This Wednesday evening millions around the world--mostly Jews, but also Christians, as well as many others who sense the greater, universal dimensions of their own faith--will gather together to observe a three-thousand-year-old ritual called the Pasce, Pasec, or Passover...
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?...Exodus 12 and 13.
As the Sun rises in the East every morning, casting its shadow Westward, so it is written:
Let no man therefore judge you, in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the New Moon, or of the Sabbath days:
WHICH ARE A SHADOW OF THINGS TO COME, BUT THE BODY IS OF CHRIST...(Colossians 2:16,17).
The Two Outer Pillars of the Tree of Life represent the Sun and the Moon, Christianity and Judaism. Thus the words: Take ye a Lamb on the Tenth day...(Exodus 12:1-6).
Passover is a Seven day observance. It begins on the Fourteenth and Fifteenth days of the First month , the month Abib, when both the Sun (Christianity) and the Moon (Judaism) are present in their own Light, and symbolizes the time when each took their rise at the beginning of this age and began to proceed (Westward) according to their own instructions.
And in the First day (Sunday) there shall be an holy convocation, and in the Seventh day (Saturday, or the Sabbath) there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of (servile) work shall be done in them, save that which every one must eat, that only may be done of you.
And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this Self-same Day (this one great Epic Day) have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe This Day in your generations by an ordinance for ever...(Exodus 12:16,17).
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. FOR EVEN CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US:
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth...(1 Corinthians 5:7,8).
Passover is not only the basis and the starting point of the entire Liturgical year, which carries us Full Circle each year back to the beginning of the Year again, but it marks the beginning of an even greater Circle of Time, one that has carried all of us (year by year, and century by century) from one end of this age to the other...
1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Hebrews, chapter 12
It has carried us across these Seven epic days, out of the East and across the pages of history, to the very time and the place wherein we have been commanded to observe the High Holy Days of the Seventh Month, here at the Western ends of the earth. Having arrived we also understand that we have come Full Circle to where it all began almost Six-thousand (or 120 Jubilees of) years ago--to where the entire historical epic, and the mystery of Creation itself, began to impress itself upon the mind of Adam--and upon all of those who dwelt at that time near the Roots of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. This is not only the reason why the Hebrew children were commanded to observe Ten days (the number of the Sefirot on the Tree of Life) between the New Moon of the Seventh month and Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:27 and the subchapter entitled The Seventh Month in the Addendum to this work), but why they were also commanded to count the Omer, or the series of 49 days (and then 49 years) that proceeded from the time of Passover to Shavout, the Festival of Weeks, or the Day of Pentecost, (Leviticus, chapters 23 and 25). Having counted this many years Forty times (49 X 40) (or the number of years the children of Israel spent in the wilderness of the nations), the Nation-church would have arrived at last at the fullest meaning the words which say: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, (Acts, chapter 2, KJV). They would be able to open up the pages of the book of the prophet Joel and understand all that is unfolding in the world around them.
And so here we are in the very midst of these days. The Great Day of the Lord has arrived. The final judgments of the nations have begun (The Great Dragon has been let loose again), the books are opening, and the Holy Child (the next state of human consciousness) is laboring to be born. (Revelation 12:1,2). And in the whole of it we come to understand that Passover, and therefore the story of the Exodus, is not an historical event, it is a suprahistorical event. It did not happen as it is recorded in the Bible, it is happening as it is recorded in the Bible:
A RABBI'S LOOK AT ARCHAEOLOGY TOUCHES A NERVE
By Gustav Niebuhr
For 400 years, the sermon has been an American art form, a spoken message for a mass audience, with references to a religious text. Some had such impact they entered literary history, as witness recent books of famous sermons by preachers from Cotton Mather to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
But in an era in which visual culture seems dominant, can a sermon still arouse in people a deep response, prompting days, even weeks, of discussion? For an affirmative response, one might look to Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, a 1,600-family synagogue belonging to Judaism's Conservative movement, in the Westwood district of Los Angeles.
Some weeks ago, on Passover's eve, he preached a sermon discussing the fact that archaeologists had not found evidence in the Sinai desert to support the biblical account of the ancient Israelite's Exodus from Egypt. In raising this subject, Rabbi Wolpe was hardly revealing a secret about contemporary archaeology. For a decade, a growing number Israeli archaeologists have been quite public about their work, which has generated controversy in Israel and which includes discoveries that have led to another theory, that the Israelites gradually emerged as a people from the Bronze Age population of Canaan, rather than militarily conquering the land, as the Bible tells.
Still, having archaeology discussed from the pulpit, rather than from secular academia, touched a nerve. "I've gotten responses essentially from all over the world," Rabbi Wolpe said...The sermon made news in Los Angeles and eventually in Jerusalem, as well as in points in between...
Still, Rabbi Wolpe said his sermon, which he followed up with other talks to his congregation, was meant to do something more than use archaeology as a counterpoint to biblical narratives. He wanted, he said, to say that fundamental spiritual truth can exist quite apart from historical facts, and this, for Jews, can be found in what the Bible tells about the Exodus.
The sermon, he said, was intended to present the story of Passover, and to say it should not be understood as precise historical record, but appreciated instead "for its deeper and more central meaning," as giving Jews a way to understand the pattern of their history, with liberation following enslavement.
"This is the sacred story of our people," Rabbi Wolpe said, referring to Exodus, "and I believe that it has a historical kernel. But that's not the most important part of it. The most important part of it is it is true--even if it is not literal, even if it is not factual--it is true, and Jews for millennia have seen the truth of it," the rabbi said. "The truth is the way it allows us to see our history and experience our present."
SEASONS OF OUR JOY
What do we accomplish by acting out the cycle, using the symbols, telling the stories?
Long ago our people believed that if we celebrate the cycle, the cycle was more likely to continue. The rains would come when they were due, the sun would shine more warmly in its season, the crops would grow--and die, and grow again.
If we celebrate the cycle, we believed, our deliverance from slavery would come again. The spiral of history would keep on circling upward (or downward) if we lived through the spirals of our past. Someday the spiral would free us--with Messiah.
And there is one more reason to observe the cycle: from the beginning the Jewish people have celebrated the festivals in order to honor the Unity that underlies all life. The very interweaving of the themes of history and nature, the human life cycle and moments of spiritual experience--remind us that in some sense all the realms of Life are dancing with each other. The circles of the sun, and of the moon; of a single human life between the generations, and an entire people's history of renewal; of every act of newness, birth, creation--all are echoes of one Circle. The Preface to Season of Our Joy, by Arthur Waskow.
We must also see, that while the Sun represents Christianity (an historical tradition that shall now come to its own conclusions in the events of our time), it is also a symbol for the Male Principle of Life. Likewise, just as the Moon represents Judaism as we have come to know it, and as it has come to know itself, it also represents the entire Feminine Principle of Life. The one is equal to the other (Zechariah, chapter 4, KJV)...
Male and Female created he them and called THEIR NAME ADAM...(Genesis 5:1,2; Ephesians 4:13,14).
Thus it has been a long and sad (historical) Day for those who could not understand these things--for those who could not fully understand the mysteries of their own religious tradition and how they would unfold in the last days, and how the principles of Balance and Harmony in the Universe were being tread under foot these last two-thousand years. (The powerful ruling over the meek, the wealthy over the poor, and, of course, the male principle over the female principle. Such realities are being brought to their conclusion as well). And it is doubly sad for all of those who have arrived at this time in history, still unaware of these things--still unaware of how the Divine Mother and the Heavenly Father (YHVH-Elohim) are revealing Themselves in the earth at this time, and how They are reconciling all things to themselves...the Light to the Light, and the Darkness to destruction. It is a Birth, and both a terrible and a wonderful thing to behold. (Have no fear for the innocent. They are back in the bosom of the Great World Soul, or are are safe and sound on the other side). The events that are unfolding in the world are a direct result of the events of September 11th and the words of Isaiah that say:
And there shall be upon every high mountain (every great nation), and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters, in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall.
Moreover the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun, and the light of the Sun shall be Sevenfold, as the light of Seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of His people, and healeth the stroke of their wound...(Isaiah 30:25,26).
EXPOUNDING THE TORAH
Rabbi Abraham Stone
THE SONG OF REDEMPTION
It is the most glorious song in Jewish history--"Az Yashir"...We recite this song every day in our morning prayers. It was on the 7th day after the Exodus, after the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea, that Moses and all the children of Israel sang this song of praise to Hashem...
(Exodus 15:1-21; Revelation 15:1-3)...
The recital of this song was most unusual, all the Israelites singing in unison--with no previous preparations--just like one person. With a common purpose they said "ashira"--"I will sing," in the singular--as if sung by one person. We would have expected them to say "nashira," we will sing.
When the Israelites ascended from the Red Sea, they desired to sing a song. How did they render the song? An infant was lying on his mother's knees and a baby was nursing at her mother's breast. When they beheld the "Shechina," the infant raised his head and the baby ceased nursing and they exclaimed (15:2), He is my G-d and I will glorify Him."...
THE ESSENCE OF PASSOVER
(All are seated around the table, and one of the participants reads the following introduction):
Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from cruel and inhuman tyranny.
Although we, who mouth the words and perform the ritual, are reliving an epoch which is peculiar to Jewish history, the drama that is Passover is no longer ours alone. Its enactment is not confined to the dining rooms of our homes alone; it has been embraced by the world at large, and is continually being reenacted on the stage of mankind by all who seek avenues to assert their condemnation of oppression and tyranny, by all who labor in the vineyard of the Lord searching for freedom and peace.
Although it is the Pharaoh of old who is the tyrant of the Haggadah, it is not he alone of whom we speak tonight. We speak this evening of other tyrants and other tyrannies as well. We speak
Of the tyranny of poverty and the tyranny of privation,
Of the tyranny of wealth and the tyranny of war,
Of the tyranny of power and the tyranny of despair,
Of the tyranny of disease and the tyranny of time,
Of the tyranny of ignorance and the tyranny of color.
The all these tyrannies do we address ourselves this evening. Passover brands them all as abominations in the sight of God...The Concise Family Seder, prepared by Alfred J. Kolatch.