Passover Arrived But Not The Seder

Moses called to all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Draw forth or buy for yourselves one of the flock for your families, and slaughter the pesach-offering.”

“It shall be that when you come to the land that Hashem will give you, as He has spoken, you shall observe this service. And it shall be that when your children say to you, ‘What is this service to you?’ You shall say, ‘It is a pesach feast-offering to Hashem, Who passed over the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but He saved our households,'” and the people bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. The Children of Israel went and did as Hashem commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they do.

Exodus 12:21, 25-28 Stone Edition Tanakh

PassoverToday is the first full day of Passover. Jews and a good number of Christians all over the world held their home and community seders last night.

My home wasn’t one of them.

For some months, my wife has been planning on visiting our daughter in California. She left early Sunday morning and won’t be back until midday on Thursday. My grandchildren are with their Mom for the next two weeks, so it’s really only my two sons and I at home. They weren’t exactly clamoring for their old man to dust off our haggadahs and start a lot of cooking.

Passover just sort of crept up on me and suddenly it’s here.

Pesach hasn’t felt this chaotic since the Uninspired Seder of 2012 or the Unanticipated Seder the following year.

And given my comments in my previous blog post, initiating any sort of response to Pesach as a Gentile believer is beyond the scope of my obligations or my rights.

It’s been a difficult time. My Dad is slowly dying of cancer. My Mom’s cognitive abilities continue to dwindle. And as the old time actors used to say, “I am between engagements,” and have been since last Friday. One of my sons had his car engine blow up on him, and the other is buying a house, which sounds wonderful (and in many ways it is), but also introduces different stressors.

I decided to at least do the readings for Pesach I, but when I couldn’t remember where to find my Tanakh on my bookshelf, I realized it has been a really long time since I’ve read the Bible.

That can’t be good.

A friend found a piece of furniture for my son’s new home (since his ex took most of their stuff), so driving over to the gentleman’s house to pick it up, I saw a number of “Jesus loves you” bumper stickers and messages of a similar nature. I figure everything that’s happening to me now is God’s way of getting my attention.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

“This too is for the good.”

Or as Rabbi Zelig Pliskin put it:

No person can know what is really good for him in the long run.

We lack peace of mind because we feel anxious and worried about what has happened to us in the past, or what might happen to us in the future. But the reality is we can never know in advance the ultimate consequences of events. Being fired from your job, or being forced to find a new home could likely lead to events that will be beneficial for you.

Today, try to recall a time when a “bad” event turned out for the “good.”

I can remember when bad events ultimately resulted in a good outcome, but I also remember the pain involved in dealing with the bad part, and the lengthy time period between bad event and good outcome.

It can be a lonely road from the bad starting line to the good finish line.

But then as long as we live, there never really is a finish. We’re never done contending with life, with other people, disappointment, loss, anxiety, desperation, the works.

I suppose that’s why I’m writing this. I need to gain perspective and to get a handle of everything that’s happening to me right now. I probably should be doing more constructive things, such as cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, scouring job boards and the like, but I’m not.

On Friday, I initiated a flurry of activity post my “between engagements” experience earlier that morning, but over the weekend, the shock had worn off. I had my grandchildren with me, and since they require a lot of attention, that provided a distraction.

But then they left to return to their Mom Sunday afternoon, and I realized just how empty I felt inside.

Okay, God. You got my attention. Now I just need to find a way to change my focus, to even have a focus. A seder last night would have been good timing, which is why I’m puzzled that Hashem arranged for it not to happen.

My wife and my daughter are together, so I hope they had the opportunity to attend a community seder, perhaps at the Chabad.

jumpstart
Found at racingjunk.com

The quiet finally got to be too much for me, so I started listening to “Sunday at the Village Vanguard” by the Bill Evans Trio. It was recorded live in New York City on June 25, 1961 (my daughter’s birthday, though she wasn’t born until decades later).

Over a month or so ago, I wrote about trying to jump start my faith, and as you can see, things haven’t gone so well up.

The prodigal son is still struggling on the path that leads to home.

At the end of each seder, the last words uttered are, “Next year in Jerusalem.” For me, I’d settle for “Next year at home with my family.”

Okay, God, you’ve got my attention. Now what?

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18 thoughts on “Passover Arrived But Not The Seder”

  1. Maybe Hashem is trying to bring to light that Passover is part of our heritage as followers of Messiah, though not in the same aspect. Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 2 about is being fellow citizens in the household of Hashem, which is Israel.

    I personally do not follow a Haggadah because a great deal of it I feel doesn’t apply to me and my family as not “native born”. So we read the story of the Exodus and about the Passover in Exodus and Deuteronomy. When then read about Yeshua and his disciples celebrating the Passover and the events that followed, which certainly applies to us.

    I know I am not a descendant of Israel, but I also know that I am a citizen of Israel, seeing I have made their king and God my king and God. And as such, I remember it along with them, though, if it were possible, I cannot partake of the Passover itself. Unleavened Bread is another story though, all citizens of Israel are to participate.

    May Hashem encourage you and draw close to you.

  2. Oh, dear — It sounds as if you’ve been excessively discouraged even from complying with Acts 15:21, which is an implicit expectation for gentile disciples to be learning Torah on a weekly basis (at least). Even if you can’t attend a synagogue, one might think you wouldn’t lose track of your Tenakh or fail to be reading the weekly parashot (and maybe even reading some of the drashot that are available hither and yon on the ‘net). On the other hand, lacking continual encouragement to keep up, via social interactions, may well explain your predicament. Since your blogging frequency here has declined, I imagine you’re not being challenged by frequent engagement with the ideas that would keep your religious nose to the grindstone (ouch!), so to speak. [:)]

  3. There are days when I think Life Sucks! No matter how big or small our faith …Faith in and of itself…apparently does not solve problems. I have been deeply moved by your Meditation and wish I could flash the magic wand to ‘make everything great again’…if it ever was ‘great’. At our Seder last evening, led by my husband, (he had found and inserted into the Seder the following message). This is not said to ‘cheer’ you up. It is simply a reminder of something we both know, all things could be worse. I would like to share with you a tiny verse (Psalm 143:8). “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. This little verse often keeps me going!
    And so I quote: A special prayer inserted into the Passover Seder before opening the door for Elijah…(Author..unknown)
    THE FIFTH CHILD…the one who cannot ask
    On this night, we remember a fifth child.
    This is a child of the Shoah…who did not survive to ask.
    Therefore, we ask for that child……why?
    We are like the simple child. We have no answer.
    We can only follow the footsteps of Rabbi Elazer ben Azariah, who could not bring himself to mention the Exodus at night until it was explained to him through the verse:
    “In order that you REMEMBER the day of your going out from Egypt, all the days of your life. (Deut. 16:3)
    We answer that child’s question with silence.
    In silence, we remember that dark time.
    In silence, we remember that Jews preserved their image of God in the struggle for life.
    In silence, we remember the Seder nights spent in the forests,
    Ghettos, and camps; we remember that Seder night when the Warsaw Ghetto rose in revolt. (Lift the cup of Elijah)
    In silence, let us pass the cup of Elijah, the cup of the final redemption yet-to-be. We remember our people’s return to the land of Israel, the beginning of that redemption. Let us each fill Elijah’s cup with our wine, expressing the hope that through our efforts, we will help bring closer that redemption. We rise now..and open the door to invite Elijah, the forerunner of the future which will bring an end to the nights of our people.

  4. @PL: That’s probably closest to the mark. I had received all kinds of warnings about how not having community would cause me to drift. It didn’t seem to for awhile, but lo and behold what’s happening today.

    I spent some time reading the Bible this afternoon. I know it’s not much, but it’s also something I’ve been neglecting. Things being how they are, I do have more time right now, so I can’t say I’m too busy.

  5. James, thank you for being so honest. For myself, an American living in the Philippines, I find there is not much in way of even good Christian fellowship. What I have observed in the nearly seven years of being here, many Christians don’t know much of the Bible and don’t seem to care to. It is discouraging, everything seems so shallow. No one even seems interested in learning, especially about Who Yeshua really is as Messiah. So though our experiences are different, I understand how “spiritually lonely” you may be feeling.

  6. I appreciate your dedication to HaShem and to his appointed King Messiah (may his reign begin soon!), but citizenship is a notion that requires a bit of qualification. For example, I am a Jewish citizen of the modern State of Israel. I know a number of very dedicated gentiles who volunteer in various capacities in the land who are not citizens. Some of them have the official status of Permanent Resident, which entitles them to have, among other privileges, an Israeli passport. Others do not. One may speculate about the notion of “citizenship” in the coming messianic kingdom, or in the metaphorical “kingdom of heaven”. If “citizenship” were identical with membership in the “covenant”, then you would not be deemed a citizen. There is, for example, a difference between Jews and gentiles grafted onto the metaphorical olive tree described by Rav Shaul in Rom.11. Clearly it’s a Jewish tree, but being grafted onto it is not what defines someone as a Jew or as a citizen of Israel. It would seem that multiple layers of metaphor must be considered, to understand the use of a notion such as citizenship.

    However, with the benefit of a category such as “Permanent Resident” (or, perhaps, “ger toshav”), then the notion of citizenship can be expanded to those who are aligned with the covenant, who embrace it from outside its boundaries. One might then ponder whether there might exist “kingdom-relational” categories comparable to dedicated non-citizen volunteer contributors to Israel within the land and outside of it, and people outside of the land who are nonetheless eligible for citizenship but who have not returned to claim it. I think I’ll refrain from stretching the metaphor to consider what might constitute a category comparable to “illegal aliens” or invaders. [:)]

  7. Oops! I neglected to indicate that my last post was a musing about William Comer’s initial post above.

  8. @James — Perhaps I may present you with an assignment, if you choose to accept it. [Though if any of your people are caught or killed, Mr.Phelps, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.]

    Consider the challenge of writing another kind of haggadah, for a “quartodeciman” (14th of Nisan) re-enactment commemoration of Rav Yeshua’s final meal with his Jewish disciples. Don’t forget to plan the meal! Envision an audience of his modern G-d-fearing gentile disciples, though some inspiration might be obtained by first envisioning their counterparts in the late first century and early second century. Tell a story about the struggles of Rav Yeshua’s non-Jewish disciples, and how they endeavor to embrace the principles of the Jewish covenant, and the Torah perspective taught by their Israeli Admor, without becoming pseudo-Jews and without being drawn into the failings of the Nicene church fathers. Set a goal of finishing this in time to gather a group to celebrate this meal on the evening that begins the 14th of Nisan in 2018 (5778), the night before Passover (and all thru’ the house…). Invoke a rallying cry of “Next year in the messianic kingdom! The kingdom of heaven is now!”. I can envision a newspaper advertisement that could draw quite a curious crowd, even in your area (hence the “Mission Impossible”-styled warning to “Mr.Phelps” paraphrased above). Sell tickets at a reasonable rate to ensure an accurate head count and to cover expenses (I presume you might wish to engage a local caterer and or party-planner, for the benefit of their specialized skills and their contacts with local restaurants and venues that could support such an event). Sell copies of this (self-published?) Pre-Passover Haggadah (A Quartodeciman Defense / Revival / Retrospective) at the event. All things considered, this could become a very entertaining “spring fling” alternative. But it all begins with writing a book.

    However, while the fictional possibilities are intriguing, perhaps the robots and dragons should be left out of this project. [:)]

  9. This is a somber week in the Christian world. It should be.

    I don’t know what it is about this time of year. As Easter and Passover draw nearer I get pensive. It may be biology, psychology, old age, or something else. This year I was triggered by a song I heard on the radio while driving to meet some friends. The song is titled ‘How Did You Love’ by a group named Shinedown. I want to share some of the lyrics with you.

    You can be an angel of mercy or give in to hate
    You can try to buy it just like every other careless mistake
    How do you justify? I’m mystified by the ways of your heart
    With a million lies the truth will rise to tear you apart

    No one gets out alive, every day is do or die
    The one thing you leave behind
    Is how did you love, how did you love?
    It’s not what you believe; those prayers will make you bleed
    But while you’re on your knees
    How did you love, how did you love, how did you love?

    There is no deeper expression of love than that demonstrated on Good Friday nearly two-thousand years ago. ‘For the glory that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame.’ The one who hung on the tree was the most profoundly selfless person who ever lived. That love overthrew empires and transformed even the vilest lives. It is the kind of love that turned silver candlesticks into tokens of redemption for the thief Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. By demonstrating his boundless love for the world through the death of his son, the hearts sinners are broken and transformed. At that moment, the sinner enters the New Covenant. Love is the one thing that sets this faith apart from all others. But the cost….the cost was the life of God’s only Son.

    How is it possible to imitate Christ? That kind of love is a bar set very high. How can we even come close to clearing it? Failure seems inevitable when we set our wills to it. Our minds whisper the word ‘hypocrite’ in our ear even as the idea of changing is pondered. Are we really capable of the kind of self-sacrifice Jesus Christ showed the world? I don’t know. I hope so, because without it we are lost.

  10. Thanks, Steve. Actually, in my experience, many and perhaps most Christians in the U.S. don’t know the Bible either. They just know what their Pastor preaches every Sunday and what they learn in Sunday School or in a Wednesday night Bible Study. When I attended a church, although many of the people there were avid Bible readers, because of my rather “unique” interpretation of scripture, most folks didn’t really “get” what I was saying.

  11. No robots or dragons? Where’s the fun in that? jk

    I’ll consider it, thought it seems pretty late in the game to write a pseudo-haggadah.

  12. @James — Don’t misunderstand. What I was suggesting was not a pseudo-haggadah, but rather a true “telling” (aggadah) of another story — a sequel, if you will, to the earlier story of Rav Yeshua’s ultimate Passover, which is itself a sequel to the original Passover. And what’s a good story without a good meal?

    As for the question about whether it is pretty late in the game … I agree that it’s long overdue, but that’s not an excuse not to address the problem at all. You’ve already addressed it in some degree in this blog during the past few years, and you’ve interacted with some of the other folks trying to deal with “messianic gentile” issues. I think you’re a good candidate to take a crack at this “quartodeciman” project.

  13. Thanks, Ro. I’ve also found so-called “Messianic Haggadah’s” lacking — including one recently published here in Israel, in Hebrew-English and Hebrew-Russian versions. However, all these haggadot are presumably aimed at supporting a quasi-Jewish Passover Seder, whereas my suggestion was aimed at supporting a different commemorative structure the night preceding Passover, for the benefit of those who are not part of the Seder celebration, per se. I doubt that anyone has even tried to produce such an alternative specifically for gentile disciples to honor Rav Yeshua’s actions from their distinctive perspective. One reason for that is because it is still rare for potential compilers to have embraced the bilateral model of ecclesiology sufficiently to be motivated to pursue such an alternative rather than to insert gentile disciples into the Jewish narrative on some universalistic basis derived from post-Nicene Christian tradition.

    At least some of the chabadniks celebrate a “seudat moshiach” on the last day of Passover/unleavened bread, in anticipation of the impending arrival of the ben-David messiah. It’s a nice idea, particularly to prevent the holiday from merely “fading to black” at its closure, after all the intensive attention that has been lavished on the first day. Some of Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples have adopted this practice also; and it might be argued that Rav Yeshua’s return will have a more universal impact on both segments of the ecclesia, hence everyone may be equally entitled to celebrate it.

    However, what I find missing from this approach is any mention of Rav Yeshua’s critically-important role as the ben-Yosef messiah. You see, those who focus solely on the ben-David are actually expecting the messiah who will “rule with a rod of iron”. This is great for the execution of justice, but it will be very hard on those who are not ready to live under unyieldingly righteous rulership. It is the role of the ben-Yosef to turn hearts, of children toward fathers and fathers toward children (metaphorically, of the present toward acknowledging the past, and of adopting the past into the present). It is precisely his emphasis on redemption that can mitigate the harsh consequences of long-delayed justice, before that sword of justice must be unleashed.

    Consequently I recommend an emphasis on Rav Yeshua’s meal just prior to Passover, and invoking the events of that past redemption as well as midrashic amplifications of it that point us toward present and future redemptions. Thus the holiday period would begin with the distinctive celebrations for gentiles and Jews respectively on the initial evenings of the 14th and 15th of Nisan — one that emphasizes Rav Yeshua as ben-Yosef explicitly, and one that recalls the Jewish redemption from Egypt and its later ramifications that include both past and future roles of messiah — perhaps followed by a celebration suitable for both groups on the final day, the evening that ends the 21rst of Nisan (thus technically the beginning of the 22nd), anticipating the future redemption.

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