A Passover Seder in the Light of Christ
THE FOUR QUESTIONS:
Traditionally, the youngest one present asks:
Mah Nishtanah Halaila Hazeh Meekol Ha-lailoat
YOUNGEST: Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread; why on this night do we eat only matzo, unleavened bread?
LEADER: This night is different from all other nights because on this night we celebrate our going forth from slavery into freedom. We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord saved us with a mighty hand. If God had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children, and our grandchildren, too, would still be Pharaohs slaves.
Why do we eat only matzo? We eat only matzo, unleavened bread, because when Pharaoh finally let the people go they had to flee Egypt quickly. There was no time to let the yeast rise in the dough before they baked it.
YOUNGEST: On all other nights we eat vegetables and herbs of all kinds;
LEADER: Why do we eat bitter herbs? It is to remind us how bitter it was to live as slaves in Egypt.
YOUNGEST: On all other nights we never think of dipping herbs even once; why on this night do we dip twice?
LEADER: We dip the parsley in salt water to remind us of our tears, for our slavery, for our bondage to sin, and for the price that Jesus paid for our redemption. We dip the bitter herbs, the horseradish, in the sweet apples (charoseth), to remind us that our ancestors were able to withstand bitter slavery because they never lost the sweet hope of freedom.
YOUNGEST: On all other nights we eat either sitting up or reclining; why on this night do we all recline?
LEADER: Why do we eat reclining? Because free men, and not slaves, recline at table. And since our people became free this night, we recline.
(Refill the cups with the second cup but do not drink.)
THE FOUR SONS
LEADER: The Torah speaks of four sons: One is wise, one is wicked, one is simple and one does not even know how to ask. The wise one asks: What are the testimonies, the statutes and the laws which the Lord, our God, has commanded you? You, in turn, shall instruct him in all the laws of Passover, up to `one is not to eat any dessert after the Pesach lamb.
The wicked one, what does he say? What is this service to you?! He says `to you, but not to him! By thus separating himself he has excluded himself from participation in the remembrance of the Passover, and hence from its saving act of redemption. You, therefore, are to say to him: It is because of this that the Lord did for me when I left Egypt; `for me but not for him! If he had been there, he would not have been redeemed!
The simpleton says: What is this? Thus you shall say to him: With a strong hand the Lord took us out of Egypt, from the house of slaves.
As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must begin for him, as it is said: You shall tell your child on that day, `It is because of what the Lord did for me when I left Egypt.
THE STORY (MAGGID)
LEADER: During a famine in the land of Canaan, the sons of Israel moved to Egypt. They prospered there, and became a great nation. The Pharaoh feared that they might, in time of war, side with the enemy, so to subdue them he made them slaves and afflicted them with cruel labor. But they continued to thrive, just as God had promised. This caused Pharaoh even greater alarm, and he ordered the slaughter of Israels infant sons. By his command, every male child born to the Hebrews was to be cast into the Nile and drowned. But God raised up a deliverer, a redeemer, the man Moses. And He sent Moses to Pharaohs court to declare the commandment of the Lord. But Pharaoh would not hearken to the Lord of Hosts. And so, Moses pronounced Gods judgment on Pharaohs house and on Pharaohs land. Through Moses, plagues were poured out upon the Egyptians, upon their crops, and upon their flocks.
THE TEN PLAGUES
LEADER: God saw our suffering and heard our cries. He brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror, and with signs and wonders. These are the ten plagues which the Most Holy brought upon the Egyptians.
(As each plague is named, each person dips a finger in the glass, and drops a drop of wine onto the plate.)
LEADER: Pharaohs heart was hardened. He withstood the first nine of the plagues and would not let the Israelites depart. So then God sent the tenth plague upon the land of Egypt: the death of Egypts firstborn. And all the first born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh who sittest upon his throne, even unto the first born of the maid servant who was behind the mill; and all the first born of beasts ... and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. But to protect the children of Israel, God commanded the head of each Jewish household to sacrifice a spotless lamb, without breaking any of its bones, and to apply its blood to the doorway of our homes, first to the top of the doorway, the lintel, and then to the two side posts. Roast the meat of the lamb and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. And you should eat it quickly like people prepared to leave in a hurry, for this is the Passover of the Lord. I will go through Egypt on that night and kill all the first-born in the land, both man and beast; I will destroy all the gods of Egypt: for I am Yahweh, the one true God. The blood will be a sign on your houses. And the blood shall be for a token upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plagues shall not be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt. You shall keep this day as a feast for all your childrens children. You will celebrate Passover forever. (based on Ex. 12)
By the blood of a lamb Israel was spared.
By the blood of the lamb was death made to pass over.
Passover is the night when death passed over the houses of Israel because of the blood of the Passover lamb. A mighty act of redemption, and a beautiful picture of redemption destined to come. For just as no bones of the first Passover lambs were to be broken, so none of the Messiahs bones were broken.
And just as the blood of those first Passover lambs on the crossed wooden beams of the doorposts and lintel of the Israelites homes saved them, so the blood of Jesus on the wood of the cross has saved us.
DAYENU (It would have been enough for us)
(All recite together):
If He had merely rescued us from Egypt, but had not punished the Egyptians DAYENU
If He had merely punished the Egyptians, but had not destroyed their gods DAYENU
If He had merely destroyed their gods, but had not slain their first-born DAYENU
If He had merely slain their first-born, but had not given us their property DAYENU
If He had merely given us their property, but had not opened the sea for us DAYENU
If He had merely opened the sea for us, but had not brought us through on dry ground DAYENU
If He had merely brought us through on dry ground, but had not drowned our oppressors DAYENU
If He had merely drowned our oppressors, but had not supplied us in the desert for forty years DAYENU
If He had merely supplied us in the desert for forty years, but had not fed us with manna DAYENU
If He had merely fed us with manna, but had not given us the Sabbath DAYENU
If He had merely given us the Sabbath, but had not brought us to Mt. Sinai DAYENU
If He had merely brought us to Mt. Sinai, but had not given us the Law DAYENU
If He had merely given us the Law, but had not brought us to the land of Israel DAYENU
If He had merely brought us to the land of Israel, but had not built us the Temple DAYENU
It would have been enough for us.
LEADER: How much more, then, should we love God for all that He has done for us. For He did all these things, and more.
As disciples of Jesus, we can add a few more Dayenus.
If God had merely come to be with us, but had not died to free us from slavery to sin DAYENU
If He had merely died to free us from sin, but had not risen again to bring us into the promised land of heaven DAYENU it would have been enough for us, but not for Him.
And, if God had merely given us Jesus on the Cross, but had not given us His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, that too may have been enough for us. But He did so much more!
(From The Hebrew Catholic, #73, Winter 2000-2001. All Rights Reserved.)
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