“Then I would invoke the Name of HaShem: ‘Please HaShem save my soul!’ Gracious is HaShem and righteous, our Elohim is merciful. HaShem protects the simple; I was brought low, but He saved me!” Tehillim (Psalms) 116:4-6
There are no words to express how difficult the last few months have been not just for myself but for everyone I know whether friend or family member! Everyone I talk too has the same report…“Life is so very, very tough, scary and so very difficult right now, more so than I ever imagined it would be!” We are facing trials and difficulties unimaginable just a few years ago…truly, in my opinion, we are right on the last remaining precipice of the ‘Chevlei Mashiach’ i.e. the Birth Pains of Messiah!
While these hardships are striking everyone in unprecedented ways, we also have to know HaShem Himself is likewise moving in unprecedented ways, ways we may not even be aware of! We must, each day make the choice as to whom am I going to trust today myself, the world or The Sovereign of the Universe, Creator of ALL things, HaShem, Master of Legions, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Elohim of Israel? When faced with emergency situations, making that decision can be very difficult!
This is why I find it very interesting HaShem has made the days preceding this years Pesach (Passover), which begins at sunset this coming Friday i.e. 15 April 2022, filled with opportunities to really learn and study the 15 elements of the Pesach Seder and what it all truly represents and what HaShem is trying to communicate to us, which I believe is infinitely significant this year especially, in light of what each of us are facing! Now more than ever we need to understand what all is going on in the Pesach Seder!
On a side note before continuing on, let me just say it up front to get it out of the way, I do observe Pesach and the Seder according to the Orthodox way as I personally believe this is the most accurate way. Do I believe Yeshua should be added into the Seder? Wholeheartedly, vehemently, one hundred percent NO! Yeshua is ALREADY in the Seder, we just need to learn the elements of the Seder and learn to see Yeshua in it because He is all over it!
A thought to ponder…if Yeshua were here for this Pesach, where would He hold His Seder, in a Messianic congregation or an Orthodox synagogue? In my opinion, He would absolutely hold it in an Orthodox synagogue! Why? Because the Orthodox Seder already discusses Him! Further, the Haggadah (The Seder Service) is absolutely Divinely inspired and directed and HaShem commands we are to obey the rulings of the Sanhedrin! Okay, now that this is covered, moving on.
My intention is to make this a short Op discussing various elements of Pesach as it relates to the madness of the world around us and in light of what each of us is currently facing, whether it be health issues, financial issues, employment issues, or a combination of everything. But as always, before we begin, always remember the following eternal characteristics of HaShem and hold onto them:
- 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 the ONLY truth there is per Psalms 119:142
- He says His Torah is a tree of life and eternal per Proverbs 3:18-19 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 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
- He says His Torah is the way of faith per Psalms 119:29-30
- He says His Torah makes us wiser than our enemies per Psalms 119:98
- He says His Torah is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path per Psalms 119:105
- He says one who finds His Torah has found life per Proverbs 8:35
- He says one who finds His Torah has found favor from HaShem per Proverbs 8:35
- He says Messiah Yeshua is the GOAL of His Torah, meaning without His Torah, Messiah cannot be known per Romans 10:4
- He says if we had believed Moshe/Torah, we would have believed Messiah per John 5:46
- He says His Torah makes us wiser than our enemies per Psalms 119:98
- He says His salvation is far from the wicked for they sought not His Torah per Psalms 119:155
- He says to hold fast to and guard His Torah, for it is our life per Proverbs 4:13
What is Pesach truly all about? Is it a Feast of HaShem where a bunch of lambs are slaughtered and then we sit down to a meal, or is there much more significance which HaShem is attempting to teach all of us? Clearly there is so much more HaShem wants us to learn and apply to our lives and walk with Him!
The Haggadah I use for the Seder service is ‘The Family Haggadah’ from Artscroll, which is a very good Haggadah. To accompany this, I have the book ‘The Haggadah A New and Greatly Expanded Edition of the Acknowledged Classic’ by Rabbi Joseph Elias, which is a very good commentary explaining every little intricate detail of the Haggadah!
This commentary from Rabbi Elias is very good at explaining the significance of Pesach. It begins by discussing bondage to freedom: “Do not read that the Tablets were engraved, but that they were freedom – a man is only free if he occupies himself with Torah’ quoting Perkei Avos 6:2. In conveying the message of Pesach to his children, the father is given yet another directive ‘Begin with the shameful part of our history and conclude with the glorious’ quoting Pesachim 116a (Talmud Bavli). This too, helps us experience the liberation from Egypt, we MUST feel bondage and slavery in all their starkness, so that we should be able to truly appreciate our deliverance and take to heart its lessons. The commandments of the Seder symbolize both slavery and freedom; they force upon our consciousness both extremes of this night, and indeed of all our history. The perceptive child is aroused by this twin symbolism to ask ‘Why is this night different from all other nights? Why does it require us to demonstrate both bondage (Maror and Matzah, the bread of affliction) and freedom (Repeated dipping of our food, and reclining)?’ It is this very question of the child which the father answers by stressing that in this night we experienced both extremes i.e. bondage and freedom.
But what was the meaning of this bondage and freedom – was it simply slavery and emancipation, or was there some deeper significance? Two opinions are expressed by our Sages (Members of the Sanhedrin). One holds that we begin with the physical slavery of Egypt based upon the passage in Devarim (Deut) 6:21; the other goes back to the pagan beginnings of our history, when our earliest ancestors were enslaved to idolatry based on the passage in Yehoshua (Joshua) 24:2. We follow both opinions, we first answer our children, we were slaves in Egypt; then we go back and tell them that our forefathers were idol worshippers at the dawn of our history.
Very obviously, the Sages emphasize two aspects of our historical experience. From a purely socio-political perspective, we will recall the physical enslavement and emancipation, but then will wonder why we should be grateful for HaShem’s liberating hand when it was He Who thrust us into slavery. But this question disappears when we look at our Egyptian bondage from a wider SPIRITUAL perspective. From our earliest origins in a pagan society we carried a burden of spiritual imperfection, the most profound and destructive form of bondage, one which would not have permitted us to become HaShem’s people and to carry His message. Only by being cast into the iron melting pot of Egypt, and then being miraculously withdrawn from it, were we able to achieve insights and to scale spiritual heights that freed us once and for all from our ancient bondage of the spirit. The intense suffering made the Jews turn to HaShem and this gained their liberation, physical and spiritual, at HaShem’s Hand.
Thus we can speak of a dual slavery and a dual deliverance, clearly described by Rambam – ‘He should start by telling that, at first, in the times of Terach (Abraham’s father) and before him, our forefathers were unbelievers who pursued vanities and strayed after idols; and he should end with the true faith, that HaShem brought us close to Him, separated us from the nations, and brought us to acknowledge His oneness. Likewise he should start by explaining that were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and all the evil he did us, and end with the miracles and marvels that were done for us, and our liberation.'”
So, what is being said here? We need to look at Pesach and the Seder service from the perspective of HaShem’s deliverance and freedom from both a physical bondage but from a more destructive bondage i.e. a spiritual bondage to idolatry and sin! Remember, what is the biblical definition of sin? The breaking of the commandments of HaShem as recorded in His Torah.
This again begs the question, did Yeshua come to free us from the bondage of Torah which Christendom teaches or from the bondage of sin and idolatry? Again, Yeshua came to restore and renew the broken covenant in order to allow mankind to have that fellowship with HaShem. Did He change the terms of that covenant i.e. the Torah? An utter impossibility! Had He done so, He would have immediately been disqualified as being Messiah!
Consider this video from my teacher, Joseph Good of HaTikvah Ministries, in which he discusses why we should NOT add Yeshua into the Pesach Seder:
THE ELEMENTS OF THE SEDER SERVICE
Now I want to quickly examine the six elements on the Seder Plate as well as the fifteen steps to the Seder Service:
The Seder Plate has six items placed on it. They are the following:
- Maror – Bitter Herbs which are eaten twice during the Seder Service, Horseradish is used as the Maror
- Chazeres – Bitter Herbs, which most people use Romaine Lettuce
- Charoses – The Bitter Herbs are dipped into Charoses, which is a mixture of grated apples, nuts, other fruit, cinnamon and other spices, mixed with red wine. The Charoses has the appearance of mortar to symbolize the lot of the Hebrew slaves, whose livers were embittered by hard labor with brick and mortar.
- Z’roa – A roasted bone with some meat on it, to commemorate one of two korbonot (Offerings) brought to HaShem in the Temple on the eve of Pesach
- Beitzah – Roasted hard boiled egg – The egg is the symbol of mourning, is used in place of the second korbonot and is the symbol of our mourning over the destruction of the Second Temple
- Karpas – A vegetable (Celery or parsley) other than bitter herbs completes the Seder Plate. It will be dipped in salt water and eaten.
What is interesting is the number six has a very specific meaning as it relates to HaShem and His Torah. Per the book ‘Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers’ it says “Six represents full physical expression in the natural world.”
- Six days of creation
- Six days in the work week
- Six compass directions
- Six words comprise the opening phrase of the Shema Prayer
- Six orders/sections comprise the Mishnah (The recorded rulings of the Sanhedrin as commanded by HaShem to teach us how to walk in His Torah)
- The sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter ‘Vav’ which means ‘The symbol of completion, redemption and transformation.’
We should never take for granted or just glance over a number which HaShem is listed in His Word, because He is communicating and teaching us something very important!
The Seder Table ready for the fifteen steps of the Seder Service:
What is interesting is the number fifteen has a very specific meaning as it relates to HaShem and His Torah. Per the book ‘Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers’ it says “15 are the steps that man takes to rise or to fall. Climbing these steps represents an upward ascent toward HaShem.”
- There are 15 steps to the Pesach Seder Service
- There are 15 steps leading from the Court of the Women into the Court of the Israelites in the Temple of HaShem
- There are 15 songs in the Songs of Ascent found in Psalms 120-134 which correspond to the 15 steps going up from the Court of the Women into the Court of the Israelites in the Temple of HaShem
- The moon is at its brightest on the 15th day of each month!
- Pesach begins on the 15th of the month of Nissan
- Tu B’Shevat (The new year for the trees) is on the 15th of the month of Shevat
- Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) begins on the 15th of the month of Tishrei
- Purim is on the 15th of the month of Adar
- Abraham died when Jacob was 15
- HaShem appeared to the forefathers on a total of 15 occasions
- The 15th letter of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter ‘Samech’ which means ‘The symbol of support, protection and memory. It represents the active sense that HaShem provides support to man and in the passive sense that man relies on HaShem.’
So we can see there is a lot just in understanding the significance of the number 15 which HaShem is teaching us! The following are the fifteen steps in the Pesach Seder Service:
- Kaddish – Recite the Kiddush over the festival and then the first of four cups of wine is drunk at this point
- U’rechatz – Wash hands in preparation
- Karpas – After washing hands, eating of Karpas (Vegetable dipped in salt water) to arouse children’s curiosity
- Yachatz – Break the middle Matzah (Total of three pieces of Matzah are used in the Seder), the smaller half serving as being the ‘Bread of Affliction’
- Maggid – The Haggadah is recited and draws attention to the ‘Bread of Affliction’ over which the Haggadah is recited. Here the youngest asks the questions as contained in the Haggadah in which the father replies to teach his children how we were enslaved, and HaShem freed us, and therefore we should recount the story at length; shows that our greatest Sages did so; shows the duty to do so at all times; shows how every type of child is to be instructed at the Seder; explains when the special duty applies; shows the deeper roots of the exile, and the Exodus as the way to spiritual redemption; the Midrash presents the details of the Pesach story to its triumphant end; explains the concrete Mitzvos ordained for the Seder i.e. Pesach, Matzah, Maror (Bitter herbs); emphasizes that in celebrating the Seder, we must see ourselves as having gone out from Egypt, and therefore we praise HaShem for His kindness, ending with a Brachah (Blessing) over the Haggadah. At this point the second cup of wine is drunk.
- Rachtzah – Wash hands, in preparation
- Motzi – Customary Brachah (Blessing) over bread in this case the Matzah
- Matzah – And a special Brachah over Matzos, from which we then eat
- Maror – And a special Brachah is said over the Maror (Bitter Herbs) and it is eaten after we dip it into Charoses (Sweet mixture of walnuts, grated apples, cinnamon, other spices and red wine)
- Korech – Combination of Matzah and Maror is eaten in what is commonly known as ‘The Hillel Sandwich’
- Shulchan Orech – The table is prepared for the festive meal, ending with…
- Tzafun – Eating the Afikoman (Piece of Matzos which had been hidden for the children to go and find as a hide and seek type of game)
- Barech – The Birchas HaMazon i.e. the Blessing after the meal is recited and then the third cup of wine is drunk
- Hallel – The Psalms of Praise (Psalms 113-118) and declaration of our faith in HaShem are recited and then the fourth and final cup of wine is drunk
- Nirtzah – The Seder is completed with our prayers that our service be accepted by HaShem, and Mashiach come speedily!
Consider the following video by my teacher, Joseph Good of HaTikvah Ministries, as he teaches his weekly online teaching, with this topic being ‘The Passover Seder’:
So, I will end this Op here and just say, this Pesach is far more important to each of us then I believe we really understand! We all must suffer trials and tribulations, bondage and enslavement before we can be miraculously released by the Hand of HaShem! We cry for freedom and deliverance from our oppressors and from those crushing us, but this freedom is not so we can do whatever we want, focusing on ourselves, no, this freedom is freedom to study, learn and walk out His Torah in service unto our Great King and in doing so we will experience unimaginable blessings and paradise!
There is a reason why HaShem refers to the final seven years of this current era as being the ‘Chevlei Mashiach’ i.e. the Birth PAINS of Messiah! It is through these extreme days of HaShem’s judgement which will bring in Messiah Yeshua once and for all and defeat the False Messiah, ushering in 993 years of world shalom before going into the Olam HaBa (The World to Come i.e. Eternity)! May it be so very, very soon in our days!!
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!
- The Family Hagaddah by Artscroll
- The Haggadah Commentary by Artscroll
- Jewish Wisdom in the Numbers by Artscroll
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Artscroll