“Thus said HaShem: ‘Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself with his strength, let no the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself – contemplating and knowing Me, for I am HaShem Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for in these is My desire, the Word of HaShem.'” Yirmiyah (Jeremiah) 9:22-23
As I put this Op together, it is Shabbat, 4 April 2020, just a few days before the great first of the annual Feasts of HaShem i.e. Pesach is celebrated, which begins the evening of 8 April 2020! How much more significant will the Feast mean to each us who celebrates it this year considering the current state of the world and America? Is it a coincidence a plague is striking the earth and decimating America at this time just as HaShem sent the plagues to strike Egypt at this same time? Is it a coincidence many of of us are under ‘Shelter-in-Place’ orders in our homes just as our forefathers were ordered to shelter in place in their homes while in Egypt at this same time? There are many similarities currently ongoing around us which for those who are paying attention will see happened to our forefathers at exactly this same time! Again I ask, is it a coincidence?
This all said, this Op will be focusing on the elements of the Pesach Seder, which for those who do not know, the Seder is where we read through the Haggadah on the night of Pesach in order to fulfill the mitzvot HaShem commanded in that we retell and remember how He liberated and rescued Israel from the enslavement and oppression of Egypt! I want to explore WHY we use the elements we use and what they represent!
We are commanded by HaShem, when observing Pesach to always retell the story as if it were you and I that He delivered from Egypt. Why is this? Because He is unchanging, there is nothing new under the sun and He reveals the end out of the beginning which means we must understand the deliverance from Egypt in the First Redemption is a picture of how He will do so in the Final Redemption, may it be VERY soon in our days!
I know there are many in the Hebrew Roots, Messianic circles (Of which I am not a member of either), have lots of objections to the Pesach Seder of which many claim we shouldn’t do it because it is all ‘Rabbinic’ in nature and added too by the Rabbis. Or other objections are made claiming Yeshua is no where in the Pesach Seder and therefore only a Messianic Haggadah should be used where Yeshua has been forcibly added in. I address these objections up front because they are completely wrong! The Orthodox Pesach Seder IS the correct one and has NOT been changed since the Sanhedrin made their rulings before they were disbanded in the second century AFTER Yeshua and the destruction of the Second Temple. Remember the Sanhedrin has the authority granted to them by HaShem Himself therefore to defy the Sanhedrin is to defy HaShem. I digress.
This all said, I am hoping you will be astounded at how much Yeshua IS all over the Pesach Seder and Haggadah as we delve into this. Also be advised this will probably be a VERY long Op. This cannot be avoided as I want to contain the topic in one single Op as we are this close to Pesach itself. So now let’s jump into this but as I state in every Op, always remember the following:
– HaShem never changes per Num 23:19/Mal 3:6/Hebrews 13:8/James 1:17
– His Word is firmly established per Psalm 119:89
– He reveals the end out of the beginning per Is 46:10
– He does nothing without first revealing it to His prophets per Amos 3:7
– He says there is nothing new under the sun per Ecclesiastes 1:9
– He says His Torah is eternal per Proverbs 3:19 and Psalm 119:160
– He says His Torah is perfect and restores the soul per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah makes the simple one wise per Psalm 19:7
– He says His Torah Is freedom and liberty per Psalm Ps 119:45 and James 1:25
– He says His Torah is the only good doctrine there is Proverbs 4:2
– He says His Torah will add length of days and years of life and peace per Proverbs 3:2
– He says all of the ways of His Torah are ways of pleasantness and peace per Proverbs 3:17
– He says His Torah is for our good and well-being per Deuteronomy 6:24
– He says His Torah is health for our lives per Proverbs 3:8
– He says His Torah is life to our soul and a graceful ornament for our neck per Prov 3:22
– He says His Torah is better than pearls and all desires cannot compare to it per Prov 8:11
– He says those who walk with His Torah are praiseworthy per Psalms 119:1
– He says observing His Torah is how we purify our path per Psalms 119:9
– He says His Torah is better than thousands in gold and silver per Psalms 119:72
– He says His Torah brings abundant peace to those who love Him and His Torah per Psalms 119:165
– He says there is one Torah for all per Exodus 12:49/Leviticus 24:22
– He says those who hate His Torah love death per Proverbs 8:36
We will be focusing on the Pesach Seder Plate and the six elements which are placed upon it and the reasons for them. Again, as I stated above I am hoping you will be astounded!!
Before we discuss these elements, let’s do a quick review of the Pesach Seder itself and pay attention to the numbers as they are very important in themselves which I will explain.
The Seder Plate (Pictured above) has SIX elements (Which we will explore and examine each one shortly):
- Maror – Bitter Herbs
- Chazeret – Bitter Herbs eaten a second time
- Charoset – Mixture of grated apples, nuts, cinnamon, spices and red wine
- Z’roa – Roasted Bone
- Beitzah – Roasted Egg
- Karpas – Celery
We need to quickly explore the number 6 as well as the 6th letter of the Hebrew alephbet. The number 6 has significance as it points to:
- The six days of creation
- The six tractates which comprise the Mishnah (Oral Torah)
- The six directions of the physical world
The sixth letter of the Hebrew alephbet is the letter ‘Vav’ which is “The symbol of completion, redemption and transformation.”
Then there are the THREE pieces of Matzah (Unleavened Bread) which are placed atop the other, separated by a cloth or a napkin which are then eaten at three different times during the seder, by itself, with Maror and as the Afikomen (Which we will discuss later). Let’s quickly look at the number three and the third letter of the Hebrew alephbet:
The number three has many meanings attached to it in HaShem’s Word:
- The three Patriarchs i.e. Avraham, Yitzakh and Ya’ackov
- The three Pilgrimage Festivals of HaShem in which every person is required to bring offerings and present themselves before HaShem in the Temple in Jerusalem i.e. Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.
- Three consecutive days in His Word usually lead to an event of profound significance i.e. ‘On the Third Day….’ Then dry land was revealed during creation. On the Third Day Esther donned royalty to go before the king to plead for the salvation of Israel from Haman. On the Third Day Yeshua arose from the grave. (Keep this in mind when we examine the Matzah!)
The third letter of the Hebrew alephbet is ‘Gimel’ which is “The symbol of kindness and culmination.”
There are FOUR cups of wine poured during the Seder (Which we will explore later). Let’s quickly look at the number four and the fourth letter of the Hebrew alephbet:
The number four has a ton of meanings to it:
- The four cups of the Seder
- The four encampments of the entire Camp of Israel with HaShem at the center
- The four birth mothers of Israel
- The four rivers of Eden
- The four corners of the world
- The four major empires who would subjugate Israel while in exile i.e. Babylon, Media/Persia, Greece and Rome (Christianity).
- The four levels of interpretation of the Torah i.e. Plain meaning, Allusion, Exposition and Esoteric
The fourth letter of the Hebrew alephbet is ‘Dalet’ which is “The symbol of dimensions and concern, an open doorway, being kind to the needy.”
There are 15 steps in the Pesach Seder. Let’s quickly look at the number 15 and the 15th letter of the Hebrew alephbet:
The number 15 is very significant as it represents:
- The 15 Songs of Ascent i.e. Psalms 120-134
- The 15 steps in the Temple when one ascends towards HaShem corresponding to the Songs of Ascent
- The 15 steps in the Pesach Seder
- The making of Israel i.e. the overlapping of the Patriarchs lifespan was over 15 years
- The moon is the brightest on the 15th day of the month
- The 15 steps man takes to either rise or to fall
- Climbing these steps represents an upward ascent towards HaShem
The 15th letter of the Hebrew alephbet is the letter ‘Samech’ which is “The symbol of support, protection and memory.”
Have I already overwhelmed you with information? Keep all this in mind because NOTHING is just because or just a coincidence!
Now we will delve into each of the six elements of the Seder Plate!
We will first start off with the three pieces of matza bread. I will be referencing an outstanding series of books I recommend people get titled “The Book of Our Heritage the Jewish Year and the Days of Significance” by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov. I will be quoting from book two of this series.
From page 600 “The three matzos that are placed on the Seder plate are referred to as ‘Kohen (Priest), Levi and Yisrael’ as means of distinguishing them from each other. The top matzah is referred to as ‘Kohen’ because the Kohen takes precedence in all matters. The middle matzah i.e. ‘Levi’ is broken into two at the beginning of the Seder. The smaller piece is left on the plate and is later eaten along with the Kohen matzah in fulfillment of the mitzvah of mitzah; the larger piece is put away for use as the Afikomen; and the Yisrael matzah (Bottom piece) is used for korech (One of the 15 steps of the Seder), so that every one of the matzos is used for the performance of a mitzvah.”
“Why then on this night do we require three? Matzah is known as the ‘Bread of poverty.’ A poor man, fearful lest he will have no more, guards his bread carefully. He does not eat it all at once but divides it, laying aside for the morrow. Therefore we prepare three, and divide one of them i.e. the middle one. When we say the ha-Motzi, we hold all three matzos, thus including the two whole ones; when we say the second blessing, we put down the lowest one and hold only the top one and a section of the middle one.”
“Some see the three matzos as an allusion to the three measures of flour that Avraham asked Sarah to bake when he was visited by the three angels. The verse itself alludes to the connection, for the Torah, Bereshis (Genesis) 18:6, quotes Avraham as telling Sarah to ‘Be quick’ which parallels the haste in which Israel left Egypt and ‘Knead three measures of flour and make cakes’ i.e. matzos. According to our tradition, this dialogue took place on Erev Pesach (Evening of Pesach).”
Page 602 says “Matzah itself alludes to both bondage and redemption. The essence of matzah is the fact that it was made in great haste, that it did not have the opportunity to rise. Before Israel’s redemption, the people were under the rule of harsh taskmasters who made them toil incessantly. Even at night they were given no time to rest from their work. Before sunrise their oppressors would already be urging them to begin work, even before the bread they had prepared had a chance to rise. They baked bread in haste and ate it in haste.”
“When the power of their oppressors was broken and the Egyptians sent them out in haste, again they had no time to wait for their bread to rise, for the King of all kings revealed Himself to them and redeemed them (Shemot/Exodus 12:39). They baked their bread in haste to leave, and ate in haste for the road beckoned to them.”
“This is the character of the nation (Israel) and its greatness. They do not seek respite but rather, strive to fulfill their mission. When they are humbled they do not despair, for they understand that their redemption cannot be far away. On the contrary, they accept their bondage with love, for they know that it brings them closer to their salvation. They eat bread as slaves but taste the taste of freedom.”“
“When Israel left Egypt, they did not merely remove the yoke of servitude. They took off the yoke of enslavement to mortal man and replaced it with the yoke of servitude to Heaven. They became servants of HaShem instead of servants of Pharaoh. There is no higher form of freedom than this.”“
WOW…can you see Yeshua in the the matzah? Remember Yeshua died on the afternoon just as the Pesach offerings were being slaughtered in the Temple. He had been beaten and now pierced just as matzah has stripes and piercings and as such our freedom from the curse of sin was secured. Now the covenant between HaShem and Israel could be restored and renewed…NOT replaced as Replacement Theology teaches.
Let’s keep going!
Now let’s explore the Maror and Charoset:
The Maror i.e. the Bitter Herbs, is usually a piece of lettuce which is to symbolize the bitterness of our servitude to Pharaoh per Shemot 1:14. The lettuce is to remind us of our slavery in Egypt, at first it is sweet an then becomes bitter, just as our servitude was at first sweet an then later became bitter.
The Hebrew word ‘Chasah’, the word for ‘Lettuce’ connotes taking pity, reminding us HaShem took pity on us when we were slaves.
The Charoset is sweet tasting, comprised of ground apples, nuts, spices, cinnamon and red wine. It symbolizes the mortar used by Israel in making bricks for Pharaoh. It also, per page 603 of Rabbi Kitov’s book symbolizes “The apple trees under which the women of Israel gave birth, concealing their pain so they would not be detected by the Egyptians (Remember the edict put out by Pharaoh to slaughter the babies). The verse in Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) 8.5 states ‘Under the apple tree I stirred you, there your mother was in travail with you, there she who bore you was in travail.’ Why did they choose to give birth under an apple tree? As a result of their subjugation and servitude, the men had lost hope of being redeemed. They separated from their wives, for they saw no profit in bringing children into a life of poverty and slavery. but the women, who shared their servitude, encouraged their husbands. When the time came for them to give birth, they would go out into the fields. They concealed their pains and gave birth under the apple trees, choosing it because the apple tree FIRST produces fruit and only THEN produces protective leaves. They thus declared that they would do likewise; FIRST giving birth to their fruit (Children) and THEN the Guardian (HaShem) would come and protect and redeem their offspring.”
The Maror is then dipped in the Charoset symbolizing we also experience and taste the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of redemption! “The Sages ordained the maror be dipped into charoset so as to counteract the harmful substance in the maror (horse radish).”
“We noted earlier that the various elements of the Seder reflect dishonor and praise, slavery and redemption. The Maror and Charoset do the same, for they are a mixture of bitter and sweet. We temper the bitterness of the maror by dipping it into the sweet charoset, just as our forefathers tempered the bitterness of their servitude by thinking of the redemption. The charoset itself recalls the clay and the straw with which our forefathers made bricks during their slavery.”
“Red wine is added to the charoset as a symbol of the blood of circumcision, of the Pesach offering, and the children who were slaughtered by Pharaoh. It also serves to remind us that not all we consider bitter is lacking sweetness and not all that we consider sweet lacks bitterness. Subjugation does not equal slavery and freedom does not equal redemption. If one relies on Pharaoh and the defilement that he and Egypt represent, then even sweetness becomes bitter and even freedom becomes servitude. But if one turns to HaShem, then bitterness becomes sweetness and subjugation is transformed into freedom.”
“We were slaves for as long as we relied on Pharaoh. But when HaShem took us out, then we were really redeemed. Had HaShem not taken us from Egypt, then even if Pharaoh had ultimately given us our freedom or if we had escaped on our own, we and our children still would be subjugated to him. True freedom and redemption are ours ONLY because HaShem redeemed us and took us as His people.”
Again just WOW! See how HaShem is using all of our senses to teach us His principles of slavery and freedom, enslavement and redemption? And to think Yeshua celebrated the Pesach Seder as well!!
Let’s keep going!
Now let’s explore the Karpas:
The word ‘Karpas’ literally means ‘Celery’ however any type of non bitter vegetable can be used. Many use parsley. Per page 606, “On the simplest level, the basis for eating karpas is to arouse the curiosity of the children.”
From ‘The Family Haggadah’ by Artscroll, it says regarding karpas: “The vegetable used for Karpas is of lowly origin, from beneath the earth. Yet, it develops into an integral part of a sacred feast. So the lowly slave nation grew to become the Chosen People. And so must each, regardless of background strive ever greater for spiritual heights.”
During the Seder, the karpas is dipped in salt water. The salt water represents the tears of our forefathers in enslavement. Further on page 606, Rabbi Kitov says “There are a number of other allusions and mystical associations connected with eating karpas. Eating maror is discomforting and karpas alleviates this. We therefore eat karpas first, as a symbol of the fact HaShem creates the remedy before the illness. Thus He had already prepared Israel’s redemption before He sent them down to Egypt.”
WOW…Another great reminder HaShem is using via all of our senses that He is in absolute control over all things and He creates the remedy BEFORE the illness. That He prepares the redemption BEFORE the enslavement! What a great reminder especially in light of today’s world we live in!!
Let’s keep going.
Now we will explore Korech:
Per page 607 from Rabbi Kitov “After eating maror, the leader of the Seder takes the third (bottom) matzah and makes a sandwich i.e. korech, of matzah and maror. A sandwich like this is portioned out to each person at the table. Before eating the sandwich, we recite the phrase indicating that we are eating korech as a commemoration of the fact that in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple in Jerusalem), according to the opinion of Hillel, it was customary to eat the meat of the Pesach sacrifice in a sandwich of matzah and maror, to fulfill the Torah’s command that the meat of the sacrifice be eaten together with matzah and maror.”“
So here we see again another example of why we need to understand how the Temple functions, how the korbonot are offered and what happens on the Feasts of HaShem, just as HaShem commands us in Ezekiel 43:10-11! I digress.
Let’s keep going, we are almost there.
Now let’s examine Z’roa and Beitzah:
Z’roa = The roasted bone and the Beitzah = The roasted egg.
Now again as I stated above, I know there are many in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic circles who reject the Seder because of the Beitzah. Many claim it was added by the rabbis and derived from Babylon. Others claim it is akin to the pagan Easter eggs. Both claims are just completely wrong and I will explain.
From page 607 from Rabbi Kitov, “When the Beit HaMikdash stood, a table would be prepared after Kiddush with maror, an additional vegetable, matzah, charoset, and the meat of the Pesach sacrifice. Additionally, the meat from the chagigah, the Festival offering brought on the fourteenth of Nisan, was also placed on the table.”
Remember the Pesach sacrifice is a lamb. The Festival sacrifice i.e. the Chagigah brought on the 14th of Nisan was a goat. VERY important to remember this!
“This (The Chagigah) had been slaughtered earlier to eat at the evening meal, for the meat of the Pesach sacrifice was to be eaten ONLY when the people were already satisfied.”
With this said, therefore the Z’roa/Roasted Bone represents the Pesach korbonot i.e. the lamb and the Beitzah/Roasted Egg represents the Festival korbonot i.e. the goat. Since there is no Temple standing in Jerusalem today, we are therefore prohibited by the Torah from offering either a lamb or a goat on Pesach, therefore to dispel any false claims, the Z’roa and the Beitzah are used!
The Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) notes the egg and the roasted bone serve to symbolize HaShem’s desire to redeem us ‘With an outstretched arm.’ The bone represents the Arm of HaShem and the egg symbolizes HaShem’s desire i.e the Hebrew word ‘Beya’ which is similar to the word ‘Desire,’
Interesting to note, another name for the Messiah of HaShem is ‘HaShem’s Outstretched Arm’…and here the outstretched arm represented by a roasted bone i.e. the Lamb! Just a coincidence? Not a chance!
From page 608, “An additional reason for using an egg as a symbol of the Festival offering: Just as an egg has no mouth, so too do we declare that our detractors should have no mouth to malign us by saying that since HaShem has not redeemed us until now, this proves He will no longer do so. Throughout the generations, the nations have plotted and planned to destroy us, claiming that we are not better than they and therefore have no right to expect to be redeemed. The egg of the Seder table symbolically silences them, for every year and in every place, Israel, though subjugated, sings HaShem’s praises for the redemption that He brought them. Every one sits at his table like a king and declares, ‘Our enemies have disappeared and we remain alive.'”
So you can see there is nothing pagan about the egg on the Seder plate. Easter yes is absolute paganism, idolatry and utter rebellion and the painted eggs along with an egg laying rabbit is straight out of the pit of hell itself and has zero connection to the Pesach Seder.
Okay, we are just about finished..stay with me.
Now we will discuss the Afikoman:
From page 611, “When the meal is finished and before we recite the Grace After Meals, the Afikoman is taken from the place where it was hidden at the beginning of the recital of the Haggadah and we eat a piece while reclining on our left sides (Symbolizing royalty on this one night). The hiding of the matzah at the beginning of the Seder is not intended to reserve this particular matzah for use as the Afikoman, but only to arouse curiosity of the children so that they ask questions. In the answers to these questions, the story of the Exodus is told.”
“The Afikoman as noted, commemorates the eating of the Pesach sacrifice which was eaten when the people were satisfied i.e. after they had finished eating the meat of the Festival offering. The reason they waited until they were sated was to make sure that in their hunger they did not break the bones of the Pesach sacrifice, a practice the Torah forbids, so as to eat all of the meat.”
WOW…can you again see Yeshua in this? The Pesach korbonot is only eaten after everyone is full from the Goat that was prepared earlier in order to ensure no bone of the Pesach korbonot was broken…..remember the prophecy that when Yeshua was hung on the stake, no bone of His would be broken!! Here is another commemoration of that event!
Why is the Afikoman hidden? From page 613 “In the order of the Seder as it appears in the ceremonial symbols, the Afikoman is referred to by the word ‘Tzafun’ or ‘Hidden’ because it has been hidden away, from the beginning of the meal until the time for eating it. Some people hide it in a pillow or cushion. We read in Minhagei Yeshurun that we hide it in cushions to symbolically guard it, in fulfillment of the verse in Shemot 12:17 which says ‘And you shall guard the matzos.'”
Can you again see Yeshua in this in that right now He is hidden, concealed in the Heavenly Temple and at the appointed time, when it is time to be revealed, the marriage, His coronation as King and we sit at the meal to eat?
The entire Seder points to HaShem and His promises to act on our behalf and redeem us all at the appointed time! It also reveals Yeshua and therefore there is no need to add Him in there as many have erroneously done.
One more element of the Seder I want to quickly discuss and then we will be done:
During the Seder there are four questions which are to be asked representing four sons or the four types of people in the world:
- The Wicked Son – Asks “Of what purpose is this work to you?” Meaning the wicked son is an idolater who questions the validity of the Torah and doesn’t believe the Torah has any value whatsoever i.e. Replacement Theology.
- The Wise Son – Asks “What are the testimonies, decrees, and ordinances which HaShem, our Elohim, has commanded you?”
- The Simple Son – Asks “What is this?”
- The Son Who is Unable to Ask – The subject must be initiated for him
From page 620, “The Torah begins with the Wicked Son. He may be wicked but he is still a son. When the Torah refers to the obligation of educating our children, the mitzvah of Haggadah, all sons are included. When we sit together at the Seder and tell the story of the Exodus, our house is tranquil. The power of the narrative is so great that all sons, wicked and wise, simple and unaware of what to ask, are transformed and together will join with their father singing praise to HaShem.”
What is the point for this? There is hope for those who continuously reject and refuse HaShem and His Torah if there is someone petitioning HaShem for them! HaShem will deal with that person and He will bring them home at the appointed time. It may take terrible situations to finally get their attention, but in the end HaShem will get them home.
So with all this said, can you see the message of redemption, salvation, gratitude and praise to our Great and Merciful King, HaShem, Master of the Legions of Heaven, is at the center of the Pesach Seder! Can you see why we MUST participate and learn the Seder for ourselves because of the great hope there is in being reminded of the First Exodus and how it relates to the hope of the Final Exodus?
We are living in extremely difficult times and sad to say it is only going to get more difficult from here on out. It is NOT a coincidence these world events are currently unfolding during the month of Nissan, the month of redemption, the month of Pesach and the month of the Seder where we retell the story of our redemption! He is unchanging and He reveals the end from the beginning which means soon, may it be so very, very soon, He will send His Right Arm, His Moshiach, to redeem us once again and for the final time!!
I hope and pray this has helped and will enhance your understanding of the Pesach Seder. I know HaShem has taught me a lot in the last few days studying this out and I am so very grateful to Him and what He is revealing!
I will end this Op here with the following statement from Yeshua: “When we BEGIN to see these things come to pass, look up, life up your heads for your redemption draws near!” Luke 21:28.
Much to consider.
- The Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers by Artscroll
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Artscroll
- The Family Haggadah by Artscroll
- The Book of Our Heritage the Jewish Year and its Days of Significance by Eliyahu Kitov