Pretzels for Passover
I was about 9 or 10 years old and we were visiting relatives during Passover. The grownups were sitting around in the living room speaking of grownup things so I went with my younger sister to explore the basement. There did not appear to be much there that was very interesting to children, but we had an advantage. Being smaller than adults, we could see things on a level that might otherwise be missed. And lo and behold, there under the ping-pong table were two very large tins. One contained pretzels and one contained potato chips. What a find! We popped the lids off and began merrily munching beneath the table.
However, our bliss was short-lived. My uncle came downstairs and in shock and horror proceeded to reprimand us for violating the Passover by eating leavened food. Finding such a treasure had eclipsed all our thoughts about it being Passover. Of course, the fault really wasn’t ours, he was the one with the stuff in his house during the holiday.
According to Jewish tradition, any leavened products left in the home must be sold to a non-Jew through the agency of the local synagogue. They thereby no longer technically are “in the possession” of the homeowner. Nevertheless, during that week they must be in a closed and sealed cabinet in order to prevent mishaps like what happened to my sister and me. After the holiday they are purchased back and then can be used again. I at that point, however, was not seeking to put the blame on my uncle. I was just traumatized that I had broken God’s commandment and eaten leaven on Passover.
Exodus 12:15 (NAS) says, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.“
1 Corinthians 5:7 (NAS) says, “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed.“
There is a lovely Jewish custom that is connected to the process of cleaning and preparing the home for Passover. It is called the search for the leaven. It is something that we have done with our children for the last 40 years and still continue to do, now including our grandchildren. The items used in the search are a candle, a feather, a wooden spoon, and a white cloth or sack. While it is yet light on the day before the Passover, small pieces of bread are strategically placed around the house. After the sun has set, the lights in the house are turned out and the search begins. A different person holds each item and the one with the lighted candle leads. As each piece of leaven is spotted it is summarily swept onto the wooden spoon by the feather. It is then removed from there to the linen cloth. The process continues through all the rooms until all the pieces are found. (It’s important that the one who hid them remember all the places he put them!) A prayer is said requesting that all leaven not found be considered null and void and as the dust of the earth. The next day the leaven is burned. No more leaven is to be eaten until the holiday ends a week later. However, unleavened bread (matza) is not to be eaten until the Seder meal that evening.
The origins of this ceremony are obscure, but what is fascinating is its powerful portrayal of the message of Messiah. The burning candle is a picture of the Word of God that illuminates the darkness and reveals the sin hidden in our hearts. Throughout the Bible, leaven is used symbolically of sin. However, it is only by the Spirit of God, portrayed as a white dove upon whose holy wings our sins can be carried to the one place they can be permanently dealt with. That place is the wood upon which our Messiah Yeshua bore our sins and those of the entire world. Indeed He not only carried our sins there, He became sin for us there (2 Corinthians 5:21) that we might be set free from our bondage and become the righteousness of God in Him.
Finally, He was taken down from the tree and wrapped in white linen and buried. The leaven that was wrapped in the cloth is burned the next morning, totally eradicated, even as our sins are, but we like our Messiah are raised up to new life to celebrate the Passover in sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Over 60 years have passed since the episode with the pretzels on Passover, yet it’s something I never will forget. After those innocent days followed many more serious sins for which I deserved to be cut off from Israel and the God of Israel. But then came the mercy of God and Yeshua, our Passover lamb. He searched me out and by His sacrifice brought me to recline in freedom at His Seder table, there to share in His unleavened purity and the wine of His joy.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, April 15, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Moshe founded and lead Rosh Pina Messianic Congregation in Maryland until making aliyah with his family in the early 90's. He's been an elder at Tents of Mercy Messianic Congregation for the past 20 years.
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The Passover cup of salvation
On the night of Passover, we raise the Passover cup and lift our voices to sing the Hallel(praises). Within its ancient words a mystery of the Passover is revealed as David said,
“I will lift up the cup of salvation, and call on the Name of Adonai.” (Psalm 116:13)
Ancient Jewish exegetes noted an extra dimension within the text. The words Kos Yeshuot (כּוֹס־יְשׁוּע֥וֹת), translated “cup of salvation”, is written in plural form, literally the “cup of salvations”; the yeshuot, the salvations, of Adonai.
Some have seen in this an allusion to the four cups of the Passover, and others speak of two specific cups; one for the days of Messiah and one reserved for the salvation of Israel in the end time’s battle with Gog.1
Passover is the season of redemption, but it has come through the symbol of the cup. One writer even went so far as to say that without the cup there is no consolation.2
The cup of restoration and redemption
While we think about the four cups, and the many facets of meaning that can be found, I would call our attention to an amazing parallel between Joseph’s cup in Egypt, and the Cup of the Messiah. Both reveal guilt, and both speak of redemption (geulah). The hidden cup ultimately brought Jacob (Israel) and the seventy back to Joseph. It was a hidden cup to the brothers and was unknowingly carried in their belongings, but it was the very means of Joseph to restore his family.
The story of the cup takes place upon Judah’s return to Egypt to buy grain. This time, at the ruler of Egypt’s (Joseph’s) insistence, they brought their youngest brother, Benjamin. At that meeting a feast was prepared for Joseph and his brothers to dine. The next morning, as they gathered their belongings, Joseph’s silver cup was hidden into the grain sack of Benjamin.
“And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money.” (Genesis 44:1-2)
With the donkeys loaded, they made their way out of town and past the city gates. Not far down the road, Joseph’s servant was sent to overtake them. The brother’s were shocked to be accused of stealing the master’s cup. No doubt they all had seen the cup, the night before, in the meal with Joseph. Joseph may have even lifted it high to begin their meal together. Judah, however, makes an audacious and strange declaration.
“Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.” (Genesis 44:8)
It was strange, for it was such an exaggerated punishment that it seems to have even shocked the servant of Joseph. After searching the bags the servant informed them that the missing cup had been found–in Benjamin’s grain sack!
The Passover Cup
On the night of Passover all four Gospels tell us that Yeshua identified himself with the cup of Passover. Luke tells us it is the cup after the supper saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:20)
That cup is the cup of salvation lifted high for all to see. As we celebrate Passover with the Kos Yeshuot we are reminded of the cup used to reveal that “Joseph lives”, and that reveals the salvation of the Messiah, that Yeshua lives!
Like the brothers, we have symbolically carried the cup of Passover through our tradition, and the many generations, not realizing that it is the hidden message of salvation to reconcile man to Messiah and to our Father who is in Heaven.
Joseph’s cup not only revealed that he was alive, it revealed Judah’s guilt.
Judah suffered for far too long with guilt over Joseph. Some note that from a psychological perspective, Judah’s extreme declaration spoke of his desire to be punished. A punishment far greater than reasonably would have been imposed. When the cup was found however, Judah exclaimed,
“What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord’s slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.” (Genesis 44:16)
What iniquity had been found out? Was Judah confessing to taking the cup? No, he was verbally expressing grief and guilt for betraying and selling Joseph to the Gentiles. The cup was merely the means to bring him to reconciliation.
When the brothers were brought back before Joseph and told that Benjamin would be taken as a slave, Judah implored that he himself be taken in Benjamin’s stead and that the Benjamin return home to the father with the other brothers. At that moment Joseph could not restrain himself. He had the Egyptian servants leave, and said, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” In that holy moment, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. It was holy because it was the reconciling of the tribes of Israel. The sin against Joseph was forgiven, and the true repentant heart of Judah was revealed.
Multiple cups, multiple salvations
This Passover, each guest will have before them the cup of the salvations (Kos Yeshuaot) of the Lord. I am now speaking of Messiah’s cup. Yeshua, the son of David, revealed the hidden plan of salvation when he lifted the third cup of Passover, telling us that it was the cup of the new covenant in his blood.
That cup symbolically has been held in the hands of Israel for millennia, but few understand that it is a hidden vessel revealing the redemption of Israel and the nations.
Yeshua’s death was the Passover sacrifice, and his blood the true protective covering of Atonement. As one ancient sage said, this a time of redemption (geulah) and atonement (kaparah):
“‘Fix ye, therefore, this month for Me and for you, because I will see therein the blood of the Passover and will make atonement (mekaper) for you.” (Exodus Rabbah 15: 12)
As we lift the cups of Passover and sing of the Kos Yeshuot in the Hallel, let us remember that there is a cup which not only reveals our guilt of sin, but also reveals the reconciliation and covering for our sin by the blood of the Passover lamb, Yeshua. That is the cup of salvation, the third cup of the Passover. Messiah, however, has left the final cup to the time when we can partake together in His Father’s Kingdom.
As we mentioned earlier, one ancient writer spoke of the Kos Yeshuot as being two cups of salvation. One for the days Messiah and a final cup of salvation reserved for the distresses of the end times (Genesis Rabbah 88:5).3 There is a cup of salvation for Israel both now and for whatever distresses lie ahead. Like Joseph’s cup hidden in the sack of Benjamin, its message of redemption along with the Messiah will one day be revealed.
Have a blessed Passover!
 “Bereishit Rabbah 88:5,” Sefaria, accessed April 19, 2019.
 “Otzar Midrashim,” Sefaria, accessed April 19, 2019, . “ואין תנחומין אלא בכוס…”
 “Shemot Rabbah 15:12,” Sefaria, , accessed April 19, 2019.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
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The prophetic Passover lamb
Shemot (Exodus) 12:21–51 & Bamidbar (Numbers) 28:16–25
In honor of Passover, which begins Friday night at sundown, this week’s reading is the amazing story of Israel’s miraculous redemption from the hands of the Egyptians. There is so much I could write about this incredible story, but I would like to focus on two main points. In Exodus 12:21–28 we read:
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood, which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. And it will come about when you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, that you shall observe this rite. And it will come about when your children will say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ that you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’ And the people bowed low and worshiped. Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
The Passover of the Lamb
God’s instruction to Israel was very specific in that that they were to take a lamb as a means of sacrifice before the Lord. They were to slay it, and use its blood as a means of marking their doorpost so that the Destroyer would “pass over” their home and not kill the firstborn. This was the final wonder that God would perform in Egypt.
This is such a clear foreshadowing of the work that our Messiah would do when He offered Himself as our Passover Lamb. His blood is the covering over anyone who chooses to accept His atonement. We are now marked by the blood of the Lamb, so that when the Destroyer will come again, we can have full assurance that he will “pass over” us, just as he did with Israel in Egypt.
Verses 24 and 25 are remarkable verses because they also point to our present times:
And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. And it will come about when you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, that you shall observe this rite.
Since I became a follower of the Messiah, I marvel at the honor that I have to continue to follow this instruction here in Israel, the Land of Promise. What a great privilege!
Not only do I get to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in the Land of Israel, but also as verses 26 and 27 say, I can tell my children the amazing story of God’s deliverance of our people from the Egyptians:
And it will come about when your children will say to you, “What does this rite mean to you?” that you shall say, “It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.”
In my home we also mention the significance of telling this story here in Israel, as amazing proof that the same God who delivered Israel from the Egyptians is the same God that we believe in today, and He has gathered us, the Jewish people, back to the Land that He promised our forefathers!
“Therefore behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the LORD lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.’ For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers.”
We can say this not as the days that “are” coming but rather as the days that have come. What an amazing testimony of the One who was, who is, and will always be!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.
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Open the doors of your life
Have you ever been reading through verses in the Bible that you have read over and over and suddenly a word or a phrase jumps off the page and seems to speak directly to you? This happened to me recently while I was reading through the book of Leviticus chapter 14, I came across a verse that seemed to jump off of the page at me. The verse was Leviticus 14:35:
35 Then the one who owns the house shall come and tell the kohen, saying: ‘Something like a mark has appeared in my house.’
For context, this section of the Torah is providing instruction for Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. These particular instructions or commandments were covering the issue of tza’arat which was a kind of illness that not only infected people but would spread to clothing, houses, etc. Tza’arat was considered to be a physcial symptom of a spiritual infection. The part of the text that jumped out at me were the words “something like a mark.”
Notice that the person whose home was possibly infected with tza’arat was to go to the priest and tell him “I’m not positive, but I think my home might be infected.” These words made me think about how difficult it is sometimes for the homeowner to know for sure if there is a problem in their own house. Sometimes we simply get used to the things that are there even if they are unhealthy or unclean. They become our normal, our regular, so they seem to be what should be because they are how they are. Sometimes we need to have an outsider take a look and evaluate for us.
In the case in Leviticus, the man noticed something but simply wasn’t sure if it was a problem or not so he went to the priest and asked him to come and see if it was tza’arat or not. I believe this same concept is a spiritual necessity in our lives. Sometimes we get so used to unclean things in our lives and homes that we need to request an outside authority to inspect our homes and lives with us. Just as we read in Leviticus 14 we should go directly to our Priest, Yeshua (Jesus) and say to him, “I have found something like a mark in my house.” Open the doors of your life, your tabernacle, and your home to Him. Sometimes it is the only way we can know for sure if our house is clean or not.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
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The 6th Israel Business Forum – Experiencing Transformation!
Article written on behalf of Israel FirstFruits team.
The peak days of the Forum, March 13-14, dedicated to connecting local and international believers in business, were held in Netanya. During these two days, the Forum theme – “Transfiguration, from Glory to Glory,” was expressed in a wide variety of ways.
Over 40 international Christian business people and investors together with more than 120 local Messianic Jewish and Christian Arab business people participated. One of the highlights was the “matchmaking sessions” where local business people were teamed up with international participants. Both sides received much from these sessions, sharing experiences, giving and receiving advice, encouraging one another and praying for each other.
A key event of the Forum was the final stage of the annual Business Plan Competition. Eight finalists competed, pitching their business plans to a mixed international and local panel of judges. This year, all three of the winners, two of them women, were participants in the Business Course, which is also a program run jointly as a partnership between Israel Firstfruits and ELY Israel.
Partnership was a repeating conference theme with moving testimonies from international and local participants. Several speakers who were business partners presented as “duos”, sharing movingly about the challenges, benefits and blessing of walking together in the marketplace. Among the speakers were also an international and local “duo” who are partnering to build God honoring business in Israel.
A panel of local Messianic business women spoke about their experiences of what being a woman in the marketplace means for them, including the challenges they face, and their experience of partnering with their spouses as they pursue their business calling.
The overwhelming response from the participants, both local and international was that this year’s Forum was the best Forum yet. The Forum focus on doing business according to Biblical principles encouraged and challenged the local participants to be excellent in their work and by this to be witnesses for the gospel of Messiah in the Israeli marketplace and around the world. We believe God blessed this year’s Forum in a special way, and we encourage you to join us at future Forums.