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Jewish people gather at the Western (Wailing) Wall on Passover
The Seder Plate
At the head of every Passover table is a Seder plate arranged with symbolic foods. The Seder plate and its foods symbolize the Passover story.
Karpas (Raw Vegetable): The karpas is generally a green vegetable such as parsley, which is commonly understood to represent rebirth and regeneration. This vegetable is dipped into salt water, representing the tears of the Israelite slaves. This dipping is the third step of the Seder, and it reminds us that life sometimes comes with tears.
Maror (Bitter Herbs): The bitter herbs on the Seder plate represent the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that the Israelites suffered in Egypt. Horseradish is commonly used. Eating the Maror is step nine.
Chazeret (Bitter Vegetable): Chazeret is yet another representation of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt, and a leaf of romaine lettuce is placed on the Seder plate to symbolize this. Both the Maror and the Chazeret remind us also of the bitterness of those oppressed even today through injustice or persecution. Many Jewish Believers suffer for their faith in Yeshua.
The Passover Seder plate displays foods that symbolize Passover and the Holy Temple sacrifices.
Charoset (Clay): Charoset is a brownish, sweet mixture of grated apples, walnuts, cinnamon and sweet wine or grape juice that is meant to resemble the mortar used by the Israelite slaves to build the Egyptian storehouses. It represents hard labor.
In step ten of the Seder, the Charoset and the Maror are eaten together as a sandwich between two pieces of matzah. When we eat the Maror side first and then the Charoset side, we are reminded that though slavery was bitter, our redemption was sweet.
Zeroah (Shank Bone): The Zeroah is a piece of roasted meat or chicken neck that represents the Passover Sacrifice (Korban Pesach) which was offered in the Temple and then eaten at the Passover meal during Temple times.
Beitzah (Egg): The hard boiled and slightly scorched egg on the Seder plate symbolizes the festival sacrifice (Korban hagigah). It also reminds us of the destruction of the Temple.
A Jewish family gathers around the table for the Passover Seder
Seven-Day Fast from Leavened Bread
Just prior to the start of Passover, all leaven is removed from the home, and it is thoroughly cleaned to remove all traces of leaven.
“For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.” (Exodus 12:15)
In the Bible, leaven represents corrupting influences and sin. Just as a little leaven makes a loaf of bread rise, a little sin can have a big influence. Coupled with the removal of leaven is a search of our own heart.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24)
Unleavened bread (matzah) is eaten for the whole duration of Passover. Among Jewish Believers in Yeshua, the matzah represents Yeshua who was completely without sin.
Even the appearance of the matzah seems to reveal the Messiah. It is striped and pierced, just as Yeshua was “pierced for our transgressions and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Yachatz (Breaking the matzah)
matzah as a Seder Symbol
A vital element of the Passover Seder is a stack of three matzot (unleavened bread in the plural).
These are placed in a special three-compartment cover called a matzah tash (unity) that separates the three matzot.
In the fourth step of the Passover Seder, the Yachatz (Breaking the matzah), the middle matzah is removed from this special covering, broken in half and then wrapped in a white, linen cloth to be hidden away until the children search for it and retrieve it after the Shulchan Orech (festive meal), which is step eleven of the Seder.
An Orthodox Jewish man hand harvests wheat for Passover matzah.
The Promise of Passover Fulfilled in Yeshua
At every Passover Seder, a child asks four traditional questions called Mah Nishtana (Why is this night different than all other nights?).
But perhaps the most important question to ask is, “How will Adonai pass over me personally to save me from His wrath and judgment?”
The answer is the same as at the first Passover so long ago—by faithfully and obediently applying the blood of the Lamb. But how can we do this today when there is no Temple sacrifice?
When we put our faith in Yeshua HaMashiach and the sacrifice He made to make atonement for our sins, then we have assurance that we will be set free from slavery to sin and the Kingdom of darkness so that we may enter into eternal life.
“Yeshua said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’” (John 11:25–26).
Believers in Yeshua have the assurance that when God judges the world, as He judged ancient Egypt, and sees the blood applied over our lives, He will “pass over” us.
“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Colossians 1:13)
The matzah tash (unity) has three compartments to separate three pieces of matzah while holding them together at the same time.
Some believe that this obscure custom originates from the early Messianic community of followers of Yeshua, and that the three matzot represent HaShem (Father), HaMashiach Yeshua (Jesus the Messiah) and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
The middle matzah (the Messiah) is broken, as Yeshua’s body was broken on the execution stake (cross). Then, just as his body was wrapped in burial linens and hidden in a tomb, so is this piece of matzah wrapped and hidden.
When the children find this matzah, which is called Afikoman (that which comes after), they bring it from its hiding place, which is seen by Messianic Jewish Believers to represent the resurrection of Yeshua. Halleluyah!
Although this explanation will not be found in the traditional Jewish Passover Seder, it is often a highlight for Messianic Jewish Believers.
A Jewish Bible, Passover Seder plate and matzah
Have a blessed Passover! May you find great joy in this wonderful holiday of Passover.
“Get rid of the old leaven (yeast), so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread [matzah] of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8)
A Jewish father reads the Haggadah with his son.
Each of us has been rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light through the blood of the Passover Lamb, God’s own beloved Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (the Messiah), who was sacrificed for us.
While Believers in Yeshua have the assurance of salvation, Jewish People around the world will celebrate the Festival and still not recognize that Yeshua came in fulfillment of Passover and the prophetic Scriptures.
They will drink the four cups of wine without understanding that Yeshua fulfills the promises of freedom, salvation and redemption. (Exodus 6:6–7; Acts 13:26–41)
They will look at the pierced matzah without seeing that Yeshua was “pierced for our transgressions.” (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:34–37)
They will hide the matzah, search for it, and find it but not realize that their Messiah also wants to be found by them. (Proverbs 30:4; Luke 19:10)