From all of us at United Israel World Union I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful, meaningful and joyous Festival of Passover.
I have republished this each year for the past several years at this time and with slight modifications wanted to post it again. One of the key points of Passover is the telling of the story. It is most certainly the greatest story ever told. This act of salvation is the very thing for which YHVH, the God of Israel is known. Repeatedly in the Hebrew Scriptures, we find YHVH described as the God that brought forth the children of Israel out of bondage. It is a story worth telling and now is the appointed time to do so. This note is intended to provide you with some help in telling that story. Of course there are plenty of resources on the internet to assist you, but this is my own contribution to your search. Assemble your family. Invite some friends. Study the passages in this note and tell the story! If you find yourself alone, read the story anyway. Tell yourself the story!
This is mainly intended for those who perhaps have never hosted a Passover meal. I have participated in Passover meals that went so long the children were bored and the adults were beginning to feel as though the host wanted them to get a taste of the entire 40 years in the wilderness in one L O N G night! One thought that went through my mind as I sat through the longest and most boring Passover was – Didn’t the Bible say that they ate this meal in haste? Why is this night different than any other night? The answer to that question should be a positive one. A learning experience that is both informative and fun. Engaging and joyous. Look. I am not knocking the approach of others, but as a teacher I have learned that if the student does not learn, then the lesson has been wasted. My own approach is to share this great story from the Bible.
I love the picture in this note of one of my grandsons as he held the piece of unleavened bread. What went through his mind? Probably something quite simple, like…this is one HUGE cracker. Use the meal to teach and to tell, but please don’t forget that the little ones (and many of the big ones) will be looking and listening to learn. You will have a captive audience. Don’t lose them. It is our job to educate and inspire.
The name of the meal is the seder. It is a word that means “order.” The book that lays out the order of the service is called a Hagadah. The root word means “to tell.” The traditional Haggadah”S” (there are multiple versions available) are meant to share the story in order. Whether you have a Haggadah or not is not essential. You can tell the story quite well if you know the story well. Below I have assembled some of the main points of the story. I may get in trouble with some of the religious authorities out there by saying this, but I personally will not be reading all of these passages. I will carefully select certain passages and tell the story contained within these wonderful verses. So, for those who may want to do the same, familiarize yourself with the story by reading these passages and make a few notes.
You will need some unleavened bread and bitter herbs. For the bitter herbs, many use horseradish. Go easy on the horseradish. A little dab will do ya as we say in the south. The bitter herbs represent how the lives of the children of Israel were made bitter through hard bondage. You may want to have salt water and parsley. When you speak of the tears of the children of Israel (they cried because of the hard bondage), have everyone take a piece of the parsley and dip it in the salt water. This will make an impression. The traditional “charoseth” is a mixture of apples diced and mixed with honey and nuts. Recipes on the internet abound. It is supposed to represent the mortar that was used to make bricks. Experiment with this. It is hard to mess up apples, honey and nuts. Plus compared to the horseradish, it will be the favored part of the meal.
Here are some other things that will help make an impression. If the sky is clear where you are, I want you to go outside and look up. See the moon? This is the way it looked when the Children of Israel left Egypt! The full moon gave them light. The sky looked just like this when the children of Israel left Egypt.
Passover is about experiencing the past and future as well. It is about redemption and freedom. The Prophet Jeremiah says that another Exodus is coming for the people of God…an even greater exodus than the one we read about tonight! (see Jeremiah 16:14-15)
I encourage all of you to participate in this as it is one of the oldest religious practices that has been kept from the beginning of the history of Israel. So tell the story to your family! If you are alone, read it to yourself. It is an incredible story and one that God tells us to tell!
Read and study the following passages. This is not a comprehensive list of passages, but it should be helpful as you prepare to tell the story. Remember, this is not intended to be presented as an authorized Haggadah. Best case, this is a non-Jew’s guide for telling the story. If you choose to do a more traditional version, there are plenty of resources on the internet that one can find and download for free. What follows were notes that I assembled several years ago for the purpose of sharing the story. A friend recently forwarded me a 30 minute Haggadah that he found on the internet. You may want to search for something like that. Or you may want to go for the “real deal.” Hint. Feed the kids before you go. No offense intended.
The reason we tell the story
The Prediction and fulfillment of the Slavery and cruelness of Egypt
The birth of Moses to his flight to Midian
A cry to God and the call of Moses
The son of God / God’s charge to Moses
Meeting with Pharaoh
The beginning of the redemption
The Plagues and Israel’s Departure from Egypt
Salvation In the Wilderness
Other passages related to Passover
One should eat unleavened bread for 7 days. This bread is also known as bread of affliction (Deuteronomy 16:3).
Eat some bitter herbs as well (Exodus 12:8).
Only those that are circumcised may eat the meal. Don’t forget to be circumcised of heart as well. This applies to both males and females. (Deuteronomy 10:12-16, 30:1-6, Jeremiah 4:1-4)
I pray that every shackle will be broken from your life so that you are free to serve the Living God.
Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach!