The Passover Last Supper Conflation: An Essay
Sometimes it is best to see the reality through the later experiences of our lives, a sort of reversal of the dictum that states -- "the last of all is a perversion of what once was." I find that there are many essences and odors of reality wafting to us strongly right now, precisely because the reality of the past was real and meant something that has made its way into the present, and now it is here in my grasp - or rather, now, it has me in its grasp, and I understand. And so we see Him once again for the first time. He was the center as all who are really in the center, by the motion of His being there sending forth the ripples that align everyone with Him, no matter where in the room He may have been placed that night. He was there, and He was not there, or at least, not only there.
In my grandfather Avraham's house in Brooklyn once again,as every year, we came, the aunts, uncles, the cousins, and brothers, the fathers and mothers, and, of course, Grandpa Avraham - "Pop", and Grandma Miriam, and as always the contingent from Cuba before Castro, all my relatives, with a different last name, which shouldn't have been since the head of the "Cubans" was the brother of my Grandfather but different last names. Why? The Passover seder beginning all in Hebrew, with all of us at the table with the Matzah, wine, the red beet soup called Borsht, seltzer water with the added sweet flavored syrups, kept in the cold room up front, the women sometimes at the table with us, sometimes talking, laughing, too loud in the kitchen, the delicious smelling food flooding us from the kitchen. Pop leaning on his side in the chair, the position of the freed man, the roasted egg (who knows why), the shank bone of the lamb, the bitter herbs and bowl of salt water, and the Horeset representing the mortar that held brick to brick in Egypt, the Egypt from which the Lord with His strong hand and outstretch arm took us from and through the Red Sea, brought us to Israel and the Promised land. The delicious smells, the potato kugel, and the Hareoset - pieces chopped small of apples mixed with cinnammen and red sweet wine,with chopped walnuts. But without the sweet dates of the Israeli desert and Oasis. That, because we were Ashkenazi Jews, having come from Israel to Rome in the dipersion from 70 AD, then to the Rhine and to Eastern Europe, and then Lithuania, and then on to Ellis Island in New York, the port of entry for New Immigrants. There my grandfather Avraham shed his real name, that of his brother in Cuba, "Simbler", fearing that if it were found out, he would be sent back into the hands of the Russian Czar in Lithuania, and so took on the name of the family that had been on the immigration line before him and had gotten through, "Schlossberg", and so we grew up in Brooklyn with a name that was not ours - and we never knew it. But why did the Haroset, which represented the tears and labor, fears and pain of our fathers in the Land of Egypt, why was it made to taste so sweet, so desirable, so good?
Looking through what is now, to what was then, and seeing Him anew, He took the Matzah in His holy hands, the middle Matzah which had been broken, one part to be hidden for the children, the one remaining to be used to illustrate, and holding it up to the sight of all sitting around Him, and saying singing in Aramaic, Ha Lahma aniyah di akhalu avahatnu bar'a dmitzraim. This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt... Anyone who is hungry, let him come in and eat, any needy person, let him come in and make Passover. But this night was surely different than the all other nights. And the difference was Himself. All other Passover nights it was back to then when we were taken from the affliction and labor by Gods strong hand and outstreched arm, hustled under the lamb's blood smeared over and on the sides of the doorways, and with no time to make proper bread, and we were brought across the sea by a miracle, to come into the Land of Promise, and to start anew. But this night He broke the ancient ways, or perhaps not, but infused it with a meaning of His own, as He was now the center, and He added these words, holding out the Matzah with one hand and pointing to it with the other, This is my Body which is broken for you. And instead of hearing, "let him come in and eat", we would hear, and the world after us, Whoever is hungry, let him come to Me. whoever eats My Flesh has eternal life within him, and we would know, there was no longer a need for the Passover lamb, for the Lamb was with us, and it was He whose blood we were under, and that we had begun our new and last journey to the Land of Promise.
He and they then ate the Passover meal, and we made Pesah the ancient way,as Rabban Gamliel had said, In every generation, a man must regard himself as if he personally had come out of Egypt.
And then He did it again. He took the third cup of wine, the one right after the pronouncement in the Haggadah saying Barekh! Bless! And so before Paul would say, the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? it was already the cup of blessing, But for the world, it was so not only because it was that from the Passover, though that was first, but rather because of what was second, and stronger, having been added to from the Center. He took that cup in His holy hands, and inserting a blessing of His own, and a wording not written in the ancient ways, as surely as the Sephardim were to add to the Haroset of the Ashkenazim the sweetness of the chopped up dates from the desert, He said these words, zot kos dami, dam habrit ha hadashah ha nishpkha b'adkh uv'ad harabim lslihat hahata'im. This is my Blood of the New Covenant which is shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. And we would hear that in many ways afterwards, ...and drinketh My blood has life eternal, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?, and we would see Him in the mind's eye on the Cross that had lifted Him up high above us, we standing under, with the blood of His wounds dripping down, the Lamb of God that had borne and taken away the sins of the world. No greater love than this! And instead of the required communal pronouncement at the end of the Seder, the acknowledgement that all had been concluded according to the will of God, Nirzah! Accepted!, We heard this, Zot 'asu L'zikhroni. Do this as my sign of the New Covenant as My Remembrance lifted High. And we have done it ever since. But the Nirtzah was uttered, that all be fulfilled. That was on the cross when He alone said to the Father, "It is Finished!"
The Sefphardim,the Easterners, have a custom, which all Ashenazim should follow. At the beginning right at the start of the Seder, right before or somewhere at the time it is said . Let him come in and eat, a poor man in tattered cloths with a staff from the journey comes in to the Seder room, and he is made welcome, and sits down with everybody else to make the Passover. We of the New Covenant are taught that that is Him also. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to where he is, and he and I will sit side by side, and we will eat."