Making sense of it all (part 9)

The 'Last Pesach'

A little later, Jesus lifted up the matzah (unleavened bread) and said the customary prayer 'Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ho'olom, hamotzi lechem m'in ha-aretz'. 'Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth'.

The matzah has its origin, as did everything else in the Pesach service, in the Exodus from Egypt at the time of Moses. As the children of Israel fled from Egypt they did not have time for the dough in their bread to rise. Instead the hot desert sun baked it flat. And that is how matzah was made. Of course, nowadays, the people at Rakuzen don't spend their time wandering around in the hot sun with yeasty dough on their backs, I believe they've perfected a more cost-efficient process. But the mental image should raise a chuckle.

Returning to sanity, the scriptures teach us that leaven symbolises sin and so unleavened bread is a good symbol for sinlessness. Mark that observation in your memory, we'll use it later.

The central focus of the Seder Meal in those times was the lamb, the Paschal lamb. This lamb, as with any sacrifice, had to be free from all blemish. This lamb had been taken to the Temple a few hours earlier, where it was killed by a representative of the family, or assembly, its blood sprinkled against the base of the altar. The lamb was then taken to the family home, in this case the 'Upper Room', where it was roasted on a spit made of pomegranate wood. It was to be served up entire, with no bone broken and none to be left over.

The origin for all this is rooted in the Exodus story. The Jews were told to take year-old male lambs without defects and to put blood from the killed animal on their front doors. By doing this their household will be spared from the death of the firstborn that night, the angel of death would 'pass over' their house. They would, in effect, be saved by the blood of the lamb.