The Passover Seder: Re-presentation or Commemoration?

Catholics believe the Eucharist is a sacrifice in that it re-presents (makes present again) the sacrifice of the cross. The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice. Christ, of course, is not sacrificed again because the one sacrifice of the Cross was accomplished “once for all” and cannot be repeated. The Mass is a liturgical representation of a sacrifice that makes present what it represents through the action of God in an unbloody manner.

So, how do Jews understand the Passover Seder? Is it a re-presentation of the one Passover in Egypt so long ago?? Or is the Seder today merely a commemoration of the original Passover?


It is both a commemoration of our Jewish ancestors who were slaves in Egypt and a re-presentation in which we regard ourselves as slaves whom G-d has redeemed. Further, it is a call to be aware of and active in opposing the present slavery and lack of freedom of all peoples in the modern world.

Thank you.

Do you consider yourself to be participating in that same Passover in Egypt? Or are you re-enacting it?

This was posted by someone else in another thread…how accurately does it represent Jewish thought concerning the Seder?

The Seder meal wasn’t symbolic.

For all Jews after the exodus, the Seder meal was the actual passover sacrifice.

[INDENT]And when your children say to you, What do you mean by this service?' you shall say,It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our houses.’" (Exodus 12:26-27)

The killing of the lamb and the Seder meal were the actual sacrifice of passover. For Jews today, the passover Seder is a personal participation in the events of that night. The lamb on every table is the actual passover sacrifice.

And you shall tell your son on that day, `It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:8)

The Jews repeated those words at every passover - what the Lord did for me. Jews still repeat those words today - when I came out of Egypt. The Passover is not spiritual. For every Jew, the passover is their literal personal participation in events that took place in Egypt that night.

I came out of Egypt. God did this for me.

Catholics understand this almost instinctively. We are at Calvary, participating in the actual sacrifice of Christ at every Mass. The Eucharist is our personal participation in the events of Good Friday. Jewish understanding of the Passover as their personal participation in the Exodus and Passover is part of why Jews understood so quickly that the Eucharist was the actual Body of Christ. [/INDENT]


I think most of this sounds fine, with the exception of the little bit I bolded. There are obviously some senses in which there is not a literal personal participation. It is self-evident that there are some ways in which the Jews are not literally leaving Egypt via the Red Sea once a year at the dinner table. That isn’t to say that there is no real re-presentation, just that it’s a certain kind of re-presentation.

In the same way, I’d be happy to say that we are, in a certain sense, present at the Last Supper and at Calvary, and indeed at the heavenly liturgy of John’s Apocalypse when we celebrate the Eucharist; that said, there is clearly a sense in which we are not physically in Jerusalem or in the first century!

As I stated earlier, the Passover Seder is, to my understanding, to be interpreted simultaneously on several levels. Firstly, it is we Jews of the present generation who are physically and spiritually present with our forefathers as slaves in Egypt and who are liberated by none other than G-d Himself, not an angel and not a prophet. Secondly, it is a commemoration of our forefathers’ courage and the freedom from their oppressors, which G-d bestowed upon them, and which in turn led to their rejoicing upon receiving from G-d the Torah Law of morality and righteousness. Finally, it is an appreciation of the responsibility that is inherent in our freedom as a people, which is linked to the teachings in the Law, and which incorporates a deep concern and activity on behalf of those children of G-d who have not yet achieved freedom from their taskmasters. Thus the past, the present, and the future are bound in a timeless continuum which is the reality of the Law itself.

I want to tell you how much I appreciate your participation in these discussions, and even your correction of what I post. Rest assured that I always read your posts in a spirit of humility. Thanks for being here with us.


Thank you, Meltzerboy. I was hoping you would respond to this thread.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but would you say that Jews today are somehow participating in the one Passover that occurred way back in Egypt? Or that you are re-creating that event in the present?

Tim, I am humbled by your kind words.

I would prefer not to choose since past, present, and future merge in the Seder. The future is expressed by the wish that we gather next year in Jerusalem. Judaism is a living religion which has an oral tradition passed from one generation to the next, much as Catholicism consists of apostolic succession. Thus it is not entirely bound to the past but, at the same time, has a solid foundation derived from the past. The Torah contains the seeds of modern issues that face society today and thus can be reinterpreted to fit modern society.Therefore that one Passover long ago is both relived and recreated from year to year.

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