Passover/Pesach 2018 will begin in the evening of
Friday 30 March
and ends in the evening of
Saturday 7 April
What, does it mean for today’s Jew to utter the words “next year in Jerusalem” at the end of every Passover seder?
Redemption, Past & Future
The most straightforward answer is that “Jerusalem” refers to the future city–and its Temple–rebuilt when the Messiah comes. Most traditional Jews feel quite comfortable expressing this messianic longing at the end of the seder, just as at the end of each Shabbat Jews recite the hope that the Messiah should come “speedily in our day.” And to clarify for Israelis, some traditional Haggadot indicate that those in the Jewish state should replace the phrase with “next year in Jerusalem, the rebuilt,” implying a rebuilt Temple.
But many liberal Jews do not accept the idea of the Messiah and the return to a Temple-based Judaism focused on Jerusalem. The phrase “next year in Jerusalem,” however, can be interpreted in many different ways. These words convey a web of meaning from concrete to abstract, and from earthly to holy.
Although the phrase itself entered the Haggadah only in the Middle Ages, it resonates thematically with ancient biblical themes of past and future redemption. On the seder night, each participant has personally experienced the physical redemption at that Red Sea. As the Haggadah says, “For it was not our forefathers alone whom the Holy One redeemed; He redeemed us, too, with them,” and, “In every generation, every individual must feel as if he or she personally had come out of Egypt.” Then, as we end the seder, we utter this phrase that reaches forward to the coming of the Messiah and to complete spiritual redemption, represented by Jerusalem.
The Challenge of Jerusalem
The first challenge is Jerusalem itself–is it a place we want to be, this year or next? According to midrash, Abraham called Jerusalem, which by tradition was the site of Isaac’s near sacrifice, by the name Yireh (“he will see [God]”). But King Malkitzedak had named the city Shalem (“complete”). Not wanting to offend either of these righteous men, God combined the two names into Yerushalayim. And still today the living, breathing Jerusalem burns with the fervor of the holiness implied by Yireh as well as with the hatreds that sunder the wholeness evoked by Shalem.
Jerusalem has acquired something of a superhuman status because of its religious and legendary status as the ancient center of the world and the site of the two Temples. The Holy of Holies within the Temples was the physical space where human and divine would meet, once a year, at Yom Kippur. The High Priest would approach the inner altar to ask forgiveness for Israel’s sins from God’s Shekhinah, or Presence. Some say the Shekhinah still dwells near the broken Western Wall of the Temple.
This sense of divine presence, which can create a powerful sense of the holy, can also go awry into the reaches of fanaticism, as recent history records all too well. Regardless of where they stand on issues of politics and how to solve Jerusalem’s problems, Jews worldwide look to the Land of Israel with sorrow at the ongoing bloodshed and hatred there. Is there a way, then, to reconcile these extremes so that all Jews can look to “next year in Jerusalem” with hope and not despair?
One possible answer is found in another midrashic understanding of Yerushalayim’s name as a combination of yerushah, or inheritance, and the plural ending, ayim, suggesting a “double” inheritance. Then add the creative imagination of the Rabbis. In a midrash they interpret Psalm 122:3, “Jerusalem built up, a city knit [connected] together,” to mean there are two Jerusalems. Yerushalayim Shel Matah is the earthly Jerusalem, which may be the object of our ambivalence but is also the source of Torah, and Yerushalayim Shel Maalah,the upper Jerusalem–a heavenly version relieved of the contradictions of human life.
For some Jews, this upper Jerusalem is perhaps the appropriate object of our longings at the end of the seder. It represents the possibility of intimacy with God that is relieved of the trappings of religious polemic. It offers us the shelemut, completeness, that often feels beyond reach in our shattered daily lives. Finally, it may represent the final peace of messianic redemption.
God in the Earthly Jerusalem
But the rabbis were wary, as we should be, of the consequences of making Jerusalem into an ideal, abstracted from the realities of its everydayness. A midrash related in The Book of Legends, edited by H.N. Bialik, asks what is meant by Hosea 11:9, which states, “The Holy One in the midst of thee, and I will not come into the city”? Rabbi Isaac related the following explanation by Rabbi Yohanan: “‘The holy one’ refers not to God but to the holy city, and God the Holy One is saying, ‘I will not come into the city of Jerusalem that is above until I first come into the city of Jerusalem that is below.’”
Perhaps, then, it is our responsibility to make the world, and the earthly Jerusalem, into a place where God can reside, and if not now, then perhaps “next year.” In every Torah service, we repeat the words of Isaiah 2:3, which proclaim Jerusalem as the source of God’s Torah and ethical teachings: “For instruction shall come forth from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” The very next verse in Isaiah offers a classic description of the messianic future: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nations shall not take up sword against nation; they shall never again know war.”
One interpretation is that by implementing God’s word, the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in Israel can have a role in bringing peace to the world and to Jerusalem.
For Diaspora Jews who find it difficult to authentically recite this phrase at the end of the seder, the opening words, “next year,” offer another entry point. The uttering of “next year in Jerusalem” is a way of expressing solidarity with Klal Yisrael, the entire Jewish community, past, present and future. “Next year” encapsulates that continuing flicker of hope that has sustained Jews for centuries past in the midst of despair. It also offers hope that the Israeli nation of today will find peace and that Jerusalem will remain a potential future haven for Diaspora Jews who still live under political and economic oppression.
But our phrase also offers a more majestic sense of hope. The words “next year” suggest a sense of being on the cusp but not yet having arrived, of possibility that is ripe and alive with implication. Rabbi David Hartman, in The Leader’s Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night, sees a “radical futurism” reflected in the phrase, with its intimation of messianic possibility. He sees both the miracles of creation and the exodus from Egypt as pointing to the potential for revolutionary change–that things don’t have to be the way they are, that oppressive regimes can change.
Every year, he writes, Jews drink four cups of wine and then pour a fifth for Elijah. “The cup is poured, but not yet drunk. Yet the cup of hope is poured every year. Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.
That is the significance of ‘Le-shanah ha-ba-a b’Yerushalayim‘ (Next year in Jerusalem).”
If you want the full Hebrew experience, when you raise a glass to toast with others you and they will repeate “LeChaim!” which means, “To/for Haim”/To Life!
Scroll down for Passover wishes
“Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
“The willingness to sacrifice is the prelude to freedom.”
“Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how Adonai freed you from it with a mighty hand.” » Exodus 13:3
“Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.” » Deuteronomy 16:2
“Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.” » Morris Joseph
“Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel’s – nay, God’s protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national.” » Morris Joseph
“And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.” » Jesus Christ – Bible
“Passover is our tradition, and I like to keep up with that. Our ancestors couldn’t eat bread, and it’s nice for us to celebrate that every year by going through their struggles.” » Marsha Cohen
“Observe the month of Aviv, and keep the Passover to Adonai your God; for in the month of Aviv Adonai your God brought you out of Egypt by night.” » Deuteronomy 16:1
“And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the Passover offerings two thousand and six hundred small cattle and three hundred oxen.” » Jesus Christ – Bible
“A lot of people think Passover just means you can’t eat bread. But it’s so much more than that, and that’s what I find the hardest. I love ice cream, but it has corn syrup in it, so I can’t eat it.” » Marsha Cohen
“Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” » Corinthians 5:7
“And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the L’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment” » Jesus Christ – Bible
“God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I Am’ has sent me to you.” » Exodus 3:14
“Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics.” » Marvin Olasky
“Passover is one of my favorite times of the year. This is when the whole community and family gets together to remember who we are and why we are here.” » Jennifer Wagner
“The Lord said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say. ”But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” » Exodus 4:10-13
“This Passover, May your cup overflow with happiness and prosperity. Have a Happy Passover!”
“Singing the Haggadah Enjoying the matzos Dining with dear ones Extra-special fun at the Afikoman hunt Round of four questions May your Seder overflow with all the joys of Pesach!! Happy Passover!”
“The Seder table is set, And I’m here to wish your Passover is Filled with happiness, togetherness and smiles! Have a Happy Passover!”
“Passover is a time of reflection and joy. When we emerge from our cocoon Of doubt to fly freely On the wings of faith”
“On Passover and always May you rejoice In our traditions and Always be blessed With the rich and bountiful Gifts of life!”
Easter Quotes & Wishes
“Remembering with you the rich tradition of Pesach And wishing you warmth and togetherness, prosperity and happiness always. Have a Happy Passover!”
“I don’t want to passover the chance to say, Having a friend as fun and special as U fills my heart with matzo happiness!! Happy Passover!”
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