April 8, 2012
“On that night we were redeemed, and on that night we shall be redeemed.”
The Passover Seder is made up of two halves, roughly divided by the festive meal itself. The first part commemorates the redemption from Egypt as we retell the whole story of the departure from Egypt, starting with “Avadim hayinu, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and Hashem our God took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” The second half concludes with the famous line, “Next year in Jerusalem!” our declaration of hope for the final redemption, when Jerusalem will be restored as the holy city and the source of Torah for all the nations.
According to Rabbi Yitzchak Sender in The Commentators’ Haggadah, the second half of the Seder begins after the meal and the third cup of wine, when we pour another cup for Elijah the Prophet, and open the door to see if he’s arrived yet. (There’s lots of additional explanations for opening the door at this point, of course.)
read more »
April 5, 2012
Whenever I read Rav Shaul’s account of Messiah’s last Seder, I always wonder at his concluding phrase: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Why “the Lord’s death”? Don’t we celebrate Messiah’s resurrection and his life among us when we partake of the Lord’s Seder? Yes, but apparently we need the reminder to pay full attention to his death at the beginning of Passover before we come to the resurrection on the third day.
What stands out the most about Messiah’s death as he describes it at his last Passover is that it’s for us: “This is my body that is for you. . . . This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Cor. 11: 24–25). Yeshua gives his body for us; he sheds his blood to bring us into covenant. That’s what we are to remember when we eat of the Lord’s Seder. (There’s a whole discussion about whether we share this remembrance meal only at Passover or throughout the year, which I’m not getting into here. Paul tells the Corinthians, “as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death,” and that should cover all cases.) In the context of 1 Corinthians. Paul is contrasting the right kind of Lord’s Supper with the Corinthians’ supper, which is clearly a matter of eating for self, with factions, social hierarchy, greed, and impatience.
read more »
April 2, 2012
The tenth day of Nisan has just ended, four days before Passover, which is the day on which the Torah commanded every household to select a lamb to be sacrificed four days later on Passover. It’s also the day that Yeshua entered Jerusalem during his last Passover, riding on a donkey to fulfill the words of Zechariah the prophet: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Yeshua was making it clear what king he was. It’s often said that the Jews of his day rejected this kind of king, but there’s a crowd of Jews welcoming him on the 10th of Nisan:
And a very great crowd spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the crowds who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Hosanna in the highest!”
And when he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”
So the crowds said, “This is Yeshua, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.” (Matt. 21:8-11)
Matthew uses the word crowd(s) three times in this brief passage, and it will appear again later.
read more »