Pesach – A Celebration of Freedom – Passover Beginners Guide
Pesach (Passover) is the first of YHVH’s Appointed times and begins the year of His prophetic and redemptive calendar. Exodus 12 tells us of the actual Passover EVENT and then we are given instruction by YHVH to have a MEMORIAL feast each year to remember the redemption of His People from Egypt and through Yeshua. It’s also prophetic to Yeshua’s return and the greater exodus.
The following is a guide for you to use in celebrating YHVH’s redemption Pesach. You will find suggestions and things that we have done as a family. I have added a hagaddah (a program) to use during your Seder (means “order”). It is your celebration unto Him. So please make it personal, change whatever you like to suit your traditions, finances, circumstances etc. As I am sharing this freely, please do not sell this (even if you make changes to it) in the spirit of encouraging and teaching the Body. This is not a definitive guide, just something to get you started. You and your Pesach celebration, as well as all YHVH’s Feasts will grow throughout your obedience in observing them.
Passover & Hagaddah Downloads
- Messianic Pesach Hagaddah (booklet)
- Messianic Pesach Hagaddah (unformatted)
- Hagaddah Printing Instructions
It may “feel” funny at first if you have never observed the Feasts. You may have concerns that you want to “do it right”. As long as you included the commanded elements with a heart that desires to obey, remember and honor YHVH’s redemption through Yeshua and you are not using pagan ways to do so (Deut 12:30-32) there is no wrong way to do so. You can make it simple or extravagant or anywhere in between, whatever you feel led to do. You can use traditions that honor and help tell and remember the redemption as long as you do not consider these traditions “law”. Make it your personal celebratory remembrance.
There are a LOT of traditions, especially in orthodox Judaism (even other branches of Judaism). Talmud, the oral “law”, says that they are commands of Torah. Be aware of this and we do not adhere to Talmud being Torah. Torah only says to do it on the correct day, to eat bitter herbs, unleavened bread, the sacrificed lamb and to tell the story to our children (family). At the time of Yeshua, He used traditions in place to show us and commanded us to “remember” Him and His redemptive work through using the cup of wine (traditionally used during Pesach at that time as well as a normal meal) and the unleavened bread that was already a part of the commandments for Pesach. That is all that is commanded. All else is tradition and/or either facilitates the telling of the story, celebrating and honoring YHVH and YESHUA for the redemptive work. There are also new customs and traditions that covenant Believers in Yeshua have brought to the Pesach Feast. You will see some of these in the hagaddah that I am attaching. When planning, prayerfully ask HIM what HE wants you to do beyond the basics, if any.
What Does That Mean?
For those that are new to observing Pesach the terminology may be a bit confusing, so I will go through those most used. First, as I have said above, what we observe today is the MEMORIAL Feast of the first Passover EVENT where YHVH redeemed and delivered His People Israel from Egypt as He promised. YHVH commanded that the EVENT be observed by a MEMORIAL Feast each year as a remembrance and prophetic time pointing to Yeshua and His return.
Part of the commands to observe the Passover Feast is that there was to be a sacrificed lamb. On the first Passover EVENT this lamb was sacrificed and it’s blood was placed upon the doorposts and lintels so that the angel of death would pass over that house, a sign unto YHVH that they believed and obeyed His commands. While the MEMORIAL Feast has a lamb sacrifice, it’s blood is not to be put upon the door posts and lintels as it is a MEMORIAL, a remembrance OF that EVENT (the angel of death is not passing over our homes as it did then).
All three, the first EVENT, the MEMORIAL Feast, and the SACRFICE are called “the Passover” in Torah. This can be confusing and you must read the context carefully to understand which one is being spoken of.
What About The Lamb?
There is also another confusing aspect of the MEMORIAL Feast – the sacrifice itself. Torah commands three things to be eaten during the MEMORIAL Feast – bitter herbs, unleavened bread and the sacrificed lamb. The “sacrifice” aspect is what gives confusion as today there is no Temple (only place where it could be sacrificed) where the lamb can be sacrificed. So how do we obey Torah as to the eating of the sacrificed lamb if we cannot obey Torah and sacrifice it in the Temple?
We do have a sacrificed lamb – Yeshua is our Perfect Sacrifice, He is our Passover Lamb, sacrificed FOR us by YHVH. Just as the ram was provided for Abraham in place of His son (who also is a shadow picture of Yeshua), YHVH provides/provided our sacrifice FOR us. We offer up Yeshua as our sacrificed Passover Lamb. The physical shadow picture lamb that Torah commands, is in reality Yeshua. The physical lamb sacrifice was a “place holder” and was to be done until Yeshua came. Let me make clear, that the command to offer the sacrifice still stands. It is only WHAT or rather WHO that sacrifice is NOW – it is YESHUA. Our offering of a sacrifice is done in the spiritual, the true REALITY, now that Yeshua has come and IS the REAL Lamb.
You CAN have lamb with your MEMORIAL meal if you like or can afford (some cannot afford it or will not be able to share one with another TO family). This lamb meat with your meal is NOT the sacrifice, again it cannot be because the Temple is not standing to sacrifice it in and the most important reason, Yeshua is THAT sacrifice in reality. He is the Lamb that TAKES AWAY SIN. The physical shadow picture lamb before Him could never TAKE AWAY SIN, it could only COVER IT. Again, you MAY have and eat lamb as a MEMORIAL, a remembrance, just not as A SACRIFICE that you offer up unto YHVH. Yeshua is the PERFECT sacrifice that we OFFER UNTO YHVH.
Spiritual vs. Physical
The Word tells us that the physical came first then the spiritual (1 Cor 15:46). This means that the physical shadow pictures that were to be DONE in by YHVH’s people before Yeshua came were done – physically yet had spiritual REALITY in the heavenlies.
It is sometimes hard to realize that our earthly physical existence is not REAL, it is only a shadow of the true REALITY – the SPIRITUAL, where YHVH is. As physical, temporal beings we cannot SEE, TOUCH or FEEL the SPIRITUAL and so it is hard for us to understand that it is the true REALITY, especially if we are new Believers and/or understanding Torah. This can be hard to understand so don’t let it, just obey and enjoy the Feast and with prayer and time He will reveal perfect understanding of His Ways. YHVH sent His Son to show us that SPIRITUAL REALITY, we could see, hear, touch and feel Him. He taught us that all of those physical shadow teaching pictures in Torah were all about Yeshua. We now have access to the SPIRITUAL through Yeshua and His Sacrifice. This is what the book of Hebrews is telling us. We have to as YHVH tells us relate to Him in Spirit and Truth as He IS Spirit, John 4:24. The physical memorials, those remembrances done in our physical world, is accomplished in and through Yeshua, our High Priest, Our Lamb, in the Spiritual heavenlies. Yeshua enables us to obey the Torah commandments through Him and He shows us that through His last meal with His disciples, through the wine and bread, the “communion” He instituted.
Bottom line, you are free to have lamb meat as a remembrance, not a sacrifice. Just as we partake of the cup of wine as remembrance of His Blood and the bread as remembrance of His Body. Neither, the lamb nor the wine or bread is REALLY His BODY and BLOOD (then or now), and it is only SYMBOLIC of it. By doing the physical, symbolic actions, we are acknowledging and appropriating a spiritual reality in the heavenlies (a place we cannot see right now).
What is the Seder?
Seder means “order”, or simply the “order” that you do something, in this case, the order that you observe the Passover. To do so a HAGADDAH, a kind of program, is used. A SEDER PLATE is often used to help in this ‘order’. A SEDER PLATE comes in many designs and usually have small circular indentations or bowls to place the memorial foods in. The SEDAR PLATE nor the HAGADDAH are commanded to use in Torah. They are only a tradition and help facilitate the memorial remembrance. You can use a simple plate to put your memorial foods on if you like. Alternatively, each person can have a small plate with their own elements on it. We use both.
As stated above there are only 3 things that are commanded to be eaten – the BITTER HERBS, the UNLEAVENED BREAD, and the LAMB. Over the years other traditional foods have been added to help tell the story (as commanded). These are, the KARPAS a vegetable usually PARSLEY, and SALT WATER. We also use traditional CHAROSET, an apple, nut, cinnamon, wine/juice, honey mixture that represents the mortar and sweetness of Yeshua (highly favored by my family, extra bowls of this as well as matzah are needed at our home). There are some who also use LETTUCE and a boiled EGG (more in Jewish Seders). A roasted CHICKEN LEG is used by those that do not want to or cannot afford a lamb shank, and is put where the “SHANK BONE” is on the Seder plate.
We use the BITTER HERB (horseradish), the UNLEAVENED BREAD (matzah), the PARSLEY, SALT WATER and roasted CHICKEN LEG and LAMB. We no longer use the boiled egg as it is so closely associated with pagan customs. What you use is up to your preferences as long as it does not imitate pagan customs/traditions. Traditions are fine to use except when they are considered “law”. Using only the basic commanded foods is just fine as well. Again, it is YOUR celebration unto YHVH, make it personal.
I have provided a HAGADDAH for you to use and print out. You can print it either right to left or left to right, it doesn’t matter, your preference. I print them out in booklet form and it takes about 10 – 8 ½” x 11” pages per hagaddah. I use an 8 ½” x 11” piece of colored card stock folded in half for a cover. I attach the pages into the cover with thin gold/or silver elastic thread (see photo). You can just print out and staple center or use elastic thread to hold together.
Outside cover of hagaddah. See right hand side where silver elastic thread tied, holding pages in. I stamped and embossed the design on the front. You could just print a nice colored picture on an 8 ½” x 11” piece of smooth card stock if you like.
Inside middle of hagaddah showing silver elastic thread wrapped around middle of pages and cover, holding pages in.
Disclaimer: I copied and pasted the Hebrew for the blessings. My Hebrew is minimal and typing it is even less. I had a real hard time with getting it to come out right, and, I am not sure that it is in the right word order, so, forgive me if it isn’t, and if you can read it and it is wrong, please change it.
What is in the Seder?
In our Seder we do use some traditional elements as well as adding some of our own to tell the story. All of the required elements are included. We use lots of scripture related to prophecy and the fulfillment of it. All of it points shows YHVH’s redemption of Yeshua, His life, death, burial and resurrection and His return.
The “I Will’s” of YHVH, His redemptive promises in Exodus 6 are represented by the “CUPS” in the hagaddah. We see that Yeshua used the traditional “CUPS” when He instituted the “communion”. Lighting candles is not commanded in Torah (while Talmud does consider it a “command”, we do not follow oral “law” as it adds to Torah). We do light candles as a tradition, not a command.
You will eat off of the Seder plate while telling the Passover story and following the hagaddah. And you will drink of the “cups” of wine as well. NOTE: be sensitive of those that have struggled or are struggled with issues of alcoholism and do not put a “stumbling block” in front of them. You might want to use only grape juice instead of wine or offer another type of “cup” drink for them as well as for children.
You will have a feast meal (a dinner) in the midst of the Seder. What you have on the menu is up to you, and as above, it CAN include lamb meat.
If you are so inclined, songs and music can be included in your celebration. Those of us who are not so gifted usually use recorded music and sing along.
You will also tell the story of the first Passover and list out the plagues. One person usually tells the story, but it can be split up between participants if you like. I usually start at the literal beginning, in Genesis to show YHVH’s redemptive plan and it’s fulfillment through history, showing the prophetic that points to Yeshua along the way. Let the children participate as well if you like, they could do a skit also or hold up puppets during the story.
When it comes to the point in the story where the plagues are listed out, the children have things that represent the plagues – sunglasses for the “darkness”, small plastic frogs, flies, a stuffed animal for livestock, sticker dots for boils, and we all have small Styrofoam balls to throw for the hail (a definite highlight for the kids). Or you can read the storyfrom the Word, however you like. The net has a wealth of ideas on this.
There is much more that you can add to the hagaddah to show and point out Yeshua and His redemptive work. Your Seder can get very long depending upon what you include,so be mindful of your guest and their needs/work schedules etc. Be sure to give breaks for bathroom and for that “7th inning stretch”. It can be as long or short as you desire. We remember and celebrate the resurrection on First Fruits, three days later as it says in the Word. If you would like to add more of that celebration into your hagaddah, please do! We didn’t “know” what we were doing when we started observing Pesach, only that
we were to DO so. Over the years we have done all of the basics while adding, changing the “extras” as led to do so.
The host leads the Seder and is reads/does the “Leader” portions in the hagaddah. Others are “Participants”. There are several places where there are scriptures to be read, and the participants can take turns reading it, giving all an opportunity to participate.
We are commanded to tell our children why we are having this meal. The youngest child that can read gets the honor of asking the 4 traditional questions that lead up to the telling of the story of the Passover. All of the children will participate in the traditional “hunt for the Afikomen”. The Afikomen was added to the Seder after Yeshua and is explained in the hagaddah.
It is easily seen what is “traditional” and what is Torah commands as I have listed them as such. You can change what ever you wish to suit your celebration of redemption. The hagaddah is pretty straightforward and explains itself as you follow along. Read through it and prayerfully make your decision on what and how you are being led to observe.
Search for the Leaven
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15)
We are to remove the leaven from our homes to celebrate Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. All things that have a leavening agent in them – baking powder, baking soda, yeast. Things that “puff up” food. Today it is much more than just a one day “remove”. There is hidden leaven in all many foods that we have in our kitchens and pantries. We have to search it out, read labels. It is in EVERYTHING now. Usually you need to start using up whatever has leaven in it in your home several weeks before Pesach. Don’t purchase anymore unless necessary and that you can use up before then to avoid waste.
Check your freezer and fridge as well for things that have leaven in it. Sweep crumbs out of drawers, shelves and counters. During ULB be sure to take note of eating out and the possible hidden leavening in those foods as well and plan accordingly.
YHVH’s Feast are teaching events as well. At the time the Torah was given and up until the modern processed foods, it was fairly easy to know what had leaven in it and then remove it. But now our modern foods have hidden leavening and ingredients that have to be diligently searched to see what is in them. The search for physical leavening is to show us the “leaven” in our lives, the sins, the HIDDEN SINS of our lives. When we find them, we are to “put them out” of our homes and more importantly, our lives. So when you are physically searching your homes for any leavening, don’t forget to spiritually search also for that “leaven” in your life as well.
What do you do with all of that food with leavening that is found and is still could be used after ULB? It is not to be in our homes – some have asked a non TO observer to store it in their home until after ULB. Or, have stored it in an outbuilding, properly sealed. Others have burned it, or thrown it away. Prayerfully ask YHVH what HE wants you to do.
The night before Pesach the traditional “search for the leaven” can be done with children. Take a lit candle, a feather, a paper bag and search the home for any leftover leaven. So that the children will be able to “find” some left over leaven, before hand place a few crumbs of bread in a window sill or shelf for them to “find”. Shine the light from the candle upon the leaven and then sweep it into the bag with the feather. Talk to children about leaven as a symbol of sin, how we have to search it out with the LIGHT of the WORD and remove it from out lives. Prepare your hearts.
What Do You Need?
I will list what WE use in our Pesach celebrations. Adjust this list to your needs, circumstances, finances. I will add other suggestions to get your creativity going. Remember it’s YOUR celebration.
For the Seder Plate:
- Bitter herbs – horseradish
- Unleavened bread – matzah, purchased or homemade
- Lamb or roasted chicken leg shank bone
- Charoset – http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Haroset-for-Passover/
- Salt water
- Other traditional foods as per your desire/traditions
Meal items per your menu for dinner
- Wine and/or grape juice
- Best dinnerware, silverware.
- Small plastic or paper plate for individual seder plates
- Two white napkins, can be paper or cloth for each person
- Tablecloths for tables
- Glassware – water/tea glass, wine glass
- Kiddush cup
- Seder plate
- Matzah cover
- Two candles and candle holders
- One white napkin – cloth or paper for Afikomen
- Nice hand towel for hand washing.
- Pitcher and bowl for hand washing
- Extra bowls for charoset if using.
- Enough table space and seating for each, don’t forget small children’s needs.
- Music, songs/words, recorded or live if you are so inclined
- Hagaddahs for each adult (or share), and children who can read.
- Any table decorations and or props used to tell story:
- Suggestions, flowers, wheat and/or barley sheaf, “hyssop” branch, wheat kernels, “plagues” for kids, etc.
Below are some pictures from past Pesach celebrations. The pictures of the table are one of our very first celebrations over 10-13 years ago. I also took pictures of items we use, remember, these “things” are not commanded, nor do you have to use them, They are our “extras”, the “special dishes” that we use for special occasions and putting them here so you can see and know what these things look like. Be creative, use what you have. Below each picture is a description of what it is.