Passover notes for your seder and beyond

If you’re like me, and you went to Hebrew school obediently ossifying in your mind for all time the standardized version of liberation from slavery in Egypt these reassessments of our Passover symbols may seem doubtful. That happens whenever religion bumps into history. Excavating reality from dramatic enhancement often leads scholars to disavow “spiritually miraculous” elements, sometimes to the detriment of their stature in traditional family gatherings, especially the seder. So please don’t blame me for causing family problems.  In recent decades, for example, a contingency of so-called Biblical “Minimalists” has decried the notion there even was a Hebrew escape from Egyptian bondage. Fear not, I shall not lead you on that trek into their wilderness.

In fact, what follows will not result in the loss of the spiritual side of Pesach. As I hope you may understand, the better appreciation of our central symbols: Lamb, matzah and bitter herbs shall illuminate the profound drama of the actual Exodus.   But let me back up a step, if briefly, to invite those only marginally familiar with their role as a participant (or leader) of a seder, to better enable them to follow this discussion.

For many of us the story is animated at a family gathering with a number of ceremonially ordered rituals, some including blessings to sanctify the occasion with cups of wine, nourishment with matzah, eating bitter herbs, and a recitation of the Ten Plagues which led the Pharoah to free us. (The word “seder” means “order” and refers to the universalized similarity of the sequence.) The story is itself one of the rituals. It is accomplished with a book called a “Haggadah” (lit: “telling”) and creative formats allow for presentations which may emphasize varying aspects of the theme of liberation and invite comparison to current social realities. 

Unrepentant, it seems, rabbinic authors of the earliest such Haggadot (plural), have exercised their authority far back to fill in voids in their knowledge of the actual history with what we Jews label “midrash,” seriously concealing the verities of our emergence from the mists of our sojourn in Egypt.  ( A“Midrash,” is an explanatory, fictitious short story, which ancient sages created to illuminate truths not explicit in the Torah.) 

For our purpose in these notes, we should consider the seder leader’s  problem in recounting the Passover events without knowing what is “midrash” (made up) and what is historically true.

His/Her dilemma, whether recognized or not begins with the two plates on the seder table for display and discussion. One is arrayed with a roast lamb shank, bitter herbs (bitter lettuce or radish), the sweet condiment called “haroset,” salty water, a sprig of spring vegetation such as parsley, and perhaps a roast egg in its shell. Contemporary seder plates have emphasized women’s equality and the value of dignifying LGBTQ individuals and couples as fully counted in the minyanim of Hebrews forming the core of our People with an orange. 

The second plate has a stack of three matzot.

You, who are the leader, may think back to your kind Hebrew school teacher or parent who emphasized how each item on the seder plate symbolized our slavery and liberation. 

What I shall discuss is limited only to the three central items of the seder, those noted as such by Gamliel, a famed sage of the early first century, and more importantly singled out in the Torah’s passage 12:8 stating Moses’ directive from God that on the evening of the escape, a meal was to occur of a sacrificed roast lamb, served with unleavened bread (matzah), and bitter herbs.

Based on my experience over years as a Hebrew school director, and a participant in a think-tank comprising members of a Conservative and Reform council of Jewish educators, I can predict most American seder leaders or their guests shall pronounce the following reasons for the matzah and bitter herbs, unaware the proffered symbolism is an amalgam of post-Exodus fabrications.   

But let’s review the typical explanations:

Re: The Matzah midrash  The matzah symbolizes the race our People made to escape. By eating it, we recall we left Egypt in so great a hurry the bread did not have sufficient time to rise.

Re: The Bitter Herbs midrash The bitter herbs remind us of the terrible, crushing bitterness of hard labor and slavery.

[NOTE: The Roast Lamb and the symbolic shank on the seder plate reminds us of God’s protection the night of the escape, when we sacrificed and ate a roast lamb after placing some of its blood on our doorposts as a sign to God to spare us of the Tenth Plague. 

On what basis should we find cause for suspicion the matzah and bitter herb symbolism has been fancifully enhanced?

Start with this clue: No such reason for matzah is found in the Torah or the Talmud. Only in  haggadah commentary does it occur, perhaps not before 1500CE. Instead, the Torah portrays Moses instructing the Hebrews to bake matzah intentionally–and his instruction is given weeks before the 14th of Nisan, the night of the escape. Not only were our People to bake matzah, but they were, beginning at sundown on that night of the 14th of Nisan, to eat no other kind of bread except matzah (Ex. 12:3-12:9).  

If that is not sufficient for dismissing an “accidental matzah” thesis, two climactic commandments leave no further doubt: Matzah was to be eaten for a full seven days after our escape, and we were not to ingest any ordinary bread (12:15; 12:20).   

Alas, neither do the bitter herbs escape this inquiry’s historic palliative: the facts.   Focusing on the bitter herbs, a simple question alerts us to the problem. Are we to accept the meaning that all Hebrews were to eat bitter herbs that harrowing night–to  recall the bitterness of slavery that was still ongoing? (The Command to eat bitter herbs Ex.12:8 was expressly intended to be on the night of the escape, when no Hebrew needed to be reminded of the bitterness of slavery!) 

And,  shedding even more light on the telltale midrash is the fact that nowhere aside from the Passover night departure are bitter herbs ever a ritual component of any Hebrew Temple ceremony (contrary to matzah and the lamb sacrifice which will occur in their post-Exodus context enabling us to grasp their true meaning).  

Indeed, the raison de’etre for bitter herbs will emerge as one of profound significance, but hardly anticipated. We shall see.

Here then, with your indulgence, is a more accurate look at the full Passover picture which may better render the events which the seder plate and plate of three matzot are meant to recall.

Setting the stage:   

About 1,650 BCE Joseph became a leading figure in Egypt’s economic affairs. For three or more centuries, contrary to the traditional view (Gen. 15:13) our People flourished in Egypt.

Our own city, Goshen, in the Northeastern Delta, was plush with grape vines and orchards. We had crops of leeks and onions, of figs and olives, and pomegranates and our herds were bounteous. Our People were able to afford beautiful gold jewelry and fine woven tapestries. And we grew in number to nearly a million people. 

Then things changed. 

According to general scholarship, in the early 1300’s BCE,  a Pharaoh named Seti I sought complete hegemony over Canaan. In the area of Beit She’an, he did battle with none other than the Hebrews–Hebrews who apparently had never made the move to Egypt–and Seti commemorated his victory with a stela boasting that he had subdued the Israelites. This, by the way, is the only occurrence of the word “Israelites” yet found in Egyptian records. 

His successor was his son, Ramses II. Ascending the throne in 1280 BCE, he is the one who built the city Ramses, naming it after himself–a city the Torah says was built by Hebrew slaves (Ex. 1:11). It is therefore logical to assume he was the Pharaoh who enslaved us.  

And, with your suspension of all those Hebrew school lessons (a legacy of the midrashim mentioned above) imagine what you may now garner about our Passover enslavement, perhaps for the first time. Ramses II, like his father Seti had one objective in making us slaves: To stop us from joining the Hebrews in Canaan and becoming a “Fifth Column” within Egypt as he fought to conquer Canaan. (The motive is implied in Ex. 1:10: “…in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us…”) And he surely, therefore, was not worrying about women, elders and children–nor was he wanting them to be laborers building his storage cities of Pithom and Ramses which was “crushing” servitude, only suitable for fit men.

Almost certainly, therefore, the slaves were males between the ages of 20 and 50 forcibly conscripted to do harsh servitude building the storage cities of Pithom and Ramses, and the remainder of our decimated families continued their lives in Goshen, nearly as they had been except for two notable laws: One, if a male baby was born to those who were still in the Hebrew homes of Goshen, that child was to be killed. And two, all attempts to leave Egypt by any Hebrews was forbidden). 

The importance of the above premise cannot be over-stated. I am describing, unequivocally, perhaps in an unparalleled manner, the slaves and their Hebrew families lived apart based on their ages and genders, their fitness to do hard servitude or not. The evidence is apparent in two striking Torah passages: the first is  (Ex. 10:11). Moses is threatening the Pharoah with the 8th plague–that of locusts–if the People are not freed to worship God, and the Pharoah asks: “Who do you intend to have me let go?” Moses answers: “We will ALL go. Our sons and daughters.” (My select emphasis). To which the Pharoah responds: “No! (Only) your men can go.” The families, in their Goshen homes, are to remain hostage, insuring a return of the labor force of enslaved men. Because one might argue that the “men” could comprise all Hebrew males in Egyptian captivity, not indicating separate physical habitations, one finds supporting text in Exodus 12:37, describing the earliest phase of the escape itself:  “Israelites journeyed from Ramses to Sukkot, 600,000 men on foot…” 

Not coincidentally, based on the Torah’s Book of Numbers 2:32, we may estimate the number of male Hebrews actually forced to do hard labor building the cities of Pithom and Ramses was about 603,000. 

To imagine that on the night of the escape, the families living in Goshen, who are known to have been well-provided for with material comfort up to their time of departure, would somehow depart not from their homesteads in Goshen, but from Ramses the slave city described as such in the Torah, defies logic. Those who left Ramses, 600,000 in number, apparently on signal from Moses, were the Hebrew slaves!

The rest, perhaps as many as a million, as noted above, had continued living at home in the widespread, fertile region of Egypt’s Northeastern delta, in Goshen.

Moses, the child of one such Goshen couple (Amram and Jochebed) survived the edict to kill all newborn Hebrew males, and was, as noted, apparently born just when enslavement began. The Torah describes him as eventually watching over Hebrew enslavement, likely opposing it–perhaps protected by his “adopted” mother–the Pharaoh’s own daughter Ex. 2:1-2:10.

Seizing upon Moses’ killing of a cruel Egyptian taskmaster as justification, Ramses sought his capture and execution. The Torah acquaints us with Moses’ flight to the tribal desert community where he married the Midianite princess, Zipporah, who gave birth to his two sons.  But, what escapes the notice of many, is the news that came to Moses at the Burning Bush about 1213 BCE, after 67 years of Ramses’ reign that he was dead (Ex. 4:19).

Thus 63 years after Ramses had enslaved the Hebrews, upon his death, Moses’ confronted Merenptah, the new Pharoah, commencing our seder drama. (According to the Torah, Moses was already 80 years old (confirming his birth was at the outset of Ramses’ rule, 1280 BCE.) 

Commanded by YHWH, Moses demands the new Pharaoh permit Israelite freedom to travel three days to a sacred wilderness site to offer a Festival sacrifice. Of absolute significance is Moses’ repetitive insistence on our freedom only to be let go to make a three-day journey.  In the astounding series of negotiations, punctuated by constant acquiescence and reversal– as the Ten Plagues ravaged Egypt–the purpose was not clearly an end to slavery nor ever stated as a return to the Land of Canaan–but was to observe the Festival of YHWH and offer sacrifices as God commanded.

With this historical background, the seder drama may better  illuminate the ritual components which are a legacy from the night of escape to our own seder tables.

Bearing in mind:   

Moses demanded the People be let go to “observe/celebrate YHWH’s Festival…” (Exodus 5:1 and 10:9), we begin with what I shall brazenly label, Abram’s Pesach Axiom: If there was a Hebrew religious 14th of Nisan Festival during the pre-Exodus sojourn in Egypt, one so important that with its temporal occurrence the night of the escape, those who prepared to escape were keeping centuries-old rituals, such as having matzah, three layers of matzah, and a roast lamb from which blood was sprinkled on the door lintels…such would be still-sacred elements in our formalized worship post-Exodus, but probably with no Egyptian-servitude-liberation association.   

Post-Exodus Evidence: The immediate aftermath and preserved pre-Exodus rituals 

Post-Exodus, upon the building of our first traveling “Temple-tent” the “mishkan,” nothing stands out more than the ordaining of our first priests, the “Kohanim,” Aaron and his sons, our intermediaries in conducting offerings to God on the altar. Did they just emerge out of thin air? Or, if as my axiom asserts, sacred pre-Exodus ritual elements are preserved, where shall we find  their pre-Exodus origin?

We need not look far.    

The Kohanim, Levite tribe members, are to be replacements for the firstborn sons in pre-Exodus Egypt (Numbers 3:12 “I hereby take the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the firstborn…”). 

Therefore, in pre-Exodus Egypt, whatever the “Festival” of  YHWH was even prior to their enslavement, the firstborn acted as the post-Exodus priests (Kohanim/Levites) did in our first traveling Temple-tent, the mishkan (as it was called in Hebrew).

But, with the advent of slavery, the firstborn, the older, very likely most physically fit and slave-worthy sons, would have comprised the majority of family members conscripted by Ramses and Merenptah to do forced labor in Pithom and Ramses, leaving behind the decimated families of younger siblings, women and elders.   

[Note: The removal to Pithom and Ramses where they lived and did forced servitude, numbering about 603,000, assuredly left the households in Goshen subject to constant instances of forced conscription as their sons reached the ages fit for forced labor.] 

Absent those who would in pre-slavery times (1650-1300 BCE) have been the ritual and ceremonial leaders (the firstborn), the families in Goshen, restricted to their homesteads would have celebrated a “house-arrest” version of the “Festival” much like it is described in Exodus 12, preceding the escape. But, the era of enslavement is our subject. First, all the Goshen decimated families participated. The annual 14th of Nisan “Hag YHWH” as Moses called it (Festival of God), required a lamb be sacrificed, and some of its blood be put on the doorways of their habitations. We know the Torah expressly states the reason was for God to “Pass Over” Hebrew homes and prevent the Tenth Plague from entering (Ex. 12:23).

Post-Exodus, the lamb sacrifice carries over two remarkably preserved elements from the enslavement era:

1. The 14th of Nisan lamb sacrifice (which we now call Passover but which Moses referred to as the Festival of YHWH), is the only animal sacrifice which is done by the People, NOT the Priests in their behalf. 

How did this happen? Moses knew there were no firstborn to conduct the ritual sacrifice of the lambs. Their firstborn sons were slaves and not in the Goshen households. So he gave God’s commandment to the families who would depart that Nisan night (Exodus 12:6): “All those assembled Israelites shall sacrifice the lamb…” Further illustrating the fact the homes were missing their fit young men, the Torah states (Ex. 12:3-4): “If the household is too small for a lamb, let him share one with a neighbor who dwells nearby…”

 Likely, it was nothing new. Their plight of in-house ceremonial observance of the “Hag-YHWH” without their firstborn sons had been a necessity for more than 60 years of the enslavement. Although no such ceremonial version of the “Festival” to which Moses referred is  attested as having occurred before the night of escape, his dramatic insistence to the Pharoah for the three-day pilgrimage suggests it retained profound Hebrew ritual significance.

And, in our Torah tradition, elaborately described in the Talmud (Mishna Pesachim 5-9), the law is formulated requiring the People are the ones engaged in the act of sacrificing the lamb. 

2.The priests, as we shall see, have a different function, related to sprinkling the blood, which we may associate with the description of Moses’ command to put it on the doorposts.   

Thus, we are finding a striking similarity between the “house-arrest” form of observance of the Goshen families during enslavement, absent their firstborn, and the post-Exodus earliest Temple ritual ordinances and practices our People established upon beginning our journey across the desert. 

It seems a passage in Exodus (19:6) is explicit in describing the reality: “You shall be to Me a Kingdom of Priests.” All Hebrews observing the Festival’s rites according to their proper function were to be, from the advent of slavery, when all acted as Priests since there were no firstborn among them, consecrated as equal before YHWH in their holiness without distinction from the Priests. 

This astounding circumstance, the forced deprivation of firstborn sons to participate in the annual 14th of Nisan “Festival of YHWH” led to the families of Goshen being molded into what became a “Nation of Priests” and each celebration on the date of the Festival, certainly the night of the escape, “The Nation of Priest’s Festival of YHWH.”

How in other ways did the Goshen Festival of YHWH have elements which were transported to the post-Exodus Temple tent (and ultimately to our seder table)?

The “People’s” sacrifice, in absence of the firstborn, is only one element of the Goshen house-arrest Festival which has left us, as its legacy a communal meal, the seder, as evidence of the true Festival of YHWH.

Now, we come to the blood of the lamb. And, after that, the matzah and bitter herbs.

To grasp the function blood of the sacrificed lamb played in Hebrew ritual the night of the escape, you should first have an idea what peculiar properties accrued to it inviting such a conspicuous role at all. To us, the idea of spreading blood on our doorways is a bit gross. But viewed through the prism of ancient, pre-medical insight, one thing about blood was clear: when enough of it came out of you (or a living animal), you/it died. That meant it contained the power of life itself. God, the creator of life, was its source and you did not deign to treat that source as if you controlled it (by eating it, or letting it be burned on an altar) –when you acknowledged you were dependent on it for your existence. In fact, you would find ways to enhance your fortitude against the forces of death which might array themselves against you by sprinkling God’s “power of life” to sanctify, consecrate and protect all holy places. 

Today we would say it was apotropaic, which fails to capture its spiritual dimension.

Post-Exodus, the blood plays two roles in the mishkan. Aaron and his sons were ordained, that is, consecrated as the Israelites’ first Kohanim/priests with blood of different animal sacrifices sprinkled on them. And, the altar and parts of the Temple too received blood lustrations from the burnt offering of a lamb (Leviticus 9:12). 

In other words, the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb sacrifice sanctified the sacred site, including the altar itself. 

Certainly, the night of the escape one may accept the belief in the Torah description that the Goshen families put blood on their doorposts so God “would see” Hebrew habitations (Ex. 12:13) and Pass Over, “so that no plague will destroy you…”  however, altogether, more accurate historically, the doorposts were sprinkled with the lamb’s blood in order to consecrate it as a shrine–a sacred site to worship the Festival of YHWH prior to departure–with all the participants acting (established above) as a Nation of Priests.

[Note: The intention of the Goshen families to sanctify their homes as shrines with sacrificial lamb’s blood on the doorposts was likely believed by those families on that particular night of escape to commensurately ward off the Tenth Plague–inasmuch as each Hebrew home was thus made a “Temple of YHWH.” Such a power to protect the Israelites as the contagion causing widespread death reaching even the provinces of Goshen attests to the reality of the plague. Exodus 12:26 affirms the historical reality that Goshen habitations were spared.]

The Matzah 

What about Matzah?

Earlier, I have shown it was a ritual bread and we were commanded to eat it on the night of the escape with bitter herbs. Again, it was not an accidental bread. A closer look at Moses’ directive from God reveals it was actually to be eaten for a full seven days following that first day of escape and that no leavened bread (containing yeast) or any yeast (leavening) was permissible as a recipe component in any bread–or even to be found in the domains of any Hebrew home for the eight days following that sundown the 14th of Nisan (Ex. 12:18-12:20).

Lo and behold we need only look to the post-escape rituals conducted by the Kohanim shortly after the Exodus to shed light on a completely different history of matzah, an apparent holdover from pre-slavery years when Israelites were likely permitted to make the three-day pilgrimage to      worship YHWH in the (undocumented) Festival of YHWH.

First, Leviticus 3:11 signals the monumental significance and holiness of matzah as a ritual bread. YHWH speaks to Moses saying: “No meal offering (that is, any form of bread) shall be made with leaven. For no leaven may be turned into smoke as an offering by fire to YHWH.”

Then, some passages farther on the commandments become a gateway to a more complete grasp of the meaning of matzah. Let us look at Leviticus 7:12. God is describing matzah in the setting of the mishkan, the new post-Exodus Temple-tent which has just been built and sanctified: (Edited) “If (a priest) makes an offering of Thanksgiving he shall do so with unleavened cakes with oil mixed in, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of choice flour with oil mixed in, well soaked…out of this he shall offer one of each kind as a gift to the Lord (and) it shall go to the priest who makes the offering…”

Take note, we have just encountered the stack of three matzot on your second seder plate!

Let us read chapter 8:26-8:36 with minor editorial redacting for clarity, describing the very next scene, when Moses, following YHWH’s command, enacts the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests of the Israelites:

“From the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord, he took one plain cake, one with oil and one wafer and placed these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons and elevated them as an elevation offering before the Lord… and turned them into smoke on the altar…thus he consecrated Aaron and also his sons…this was an ordination offering.

(And Moses said) you shall not go out of the (Temple) Tent for seven days…for your ordination (as priests) will take seven days to be completed.” 

Not only have we recognized the households of Goshen were sanctified as shrines to YHWH, protected by the lamb’s blood, communally sacrificed–but now we may understand that all the People are to be ordained as a Nation of Priests by the ritual of elevating the three matzot!

(Typically, in traditional Jewish homes celebrating the seder, a lifting of the plate with the three pieces of matzah is accompanied by parading around the table and singing “Ha Lachma Anya, this is the bread of the poor–let all who are hungry come in and eat,” emulating the priestly wave offering described above, suggesting on this Festival all Hebrews are a Nation of Priests.)   

Naturally, the question arises what was intrinsically so special about matzah that it was the only kind of bread which could be offered up as a burnt offering?  

The commandment that only matzah could be offered on the altar had nothing to do with Egypt–it had to do with its purity. The impurity of flour made fluffy by interaction with yeast, excluded leavened bread as an offering. Yeast, the ancients knew, was what caused old bread to turn green,  as well as visually similar physical symptoms–like eczema or scaly skin caused by fungal infections. Black mold on the walls of houses was a considered a cause of disease and death.                                                             

The Bitter Herbs   

A question an ancient Israelite child theoretically could have asked–forecasting our own, is: Why on all other nights do we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night bitter herbs? The kids, that night of the escape, never did. (Forgive me for being a bit glib.) All they wanted to know was about putting the blood on the doorway (Ex. 12:26). Probably they were told: “Eat your bitter herbs!”

As I pointed out earlier, at that point in time enslavement was not something they needed to recall–it was something they needed to forget. The families would hardly want to remember the bitterness of their sons’ crushing servitude when they hadn’t even made their getaway.  

So here’s a big surprise: I cannot think of more persuasive evidence than the bitter herbs to prove the Ten Plagues did indeed occur. Bitter herbs were the most popular medical remedy for intestinal disorders as recently as the modern, late 19th century. Every better pharmacy carried them. Shelves were lined with bottles boasting “Bitters” as cures and remedies for ailments ranging from rheumatism to cancer to fatigue and impotence.

Back then, too, I am sure, they were medicine against the Ten Plagues. As for  those who cannot give up your midrashic indoctrination from the well-meaning dear old parents, Hebrew School teachers, or itinerant sages, Moses says nothing about dipping bitters into haroset–our wonderful sweet condiment. Sometimes cited as a symbol of the mortar our People put between the bricks, or by others as the sweetness of freedom–it too  seems an unlikely symbol of  the circumstances. The delicious dip of haroset would have sweetened the medicinal bitter herbs, making them more palatable to the children who would have been less likely to complain.

Now, as I approach my concluding description of your seder’s legacy from that ancient night of escape, I hope I may, for the first time have conveyed a truly uplifting realization of what you are  doing, or perhaps have been doing all these years–quite likely without knowing it: My fellow Israelites, Hebrews and Jews, you are enacting the ceremony of equality of all Jews before God! Ordained at the seder as a NATION of PRIESTS with the wave offering of the three matzot and commencing the Festival, “Hag YHWH,” a spring harvest largely of barley (therefore also known as the Festival of Spring (“Hag Aviv”). The offering of the pure bread, and by Commandment from God, only the pure bread on the fire altar, the matzah, is for THANKS that we have the endowment of our produce from our earth to nourish our lives.

Just as those forbears were ordained as a Nation of Priests by elevating the offering of the three matzot, waved over then tossed into likely sanctified fire pits  in their yards –they joined in a COMMUNAL offering of lamb (originating with the need to perform the Nisan Festival without their firstborn sons)…thereby achieving their ordination, as you shall at your seder, when you raise the three matzot, as a NATION of PRIESTS. Their placing blood on the doorposts became the Temple ritual of the actual Kohanim/priests. Today, our Commandment is to tell its significance, since we no longer have a Temple (Exodus 12:26-27).

Today, I suspect, we have substituted the mezuzah for that practice, still rendering our homes sacred to God. 

Finally, there is no doubt whatsoever that all Hebrews of whatever stratum of society were to consider themselves equal before God, and on the same spiritual level as the Temple priests during the week of Passover. The Hebrews did NOT envision themselves as the priests of other Peoples and nations. Sadly, one must observe, the spiritual obligation of keeping the Torah’s Commandment to pursue justice has foundered on the rocks of  self-proclaimed spiritual superiority–a rationale for subjugating Arabs under Jewish rule, the exact opposite of the Passover message.

To ensure this message of equality was not lost on the Kohanim or anybody else, the very functions of the priests were assumed by the People, who accepted their role and identity as Priests. Did that make them technically Aaron’s descendants? No. But whatever holiness could be ascribed to a priest, belonged to EVERY Hebrew in the most clearly expressed Torah doctrine of Exodus 19:6.: “You will be to me a Kingdom of Priests and a holy nation.”





                                                                                                חג עם הקוהנים שמח!

About the Author
Abram Epstein, a New Yorker, has served as Director of Education for several synagogues and actively participated in the Manhattan Educators’ Council. His graduate studies at New York University’s Hagop Kevorkian Center focused on ancient Near Eastern religion and Biblical Judaism. He is a recipient of the university’s prestigious Founders’ Award for Academic Accomplishment and has a screen credit as Historical Consultant for "The Seventh Sign" starring Demi Moore. His other books include, "The Historical Haggadah," "The Matthias Scroll," "A Documented Biography of Jesus Before Christianity," and most recently, "The Matthias Scroll–Select Second Edition." Abram invites communication on his FB page: "Abram Epstein" or "Abram's Historical Writing."
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