Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Pesach in the Old City

For my first Pesach Seder in Israel, after having made Aliyah only 3 weeks ago, I was invited to the home of Rabbi Yosef Halpfinger and his wife Leah, who run Chabad of the Cardo. Their home is in the Old City , only steps away from the Kotel and (by a stone's throw) probably 300 yards from the actual Temple Mount itself.

During the Seder service we drink 4 cups of wine (that's just the ceremonial drinking, not counting the rest of the drinking that goes on during the meal!). When we make Kiddush over each of the 4 cups we fill it to overflowing, and the excess is caught on a dish beneath the cup.

During the part of the Seder when we relate the plagues we pour a few drops from the cup onto the dish with each mention of the plagues. This differs from the custom I am familiar with in the Galut, where we merely shake a drop from the tip of our finger onto the plate or dish.

Rabbi Yosef (the "ba'al HaSeder" - leader of the Seder) - poured a total of 16 times from his wine cup - "upon mentioning the three signs in the wilderness, the ten plagues in Egypt and the three parts of Rabbi Yehuda's abbreviation" (that being the mnemonic "Detzach, 'Adash, Be'ahav" for Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness & Slaying of the First-Born).

Mystically, this poured-out wine then becomes the wine "of wrath." Rabbi Yosef's son Moshe then related a story about the power of this "wrathful" wine to create destructiveness, it literally becomes the "grapes of wrath." He told of a neighbor of his who was such a bad, negative, hateful person that another neighbor poured the "wrathful" wine on his car which from that point on never started again.

I suggested at that point that we should take the "wrath wine" across to the Temple Mount and throw it on the Dome of the Rock to see if it would destroy it. My suggestion was met with total shocked silence and ignored, but then shortly thereafter I was chosen to go downstairs, open the door (which faces the Kotel and the Temple Mount) for Eliyahu HaNavi, and read by the light of a candle (which was held by Moshe, who is super-super Frum even by Chabad standards and whom I think secretly really liked my idea) the following part of the Seder service:

"Pour out your Wrath upon the nations that know You not, and upon the kingdoms that call not upon Your name: for they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place! (Ps. 79:6-7) Pour out your indignation upon them and let Your burning wrath overtake them! (Ps. 69:25), Pursue them with anger and destroy them from beneath the Lord's heavens!" (Lam. 3:66)

So - I got to open the door for Eliyahu NaNavi, and while my gracious hosts did NOT encourage me to start WWIII and after carefully collecting all the "wrathful wine," quietly poured it down the sink, they DID let me shout into the dark night towards the Temple Mount the battle cry for Moshiach!

Which brings me to the answer to my most buring question, which is: what do Jews in Jerusalem say at the end of the Seder when we say "Next year in Jerusalem ?"

The anwer is: we STILL say "Next Year in Jerusalem," for two reasons: 1) that we (Am Yisrael, the People of Israel) are not complete until ALL our brothers and sisters have left the Exile and returned to the Land, and 2) Even though we are in Jerusalem (thank G_d) we are still not able to bring the Korban Pesach (Pesach offering - the Paschal lamb) to the Temple Mount, to the re-built Temple where we can offer the sacrifices as prescribed by HaShem in the Torah.

Until all the Jews come home and the Temple is rebuilt, we still say "Next Year in Jerusalem." even if we are lucky enough to be able to conduct the Seder literally a stone's throw away from the Temple Mount itself.

1 comment:

Ten of Swords said...

thanks for the e-mails, the link and the education. (i've actually wondered about 'next year in jerusalem' ...)