Near the end of the Seder we say, “L’Shanah Ha’Ba’ah B’Yrushalayim.” It means, “Next year in Jerusalem.”
Some might think this is simply a plan to make travel plans for next year’s Seder. If not, it might be seen as a prayer that next year we will make aliyah, citizenship to live in the land of Israel. But it is neither of these. It is a call for Messiah to come, establish his kingdom in Jerusalem, and a prayer that we will sit at his table for the Passover.
That might sound odd: of all the things we look forward to in the World to Come, that we would look forward to eating Passover with Messiah. But eating and drinking in the World to Come is part of the biblical image of joy.
Imagine the greatest times you have sitting with friends, eating, drinking, laughing, and telling stories. Imagine joyous banquets in the World to Come without all the problems of this world. Imagine no worries about calories. Imagine no friction in relationships. Imagine pure laughter and pure, unadulterated joy. You begin to see how this vision of the World to Come is powerful.
Isaiah speaks of the Age to Come as a banquet:
Isaiah 25:6-8 On this mountain Adonai of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and Adonai Elohim will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for Adonai has spoken.
The wine will be well-aged (we are not talking Welch’s here). The food will be rich (we are not talking Weight Watchers here). And death and tears will be no more. That is joy. That is what we have been looking for and catching only glimpses of in this world. That is why food and drink and laughter are what we seek on weekends and holidays.
In the Second Temple Period (the time of Yeshua), there were expectations that Messiah would serve a banquet regularly. The community behind the Dead Sea Scrolls already had rules of etiquette for their Messiah-banquets:
This is the assembly of the famous men when God begets the Messiah with them . . . the table of the community . . . the new wine is mixed for drinking . . . no one should stretch out his hand to the first-fruit of the bread . . . Afterwards, the Messiah of Israel will stretch out his hand towards the bread and . . . bless the congregation . . . at each meal when at least ten men are gathered. –1 QSa 2:11-22.
It is important to remember, the Essenes remind us, no eating until Messiah says the blessing.
Another Jewish community, the ones behind the book of Enoch, also saw feasting in the future: “We will eat and rest and rise with that Son of Man forever” (1 Enoch 62:15). I couldn’t say it better if I tried. Think about how wonderful that vision really is.
And Yeshua and others in the New Testament shared that vision. I like the words of the Pharisee who was sitting at the table with Yeshua:
Luke 14:15 Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!
Yeshua said, “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11). He spoke to his disciples of the privilege of eating and drinking at his table (Luke 22:30). Revelation invites us:
Revelation 19:9 Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
But perhaps my favorite is Yeshua’s saying at the Last Supper. It is a very Jewish thing to say (which should surprise no one, but I find still that many people do not think of Yeshua as a Jew):
I will not partake again of the fruit of the vine until I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom. Mark 14:25.
Yes, Yeshua. L’shanah ha-ba’ah b’Y’rushalayim, next year in Jerusalem with you. We long to sit at your Passover table, eat your bread, and drink your wine.