Notes from Seder – Rabbis Michael and Gail Zeitler

Friday, April 06, 2007

Seder by Rabbi Michael and Gail Zeitler

NOTES FROM SEDER. We received a lot of new information about the Seder this year, so I put the new notes in blue into last year’s Seder notes for your edification.

I wanted to share a few of the insights the Messianic Rabbi shared with us about the Seder, and how so much of it points to Jesus. Rabbi Michael and his wife Gail Zeitler from Baruch Ha Shem were the ones who led this Seder.


Before we began the Seder we worshiped and the men blew the Shofar.   

When you think about the Seder, think about the Fiddler on the Roof and the song TRADITION, for much of the Seder has tradition behind the practices.                   

Before the Seder occurs there is a lot of cleaning to be done. The wife has to make sure that there is no leaven in the house, so she does a thorough Spring cleaning during the month of Nissan. She also pulls out the holiday dishes. So that the dad’s have something to do, the wife leaves a tiny bit of something with leaven in it so that the father and kids can find it. The fathers take a candle (which represents Jesus, the light of the World) who helps us to bring light to the darkness and root out what is not of God. They take a feather and a wooden spoon, and sweep the leaven onto the wooden spoon, wrap it in a linen napkin, march to the temple and throw it in a fire behind the temple. When the last bit of leaven (which is symbolic of sin) is removed, the father and kids triumphantly shout, “The house is clean.”

For Christians this is rich with symbolism.

The house – we are the temple of God.
The Feather – is the Holy Spirit
The Leaven – is sin which must be removed
The Wooden Spoon-our sin was removed by a wooden cross
The fire-Jesus is the light of the world, and light destroys the darkness, love, cleansing purging.
When Jesus was crucified, he was wrapped in cloths, and then arose to
give us new life

The elements of the Seder:

1. Parsley – new growth, new life, spring.
2. Salt Water – tears and sweat, Jesus poured out His sweat and tears for us in the Garden. 
3. Horseradish – bitter herbs
4. Lamb – sacrificed at temple
5. Charusis (sp)- apples, nuts, honey, grapes, etc. mortar for bricks
6. Eggs-new growth, spring
7. Matzoh-lots of meaning, bread without yeast

The Seder begins with the lighting of the candle – and we know that Jesus is the light of the world. The Seder is an appointment, a set time to meet with God. While we need to meet with God every day, it is important to keep His feasts.

Then the sanctification cup is blessed.

The Rabbi said an interesting thing that blew my mind. He said that the disciples had been with Jesus during his ministry for three years. A rabbi begins serving when he is 30, so this would have been the third Seder that Jesus and the disciples shared. Reminds me of third day things from a previous study.

In the upper room the tables would have been in a U-shaped, and there was a spot where the servant would be seated. In the last supper, the servant was to have been Peter. Peter sat with the disciples but did not do what the servant should have done, which is to bring a bowl of water around so that the participants should wash their hands ceremonially before beginning.

That is why Jesus went and washed the feet of the disciples, to show them what being a true servant was. When Jesus got to Peter, Peter was ashamed of what he didn’t do, and asked Jesus to wash all of him. Jesus said that the feet were sufficient.

Then we dipped the Parsley twice into salt water. Salt water represents sweat and tears. Jesus sweat blood in the garden. But it also reminds us of the martyred church, those saints who died for Christ and to further the gospel.

Then the children come up to ask the questions. This is one of the most important parts of the Seder because the Seder cannot begin without the questions, which are geared to help the children learn about the Exodus. Often in the Bible God tells His people, WHEN your children ask. He wants to make sure that the parents are teaching their children about Him.  My daughter asked one of them (about reclining), and the Rabbi helped her say it in Hebrew.


  The questions are:

1. How is this night different from all other nights?
2. On all other nights we eat bread or matzoh, on this night why do we  eat only matzoh?
3. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables. On this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?
4. On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once. On this night why do we dip them twice?
5. On all other nights we eat our meals sitting or reclining. On this night why do we eat only reclining?

One of my sons took a turn reading one of the answers to the above questions. These questions were so that the fathers (papa) could answer and share the history of the Exodus with their children. It is important to God that the fathers teach their children about Him. Oh I should add all men wore yarmulkes  and even my sons. They thought it was way cool, but my daughter was upset for girls didn’t. I have a question, what is the female equivalent of the yarmulke for a girl, is it a prayer shawl. I know that when I lit the candle I was instructed to put a napkin on my head as a head covering. So I am just curious.


The Rabbi showed us his matzoh tasha(sp) the cloth holder for the matzoh for the Seder. He pointed out that it had three pockets. And if a traditional rabbi was asked why three pockets there are two standard answers. 1. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or 2. The High Priest, the Levites, and the People of Israel are represented by the pockets. We, as Christians, have another answer, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Then we were instructed to take a piece of matzoh, which is baked no more than 18 minutes (how many inches from head to heart – Heather’s comment on re-reading this) so that it does not rise from steam, and is obviously without leaven, and hold it up to the light. When you look at a sheet of matzoh in the light you see the piercings, and the stripes from the oven. This reminds us of many things. Historically the Jews had to leave in a hurry so they made bread without leaven and that is a reminder of the Exodus. But it is also a perfect representation of the Lamb of God, as described in Isaiah 53, wounded (pierced) for our iniquities, by his stripes we are healed, and without sin (leaven). We were also instructed to look at the dark spots on the Matzoh and remember that He was bruised for our trespasses for Jesus was beaten severely before the crucifixion. We also remembered that when Jesus first came into Jerusalem the people shouted Hosanna, save us, save us, blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD. But a few days later they turned on Him and sent Him to death.

A piece of the Matzoh from the middle pocket of the matzoh tasha (Jesus) was broken off and folded into a linen napkin and hid by the dads. This is the Matzoh that has to be redeemed, the children will find it later in the Seder, and it must be found before the Seder is completed, and the father will redeem it with a ransom. This is called the Avouchment – that which is to come after. Just like Jesus was wrapped in a cloth and rose three days after. For us it is a reminder that Jesus redeemed us from our sins.

We blessed the Matzoh, and spread it with bitter herbs. Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. And it would be the one who dipped with him into the dish. The dish was filled with the bitter herbs (horseradish grated). We were instructed to dip our Matzoh into the bitter herb. Rabbi Michael pointed out that the Israelites would have fasted for the day, and that this first bit of Matzoh was the first bit of food the children would have eaten for the day and that the Passover Seder usually lasted anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 hours, before they could eat the Passover Meal, so the kids welcomed the taste of Matzoh.During the Passover with His disciples, Jesus ate of the bitter herbs, tasting what was about to happen, sealing his bitter fate. Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples more than once if you ascribe to the three years of His Ministry, or once if you feel that His ministry was compressed into one year, because the sacrificial lamb of the Passover was a yearling.

It was also mentioned that Peter, as the youngest, was supposed to have passed around a basin for the people to wash their hands before the feast. When he did not do that, Jesus got up, took a basin, stripped to a towel like a slave, and washed the disciples feet, modeling servant hood. He did not have to do that as the Rabbi (teacher) but wanted to teach his disciples about true servant. And one thing that Rabbi Michael was touched by was that Jesus also washed the feet of Judas, the one who was to betray Him.

In an aside, Rabbi Michael asked what the Jewish Believers during the time shortly after Jesus’ resurrection were called, and told us they were called Nazarenes, for they believed Jesus, followed the Nazarene. They did all the feasts of the Israelites, but also believed Jesus. He pointed out that when the Emperor Constantine, the Council of Nicene, and various spiritual leaders repressed the Jewish Feasts they robbed us of very important ways to honor God in His Feasts. Now we are to turn it around and bring back what is our right to do as children who were grafted into the vine.

At the last supper John was sitting on Jesus’ left (for when he reclined on Jesus breast) he had to be on the right. In order for the disciple who would dip with Jesus into the bitter herbs, to be able to do so, he had to be sitting on Jesus’ right. This would have been a place of honor at the table, and Jesus let Judas sit in this place of honor. When Jesus told John that the one who dips at the same time as Jesus would betray Him, it was the dipping of the bitter herbs into the salt water. The son of perdition would bring his bitterness upon the Son of Salvation.

We then got to eat some of the Charusis (sp). which reminded us of the mortar that the Israelites used when they were slaves, and had to build and make bricks. We were told to put a bit of the bitter herb on it because with the sweet there is also a bit of bitter.

Then we reclined against each other for a bit. To remind us that we were once slaves, but now we are free. And the Messiah had said, “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Then we shared the cup of Joy – also known as the cup of plagues. For the Israelites did not suffer the plagues of Egypt. Each of the Plagues also was an indictment to pharaoh of the false gods that they worshipped. The Egyptians had over 300 gods, and tied with nature. The frogs were important to the Egyptians for they ate the bugs that came out, the goddess hecht was the frog goddess, and these frogs came out three days, and then died, leaving behind a stench. Apis, the bull god, was put in his place with the cattle disease. Ra the sun god, so God caused darkness. The Egyptians also worshipped themselves, so they were inflicted with lice and boils. They had lots of leisure and garden parties, so their crops were destroyed with locusts. There was darkness three days for their sun god to be defeated, and the last and worst plague was the death of the first born son. We also need to remember that there was a line of demarcation between Egypt and Goshen, and the plagues that hit the Egyptians did not touch the Israelites in Goshen, so it showed the Egyptians how God had set apart His people.

We were told to take our little finger (pinkie), not the index finger which God wrote with, but our little finger and dip it into the cup of joy and say a Hebrew version of yuck (Feh) and shake the drop of wine off onto a plate as each of the plagues was read, as a celebration that we were preserved from them. (my observation is that these drops of wine (grape juice) looked so much like drops of blood). Jesus preserved us from the worst plague imaginable, eternal damnation.

We did not serve lamb, for we know that the Lamb of God made the ultimate sacrifice for us once, for all. Also we could not make a sacrifice in the temple of our lamb, for that is no longer needed. But the lamb in those days was to be without blemish. They had to bring it into their house and examine it for four days. (just like the rabbis examined Jesus for days in the temple with questions), to make sure it was without spot or blemish. With a lamb in the house, the children and family members would grow attached to the lamb, so when it was time to do the sacrifice, it was graphically brought to mind the terrible cost of sin, death.

In those days the lambs were usually brought up from Bethlehem, the house of bread, where the shepherds were and where Jesus was born – Jesus our Bread of Life.  And the Levites as young men were sent to Bethlehem to learn how to tend lambs in preparation for their priesthood. They learned how to wash, clean, care, feed and ultimately sacrifice the lambs. When Jesus was born and the angel announced to the shepherds that the Messiah was born, it was these shepherds that came to adore Him. Then the lamb was brought through Bethany and then into the gate of Jerusalem. The same gate that Jesus rode through on his donkey. The people would sing praises to the lamb when it was driven through the gate, for they knew their sins would be redeemed for one year. Jesus kind of took away the priests’ glory when he rode through and received those praises for the Lamb of God.

The lamb was brought into the house, one lamb per household for the Passover. The lamb was sweet, would sleep with the family. The children would grow attached to the little lamb, and it would be a stark reminder of how an innocent life was being shed for their sins. On the 14th day of Nissan the lamb was taken outside the house and at 3:00 it’s throat was slit. (3:00 was the time that Jesus gave up His life for our sins). The blood was drained into a basin at the base of the doorway, where it was dipped to strike the lintel. The Israelites in the Exodus were instructed to kill the lamb, dip its blood out with hyssop (a spongy herb) and strike the lintel and two door posts with the hyssop soaked with blood. If you think of that you realize they are making a sign of the cross for the lintel would drip down straight, and the two door posts right and left are the arms of the cross. When they struck the door post the blood would splatter covering the head of the house and all the others who were watching with blood. It was a bloody cross. And then the family would enter into their house through a bloody doorway, it was their door to freedom. For us Jesus’s shed blood is the doorway to our freedom from sin, to our salvation. and liberty from our captivity. For where Jesus enters into our lives, there is liberty.

The Word “Passover” comes from an Egyptian word, “Pesh” which means to spread out the Wings over. And that was what happened. God spread out His wings over the houses of the Children of Israel so that the angel of death did not touch their first born offspring. But for us it represents Jesus’s spread out arms that freed us from sin and death.

The rabbi then explained that the cross was not a wonderful symbol to the Jew because of the persecution that they received at the hands of Christians. but in those days Pomegranate branches were formed into the shape of a cross and the Pascal lamb was hung from that, the fore paws spread out and then the rear feet were put on the cross like the feet of Christ. This was put into a base over the altar. The shepherd who told the rabbi of this, mentioned that after struggling, the lamb would become quiet, drop his head and look at the people, and then the lamb would be sacrificed and his blood would drip down, and this blood would be put on the Holy of Holies for the yearly atonement. The intestines of the lamb would be formed into a crown and put on the lambs head for all to see. This intestinal crown was called “The Crown of Sacrifice.”When the sacrifice was completed, the priest would come out of the Holy of Holies and say, “It is finished.” A shofar was blown from the top of the Temple to let the people know that the sacrifice was accepted. Jesus died at the exact time that the lamb died. And at that time the veil in the temple was torn, this was a 25 foot tall, five inch thick material, and it was torn from the top to the bottom. No longer was there a sacrifice in the temple. And God removed the veil because now people could approach Him directly. Jesus was the final sacrifice. God the Father had everything was fulfilled through His Son.

Jesus portrayed all aspects of the Mishna of this sacrifice.

At the time this happened, when Jesus died, he was nailed to a cross, wore a crown of thorns, his blood dripped down, and when he died, the veil of the temple was split from top to bottom, signifying that no further sacrifice was needed.

When the statements are made regarding the Lamb, that it was God himself, not an angel who passed through Egypt, God himself, not a seraph to strike down every first born, and God himself, not a messenger to bring judgment on the gods of Egypt.

We believe that Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb of God, our Passover Lamb. It was God Himself, not an angel, God Himself, not a seraph, God Himself, not a messenger who paid the price for us to save us from sin and death.

Then we were instructed to say Dayenu (which means it would have been enough) after each statement.

The Lord rescuing the Israelites (Dayenu) but had not judged the Egyptians, destroyed the Egyptian gods but had not parted the sea, drowned the enemies but had not fed us with manna, led us through the desert, but had given us the Sabbath, given us the Torah, but had not given us the land of Israel.

Then the traditional blessing of God for fulfilling all our needs.

The Afikomen was then found and redeemed. The Afikomen being hidden, reminds us that God hid from his people the truths at that time. Jesus spoke in parables, because not all were meant to understand at that time what He was teaching about the Kingdom. That the eyes of the Israelites were veiled because they rejected the Messiah, they did not realize He walked among them. But soon will come a time where they will realize the truth.  Isaiah 53. Then broken among all at the table for the bread for a communion. And we drank the cup of redemption. This is the cup that Jesus said would be the last cup he would share with the disciples, and where on this third (last supper) he changed the format, breaking the bread, and sharing the wine as His body and blood.

The last of the four cups was the cup of Elijah where there is the promise of the Messiah coming again. (Personal note) I believe that Jesus will share this cup with us, his disciples at the wedding feast. And it will truly be a cup of Praise. and His love endures forever.

The Seder ended with Next Year in Jerusalem. I know it won’t be long before that prophesy comes true.

Please know this is all new to me, so if I made any mistakes in sharing this, I apologize. The other Seder I attended was at the house of a friend of my husband’s years ago, and they were not Messianic Jews.

I also wanted to thank all those who served us during the Seder, the hospitality committee and the teenagers. We had an awesome feast as well as the Seder.


This was a very impacting evening for me and also for my family. I learned so much. I can’t wait until tomorrow!



About Heather Marsten

Welcome to Heather's Blog. I'm looking forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. I just moved about nine years of material over from another blog site, Xanga, who may close down mid-July. At first I was disappointed to make the move because I had a lifetime membership at Xanga and had to spend weeks transferring posts. But now I'm thrilled. Already I've met new bloggers and read many new websites. Blogging is a wonderful way to expand my horizons and garner new ideas. I'm a happily married mom of three young adults. My husband and I are proud to watch our children grow and venture out into the world. My daughter is still in college but my two sons have graduated. One has a job and the other just graduated and is in the process of finding a job in his field, physics. Anyone know of any jobs out there? I'm proud of our children and love watching them grow and mature. They've become fine, compassionate, and loving people. Empty nest? Nah, I'm too busy to let an empty nest bother me. Not enough hours in the day. My husband and I enjoy quiet time together and I have many interests to pursue - one of which is blogging :D I am a born-again believer and love God. As you read this blog, you will discover that Bible studies thrill me. There is so much wisdom contained between the covers of the Bible and I am fortunate to sit under the teachings of a remarkable pastor, Pastor Don Moore. Members of our church (Living Word Chapel in West Hurley, New York) are encouraged to teach and there are visiting pastors who stop by our church, I also study the Bible on my own and love sharing what I learn. One other passion is writing. My current work in process is a memoir. A scene from my memoir was published in a book called: Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware - an anthology of angelic encounters compiled by Cecil Murphy. I'm hoping my memoir will encourage other survivors of abuse. I grew up in a home filled with abuse, including incest. For most of my life I was searching for something that would fill the void of not being loved by my parents. I tried many ways to find that love -- therapy, relationships, occult studies, and keeping my life so filled I had no way to think about my past. It was only when I discovered God that I was able to put the pieces of my life back together and walk forward in a joyous life. My nickname - wondering has changed from wondering where the heck God was in my life, to wondering what incredible adventure is going to happen next. I hope you enjoy my site. Please say hi, share some thoughts, and ask questions. I look forward to meeting you and checking out your sites. Have a blessed day. Heather
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