The Significance of the Korban Pesach

We are familiar with the presence of the roasted shank bone on the seder plate as well as Rabban Gamaliel’s statement that the matzah, maror, and the representation of the korban pesach be mentioned during the ritual of the seder. We read in Sefer Shemos , Exodus 12:1-18 (from The Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by JPS):

The Hebrew word korban is usually translated as “sacrifice”, it actually has a connotation of “approaching” or “nearness”. Since the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, we longer offer korbanot, but the roasted shank bone is a symbolic representation of the mitzvah shown above from the Torah.

The seder is supposed spiritually connect us to both Hashem and our ancestors so that we never forget the hardships they endured and the redemption given to us by Hashem. But there is also a deeper significance to keep in mind at the seder. This year (2018), the two seders coincide with Shabbat. This adds more significance to the ritual as the Yitziyat Mitzrayim went beyond nature through Hashem’s direct intervention in our redemption from bondage.

The first seder coincides with kabbalat Shabbat and the second seder coincides with the Havdalah service. On Shabbat, we break with the mundane, but even the normal kiddush on Friday night commands us to “zecher yitziyat mitzrayim” (“Remember the going out from Egypt”). On Saturday night (at the conclusion of the t), the Havdalah service reminds us of the separation between the mundane and the Holy, the regular weekday and the Holy Shabbat, as well as the separation between darkness and light.This serves to bring us even closer to Hashem even without the korbanot from Temple times.

Consider the word “sheh-hikravtem” which means “Because you have come near” (implying coming near to Hashem). This Hebrew word has a gematria (numerical letter-number substitution) of 1057. This is the same gematria (1057) as the verse in Psalm 71:1 (from The Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by JPS):

What a powerful, spiritual connection this is! So as we join with family and friends this coming Shabbat for the two Pesach seders, may all be blessed with not only good health and happiness for the coming year, but pray for peace in the world, and coming nearer to Hashem through the study of Torah and the performing of mitzvot. Chag Sameach!




About the Author
Jonathan Wolf is a retired high school physics teacher. He retired to NJ with his wife. He is an adjunct professor of physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has published professional papers and has been the author of AP Physics review books as well as general HS and college physics review books. He is a past President and ritual chairman at a conservative synagogue on Long Island, NY before he retired to NJ.
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