J-BOM, Other Stuff, and the Early Passover Seder

J-BOM stands for “Jewish Book of the Month Club.” It is a movement across more than a dozen Messianic Jewish blogs and including hundreds of readers all over the U.S. and abroad. J-BOM is about improving Jewish education grass roots style. At the end of this post I include a list of other J-BOM bloggers.


April: Visions of the Fathers, Abraham Twerski. Get it here or here.

May: The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, Daniel Mendelsohn. Get it here.

Summer: Jewish fiction selections, soon to be announced.

About the JPS Commentary on the Haggadah
Do I sense a general disappointment in the commentary by Joseph Tabory? I know I was disappointed with the writing style. It seems that Tabory was unable to make the historical developments leading to the current Passover haggadah much clearer than before. His prose is unnecessarily complicated and seems to dwell on the exceptions and twisted turns of traditional history more than the trends and flow.

In fact, as Passover approaches, I find myself returning to reading my favorite Passover guide, which My People’s Passover Haggadah edited by Lawrence Hoffman and David Arnow. I will share a nugget from it below. Perhaps Volume 1 (it is a two-volume set) will be our J-BOM selection next year before Passover.

What was your opinion of Tabory’s JPS commentary? Do you think I am being too critical? Did you get something great from Tabory?

About Passover and Yeshua’s Crucifixion
I failed to follow through on something I said I would do. In previous years, I wrote extensively on the timing of the crucifixion in relation to Passover, the relationship between the Last Supper and Passover and so on. This year, though I said I would, I wrote nothing about this topic.

You can find articles from 2009 and 2008 on the topic quite easily. Search “Passover and the Last Supper.”

I represent an anomaly, a quirky position which I can get few to follow me on. I think the Last Supper was a Passover held on the correct and only night (no multiple calendars), that John and the synoptics are not in conflict on the chronology of the crucifixion, and that the offerings about which the chief priests were concerned about purity in John are the festal offerings of Passover, not the slaughtering of lambs for the Seder.

I did some additional reading and thinking this year. But perhaps next year I will have more to say.

Now, For Something About Passover for 2010: The Early Seder, Mishah/Tosefta Style
You have to love the simplicity of Passover in early times. In the days of the Second Temple, Passover was not yet a Seder, per se. It was very simple, about Pesach and praises (by Pesach, I mean the lambs, slaughtered and roasted whole). Outside of Israel, Pesach lambs were slaughtered and eaten at home (see Philo citation below). In Israel, the Pesach was slaughtered at the Temple and eaten in Jerusalem.

Philo writes about Passover outside of Israel in his day (in Alexandria, Egypt, where there was a massive Jewish community). He mentions ablutions (ritual washings, perhaps handwashings or immersion in a mikveh or baptismal), slaughtered lambs roasted and eaten, and prayer and songs of praise (Special Laws II: 148).

The Tosefta, a collection of early rabbinic sayings that did not make it into the Mishnah, is thought by some to have an earlier version of the Seder (see David Arnow’s article, “Passover for the Early Rabbis” in My People’s Passover Haggadah). By the time of the Tosefta and Mishnah (c. 200 C.E.), the Seder was important. It was a replacement for the offerings made at the Temple.

The Toseftan Seder had five elements:
(1) Four cups of wine
(2) Reclining
(3) Eating matzah, bitter herbs, and charoset
(4) Reciting the Hallel in full (Psalm 113-118)
(5) An all-night Torah study about the Pesach offerings

The Mishnah’s description of the Seder adds one important element, telling the story:
(1) Four cups of wine
(2) Reclining
(3) Eating matzah, bitter herbs, and charoset
(4) Telling the story, starting with lowliness and ending with glory
(5) Reciting the Hallel in full (Psalm 113-118)

I think the simplicity of the early Seder is important for a variety of reasons, including this one: the modern Haggadah is long and if not executed with skill and knowledge can become a bore.

If you get invited to the wrong house at Passover, you may be subject to a soulless and endless reading and may not eat until midnight!

But as we learn the Passover, its meaning and way of teaching us, we learn to pick and choose in the Haggadah, to emphasize certain parts, to make the evening a night of riddles and mystery, not an endless droning on with text we do not care about but feel compelled to read in full.

As you prepare for Passover, make some notes. Select portions of the Haggadah to emphasize. Understand what various parts are all about. Decide what to leave out. Use the Mishnah outline of Passover as a guide to emphasizing the right parts.

[And . . . if you want to study the offerings of Passover, I can get you started here.]

FFOZ Blogs – http://ffoz.org/blogs
Judah Gabriel – http://judahgabriel.blogspot.com
Yahnatan Lasko – http://gatherthesparks.blogspot.com
Ovadia – http://orgadol.wordpress.com
Rabbi Russ Resnik – http://rebrez.wordpress.com
Seth – http://judeoxian.wordpress.com
ChidusheiYeshua.wordpress.com (Michael Murray)
HeavenIsNear.wordpress.com (Cliff Carlson)
TalkingSynagogue.blogspot.com (Dustin Koch)
LiterallyMessianic.wordpress.com (Wanda Shepherd)
ArlineLovell.wordpress.com (Arline Lovell)
Becky at Hollands Home Book Review


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Holidays, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Passover and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to J-BOM, Other Stuff, and the Early Passover Seder

  1. Cliff.C says:

    Hi Derek- You said: As you prepare for Passover, make some notes. Select portions of the Haggadah to emphasize. Understand what various parts are all about. Decide what to leave out. Use the Mishnah outline of Passover as a guide to emphasizing the right parts.

    This is great advice. I read through the new VOD Haggadah, and only found a couple small sections to skip over. I will have some guests who are unfamiliar with the Seder who are strong Christians. Do you or anybody else have more suggestions for possible omissions? It’s difficult because I would just do the entire thing but I want to make it comfortable. I think I need to read it again before Monday. Peace…

  2. Cliff.C says:

    I am just talking bigger sections that might be OK to skip over. I will read through and select small readings or prayers to skip just for the sake of time. Thanks.. Have a great Pesach everybody.

    • Haven’t made my plan this year. I lead a Seder just for my fam the 1st night (sometimes we have guests). Then I do one for the congregation 2nd night. I handle omissions differently. I plan by using post-it flags on the sections that I plan to read. I usually go over it the day of the Seder.

      Sorry I can’t help.


  3. Cliff.C says:

    Yea flags would be good to use. Thanks.

  4. Hi Derek, I’ve been enjoying and learning from your blog post’s for a few months now. Myself and a friend of mine http://www.smoothcookies.wordpress.com have entered the blogosphere and hopped aboard the JBOM train. We have been strengthened, challenged and encouraged by your musings. Looking forward in Messiah. Shalom Aleichem!

  5. Vanessa says:

    I’ve ordered my books for April and May! Excited.

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