Friday, April 9, 2010

The Insights of Passover

Thanks to my darling son, I have been listening to some really cool “Podcasts” lately from some of our Jewish brothers. The insights I have gained from hearing their commentary, or point of view, on the Old Testament have been very enlightening.

The most recent one I listened to was by Ari Goldwag. His topic was a comparison of Passover with that of Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. I loved the insights he shared.

Passover is a sacred memorial celebration reminding us of the power by which Israel was saved. I have written about this topic before, and find the symbolism very beautiful. Passover is celebrated in the first month of the religious Hebrew calendar which is known as Nissan, beginning on the 15th day and ending on the 22nd day. This year, 2010, the Passover was celebrated on March 30 through April 6. For those of us who are members of the LDS Church, this time period holds great significance too. This year we were privileged to not only celebrate Easter during that time, but we had a chance to receive direction from our modern day prophets through our General Conference.

The first and last day of the seven day Passover celebration are considered the most holy days. As a whole, the Passover Feast celebrated on the first day of Passover, known as a Seder, is a reminder of how the Lord directed Moses in freeing the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. The instructions for the feast are found in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament, wherein is found specific instructions for the sacrifice of the Pascal lamb. Goldwag discussed some of the other traditional teachings about these dates which I found quite fascinating too. It is believed by some Jewish scholars that the first day of Passover is the day that Sarah was told she would receive the gift of a child. It is also believed that one year later, it was the actual date of the birth of Isaac, who was also offered as a sacrifice by Abraham. Incidentally, the month of Nissan is thought to be the birthday month for all three great patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (I guess since it is my birthday month I find myself in great company! lol) The LDS understanding of the birth of Jesus Christ being April 6th, places him in company with those who were a type and shadow for Him. Isn’t it appropriate that the organization of The Church also transpired on April 6th too?

Another interesting traditional teaching is that the first day of Passover commemorates the day that Adam fell in the Garden of Eden, creating the need for an Atonement of some sort so that he could be restored to his former place with the Father. On the first day of Passover the Jews are told “not to eat” anything with leaven in it, likewise, Adam was told “not to eat” of the fruit on that day too. I believe the significance of remembering the fall is to acknowledge the need for a Savior, or Redeemer, to supply the demands of the law of justice. Both of these significant doctrinal teachings, the fall, by eating the Matzo or unleavened bread, and the Atonement, by partaking of the sacrifice of the lamb, are represented by what occurs on the first day of Passover.

Goldwag also explained that the last day of Passover, which is another holy day, is significant because that is the day that Moses parted the Red Sea, allowing the Children of Israel to pass through the waters into a new land. Although I have always felt this was representative of the ordinance of Baptism and the gift of rebirth, I have a feeling it also represents the ordinance of Resurrection and the new birth that provides too. I see the parting of the Red Sea in context with the veil of the Temple being rent, which occurred during that same physical time frame.

I have learned so many interesting things from studying the way the Jews worship. I believe that the spirit will testify of truth as it is presented from any source. I know that they have truths to be shared.

“The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of 'Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” ( Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:499)


Greg Dowden said...

Cool! Great Insights! Ari is the bomb, I'll need to listen to that one! :)

Mona said...

It is so true, what you say of truth...I am studying Isaiah in depth (still) and delving into the Hebrew semantics and root words has been so enriching - I love it. Thank you for more to chew on!