Chapter Thirteen

How the Jews start to celebrate Passover in the correct Jewish way

On the eve of Passover at Minchah, or the time of the afternoon service, they go to their shuls and perform their divine service with songs and prayers, as is noted in their Minhágim or prayer-books. They light two candles when it starts to get dark, just as on Sabbath, but they do not bless their feast with wine in their shuls, but they wait until they come home. For nobody is so poor that evening that he does not have some wine at home to bless the feast in the right way.

In the meanwhile, the women at home prepare the table beautifully, they set it with silver and gold and other precious things, each one according to his ability. Each one should show his Oscher and wealth, not because of pride, but to honor the feast. For in all the joy and glory they can put forth, they should always think of the burned and destroyed temple and lament it. For the man of the house they have a chair covered with velvet pillows, and the back covered with silk, and the backs of the other chairs, and the walls around the table are covered with beautiful tapestry, as much as they can afford, so that they can lean like distinguished lords who were saved from slavery, and are not held captive in Egypt any more. On those first two nights, each one should feel like a great lord and prince who had been a servant, but has been freed and saved. A poor Jew who lives off alms, and has no beautiful pillows or tapestry, should sit in a chair so that he may lean like a free lord too. Women are not obliged to lean.

As soon as it is night, and no sooner, they run home from their shul, they place on their table a platter, on which three cakes are placed between napkins. The upper one symbolises the high priest, or Cohen gadol, the middle one is for Levi and his descendants, and the third and lowest symbolises the ordinary people of Israel. Another bowl is set on the table, it contains roast lamb, a hardboiled egg, a kind of dessert made of apples, pears, nuts, figs, almonds, lemon and such, mixed and cooked in wine, and formed into the shape of a brick, covered with spices, especially ground cinnamon [haroseth in Hebrew.] It resembles straw and clay, to recall the forefathers, who had worked with straw and clay when they made bricks. Another plate is placed there also, with a salad of lettuce, radish, parsley, dandelion or similar greens, and a container with vinegar to recall that their forefathers ate their paschal lamb with bitter herbs.

After everything is placed on the table, everybody sits at the table right away, and each gets a glass or cup of wine poured, young and old, even the smallest baby in the cradle.

Each one gets four cups full, and all are obliged to drink it up, which is in remembrance of a fourfold favor and deliverance. Whoever is not drinking wine for any special reason, has to drink those four cups full just the same, even if it goes against his nature. The man of the house should take care not to pour the wine himself, but have it done by a servant. This will show their freedom and great glory, because, on this night, everything should be carried out in a glorious manner.

After they sit down at the table and the first cup is poured, the man of the house says the blessing over the wine, and this way starts the Passover feast properly; and each one drinks his cup of wine leaning against the left side of his pillows like a free lord. Some wash their hands before this blessing, some after, there is great discussion or Pilpul about that in Talmud, and to find a decision, some touch their bare body, thereby finding reason to wash their hands. They usually use red wine if they can get it, or they have other spiced wines made for the feast.

After this first drink, they reach for the salad. Each one takes some of the green leaves, dips them in the vinegar, and the man of the house says: Praised be you God our God, King of the world, that you made all the different fruit of the earth. Then they eat some salad with vinegar so that their appetite may increase, because vinegar makes you eager to eat.

After that, the man of the house takes the cake in the middle, breaks it into two parts, puts the biggest part under his pillow or under his napkin (this symbolises that their forefathers carried their dough wrapped in linen with them) and he puts the other piece back with the two whole cakes (here he also takes the roast from the platter, and the egg too) and everybody reaches out for the bowl with the half cake, and they start to sing in a loud voice, Ceha láchma ánja di achálu, that is: This is like the bread of the needy which our forefathers ate in Egypt. Everybody that is hungry should come and eat, everybody who needs it should come and eat from the paschal lamb. This year we are here, next year, God willing, we shall be in Canaan. This year we are servants, the coming year, we shall be, God willing, free children and lords (here the half cake means poverty and misery; because a poor man does not have whole loaves, but only pieces of bread. They remember what is written Deut. 16.3: Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, Lechem oni, bread of poverty.)

Now they put back the roast and egg on the table, and everybody's cup is filled again, and then they take the platter with the cakes away, so the children may ask what was written about the paschal lamb a long time ago Ex. 12.26: And when your children say to you: What kind of service do you have here? Thus they should ask now: Why are the cakes taken from the table, when nobody has eaten from them? And each one answers the children according to his knowledge, and they put them back on the table, and they sing another rather long song about the deliverance from Egypt. And when the song tells about the ten plagues, with which the Egyptians were punished, then they sing slowly, and with one finger they spill wine from the cup to show that the plagues should not come into their houses but upon their enemies (the Christians). Soon after that, each one takes his cup, lifts it up and sings in a loud voice, Lephícach anáchnu chaijábhim, that is: Therefore we are obliged to acknowledge, praise, exalt and honor the one who has given signs to us and our parents, and who brought us from slavery into freedom, from misery into joy, from mourning into joyful festivals, from darkness into light. Therefore we shall to say to him: Hallelujah! Then everyone empties his cup again, leaning back like lords and princes.

Here the man of the house washes his hands again, says the usual prayer, takes the cake which lies on top and says: Praised be you, God our God, King of the world, that you have brought forth bread from the earth. But he does not eat any of it, but takes the next half cake and says: Praised be you, God our God, King of the world, that you have sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to eat unleavened cakes. With that he breaks a little from both cakes, eats it, and gives everybody to eat from it, and then they lean back towards the left side. They take one and a half cakes, in contrast to the Sabbath and other feast days, on which they take two whole loaves, because it is written in the description of this feast, Lechem oni, bread of misery and poverty. A poor person does not have whole loaves but only pieces (so now the Jews are beggars, whereas before they considered themselves freemen.) They take some more of the bitter herbs, dip it into the dessert, which looks like straw and clay, as previously mentioned, and they say: Praised be you, God our God etc., that you have commanded us to eat bitter herbs. He eats from it, and tells the others to do likewise. But this time they do not lean back, because it reminds them that their forefathers had to work in slavery, with straw and clay, to make bricks.

He then takes the third cake from the bowl, breaks a piece off, eats some herbs with it again, but does not dip it in the dessert this time, because Rabbi Hillel, at the time that the second temple yet stood, found proof from these words Ex. 12.8: You shall eat it [the paschal lamb] with unleavened cakes and bitter herbs. This means: Pervert Scripture!

Here ends the Actus præparatorius [preparatory act] to the real Passover meal, and the real evening meal begins. They eat everything that God has given them, they are happy and joyful, and they carouse with one another almost until midnight.

After they have eaten, and it is close to midnight, the father of the house brings the hidden cake out again, eats a little of it, and gives everybody else a little piece of it. They lean back against their left side, and wash their hands. Each one has another cupful poured, and drinks it. This is the third blessed cup.

Then they say grace over the table, and fill the fourth cup. Then the father of the house takes the cup in his hand and says Ps.79.6: Pour your anger on the peoples who do not recognize you, and on the kingdoms who do not call on your name; Ps. 69.25 Pour your disfavor upon them; Lam. 3.66 Persecute them with fury, and wipe them out from under the heaven of the Lord. (Meanwhile one of them runs, and opens up the doors wide, in order to have greater security.) [by demonstrating that nothing amiss is taking place.] With this blessing, they curse all peoples who are not Jews, especially the Christians, and they hope that the prophet Elijah will come right away to announce the arrival of the Messiah, who will save them this very same Passover eve, which they say in yet another prayer, which starts Az robh nissim, [then, many miracles…] They boast that almost all the miraculous deliverances of the patriarchs, and of the entire people of Israel happened in this night. Therefore they wish that God will come again to deliver them out of their misery, and smite the Christians, as he smote the Egyptians. Therefore there is usually a man dressed in white linen who rushes in when the door is opened wide, so that the children believe that Elijah has already come and will strike the Christians on the neck. After this, they finish off the prayers at the table, and finish thus: Addir hu jibhneh beso bekarobh etc., Almighty God, build your temple shortly, very soon, in our days, build now, build now, build now, build now your temple shortly. Merciful GOd, great God, meek God, high God, fine God, sweet God, virtuous God, Jewish God, build now your temple shortly, soon, very soon in our days, very soon, very soon, build now, build now, build now, build now your temple soon. Powerful GOD, living God, mighty God, notable God, gentle God, eternal God, fearsome God, fair God, kingly God, rich God, confident God, build now your temple shortly, soon, very soon in our days, shortly, very soon, build now, build now, build now, build now, build now your temple soon.

After this fourth cup, they are not allowed any more wine that night, unless someone is sick, or has a stomach-ache. In that case a fifth cup may be poured and drunk. It is allowed to drink water.

After this they lie down to rest, and go to sleep feeling very secure, because this night is called Ex. 12.42 Lel schemurim, a night of protection, in the second book of Moses. And they believe that no evil from other human beings or devils can happen to them in that night; therefore they leave their houses and doors open the whole night, and they hope Elijah will come and save them from their misery.

These blind Jews put on a laborious performance like this on this night, instead of the paschal lamb which they are supposed to eat, as it is written in the books of Moses. The Rabbis teach and write that after their country and temple were destroyed they could not slaughter the paschal lamb any more and eat it with the ceremonies prescribed by Moses. For they are obliged to observe this, like all other sacrifices, only in the praiseworthy land of Canaan, which is a pure and holy land, while other lands are impure and unholy. Ever since Christ, the true paschal lamb, was sacrificed, in no place have the Jews eaten their paschal lamb in the right and proper manner, even unto this day. Even those who yet live in Canaan, and in the city of Jerusalem, do not eat the paschal lamb or bring any more the sacrifices, and there must be a reason why they have ceased their offerings and other mosaic ceremonies. If they had not been punished from God with so much blindness, they could easily have explored and discovered such reason in the course of sixteen hundred years. Therefore you can easily say with the prophet David Ps. 49.14: What they do is pure folly, their descendants are still praising it with their mouth. Ps. 81.12 My people do not listen to my voice, and Israel does not accept me. Therefore I left them in the darkness of their hearts, so that they may walk in their own counsel.

The Rabbis, however, prove their opinion from these words of Moses Deut. 16.5: you may not slaughter the Passover offering in any place that the Lord has given you, save in the place that the Lord your God has chosen, where he wants his name to dwell, there you should slaughter the Passover offering in the evening. The correct interpretation of this law is, however, that if they come into the land of Canaan, and establish a proper government, abode and temple, in which God's name will dwell, then they should slaughter the paschal lamb nowhere else but in Jerusalem, and therefore they can only do that in unity of faith, and if they can all come home to a gathering or mother-church from all over, and come together yearly for that to the city of Jerusalem. But their regular government is destroyed, and wars and other dangers have kept them from gathering in Jerusalem, therefore they observed the feast of the paschal lamb at home, each at his own place, as we see from the second book of the Kings, 23.22. As soon as their government was put back in place, they celebrated the feast of the paschal lamb with great solemn joy as King Josiah did. But the fact that after more than sixteen hundred years they cannot slaughter and eat their paschal lamb in the proper way, is not only caused by the destruction of their government and temple, but there has to be a more serious reason why they are still in so much misery. The city of Jerusalem is in fact built up, and exists to this day; but why is the temple not rebuilt again? And why are the sacrifices and other ceremonies of Moses not established again? But the Jews cannot see that it is because the covering of Moses is still hanging in front of their eyes.

We have already heard that they have four cups of wine poured for the Passover meal, two before the regular meal, and two after, which makes four blessed cups. A special blessing is said over them, and everyone has to drink them up. As Rabbi Bechai writes, this is done in remembrance and thanksgiving for a fourfold deliverance, in accordance with the words of God, written in the second book of Moses 6.6: Vehotzési, I will lead you out from the burden of the Egyptians – vehitzalti and I will tear you out from their service – Ugealti, and I will save you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments, – velakachti I will take you to me as a people. In accordance with the naming of these four salvations, gúllos, they drink four cups full of wine on Passover, so that they may never forget the great kindness of God.

It is also reported that when the fourth and last cup is filled and emptied, they say the prayer of damnation, Schephóch. Pour out your anger against the Christians, and all your enemies. According to Rabbi Bechai the reason for this prayer is that at some time in the future, the Lord God will pour out four cups of punishment and revenge, and give them to all the people of the world (that is, the Christians and all those who are not Jews) to drink, as it is written Jer. 25.15 & 51.7: Take this wine cup full of anger from my hand, and let all the people drink from it. The golden cup for Babel is in the hand of the Lord. Ps. 11.6 Lightning, fire, and sulphur and thunderstorm is the drink which he makes them drink. Ps. 75.9 The Lord has a cup in his hand, filled with strong wine, it runs over and the godless of the world will drink and drain it to the dregs. But if the Jews would direct their eyes in the right way into those cups, they would see what the prophet Jeremiah said: And I took the cup from the hand of the Lord and gave to all the peoples to whom the Lord sent me, namely, Jerusalem, the abode of Judah, their kings and lords who lay deserted and destroyed, so they may be a proof for the mockery and damnation, as they are to this day, and Pharaoh also. Now that the Jews have digested that cup, they may not give a poisoned drink to the Christians.

From all this we can come to the conclusion that the Jews no longer celebrate their Passover according to Moses' laws or God's, but according to the orders and laws of the Rabbis which are considered higher than God's commandments. We can see this clearly from their Talmud in which is a large tractate called Pesachim, which deals with the proper observance of that feast, and about which other Rabbis have written whole books and commented on it. I will therefore leave off here, and say with the Apostle Paul


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Alan D. Corré
corre@uwm.edu