Preparing For Passover A Messianic Jewish Guide
By Rabbi David Wein March 2021
During the first month in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, you are to eat matzot, until the evening of the twenty-first day of the month. For seven days no hametz is to be found in your houses, for whoever eats hametz, that soul will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an outsider or one who is born in the land.
While some commandments were directed toward only Israel (such as eating the Passover Lamb), this seems to indicate that the refraining from eating leavening during Passover is also for the resident alien (ger), and therefore that this is appropriate for gentiles in a Messianic synagogue today.
Preparing our Hearts
The Mishnah says that the Jewish way of telling a story is this: begin with bad news and end with good news (Pesachim 116a). We acknowledge that the beginning of something isn’t always rosy, but we proclaim that in the Scriptures and in our lives, in the end there is redemption and salvation. If our children ask why we are celebrating the Passover, here is the reason given in Scripture:
“When you come into the land which Adonai will give you as He has promised, you are to keep this ceremony. Now when it happens that your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ You are to say, ‘It is the sacrifice of Adonai’s Passover, because He passed over the houses of Bnei- Yisrael in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians, but spared our households.’” So the people bowed their heads and worshipped.
But later in Deuteronomy, when recounting the story of the Exodus, Moses starts off like this:
“Then you are to respond before Adonai your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and lived there as an outsider, few in number. But there he became a great nation— mighty and numerous.
The brilliant medieval commentator Rambam (Maimonides) explained that Passover was not only about redemption from slavery (Ex 12) but also redemption and freedom from idolatry (Deut 26). Passover is a time to focus on not only what God has done for us, but also how we are to respond by worshipping God only. This is why we include in our Seder the Scripture that says “Our father [Abraham] was a wandering Aramean” reminding us that God redeemed our ancestor from worshipping other gods. Also, the account of the plagues can be seen as a judgment on the so-called gods of Egypt.
The Apostle Paul picks up on this idea of Passover being a time to prepare our hearts.
1 Cor 5:6-8
Your boasting is no good. Don’t you know that a little hametz leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old hametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened--for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old hametz, the hametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread--the matzah of sincerity and truth.
In other words, Passover is a time to repent and turn away from sin, to do a spiritual “spring cleaning.”
Now on the first day of matzah, the disciples came to Yeshua, saying, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near; at your house I am to keep the Passover with My disciples.”’” The disciples did as Yeshua had ordered them, and they prepared the Passover.
A Passover Fast?
The day before Passover is traditionally fast for first born sons, recalling the death of the firstborn in the last plague, and the redemption of the firstborn sons--that they belong to God as “firstfruits.”
Getting Ready for the Seder
Please see our website and emails for items you can buy to celebrate our community seder with us. To register and to get more information and resources, go here:
May you have a blessed Passover season!
Rabbi David Wein
Rabbi David Wein