There is an almost universal custom to eat a last meal during the waning hours of Passover. Some follow the explanation of the Vilna Gaon ZT’L ZY’A that this last meal to a last opportunity to eat Mazto in fulfillment of a Torah commandment. Chassidim some call this meal the Baal Shem Tov’s meal others principally Chabad call the concluding passover meal Mashiach’s Seuda.
The reason given is the theme of the day is dedicated to Mashiach as it is content of the day’s Haftorah. Further there is a yearning that with the conclusion of Passover that the Exodus no longer be Jewry’s paradigm of redemption but rather the Mashiach’s revelation and Jewry’s redemption will overshadow the nation’s earlier experience in exiting Egypt.
These two stories may best depict Jewry’s state of mind while in exile and point out how vital redemption is to each Jew.
Rav Naftali of Ropshitz ZT’L ZY’A told a story of a village Jew who was both quite isolated from his his fellow Jews and not very learned. He did not have a calendar and so did no know when Passover would begin.
The villager knew the gentiles had a holiday the same time as Pesach and the day before the holiday the gentiles refrain from eating anything rich foods with butter, cheese and the like. The villager suggested to his wife that to find out when Passover takes place serve Paza a rich dish filled with cheese and butter, if he eats then Passover has not come if he does not then we will know Passover is coming.
The Villager’s wife served Paza the rich dish around when they believed the gentiles observed their semi fast. To their slight surprise Paza cleaned his plate, Passover must be aways off the villager and his wife both thought.
The next day the villager hitched his team to his wagon and drove to town only to see the Jews all celebrating Passover. The villager returns home and tells his wife what happen by saying ”Our Paza is a fool he, ate on his fast day!”
When the Kalashitzer Rebbe ZT’L ZY’A repeated this story he suggested that in the depths of exile where Jewry’s D-Vine energy flows through the nations’ Patron Angels is becomes all too easy to sin because of their involvement in sustaining Jewry. Consequently the Jew has an out to blame his sins on the nations’ influence.
However maybe the lesson is the villager connected and gauged his observance to his Paza. Paza’s observance of his faith would set the standard for his celebration of Judaism.
The Chakel Yitzchak ZT’L ZY’A related an equally moving story. A certain Nobleman wished to observe his Jew’s Passover Seder. The Jew who held licenses to oversee the Noble’s estate welcomed his guest. When the Jew reached the end and called out Next Year in Jerusalem, the noble was aghast. “Misha, ?”, the Noble asked “aren’t you happy here with me? Do I not treat you right?” The Jew replied “It is true you are kind and very good to me, but, still the Jews are in exile. Therefore each year as we recall the Exodus from Egypt we pray G-D fulfill His promise to redeem His people are restore the Jews’ to their land and rebuild the Jerusalem Temple so that next the Passover may be celebrated in the Holy city. The Noble responded “we shall see what next will bring”
Next came and the redemption did not take place the Jew was still in the noble’s employ and on Seder night the noble reminded his Misha that the redemption had not come. The implication being the Jew’s faith in G-D’s promise was misplaced. The Jew as he said Next Year in Jerusalem called out “Master of the Universe I am so embarrassed and shamed in the presence of this Nobleman for he has heard me say Next Year in Jerusalem [with full faith in You and Your promise] and yet we are still in exile.
Both stories speak volumes about what Jewry being in Exile means. Are Jewry’s values to be dependence on the Gentiles’ values?. Even if one succeeds in cultivating a Jewish point of view still the fullness of Jewish expression in observance of Torah and Mitzvoth is muted to whatever degree outside of Israel, without the Temple and without Torah faith based leadership. While proudly expressing Judaism with distinct dress and ethics still there needs to be present a gnawing shame that Exile is a bad fit for a Jewish soul.
Maybe this why during the period between Passover and Rosh HaShanah when Shabbat Afternoons are longer the Ethics of the Fathers , Pirkei Avoth is studied. These values taught by the Sages may sound quite universal in nature but the point is their worth is not in these sayings inherent wisdom but because they all came from Sinai, from the Torah which must stand as the center of each Jew’s values and beliefs without exception. So that in truth no Jew need rely on Paza nor be shamed before anyone only before G-D.