Preparing For Passover-Unleavened Bread Week
As Passover-Unleavened Bread week approaches it is a great time to vigorously apply oneself to thoroughly cleaning one’s home in preparation for the Feast. This is “spring cleaning” with a deadline. And let’s face it; most of us would never get a really-good spring-cleaning accomplished without a deadline. Take this time to not just clean your house, but allow it to help you do some serious, contemplative soul searching in the process. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to have not only a clean home, but a contrite and humble spirit as you contemplate your true spiritual condition and any areas of sin God reveals in the process that you need to bring before the King and ask Him for freedom in these areas of bondage that you struggle in your flesh according to the “old man” that we desire to leave behind: dead and buried.
Spring cleaning for Passover is a time that we not only clean and remove physical leaven, but for those who value a clean house, we also clean out the old, simplify, and make room for new possibilities. All who vigorously engage in this process unto the Lord with their whole heart recognize the search facilitates a very contemplative and spiritual internal experience as well in our hearts. Thus, a real cleaning for Passover/Unleavened Bread week would be insufficient without a search for hidden spiritual leaven or areas of sin, which we’ve allowed to enter or ferment in our lives, that need identification and removal by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Depending on what part of the country you live, spring is just starting to arrive as Passover-Unleavened Bread week approaches, (or it is just around the corner). This adds to the season itself and seems to be part of the Divine lesson plan. In many areas of the country the snow has often begun to melt, or already has melted, and things are beginning to bloom. Spring rains sweep through and provide a cleansing and life giving effect to the dry, dirty, and barren areas of the earth. It is time for a new cycle of sanctification to begin anew in the annual Pedagogy of God called the Feasts of the Lord. In this case, the first major Appointed Time is Passover-Unleavened Bread.
The following is a helpful list of “how to’s” and suggestions for planning and preparing for Passover/Unleavened Bread.
Tips For Preparing: One Month Out
- Begin Your Spring Cleaning
- Take it one room at a time. [Sometimes I start my deep spring cleaning in January! But I suggest beginning at least a month out. This gives you plenty of time to work a little each week without getting overwhelmed]
- You might plan a month of Sunday’s to do all day cleaning, or break it up into 15 minute tasks per day. i.e. one junk drawer or closet at a time. Whatever works for you.
- Purging is the name of the game.
- Clean under, over, around and through everything. You’ll love the feeling when you’re done!
- Decide on and begin to plan and send out invitations for your “Seder Dinner” (Memorial meal and “Telling” Service) How many people will you invite? How will you seat them all? Will you do normal table settings or have some fun with low tables and pillows on the floor reminiscent of ancient days. Have fun with this, there is no right or wrong answer here.
- Decide what meal you want to cook. Lamb is fun if you know how to cook it. (No! We are NOT sacrificing, it’s just in remembrance that you might choose to eat lamb or order some ahead of time that day and serve it with your sides) Any type of biblically clean (Lev 11/Dt 14) meat or fish is fine for the dinner. The only restriction at Unleavened Bread is on eating anything from the 5 grains that has fermented (discussed in detail in previous posts).
- Main Dish
- Side Dish(es)
- Desert (if desired)
- Wine/Grape Juice
- Matzah (Store bought or homemade)
- Charoset (a traditional apple-walnut sweet tasting treat, if desired) See BELOW at end of article for details of items on the Seder plate.
- Bitter Herbs (Horse radish can be used or parsley or other bitter herb plant)
- Begin to think about place-settings needed for each guest. You can have fun with this too. You can buy formal place settings: something very special for special occasions like your best china; or if you have lots of children, you might get them involved and purchase coloring placemats for the holiday online and let them pre-make or color them with coloring materials or other craft materials.
- Each guest will need: Basic Dinner place setting, Wine Glass (you can refill for each of the 4 cups).
- The Table will need: Something to hold the Matzah (store bought or homemade), individual or group containers to hold bitter herbs and salt water, water and wine containers for pouring throughout the meal. Optional: 3-compartment matzah holder that is store bought or homemade (This is a cloth material, often decorated with three pockets in which a piece of matzah goes in each pocket and the center piece is broken at the beginning and half hidden until the end when the children hunt for and retrieve that “buried” piece called the afikomen. You can also make an afikomen bag, to hold the hidden afikomen, out of felt or napkins or other materials and decorate it).
- Optional on the Table: If you desire to do the ritual hand or foot washing, you will (need for hand washing) a container to pour the water over the hands and a bowl to catch the water or you may dip your hands into a bowl with water. Don’t forget some hand towels for drying. For foot washing you will need larger containers to facilitate this and towels for drying. You might also desire to buy nice clean socks or slippers for your guests after the washing. Other items you may want to purchase include a special seder plate to display for decorative purposes the traditional elements (DETAILS of each element explained at end of article). You may want candles on the table, usually two white candles used with any type of candle holders. You may want to also decorate the table, especially if you have kids, with fun things like stuffed animal lambs, little plastic frogs or other “plague” toys available from various sources online. You can mix the fine china with the toys, it’s all good, and it’s your “telling” so make it memorable. It’s all about teaching the next generation and handing down traditions packed with doctrinal significance and Gospel context.
- Order any items you will need for your Seder Dinner so they come in plenty of time.
- Decide what “Haggadah” (Telling) booklet or program you will use. This can be purchased by numerous sources both Jewish and Messianic, but I recommend choosing a Messianic version or making your own. ForItIsWritten.com will have a free version (Coming Soon!) you may download and print off one copy for each of your guests, or you can buy the “book” version, which is a bit nicer and use them for many years to come (Coming 2018).
- For Families With Children: When you clean each child’s room (or if they share rooms you clean each child’s particular drawers and bedroom area), this is a good opportunity to discuss with that child individual areas of their life that may also need “work” and “cleansing” or “purging of spiritual leaven.”
- You might want to do a Pre-Passover/Unleavened Bread Bible Study to begin to familiarize yourself with the various Biblical commands and the traditions associated with the Appointed Time. First read the actual texts related to the Appointed Time itself. Videos and teaching abound on the subject so take it all with a grain of salt and focus on the Commander’s Intent of the day for us, the doctrine that keeping it teaches ourselves and future generations regarding sin and atonement, and the God who is glorified in our simple obedience to His Word.
Tips For Preparing: One Week Out
- Do all your grocery shopping early enough that you aren’t stressed and running back to the store at the last minute.
- Pre-stage items to be removed on the appointed day.
- Go over your FINAL CHECKLIST (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)
Tips For Preparing: One Day Out
- Review FINAL CHECKLIST (CLICK TO DOWNLOAD)
- If you are able, pre-stage your table either the day before or the morning of the seder evening event.
- Start your cooking early enough and make sure you have plans for how to keep things warm until you actually eat (or feed everyone the actual meal first in the same or a different location of your home, especially if you have lots of little kids, and then sit down to the festive decorated table for the official “telling” complete with the bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and wine or grape juice)
- Pre-stage any activities, crafts, and supplies so you aren’t running around at the last minute while your guests wait.
- Pre-stage any other items possible, i.e. like water, etc. before guests arrive.
- RELAX…AND ENJOY! You really can’t mess this up…and even if you think you did, it’s okay…there is grace enough to cover it all in Messiah!
Maror and chazeret — Bitter herbs symbolizing the bitterness and harshness of the slavery the Hebrews endured in Egypt. In Ashkenazi tradition, either horseradish or romaine lettuce may be eaten in the fulfillment of the mitzvah of eating bitter herbs during the Seder.
Sephardic Jews often use curly parsley, green onion, or celery leaves.
As Believers in Messiah Yeshua we also identify the bitter herbs with the bitterness of sin that kept us in slavery and bondage to our flesh and the old man, and we recognize the cost Messiah paid to free us from this bondage to sin and death.
Charoset — A sweet, brown mixture representing the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build the storehouses or pyramids of Egypt. In Ashkenazi Jewish homes charoset is traditionally made from chopped nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and sweet red wine.
You can find many recipes online but here’s one for quick reference and download. CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE
Karpas — A vegetable other than bitter herbs, which is dipped into salt water at the beginning of the Seder. Parsley, celery or boiled potato is usually used. The dipping of a simple vegetable into salt water, and the resulting dripping of water off of said vegetables visually represents tears and is a symbolic reminder of the pain felt by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. Usually in a Shabbat or holiday meal, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush (blessing) over wine is bread. At the Seder table, however, the first thing to be eaten after the kiddush is a vegetable. This leads immediately to the recital of the famous question, Ma Nishtana — “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
This is a second type of bitter herbs tradition you may want to do in your service. This night is also different from all other nights for Believers in that Messiah, our Pesach or Passover lamb has been sacrifice and this greater sacrifice goes beyond the cleansing provided to worship in a temporary, man-made Tabernacle, but it provides the necessary cleansing and atonement such that we might “draw near” to God in the real, heavenly original to which the man-made was just a shadow or copy.
Zeroa — Also called Z’roa , is special as it is the only element of meat on the Seder Plate. A roasted lamb or goat shankbone, chicken wing, or chicken neck are often used to symbolize the korban Pesach (Pesach sacrifice), which was a lamb that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, then roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Since the destruction of the Temple, the z’roa serves as a visual reminder of the Pesach sacrifice; it is not eaten or handled during the Seder.
This is a visual reminder of the severity of sin and the reality of death that requires a covering in blood that we have in Messiah. The death of the animal and in the greater Exodus, the death of Messiah, was not the ultimate focus, but was incidental and necessary to access the blood; because it is through the blood that atonement is made, since life is in the blood.
Beitzah — A roasted hard-boiled egg, symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and roasted and eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. Although both the Pesach sacrifice and the chagigah were meat offerings, the chagigah is commemorated by an egg, a symbol of mourning (as eggs are the first thing served to mourners after a funeral), evoking the idea of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and our inability to offer any kind of sacrifices in honor of the Pesach holiday. Since the destruction of the Temple, the beitzah serves as a visual reminder of the chagigah; it is not used during the formal part of the seder, but some people eat a regular hard-boiled egg dipped in saltwater as the first course of the meal.
Although the disciples did mourn at Messiah’s death, on the third day they rejoiced because Yeshua overcame sin and death in the flesh. The egg is both a symbol of mourning and new life, and in that sense, a fitting element to a Messianic seder memorial meal.