Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

2 Adar 2 5765 / 13 March 2005  

A Passover Planning Guide

1. Passover and lashan hara

2. Permitted food  (and bitter herbs)

3. Planning a Seder meal

4. What you will need

5. Order of the Seder

6. Questions about Passover observance

1. Passover and lashan hara




Any of this a problem in your congregation or tribe? How about a Passover Seder?

When Moses presented himself to the leaders of the Children of Israel in Egypt, God gave him two signs. If the staff first turned into a snake did not convince them he was their deliverer, when Moses’ hand became that of a metzora (one affllicted with tza’arat or biblical leprosy) and God made it whole again, they understood.

They understood that one became a metzora because of his/her gossip, slander and backbiting. They understood that this was their spiritual condition as metzorim in Mitzrayim (Egypt) “(from the same combination of Hebrew letters) ... the land of "slanderers.” They also understood that God had healed them and it was now time for their deliverance.

Irrelevant then … but necessary now

At some point during the reign of the Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century, a council of church leaders decided to divorce the church from the synagogue and forbade the observance of the Passover and the other biblical feasts. We can question the wisdom of that council since the covenant established by Jesus can best -- and I contend ONLY -- be understood with and in the context of a Passover Seder.

Holy use for the tongue

The Seder’s mystical dimensions, which grow out of oral traditions, include the belief attributed to Moses that finding a holy and appreciative use for the tongue, such as reciting holy script on a holy occasion according to a holy command actually was an atonement for the “sins of the mouth,” also called lashan hara — gossip, slander, backbiting, etc.) Since the children of Israel were commanded to “tell the story” of the Passover, that telling became the means to remedy the sins of the tongue.

Kids make the Seder!

The youngest child able to read asks four questions which are the outline for the story, which is told with a plate of vegetables (bitter herbs) and the shank bone of a lamb. All children have a responsibility to tug on shirt sleeves, ask questions, laugh at their parents eating horseradish and the all-important search for the Afikomen, without which Jesus could not have proceeded with his covenant renewal.

4 Cups of the Seder

The Four Cups of the Passover Seder — Rescue, Redemption, Covenant and Return — are outlined in Exodus 6:1-8. These became the heart of the Seder since the end of the Wilderness Wanderings. They are also a yearly reminder of the Covenant established between Israel and God and therefore the opportune occasion for Jesus to institute his Covenant with the “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel” to whom he was sent (the seed of Abraham through the family of Joseph-Ephraim grafted into the nations) and “whosoever will among the Gentiles. “

Healing and deliverance in the covenant renewal

Finally, every participant makes the transition from slavery in Egypt (often leaving behind sickness and illness, misfortune and oppression) to covenant or re-covenant with the God of Israel.

The Torah foundation for Jesus’ covenant

The declaration of Jesus concerning the broken Afikomen, “This is my body,” parallels Moses reading the Book of the Covenant -- which the House of Israel broke -- and the affirmation by the people present to both DO and OBEY God’s commands. (Exodus 24:4-7).  It also symbolizes the penalty he paid with his own body because of the terms of the curse contained in the Torah (Deuteronomy 28), that curse (in the Torah, not implying that the Torah was the curse done away with) subsequently atoned for those who were now renewed to God "in" the anointed Y'shua. 

His declaration, “This is the renewed covenant in my blood,” parallels Moses’ declaration, “Behold, the blood of the covenant,” (Exodus 24:8) which Moses declared after reading the Book of the Covenant and sprinkling the people with blood.

Flexible outline

A full Seder will take several hours but shorter, abbreviated versions that “teach” participants how to conduct the Seder in their own homes at the appointed time also are available. End the sins of the tongue. Unify your congregation. Know the Torah foundation of the Covenant established by Jesus.

Maggid ben Yoseif

2. Food that should not be eaten during the week of Passover:

All flours, breads, pastas, cakes, cookies and dry cereals made from the five grains — wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt — that has ever come into contact with water for more than 18 minutes.

(Breads, pastas, cakes, cookies and cereals made from flour comprised of ground rice, corn, beans, peas and peanuts are permitted by Sephardic Jews)

Because of the symbolism of leavening, popcorn and other “puffable” foods are usually not eaten as well. Yeasts and fermenting agents, such as vinegar, also are not allowed.

The Seder plate, which is a kind of spiritual appetizer before the meal is eaten, includes the requirement to eat unleavened bread with only bitter herbs

3. Planning your Passover Seder:

I. Project a date for full, abbreviated or teaching Seder and confirm with Maggid ben Yoseif.

ben Yoseif is currently teaching the Passover Seder yearround, but is doing actual seders only on the firt two nights of Passover and Second Passover (April 6-7, 2012  and May 6, 2012).

II. Estimate attendance of adults, teens and children. One table will be required for each 6-8 persons.

III. Estimate space requirements. Each table of 6 or 8 will require about 50 square feet.

IV. Estimate time requirements. Indicate A, B or C below:

A.  Full Seder with pot luck dinner  (Dates above only) 4 hours

B.  Abbreviated Seder with pot luck dinner. 3 hours

C.  Teaching Seder without dinner (to teach how to celebrate the Seder in their own homes on Passover — according to the biblical command). 2 hours.

NOTE: In addition, Maggid ben Yoseif teaches the Torah origins and foundations of the Seder and its role in remedying the sins of the tongue without an actual Seder — a good program to promote the Seder beforehand.

V. Appoint a Seder Committee.

Committee will be responsible for all plans and coordination with Maggid ben Yoseif minimally including: To arrange for meeting place, tables, chairs, plan and coordinate pot luck festive meal, publicity, shopping for and preparing Seder plate items, secure, print or copy Hagadahs (script for Passover), sound, video (if desired) and clean-up,

VI. Contact Maggid ben Yoseif at least three weeks before projected date of Seder and schedule one meeting with the committee at least two weeks before the Seder and again the day before the Seder.

4. What you will need:


Meeting place

Tables and chairs

Small arm pillows: One for each person attending

Hagadah (script) for each adult and child who can read

Matzah covers: Solid white handkerchiefs or napkins will work — one per table

White table cloths: Paper or plastic. Fabric is likely to stain

Round washing bowls and pitchers to wash hands and white towel to dry hands: One per table.

Medium sized plastic wash tub and white towel to wash feet (optional)

For Seder meal

Kosher for Passover Matzah (one box per table of 6-8)

Grape juice (wine if desired or permitted): Each participant will drink four small glasses (about 3 oz. each) of “fruit of the vine.”

Eggs: Each participant will be eat one boiled then roasted egg as part of the Seder. Boiled or deviled eggs also make a good side dish for the pot luck dinner.

Lamb shank bone with all meat roasted off: Supplied by ben Yoseif.

3 types of bitter herbs:  (Only bitter herbs should be eaten during the Passover seder)

One from the following choices:

Turnip, mustard or collard greens or romaine lettuce. One large leaf per person.

Parsley: One bunch per four tables of 6-8. Parsley is required because in Hebrew it is pronounced "karpas," which is to remind us of the "pas" or woolen garment of Joseph given to him by his father, Jacob.  The parsley is dipped in to salt water twice at the beginning of the seder to bring to mind the betrayal of Joseph by his brothers and the grief this caused their father. (Rashi)

Grated horseradish: One bowl per table 

Ingredients for Charoset (to symbolize mortar for bricks in Egypt): Apples, walnuts and/or pecans, cinnamon, red wine or grape juice — recipe will be provided by Maggid ben Yoseif

One bowl of salted water per table

For Pot Luck Meal

Main courses: Any meat from a “clean” animal or an animal that could be sacrificed on the altar (pork and catfish are prohibited but most types of fish are permitted, along with beef and chicken.  Since Acts 15: 19-21 obligates even the followers of Jesus to abstain from "pniktos," -- meat from animals that have not been slaughtered according to the manner of the Law of Moses -- meats should have a "hechsher" (or symbol recognizing that they are KOSHER). LAMB OR GOAT ARE NOT ALLOWED FOR THIS MEAL (because without a priesthood or Temple, it is not possible to inspect the Passover Lamb).

Vegetables: Any vegetables that do not contain seasoning with pork, vinegar or other leavening. (See forbidden grains above). Vegetables with the seal “Kosher for Passover” are guaranteed not to contain any kind of leavening ingredients.

Casseroles: May not contain bread from prohibited grains unless it is unleavened bread (matzot).

Soups: Matza ball soup — made from unleavened wafers — is the standard. Maggid ben Yoseif will provide recipe. Any soup that does not contain leavening ingredients is suitable, except a soup containing pork or catfish.

Salads: Any “dry” tossed salad — lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sprouts, olives (in salt water but not in vinegar) or bean salad without vinegar or leavening ingredients.

Dessert: Since the Afikomen used by Jesus to initiate his Covenant served as Dessert and no one could eat anything else after eating the Afikomen, desserts are not allowed as part of the Festive Meal for Passover.

5. Outline of the Seder

Introduction (20 minutes)

1. Explanation of items on Seder Plate (6 mins)

2. Order and telling of the Seder (Haggadah) (4 mins)

3. Emphasis on Afikomen and Cup of Covenant (5 mins)

4. Atonement for sins of the tongue (4 mins)

5. Special instructions (on leaning on pillows, drinking, refilling cups & talking) (1 min)

Seder (70 minutes)

6. Kaddesh — THE FIRST CUP — The Cup of Rescue — SANCTIFIES the entire evening (4 mins)

7. Urechatz — Wash hands w/o blessing (3 min)

8. Karpas — Dip and eat parsley (2-5 mins)

9. Yachatz — Break and hide Afikomen (2-5 mins)

10. Maggid — Recite the story of the Exodus with the bread of affliction and Seder plate props. (30 mins INTERACTIVE)

A. The 4 Questions (asked by the youngest present who can read)

B. The story of travail in Egypt.

C. The plagues

D. The command to eat unleavened bread with bitter herbs

11. THE SECOND CUP — Cup of Redemption (5-7 mins)

12. Rachtzah — Wash hands with blessing (4 mins)

13. Motzi — Bless unleavened bread as food. (3 mins)

14 Matzah — Bless matzah (3 mins)

15. Maror — Bless and eat bitter herb from first category.  (3 mins)

16. Korech — Sandwich of matzah and maror (horseradish). (3 mins)

Meal and Renewal of Covenant (60 mins)

17. Shulchan Orech — Festive meal (40 mins)  NOTE:  Since an Orthodox seder will not end before midnight, more time may be allowed for the meal to adjust for the seder to end at midnight.

18. Tzafun (Search for the hidden Afikomen). (6 mins)

19. Jesus’ additions to the Seder -- (20 mins)    OPTIONAL 

A. Explanation and Washing of feet (10 mins)

B. Explanation and The Afikomen as the Book of the Covenant read by Moses at Sinai and contracted by all of Israel (5 mins)

20. Bircat Hamazon -- Blessings after the meal. (10 mins)

C. THE THIRD CUP — Cup of the Covenant as the blood of the Covenant sprinkled by Moses at Sinai. Symbolically this cup together with the Afikomen signifies the renewal of the Sinai covenant. The Afikomen and the Third Cup therefore were chosen by Y'shua to initiate a "renewal of the covenant" for the Assimilation in exile in keeping with his ministry to remedy the judgments that had severed their covenant. (5 mins)

21. Blessings after the meal.

THE FOURTH CUP — Cup of Return (12 mins)

22. Recite Hallel (psalms of praise). (10-40 mins)

23. Nirtzah — Concluding prayer (2 mins)

6. Questions about celebrating Passover:

Does not the Bible require those who celebrate the Passover to be circumcized?

Acts 15:20-23 does not include circumcision as one of the four necessary things to be observed by the followers of Jesus — in the letters written to the churches located outside of the Land of Israel. Non Jews who live outside of Israel today are not commanded to be circumcized unless and until they would move to Israel and celebrate Passover in the Land.

How can we be sure that Jesus celebrated his Last Supper with his disciples as a Passover Seder? Does not Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7 and John 22:1 indicate that the Last Supper followed the First Day of Unleavened Bread ?

The First Day of Unleavened Bread — the period from noon until dusk beginning 15 Nisan when the Passover Lamb was slaughtered — was so called because the slaughter could not occur until the house was clear of leavening.  The fact that Jesus told his disciples "on the first day of unleavened bread" to prepare a place for his "Last Supper," THAT evening, indicate it was a Passover Seder.

Maggid ben Yoseif