-free zone! and they should not be used for leavened products until after Passover.

4. The transition to chametz-free products is quite a juggling act and quite an adventure. As well as “Kosher for Passover” matzah, most supermarkets today have a wide variety of products that are so marked, including delicious macaroon cookies, frozen goods and desserts. There certainly is no need to feel deprived. (A few simple and tasty Passover recipes, as well as more details on the Seder meal, will be included in Passover II.)

5. The night before Passover Eve, a final thorough search for chametz is undertaken throughout the house. To make this an adventure for children, as well as to clearly imprint the fact that Passover week is beginning, families often turn off the lights and with a candle and/or flashlight search to find any chametz. A few pieces can be hidden beforehand, in small, sealed plastic bags, in strategic places. Once found and disposed of a declaration is made:

“All leaven and all chametz which is in my possession, which I have not seen or destroyed, nor have knowledge of shall be null, void, ownerless, and as dust of the earth.”

Now all that is possible has been done and one is eager and ready for Passover!

The Passover activities may seem rather daunting and intimidating to those who are not yet familiar with them. Please rest assured that all that one does, if done in faith, even – and maybe specially – taking ‘baby steps’, is pleasing to the Lord. To whatever degree one chooses to, or is able to, observe the week of Unleavened Bread, it always proves to be a very rewarding and worthwhile spiritual experience. Whenever we accept His invitation to meet with Him, the Lord is faithful to be there.

 ~ Passover series by Keren Hannah Pryor

Footnotes:

1. Arnold Eisen, quoted in Michael Strassfeld’s, The Festival Cycle, p6
2. For those in the southern hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, the seasonal applications present a challenge! However, the Festivals offer opportunities to keep the land of Israel in active remembrance while you appreciate the physical season wherever you may be. As you participate in the Festival Cycle you truly can say, “Wherever I stand, I stand with Israel!” in accordance with His Word.
3. Blu Greenberg, How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household, Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY, 1983; 404ff.