Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Festival of Freedom (2019)

Festival of Freedom & Hope: Our seder table last night before our family sat down to celebrate Passover. Like Jews worldwide, we retold the Exodus story and had a large festive meal, discussing three things: the passover offering (Paschal lamb), matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs). The central idea of this holiday is to rid ourselves of anything that enslaves us, of anything that keeps us from being who we are meant to be; freedom is the end game. With this in mind, we give thanks to God.
Credit: ©2019. Perry J. Greenbaum

Happy Passover to my Jewish friends & neighbours; and Happy Easter to my Christian friends & neighbours. Both holidays are central to the narrative and history of western Judeo-Christian civilization; both holidays show God working in the lives of the faithful, speaking of liberation, hope and love. It is no surprise then that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew, celebrated a Passover meal (“the last supper”) in Jerusalem (likely on Wednesday 1 April 33 CE), for the last time, two days before his death, by crucifixion (likely on 14 Nisan or Friday 3 April 33 CE). Despite the scholarly debates on the exact date of Jesus’ death, one can agree that the two holidays are linked by history and by this historical figure.

It is noteworthy that early Christians, who were chiefly if not all Jews, considered Jesus as not only the promised Messiah but also as the Passover offering (the Korban Pesakha concept dating to the Jewish Exodus; see the book of Exodus, Chapter 12), who by his willing act freed mankind from the bondages of sin, judgment, condemnation and death. Such is, when one considers it and believes it, the greatest freedom one could ever desire. A good many Jews of the late Second Temple period still had an understanding of this redemptive aspect of Judaism.

Then came a changing and defining moment in Judaism—the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. Nothing would remain the same; and only later, through a progression of events (occurring over a period of decades after the Temple’s destruction), would Second Temple Judaism separate into the two religions that we know today as Judaism and Christianity. That being said, the Jewish roots of Christianity are important, essential I would add, to have a fuller understanding of the core message of redemption and liberation. The story of Passover is important if one wants to understand the story of Easter.

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