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Christ in the Passover #7

The Modern Seder

                         CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER #7


by Ceil and Moishe Rosen (1978)


THE MODERN SEDER

(Jesus came from the tribe of Judah; He was Jewish; although you
could say Christianity came from Judah, it is not true that
Christianity came from "Judaism" for a New Covenant came into
being with Christ, and that New Testament set another new way to
remember and observe the Passover. Christianity moved into its
own life and form; it left behind the old. Those trying to find
"Jewish Roots" or involved in "Messianic Judaism" and going back
to various Jewish traditions, many of them the traditions of the
Pharisees that made void the commandments of God, and are going
backwards. Christianity moved out from under the canopy of
Judaism, it moved forward, setting its own path and a different
way of life. It's not wrong to remember your nation and culture
from whence you came, but Christianity is like as the apostle
Paul said, knowing his background in the nation of Judah, and his
Pharisee theology: "But what things were gain to me, those I
counted loss for Christ. Yes, doubtless, and I count all things
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my
Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do
count them but dung, that I may win Christ" [Philippians 3:7-8]. 
Yet, for your interest I have reproduced this chapter of this
book. It shows you how the Jews are locked into the old Passover
[with added rituals] for not accepting Christ Jesus as the
Messiah. One day, they will see their Messiah coming in glory,
they will see He was the Christ of 2,000 years ago, and they will
then move into the New Testament life and the Passover of the New
Covenant - Keith Hunt)

 
THE MODERN SEDER

     In Jewish homes, the lighting of the holiday candles
separates the sacred from the mundane, the Sabbath of rest from
the week's cares. Tonight the blue white flames cast a halo of
light over the holiday table, inspiring a sense of holiness. They
lend a soft patina to the silver service, and their flickering
glow is mirrored in the eyes of the seated company. Savory aromas
from the kitchen mingle with the scent of the hot wax, the grapy
smell of the wine, and the acrid fumes of freshly ground
horseradish. An air of festivity reigns, tempered by solemn
anticipation.
     The father or grandfather of the family conducts the
Passover seder. For this special occasion, the leader of the
feast is wearing a long, white outer garment of cotton or silk
called a "kitel." The kitel is worn by Orthodox Jewish men at
Passover and a few other special times. It is also a burial
garment. 1  This wide-sleeved ceremonial robe is a symbol of
purity, reminiscent of Temple times when no one could participate
in the sacrifices unless he was in a state of Levitical purity.
It also reminds us of the white robe of the high priest and of
the robe of righteousness that God has promised to give to His
elect (Isaiah 61:10; Revelation 6:11; 7:9). On his head, the
leader of the feast wears a tall, white, silk head covering
shaped like a crown, portraying
......

1 See "Kitel," Encyclopaedia Judaica, 10:364.
......


that on Passover night a man is king and religious leader over
his own household. 1
     All eyes now turn expectantly to the leader as he stands and
opens his Haggadah. He raises his wine glass for all to see and
chants the kiddush, the prayer of sanctification that ushers in
all Sabbath days and most of the Jewish holidays. This blessing
expresses thanksgiving to God for choosing Israel and for giving
feasts and holidays to His people. Tonight a special blessing is
added for the commandment to commemorate the redemption from
Egypt. The most widely recognized portion of this prayer is:
"Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of
the fruit of the vine." Upon the close of this benediction,
everyone at the table sips from the first cup of wine, called the
cup of sanctification. This cup of sanctification consecrates the
ritual meal.
     Next the hostess brings in a small towel and a silver bowl
filled with water. This ceremonial washbasin contains only about
a cup of water. The leader dips his fingertips into the bowl and
dries them with the towel in preparation for handling the food.
He picks up the "karpas" (celery, parsley, or lettuce) from the
seder plate and hands a small portion to each participant.
Everyone recites together: "Blessed art thou, Lord God, King of
the Universe, who createst the fruit of the earth." And everyone
dips the greens into salt water and eats. At ancient Greek and
Roman banquets, this was the traditional beginning for a formal
meal. This Hellenistic culture influenced Jewish custom and
practices during the formative stages of stand-
......

1 Jewish men wear a small head covering (yarmulke) when they
pray. The miter described above is usually reserved for the
cantor who leads the synagogue worship. At Passover the host, as
religious leader of the evening, may wear the miter.
......


ardizing the seder. Contemporary thought endows the ritual with
added symbolism: the greens represent life, which is often
immersed in tears, represented by the salt water. The host now
turns his attention to the unity, the three wafers of unleavened
bread. He bypasses the top wafer, takes out the middle wafer, and
breaks it in half. He puts one of the halves back into the unity.
Then he wraps the remaining piece of this middle matzo in a white
napkin or puts it into a special, white, silk bag. While the
children cover their eyes, he hides or "buries" that portion of
the middle matzo, usually beneath one of the pillows or under the
tablecloth. This buried or hidden wafer of unleavened bread now
has a name, "aphikomen." We will see the aphikomen later in the
Passover service.

     The ritual that follows is very old. We know this because
the prayer is in Aramaic, the language used in the land of
Israel, mainly during the time of the second Temple. To this day
it is read in Aramaic, not Hebrew. The host uncovers the
unleavened bread again, holds up the plate, and everyone recites:
"This is the Bread of Affliction which our ancestors ate in the
land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who
are in need come and celebrate Passover." Then they include
phrases that must have been added after the destruction of the
Temple: "This year we are here: next year in the land of Israel!
This year we are slaves: next year free men!" Here again, as with
the cup set out for Elijah, we see the Messianic hope expressed.
Although we are free from Egyptian slavery, we are slaves. When
the Lord brings us back to Zion in the days of the Messiah, we
will be truly redeemed, truly free!

(Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It was He who said,
"The truth shall set you free!" But the Jews today are not free,
for they will not acknowledge the truth, so they live in the
past, while still looking for the Messiah to come - Keith Hunt)

     Now the wine glasses are refilled, and the youngest child at
the table asks the traditional four questions:

Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other
nights we can eat bread or matzo. Why, tonight, only matzo?
On all other nights, we can eat any kind of herbs. Why, tonight,
bitter herbs? On all other nights we don't dip herbs we eat into
anything. Why, tonight, do we dip twice? On all other nights we
can eat either sitting up straight or reclining. Why, tonight, do
we all recline?

     The last question about reclining is a relatively late
addition to the original questions. It may have been added as a
replacement for the question referring to the Paschal lamb, which
was asked while the Temple and the sacrifices remained: "Why do
we eat only meat which is roasted?"

     The father or grandfather replies with the prescribed answer
in the Haggadah, taken from Deuteronomy 6:21 and 26:8: "We were
Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD our God brought us out
thereof with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." From this
introductory statement proceeds the reading of the whole epic of
redemption from the Haggadah. The Mishnah describes this answer
as "beginning with shame and ending with glory" (Pesahim 10:4).
The narrative combines Bible history and rabbinical commentary.
It includes God's calling Abram out of idolatry, the hardships of
the Hebrews in the land of Egypt, the punishment of the
Egyptians, the dividing of the Red Sea, the giving of the
Sabbath, and the giving of the Law. The climax is the recital of
the ten plagues that God poured out on the Egyptians. With the
mention of each plague, everyone dips or pours out one drop of
wine from his wine goblet into a small saucer. This saucer, not
the goblet, is known as the cup. When the saucer is filled with
the ten drops of wine, it is called the cup of iniquity, a term
symbolic of God's judgments. Now is posed the rhetorical
question: "Is it for this [the judgments] that we praise God?"
The answer follows: "No, for God loved the Egyptians even as He
loved us. But it is for God's infinite mercies that we praise
Him."
     This sets the stage for a happy song recounting the numerous
acts of love and mercy that God bestowed upon Israel. The name of
the song is one Hebrew word, "dayenu," meaning, "it would have
been sufficient." At the end of every line of the song comes the
one-word refrain, "Dayenu," sung about ten times with much gaiety
and handclapping. The song ends with the spoken words:

"Then how much more, doubled and re-doubled, is the claim the
Omnipresent has upon our thankfulness! For He did take us out of
Egypt and execute judgments ... and justice ... [did] tear the
sea apart for us ... satisfy our needs in the desert ... give us
the Sabbath [and] ... the Torah [Law] ... bring us into the land
of Israel, and build us the House of His choosing to atone for
all our sins."

     Now, in obedience to the ancient admonition of Rabbi
Gamaliel, the host makes special mention of the three crucial
ingredients of the Passover: the Passover sacrifice (symbolized
by the shank bone on the seder plate), the bitter herbs, and the
unleavened bread (matzo). He explains each item, holding up the
bitter herbs and matzo. However, he does not lift up the shank
bone, lest what is only the symbol of the Passover lamb be given
the significance of a real sacrifice, which is forbidden. Then he
adds these words:

"In every generation let each man look on himself as if he came
forth out of Egypt. As it is said: 'And thou shalt tell thy son
... it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came forth
out of Egypt'"[see Exodus 13:8].

     This text is based on the teaching of the Mishnah (Pesahim
10:5) that the Exodus and redemption are not to be taken only as
history; each Jew is to consider the experience as personal.
(Even so, those of us who are spiritually redeemed by Jesus, the
true Passover Lamb, see Him as being sacrificed for each of us,
individually and personally, although the actual event happened
two thousand years ago.)

(The Jews believe they are the children of God as much as any
Christian believes they are. Their theology teaches they can be
saved WITHOUT Christ; the Christian therology teaches there is
only ONE through whom you can be saved - Christ Jesus - Acts 4:12
- Keith Hunt)

     Now the company raises the wine glasses in a toast of
thanksgiving to the goodness of God and proclaims: "Let us then
recite before Him a new song: Hallelujah!" They put the glasses
down without drinking and recite Psalms 113 and 114, the first
portion of the Hallel, which literally means "praise." Then they
raise the wine glasses once again, repeating the ancient prayer
of Rabbi Akiba, probably written just after the destruction of
the Temple.

"Blessed art thou, O Lord ... who redeemed us ... and has brought
us to this night ... So, O Lord ... bring us to other festivals
... happy in the building of thy city ... And there may we eat of
the sacrifices and the paschal offerings, whose blood will come
unto the walls of thy altar for acceptance. Then shall we give
thanks to thee with a new song, for our redemption and the
liberation of our soul. Blessed art thou, O Lord, Redeemer of
Israel. Blessed art thou ... Creator of the fruit of the vine."

     This is the signal for drinking the second cup of wine,
called the "cup of praise."
     Following the drinking of the second cup, they pass
around the basin of water. Everyone repeats the special prayer
for ceremonial handwashing and washes his hands. The head of the
feast now breaks off pieces of unleavened bread and distributes
them to all at the table. They recite together the prayers of
thanksgiving for bread and for the commandment to eat unleavened
bread; they eat a morsel of the matzo.
     Next the host dips some of the bitter herb into the sweet
charoseth mixture and offers a piece to each participant. Before
eating it, they pronounce another benediction, thanking God for
commanding the eating of bitter herbs. The resultant tears
produced by this ceremony are a fitting memorial to the hardships
of our ancestors!
     The host goes on to make a sandwich of bitter herbs and
unleavened bread. He eats it, saying:

"In memory of the Temple, according to the custom of Hillel. Thus
did [Rabbi] Hillel when the Holy Temple still stood: he used to
combine unleavened bread and bitter herbs and eat them together,
to fulfill that which is said: 'They shall eat it with unleavened
bread and bitter herbs.'"

     By this time, the younger children are a bit droopy-eyed
from the warmth of the room, the sips of wine, and the hypnotic
flickering of the candles. The older people are not drowsy; they
have just been jolted into alertness by the mouthful of
horseradish. But now the hostess sets aside the seder plate and
disappears into the kitchen, and this is the real cue for
everyone to come to life. Here come the good things that have
been teasing their nostrils all day!

     The Passover meal is literally a banquet. It usually begins
with the traditional hard-boiled eggs dipped or flavored with
salt water. Then come the appetizers. In Ashkenazi homes (those
of northern and eastern European culture), two of the favorite
appetizers are chopped liver, similar to the French liver pate,
and gefilte fish. The latter is similar to Scandinavian fish
balls without the sauce. Jewish people like to use horseradish
instead, even when it is not Passover. Then, almost always, there
is a matzo ball soup, a rich, clear chicken broth accompanied by
fluffy, featherlight dumplings made of finely ground matzo and
many well-beaten eggs. The main course is usually a stuffed,
roasted fowl, or beef of some kind. Jewish people today
traditionally do not eat lamb on Passover, because there is no
Temple and no Passover sacrifice. But those of us who are Jewish
believers in the Messiah Jesus feel that it is fitting and
meaningful to eat lamb at our Passover meals in remembrance of
the One who came to be the Lamb, whose sacrifice overshadows the
sacrifices of all the lambs slain in the Temple (Hebrews 9).

(Let me say here, there is nothing in the New Testament
Scriptures to forbid you eating lamb at any meal during the 7 day
Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover evening, correctly being
the beginning of the 14th day of the first month, Nisan or Abib,
is NOT A MEAL! Hence lamb will not be eaten during that specific
service, for it is not a meal under the New Testament ordinance -
all fully explained in my many studies of the Passover - Keith
Hunt)

     There are many more good things to eat, like salads and
vegetables, limited only by the cook's imagination and
resourcefulness. For dessert there are dried fruits, nuts,
specially baked Passover cookies, sponge cakes, and coconut
macaroons, all made without leaven; and imported marzipan and
other candies from Israel.

(Remmeber all this is going on during the first evening hours of
the 15th day, which is technically the first holy day of the
Feast of Unleavened Bread. This is the practice handed down from
the Pharisee Jews - Keith Hunt)

     Jewish people of Eastern and Mediterranean descent
(Sephardim) have different favorite foods, in keeping with their
own culture and tradition. Their cuisine often includes tomatoes,
eggplant, and fruits like dates, figs, and oranges, which are
native to their countries. The only foods never to be found on
any Passover table, besides bread or other types of leaven, are
pork and shellfish. These are forbidden at all times by Leviticus
11 and Deuteronomy 14 to those Jewish people who are still under
the Law. 

(The authors are Christian Jews and so they believe such laws of
clean and unclean foods are abolished, and only none-Christian
religious Jews need to obey them - nothing could be further from
the truth - Keith Hunt)

     With dinner at an end, the dessert dishes are cleared
away, but the Passover seder is far from finished. Something is
missing - the "aphikomen"! The name aphikomen comes from the
Greek "epikomios," meaning "after dinner revelry," or "that which
comes last." In ancient times, this was apt to be rather rowdy.
Since that type of behavior was totally unsuitable for a
religious celebration, the rabbis of old substituted a solemn
commemoration of the Paschal lamb. In Temple times, the lamb was
the last thing to be eaten; now, in the absence of the
sacrificial lamb, the unleavened bread was to represent the
Passover sacrifice. The taste of the matzo and the memory of the
lamb were to linger in the consciousness of each celebrant.
The children search now for the missiing aphikomen, making a
little game of it. The adults call out advice as the children
search the room: "You're way off base!" "You're cold." "You're
getting warmer!" Soon someone finds it and turns it over to the
head of the feast with a triumphant grin of anticipation, for he
knows that he will receive a reward for it - a small gift or sum
of money.

     The gaiety and boisterousness of the search give way to
solemnity as the ritual of the seder continues. The host unwraps
the "aphikomen" and distributes olive-sized pieces to everyone. 1
All partake of it with quiet reverence. In Western culture, there
is no blessing or word spoken. But in the Sephardic or Eastern
tradition, they say: "In memory of the Passover, sacrifice, eaten
after one is sated." Nowhere do they add the prophetic words of
Jesus at the Last Supper: "This is my body which is given for
you" (Luke 22:19).
     After this, no one may have any more food or drink at the
seder other than the third and fourth cups of wine. At
......

1 By rabbinic tradition, an olive-sized morsel is the smallest
over which one can say a blessing.
......


this point many Haggadahs include the recital of Psalm 126, one
of the Songs of Ascent.

     Now that the meal is officially concluded by the eating of
the aphikomen, the ritual portion of the seder continues with the
recitation of the final table grace. At Jewish meals there is a
berachah (short prayer of thanks) for each food as it comes to
the table, but the main table grace always comes after the meal.
At the seder, the host now pours the third cup of wine before
this prayer. Then he stands and repeats the traditional words in
Hebrew: "Gentlemen, let us recite the blessing." The seated
company responds: "May the name of the Lord be blessed from now
unto eternitv." The host continues: "Let us bless Him of whose
food we have eaten." Then the participants read a lengthy prayer
of thanksgiving. Toward the end of this table grace, we hear
again the expression of hope in God's final deliverance in the
days of the Messiah.

"Take pity, O Lord ... on Israel ... on Zion the habitation of
thy glory and on the kingdom of the House of David, thine
anointed ... may there rise and come ... the remembrance of us...
and our fathers, and the remembrance of the Messiah the son of
David, thy servant ... and Jerusalem thy holy city ... and all
thy people, the House of Israel ... on this festival ... The
Compassionate One - may He send Elijah the prophet (may he be
remembered for good) to us that he may bring us good tidings of
salvations and consolations.

(Oh indeed God will send someone who will come in the "spirit and
power" of Elijah before the day of the Lord, as the prophets and
Jesus have said, but the Jews will not recognize him, for he will
come in the name of the Messiah Christ - Keith Hunt)

     If Passover falls on a Friday night (the beginning of the
Sabbath) they also add the following:

"The Compassionate One - may He cause us to inherit that day
which is all Sabbath and repose, in the everlasting life. The
Compassionate One - may He find us worthy of the days of the
Messiah and of the life of the world to come."

(You see how they pray that they will find everlasting life and
the world to come. They pray for this while they ignore or reject
the One who can give them eternal life. The are blinded, the vast
majority in Israel are blinded as Paul shows in Romans 9 through
11. The day will come when that blindness will be removed - then
they will find salvation and the world to come, but until that
time, they must wait and rest [in death, if dead before Jesus the
Messiah comes in glory] until their resurrection day - Keith
Hunt)

     This speaks of that ultimate Sabbath of rest about which
Paul is writing in Hebrews 4:9.

     Immediately following that prayer, the host leads again in
the blessing over the wine, and everyone drinks the third cup,
commemorating the verse in Exodus 6:6b: "I will redeem you with a
stretched out arm." This third cup is the cup of redemption, also
at times called the cup of blessing. It is the cup of redemption
because, say the ancient commentaries, it represents the blood of
the Paschal lamb. Some Haggadahs call it the cup of Elijah
because it directly follows the prayer for the coming of Elijah.
Another reason for that title may be because of what happens
next.
     The children have been watching Elijah's cup at the foot of
the table. In some households, the cup was filled at the
beginning of the seder; in others, it is filled now. They squint
hard at the dark red contents of the cup. Will Elijah come and
drink from the cup? Maybe he is here now, only he is invisible.
Did he take a sip? It looks like there is just a little less wine
than there was a while ago! Alas, if that is true, it is only due
to evaporation. But maybe he is still going to come! Wait and
see, but now we must go on with the service.

(They look for the Elijah to come, and he will, in the form of a
man, as like John the baptist was Elijah in his day [Mat. 17],
but not knowing Christ or the New Testament Scriptures, they will
look for him in vain. But then again the huge majority of
Christians will not know the Elijah to come before the day of the
Lord, for He will speak the word of truth, which they are blinded
from. Only the very elect will recognize the Elijah to come, and
the restitution of truth - Keith Hunt)

     Jewish scholars think the prayer that comes next, "Pour out
Thy Wrath," originated during the Middle Ages when Jews were
severely persecuted for the faith, especially at Passover time.
This prayer is not found in the earliest editions of the
Haggadah. It calls for God's judgment on the heathen, and it
sounds rather harsh. But taken in context with the other prayers
given above for the coming of Elijah, it fits into the pattern of
thought: "May God send the Messiah, heralded by the prophet
Elijah, to vanquish all our enemies and set up His Kingdom of
peace."

(The Jews pray for the still coming of the Messiah, while they
cannot see that He already came in the form of Jesus Christ, two
thousand years ago. Yet the Messiah will come and the Jews will
in that day recognize Him as the prophet Zechariah tells us in
chapters 12 and 13. See my expounding of that prophetic book on
this Website - Keith Hunt)

     The leader now sends one of the children to open the door to
see if Elijah is coming in answer to the prayers. The words are
not prescribed until later in the Haggadah reading, but just as
the door is being opened, everyone usually exclaims: "Blessed is
he who cometh in the name of the Lord" The youngsters are
round-eyed with awe as the door slowly creaks open. A gust of
cool night air sweeps into the room but no one is there. Oh well,
maybe next year. The child closes the door and comes back to the
table.

     Next the host leads in the recitation of the second portion
of the Hallel, Psalms 115 to 118. These verses are the same as
those of Temple times. They lead into the Great Hallel, which is
Psalm 136. In this well-known psalm, the Levitical choir in the
Temple sang out the praises of Jehovah and the great events of
Israel's history. At the end of each phrase or line, the
congregation responded, "For His kindness endureth forever!"
The earliest commentaries (Pesahim 10:7 of the Mishnah) record a
"Benediction of Song" after the Hallel. The Talmud, which is a
commentary on the Mishnah, teaches in Berakbot 59b that one of
these benedictions was the Great Hallel and another was at least
some part of a hymn called "The Breath of Every Living Thing."
     This closing hymn before the fourth and final cup of wine is
again a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. It begins: "The breath
of every living thing shall bless Thy Name," and ends: "Blessed
art thou, 0 Lord, God and King, who art mightily praised, God of
thanksgivings, Lord of wonders, who chooses song and psalm, King,
God, the life of the world." Once again, everyone at the table
lifts his wine glass and chants the blessing over wine. Everyone
drinks from the fourth cup. This last cup of the Passover seder
commemorates the verse in Exodus 6:7: "And I will take you to me
for a people."

     One of the modern versions of the Haggadah 1  comments very
aptly on the fourth cup and the verse it commemorates: "The
redemption is not yet complete. The Fourth Cup recalls us to our
covenant with the Eternal One, to the tasks that still await us
as a people called to the service of God, to a great purpose for
which the people of Israel live."
     The editors of that particular Haggadah see the purpose of
Israel as being "The preservation and affirmation of hope." But
we, who are familiar with the promises and prophecies of
Scripture, see a greater purpose for Israel that of one day
proclaiming to the whole world that the Messiah is, indeed,
Saviour and King!

     Because of the words, "I will take you to be my people,"
some call this fourth cup the cup of acceptance. Others prefer to
call it the cup of Elijah. There is merit to both titles, for
Elijah will yet come to herald the redemption that will be
complete only when Israel fulfills God's entire plan; that is,
when Israel recognizes and proclaims the Messiah (Zechariah
12:10), she will truly be the people of God, as foretold in
Jeremiah 32:38-40.

     And now, at last, with the drinking of the fourth cup, the
seder is drawing to a close. Happy songs and festivity often
continue afterward late into the night, but the service
......

1 Herbert Bronstein, ed., "The New Union Haggadah," rev. ed., p.
91.
......


officially ends with one last prayer for the rebuilding of
Jerusalem:

Concluded is the Passover seder,
According to its law and custom. 
As we have lived to celebrate it, 
so may we live to celebrate it again. 
Pure One, who dwells in his habitation 
Redress the countless congregation. 
Speedily lead the offshoots of thy stock 
Redeemed, to Zion in joyous song. 
NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM! 1
......


1 Jewish people already living in Israel say instead: "Next year
in Jerusalem rebuilt!"
......

                       .............................


Note:

So it is that the Jews without Christ in the Passover, live in
the past, praying for the prophet Elijah to come and reveal good
news to them. He will come and he will reveal good news to them
and all the world, but most will never know he came and restored
all things, they will blindly go their way, tripping over the
truth, picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and walking
on as if never seeing it. Then will come the end of this age,
then will come the Messiah, then the blindness will be lifted
from all faces, then the world will see who the Elijah was, and
who the Christ Messiah is. Then the covering cast over all faces
will be lifted, light of truth will pour into their minds, and
all people will finally rejoice as the knowledge of God will
cover this earth as the waters cover the sea beds. Then all will
know Christ in the Passover.

Keith Hunt

February 2010


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