Friday, April 29, 2016

Passover (Pesach) _3

חג פסח    

Who leads the Passover Seder?

The Passover Seder is led either by a chosen person or by all participants at the Passover Seder table. How the Passover Seder is led depends on the traditions and customs of the family, group, organization, or whoever is organizing and hosting the Passover Seder.

Where is the Passover Seder held?

The Passover Seder is traditionally held in one's home, but Passover Seders have also been hosted and celebrated in a synagogue or Jewish temple, at a place of business, or even in a restaurant!

When is the Passover Seder held?

The Passover Seder is held on the first two evenings of the Passover holiday for Jews who celebrate Passover for eight days, and only on the first evening of the Passover holiday for Jews who celebrate Passover for seven days. Most Jews outside of Israel celebrate Passover for eight days, and almost all Jews celebrate Passover for seven days in Israel, which was the original amount of days that Passover was celebrated. The reason for this difference is that in ancient times, Jews outside of Israel did not hear news from Israel for a period of time, and so news about the religious observance times in the Jewish calendar reached Jews outside of Israel at a later date. So this problem resulted in the rabbis in Israel adding an extra day of observance for the Passover holiday for Jews who lived outside of Israel to compensate for the differences in time.

How is the Passover Seder celebrated?

The Passover Seder is usually celebrated by many people sitting around a table. In fact, it is mentioned that "all who are hungry are invited to eat" at the Passover Seder table, for this is a joyous occasion about celebrating physical freedom from bondage. At the same time, it is also a sad occasion in that we are recalling our slavery in Egypt and the hardships our ancestors faced and dealt with. But as we move through the Passover Seder, we move from past recollections to the present to future hopes that freedom, peace, and prosperity will arrive for all humanity when the Messiah arrives to usher in the age of redemption.


Passover also contains a strong connection to the theme of creation. Notable is the repetition of patterns of four. This is based on the verse in Exodus that states, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments, and I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be to you a God…” (Exodus 6:6-7). We drink four cups of wine, ask four questions, and speak about four types of children.

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Passover (Pesach) _2

חג פסח

What are Passover Seder symbolic foods?

  • The Passover Seder has many symbolic foods. Unleavened bread called "matzah" in Hebrew is eaten throughout the Passover holiday. The reason is that matzah was the unleavened bread that resulted when the Hebrews did not have enough time to bake leavened bread in the evening just before they fled Egypt and so matzah came to symbolize the "bread of affliction" as well as "poor man's bread", among many other symbolisms. Other foods, mostly eaten at the festive meal known as the Passover Seder, include "Beitzah", meaning a hard-boiled or roasted egg in Hebrew, symbolizing Springtime when the Passover story took place; "Mei Melach", meaning "salt-water" in Hebrew. Salt-water is used for the eggs that symbolize the tears shed by the Hebrews while in slavery in Egypt; Karpas, which is a green vegetable, usually a bitter green vegetable, also symbolizing the tears and sweat experienced by the Hebrews as they toiled as slaves in Egypt.

  • A second bitter vegetable is also eaten by some families and it is called "chazeret" in Hebrew. It is always a different bitter herb from the Karpas; "Zeroh", meaning "wing" or "arm" in Hebrew, which is usually a roasted shank bone from a chicken that symbolizes the lamb that was sacrificed for the ancient festival called the "Pesach" festival which actually, predated the Passover story and was practiced by many ancient peoples, including the Hebrews. "Marror" is another symbolic food of Passover and it is bitter herbs. It collectively represents the hardships experienced by the Hebrews while enslaved in Egypt. "Charoset" is another food that is eaten during the Passover Seder and in its most basic form is a mixture of fruits, nuts, honey, cinnamon, and wine, however different ingredients are added into the mix depending on the family, and/or customs of Jews from different countries. Charoset symbolizes the bricks and mortar used by the Hebrews in building store-houses and cities for the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. Some scholars believe the word "Charoset" either means or comes from the word "clay" in Hebrew. Finally, there is "Yayin", meaning "wine" in Hebrew, and wine is used for and symbolizes this joyous occasion when we celebrate being physically free from slavery in Egypt, since it is commanded by G-d that in every generation, a Jewish person must celebrate being free as if he or she was just released from slavery in Egypt.   ~to be cont’d.

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts

Monday, April 25, 2016

Passover (Pesach)

Passover (Pesach)

חג פסח

Significance: Remembers the Exodus from Egypt

Observances: Avoiding all leavened grain products and related foods; Family or
   communal retelling of the Exodus story
Length:           8 days (Some: 7 days)

assover is the oldest continuously observed holiday in the entire human race, and  has been observed for over 3500 years without interruption. Wherever the Jews were dispersed, they still observed the Passover. The high point is the seder. Experiencing this wonderful Jewish meal and interactive “happening” is to live through all the varied themes of the Passover festival.

The perpetuation of the Passover can be traced to Exodus 12:25-27; "When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, what does this ceremony mean to you? Then tell them, It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians....."

v  The most obvious theme of the festival is redemption. In the Exodus story, the Jews were redeemed physically from slavery. While Pesach (the Hebrew word for Passover) is “z’man heyruteinu,” the season of our freedom, it is also a festival that speaks of spiritual redemption. Jews were freed from mental as well as physical slavery. It was as a physically and spiritually free people that the Jewish nation prepared to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai.

v  The notion of spiritual redemption is in part demonstrated by the fundamental Jewish idea that in every generation every individual is obliged to view him or herself as though he or she had actually gone forth from Egypt. Egypt is “Mitzraim” in Hebrew. It stems from the root “tzar,” which means narrow or constrained. In order to leave Egypt, each individual must break out of personal narrowness, becoming free to achieve his full spiritual potential. Another explanation of the root “tzar” is calamity. In this view, “Mitzraim” represents the country of calamities that befall the Jews.

v  The seder includes many allusions to a future messianic redemption. One of the clearest symbols of the presence and hope of future redemption is the Cup of Elijah that is placed on every seder table. Contained within the salvation from Egypt are the seeds of future redemption, as the Torah states, “This same night is a night of watching unto the Lord for all the children of Israel throughout their generations” (Exodus 12:42).

v  What is the Passover Seder?

The Passover Seder is the festive meal celebrated on the first two nights of the Passover holiday for Jews who celebrate Passover for 8 days. For Jews who celebrate Passover for 7 days, the Passover Seder is celebrated only on the first night of the Passover holiday.

v  What does the Passover Seder" mean?

The word "Seder" means "order" in Hebrew. The Passover Seder is a strict "order" of 15 steps that are performed at different points in the Passover Seder meal. These 15 steps were established by the ancient rabbis in the Talmudic period who lived from about the beginning of the Common Era to about 200 C.E.

v  Why celebrate the Passover Seder?

Simply put, it is a commandment from G-d as mentioned in the Hebrew Bible to observe the time that G-d helped the Hebrews to be taken out of slavery in Egypt. The Passover Seder is a reflection of that observance. The Passover Seder is a ritual meal that is a symbolic fusion of many ancient practices performed by Middle Eastern peoples, including the Hebrews. Each food in the Passover Seder represents, or symbolizes many different concepts and events that took place in the Passover story of the Hebrews' Exodus from Egypt, but at the same time there are also symbolisms from other ancient, pre-Passover of Egypt practices performed by the Hebrews and many other ancient peoples of the Middle East. There are also spiritual symbolisms connected with each Passover Seder food on top of the concepts and events that took place in the Passover of Egypt story.  to be cont’d

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre

Thursday, April 21, 2016


 Key Passage: Exodus 40
Step 1:    Preparation  
Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:
Tabernacle Completed

OVERVIEW       The Book of Exodus closes with a detailed account of the construction of the tabernacle, the new place of residence for the God of Israel as He accompanies His people to Canaan. Notice the many steps involved in the project: Moses organizes the needed workers and materials; skilled artisans do the actual construction; Moses inspects the finished work; the tabernacle is erected and the furniture set in place; and finally the glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle, showing God’s pleasure with the structure. From start to finish, the entire project is done "just as the Lord had commanded" Moses.

How many friends would you have left if you started spending as much time with them as you do with God?

OUR DAILY WALK   God has always sought to dwell in the midst of people. Think back to the opening chapters of Genesis. There you find Adam and Eve in the garden. And in the cool of the evening God walks through the garden, seeking face-to-face fellowship with His creation.

In today’s reading, God’s glory takes up residence in the tabernacle in order to accompany the Israelites on their journey to Canaan. Later in Israel’s history, God’s presence will reside in Solomon’s magnificent temple. And today God’s Holy Spirit indwells every child of God (1Corinthians 6:19-20). The lesson is clear: God wants to identify Himself with those who are truly His. More specifically, God wants to identify Himself with you, fellowship with you, spend time with you, help you get to know Him better.

How do you go about building a relationship like that? Jot down the first five things that come to mind. Now use your list to help you organize your day and assign priorities to your activities. Place "time with God" at the top of the list. After all, that’s His greatest desire: to walk and talk with you. If that’s your greatest desire, tell Him so right now.

INSIGHT   A Long Way to Find Freedom

Exodus begins with a mob of miserable slaves held captive in Egypt, yet ends with an emancipated nation in fellowship with God and on its way to Canaan. No wonder Exodus is called the "book of redemption."


(from the DailyWalk magazine)

Submitted by:

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


 Key Passage: Exodus 33-34
Covenant’s     Interruption  



Moses’ Request

God’s Restoration

OVERVIEW       Six weeks have passed since the people made their solemn vow of fidelity to God. Concluding that Moses has died on the mountain, they insist on creating a replica of an Egyptian god. Coming upon this grotesque scene, Moses dashes the newly inscribed tablets to pieces, dramatically proclaiming the broken covenant. He destroys the golden calf and orders the Levites to slay guilty Israelites. Israel’s repentance, Moses’s selfless intercession, and God’s faithfulness to His promises account for a renewal of the covenant. New tablets are engraved and Moses experiences yet another encounter with God on Mount Sinai.


OUR DAILY WALK  “I can’t understand teenagers. One minute they want to be treated like adults; the next minute they act like children."   

This oft-voiced exasperation of many a parent illustrates a fact about growth. The process of maturation does not always move in a consistently forward direction. Everyone at one time or another reverts to former patterns of behavior.

The incident of the golden calf is about one of many cases of backsliding in Israel’s history. One lesson is clear: Believers are not immune from the practice of reverting to old habits and patterns of living. It may occur in an unguarded moment, such as an outburst of temper. Or it may be the result of impatience, when God’s timetable seems agonizingly slow. Or it may be because of the world’s culture that still lures your unguarded heart.

Take a personal inventory of your spiritual life. Have you made a commitment to the Lord in recent weeks? If so, have you followed through on it, or did you revert to your previous behavior? If you see a "golden calf" in your life, deal with it now.

INSIGHT   The Golden Calf – A Lingering Legacy

Calf worship was expressly forbidden in the law (Exodus 20:4-6) and shown to be utterly useless by the plagues in Egypt. Yet, at least twice in Israel’s history, golden calves spelled destruction for the people (see Exodus 32:1; 1 Kings 12:28).

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts

Tuesday, April 19, 2016



 Key Passage: Exodus 29

      CHAPTER 29

Clothing for the Priests

Consecration of the Priests

Commands for
the Priests

Craftsmen for
the Tabernacle

    Priestly Ministry
Priestly Carpenters

OVERVIEW       No center of worship is complete without people to minister in it and utensils to use in the worship services. Chapters 28-31 describe the priests, Israel’s representatives before God, who are chosen to lead the worship in the tabernacle. Everything about them is special, from the clothing they wear to the elaborate sacrifices needed to prepare them for ministry, as well as the utensils and supplies they use (such as incense, perfumes, oil, the altar, and the basin) in the tabernacle worship. Even the designers and construction workers are handpicked by God.

God deserves to be served with all
the energy we have.

OUR DAILY WALK   Preparing a priest for service in the tabernacle was no small chore (chapter 29). The most curious part of the ceremony involved killing a ram and applying the blood to the tip of the priest’s right ear, the thumb of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot (29:20). The blood was a picture of cleansing. Before the priest could minister before the Lord, he had to be clean from the sin that polluted him. Then he needed to be dedicated to the Lord from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. Every part of him, from his ear (which hears God’s Law) to his hand (which does God’s will) to his foot (which follows in God’s steps) must be surrendered to the will of God.

Does God have that kind of control over your whole life? If not, starting with your head, give each part of your body to Him in a prayer of dedication: "Lord, take my eyes; help me to look at those things that please You. Take my ears; help me to listen to things that build up, not tear down…" Then you, like Israel’s priests, will be ready to do His Will – from head to toe.

INSIGHT   Mystery Stones

The Urim and Thummin were probably two flat stones kept in the breastplate of the high priest and used to determine the will of God. Each may have had one dark side and one light. Some scholars speculate that they were tossed into the air and allowed to fall to the ground Two dark sides showing meant "yes," two light sides meant "no," and one of each meant "no reply"

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts

Monday, April 18, 2016


 Key Passage: Exodus 25:1-9

      CHAPTER 26

 Items of Worship
            Place of

OVERVIEW       During Moses’ stay on the mountain, God reveals His detailed plans for the tabernacle in which He will dwell and receive His people’s worship. No item is overlooked in God’s design of this portable tent of worship. Everything is to be done "according to the plan shown you on the mountain" (26:30). God’s dwelling place with His people, Israel, will be the central structure in the camp and the focus of the nation’s attention and activities.

God is neither shut up nor shut
out of any place, anywhere.

OUR DAILY WALK   How big is your God? Having studied the tabernacle in detail, keep in mind this was a portable building, capable of being dismantled and carried around as Israel journeyed. Though God’s presence uniquely inhabited the tabernacle, the fact that it could be disassembled for travel served to remind the Israelites that their God could not be confined to four walls. He was with them in the fire and cloud; He could divide great seas and drown mighty armies; He could provide water from rocks and manna from the morning dew. Contrast this with pagan gods of neighboring nations-powerless idols that had to be carried on their worshiper’s shoulders (Isaiah’s 46:5-7). Israel’s priests carried God’s temporary house on their shoulders, but Israel’s God carried them!

If at times you find yourself wishing God were a little more flexible, yielding more to your own desires and expectations, consider this fact: if God were small enough for you to control, He would not be strong enough to help you in time of need.

If you can, visit your church sometime today, and in the quiet, worshipful atmosphere of the silent sanctuary, spend a few minutes praising the God you serve – a God no building can contain.

INSIGHT   How Would You Like to Hang These Drapes?

The Jewish historian Josephus explained that the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, was four inches thick. It was so sturdy it could not be torn apart by horses tied to it, pulling in opposite directions.

Playwright Janet Irene Thomas
Bible Stories Theatre of
Fine & Performing Arts