Israel Prepares for Passover 5778

Photo by Shoshana
Seder – in Judaism a ceremonial meal with prescribed ritual reading of the Haggadah* observed in Jewish homes on the first night or first two nights of Passover

The following is a letter I received from a Christian “friend” in Israel who has asked to remain unnamed. I thought some of you might be interested in some of the practical things that go into the preparations for Passover in Israel.


Happy Holiday! “Hag Sameach” literally means ‘holiday happy’ in Hebrew.

Even though Pasach (Passover) doesn’t start until the Eve of March 30th, the main greeting here in Israel now is “Hag Sameach.” Today, as I was at the grocery store, I could see the shelves being emptied where the things with ‘leven’ used to be. They let the things sell out and will not buy anything with leven in it until after Pasach. So I could not buy my soy milk today; they are already out. Anyway, everyone is preparing, cleaning their homes (probably where ‘Spring Cleaning’ came from) and washing their cars. The price to wash your car is now 50 shekels instead of 40 shekels. $2.90 more because of the holiday. I found out when I washed my car today!

It’s an exciting time to be in Israel!

Also, Christians in the ‘Holy Land’ and from around the world will be celebrating Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. I took (a) picture on a Palm Sunday where people were celebrating by waving Palm branches and singing in their own languages as they walked the path Jesus (Yeshua) took as He rode the donkey into Jerusalem.

May our Lord bless you as you remember His love for you during this amazing season. “Hag Sameach” Hoping you have a blessed holiday!

Nisan, the first month on the Jewish calendar (according to the Torah), coincides with March-April on the civil calendar, which marks the beginning of the spring months. On the first day of Nisan, God instructed Moses, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months, the first of the month of the year” (Exodus 12:2).

This month we celebrate the 8-day holiday of Passover, from the 15th through the 22nd of Nisan. It commemorates the Jewish people’s miraculous redemption from slavery in Egypt, and the birth of the Jewish nation. We will not see a year change for the Hebrew calendar until September 10th 2018, 1 Tishrei 5779, the Rabbinical New Year.

In Israel everyone is preparing for the coming celebrations, it is during this time that the Jewish people are looking to God and remembering His blessings. He brought His people from slavery to their homeland, where He will be glorified. This is a wonderful time for us to be praying for the Jewish people to come to know His love for them and for us to seek His blessings in our own lives.

Shana Tovah (Have a Good Year)

My comment:

Some of you will be waving palm branches this Sunday as a reminder of our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem. Christians remember the resurrection on a daily basis but it is important to know about the last week of Jesus’ journey here on Earth. Each of the gospels spend quite an amount of time on it so it must be of great value.

All Christians should be praying for the peace of Israel. In the past five days:

A Muslim resident plowed into a group of soldiers, killing two and critically injuring two others.

A 32-year-old father of four who worked as a security guard at an excavation site in the Old City, succumbed to multiple stab wounds to his torso.

The IDF destroyed two terrorist tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Netanyahu said, “The time has come for the International Community to realize that the financial aid given to Hamas is being used underground.” The people continue to suffer in the Gaza Strip due to lack of medical aid, electricity and water, which their Government is expected to supply.

An Israeli man was injured after he accidentally entered a Palestinian Authority-controlled town near Beitar Illit south of Jerusalem. The man, who was driving on a motorcycle, took the wrong exit, and found himself in the Palestinian town. He was attacked by rock-throwing terrorists and suffered a head injury. IDF forces were dispatched to the scene and transported him to the hospital.

There are, of course, larger forces at work plotting the destruction of the tiny little nation that God has an everlasting covenant with. Jews continue to return to the land in spite of the dangers they face from surrounding nations.

It is amazing to watch.

One thing is clear; Israel will never be destroyed. It is one thing you can take to the bank. Uh..I’m not so sure about how secure that is these days though.

Chris Reimers

*English Haggadah Text with Instructional Guide

24 Responses to Israel Prepares for Passover 5778

  1. Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast says:

    God bless you, brother!

  2. SLIMJIM says:

    I’m praying for Israel’s salvation as a result of reading this post. So much going on in that little state. I agree with you, we can take it to the Bank Israel will not be wiped out because of God’s faithfulness.

    • Chris says:

      That’s wonderful, Pastor Jim. It has reminded me to keep it in prayer myself. It is amazing how the land is so blessed in spite of so many in the world and in the United Nations who don’t like our friends at all.

  3. “…. the path Jesus (Yeshua) took as He rode the donkey into Jerusalem.”

    The fact that Christ rode specifically on a donkey (not a horse) has interested me. I never quite could believe what so many say, Christian ministers as well as ordinary church goers: that it was in order to show humility. I found one half of a reason I think is a lot better, at the time ages ago when I studied history of religion. A few years ago now I found the other half, which makes it hang together!
        I would like to post something about it here, if you think it may be suitable, Chris. However, I am bothered that I am getting so forgetful – did I perhaps post about this last year, at Easter time?

    • Chris says:

      I have always been forgetful, Marianne, and the problem doesn’t seem to be getting any better with age. If you did share something about a good reason for Jesus to ride a Donkey into Jerusalem, I don’t remember it and am very curious to hear it. Please share it with us, Marianne. It is perfectly suitable.

      • Let me try, then, at the risk of boring readers by repeating myself (from last year):

        The times around 2000 years ago were difficult in Palestine, not least for religious Jews, what with Roman occupation, an upper class in Palestine which was rather Greek in culture as well as language (Greek was the “common language” – Lingua Franca, sort of comparable to what English is in international communication nowadays – of the inner Mediterranean; the New Testament was written in Greek.). Apocalyptic thoughts, promising that the end of this world and the start of something entirely different would come very soon, were widespread in the centuries around that time, something people longed for, also the Jews, seeing it as the coming of the Messiah, which had been prophesied. He would deliver them from the Romans and from troubles from neighbouring peoples.

        Donkeys / mules are generally thought to be less valuable and impressive than horses, everywhere in the Mediterranean area. Horses are terribly valuable and are given red-carpet-treatment, donkeys are everyday workers. That would seem to be in agreement with the interpretation that if Christ came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, instead of a horse, it must be as a sign that he was humble.

        On his journey into Jerusalem Christ was greeted with great joy by a great crowd, branches and cloaks being spread on the road before him. They greeted him as the Messiah. Who is the expected Messiah, then, in Jewish thought of the times? He is to be the new King David. (Remember it is stated that Joseph went to Bethlehem to register, causing Christ to be born there, because he was of King David’s house and kin and Bethlehem is David’s town. The thought is that the new King David is to be born in the same family line.)

        However, the story does not quite “hang together” without further explanation, since two aspects of it seem to clash:
        1) Few Jews at the time had anything like a conception of Christ’s message as one of humility and his kingdom as belonging to another world. The multitude far from stood up for him or even defended him, just less than a week later, when he was denounced as an impostor, not a king, by the Jewish clergy.
        2) Why then did they greet him as the triumphant new King David, if he came to them on a low-grade animal, no symbol of a king?

        When I read history of religion, I found a couple of places where it said that donkeys were royal riding animals! Aha. That would explain that the multitude greeted him like a king.

        IF it were the case. I must admit I did not spend time searching for an explanation of why donkeys and mules were considered on the one hand everyday working animals, on the other hand the preferred riding animals of royalty. Was it just a baseless story, perhaps made up to explain precisely why it is made a point of in the story about Christ being celebrated in Jerusalem?

        About 10 years ago, though, I suddenly stumbled on an explanation, and funnily enough it was confirmed in a tv program a couple of years back which had nothing to do with religion. The tv program was about a couple who had settled in Spain on a farm/plantation, and bred mules there. They said (just about the same as I had read): When royals and high aristocrats were out “on business” or went to war, they rode horses. But big horses are strong, and can be kind of wild and unruly; they are not easy to handle. When the same nobles, and certainly their wives and daughters, went out of the castle to take a preasurable promenade in the park and in town, they had to have much more docile and obedient animals. They could not risk horses running wild if they were scared by some upset caused by people around them. So the royals, riding around town for pleasure and being seen by the population, would use smallish mules, and ordinary people would be used to this being the regular thing. This is what royals ride on.

        So, maybe Christ riding on a donkey into Jerusalem would be sign as an extra sign that he came to be the new King, the Messiah who would make all the prophesies and the new universe come true, not some time in the future but there and then. They saw the new King David.

        • I should have added that the royals would tend to use mules/donkeys not only when going out for individual pleasure rides, but when they made processions, demonstrating their power and glory to the people. A procession would not be very impressive if you had horses there breaking out and the rider unable to manage it or even being thrown off the horse in ignominy.

          • Chris says:

            Very interesting, Marianne. I am certain now that this is the first time that you have shared this information. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered it if you had. Thank you for sharing.

            Here is something that a search engine shares with the masses as to why Jesus chose a donkey:

            “Jesus’ entry on a donkey has a parallel in Zechariah 9:9 which states that: thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass. The symbolism of the donkey may also refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is an animal of war.”

            There are many articles about this. Here is one with three possibilities:


            The prophecy in Zechariah that Maria has mentioned gives us, I think, imformation as to why a donkey was chosen. It mentions that “your king is coming” and, in this instance, he is coming humbly.

            So it appears that both are true. He was seen as a the king of Zion and humble in the same verse.

            It fulfills the prophecy and it denotes kingship which seems to be your main point, Marianne.

            Who would have thought that a donkey could be seen as suitable for royalty? I have never heard what you have shared before, Marianne, and all seems to fit very nicely.

        • Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast says:

          Marianne, the Lord Jesus Christ riding on a donkey was actually a prophecy fulfilled:

          Zechariah 9:9

          Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
          Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
          Behold, your king is coming to you;
          He is just and endowed with salvation,
          Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
          Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

          • Chris says:

            I’m so glad you mentioned this, Maria, and I hope Marianne sees your comment as well so that she can let us know if she was aware of the prophecy.

            It seems that the book of Zechariah emphasized that God has used His prophets to teach, warn and correct His people. Unfortunately, they refused to listen. Their sin brought God’s punishment. Zechariah, Malachi, and probably Haggai were the last prophets Israel would see until Jesus.

            This message is just as important today, as you well know. The works of the prophets are still important to teach, warn and correct His people. I only wish the entire world would listen.

            • Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast says:

              Chris, we must take heart and remember,

              Isaiah 11:9

              They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
              For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
              As the waters cover the sea.

              A blessed Lord’s day to you!!

  4. Chris says:

    Amen. It is a great verse. Thank you for the reminder and for your kind words.

    This verse fits nicely with the location of the event we have been “discussing” as well. Jerusalem and Israel, hated by so many, will never be destroyed. So much for the United Nations. They make statement after statement against the little nation with the BIG covenant. Their will is puny compared to the intentions of our Holy God.

    May you have a blessed Lord’s day as well! Hosanna to our Redeemer King! Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!

  5. (The thread above is getting thin):

    It is a lovely, quiet, sunny day here – very suitable for the start of Easter: Palm Sunday.
        Yes, I had remembered that the ride and the particulars were to fulfil a prophesy, and it is good that Maria brought it up. But then the question remains: Why was a donkey chosen in the prophesy? I think I remember from my student days when we did exegesis that there was some question about “humble” in just that context – whether it meant the same as we perhaps read into it today – but I have no idea now where I could find it and whether I remember it rightly, and I don’t know Hebrew at all, so I will not insist on it being a “debate point”. But anyway, I think there was some such discussion which added to my own uncertainty about whether the people who celebrated Christ as the new King, but changed their tune when the ground under him began to shake, really appreciated His humility fully.
        Thank you, Maria and Chris, you made it more interesting.

    • Maria Tatham, a gentle iconoclast says:

      Thank you, Marianne! I appreciate this discussion. Today our Pastor preached on this donkey, that we must be like this donkey who though unbroken carried the Lord willingly. We must carry Him to others, doing His will. It was a helpful and amusing sermon because the Pastor reminded us that donkeys are stubborn.

    • Chris says:

      As have you, Marianne (helped make this “discussion” interesting). You are welcome and thank you as well.

      I am so glad that you have gotten a nice day on Palm Sunday. I hope you had a wonderful day!

      • Maria and Chris: Thank you for your postings.

        It is perhaps an involved issue and I should have made things even clearer, and should have looked up Zechariah right there. At least let me emphasise:

        My “IF” applies to the question of whether donkeys were considered / known to be animals for riding BY ROYALS. I did not mean to question whether there was a prophesy that Christ aimed to fulfil.

        Something quoted by Chris may be very pertinent:
        “… The symbolism of the donkey may also refer to the Eastern tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is an animal of war.”

        So maybe there was a message there that the new King was coming in peace, not to bring war. (Heaven knows they were used to wars and unrest. The Middle East seems to have been a boiling cauldron then like now.)

        But this “interpretation” of “humbly” is just a speculation on my part, and impossible for me to say anything about – it requires good knowledge of Hebrew as well as of the cultural trends of those times. So I think I will stop speculating just here. What did various kinds of Jews (religious, not religious, clergy, the rich and the poor) expect of the new King David? The clergy certainly got considerably upset when Christ was hailed as King. The Romans just wanted civic peace and order, and were minimally concerned what their ruled people who were not Roman citizens believed, as long as they let the Romans rule.

        My husband and I travelled several times in southern Europe in the holidays. Certainly lots of farmers and all sorts of people travelled on the roads with donkeys carrying loads of this and that. They seem to be very kind and willing animals. As Maria said, they are known to be stubborn, this is not a myth, but evidently they are cooperative when treated right. Does any of you know how donkeys are trained?

        • Chris says:

          “It is perhaps an involved issue and I should have made things even clearer,”

          What is the fun in that, Marianne?

          “My “IF” applies to the question of whether donkeys were considered / known to be animals for riding BY ROYALS. I did not mean to question whether there was a prophesy that Christ aimed to fulfill.”

          I can’t speak for Maria (although I think I know her well enough to say she would “say” the same that I am here) but I understood your point and I learned something because of it. I knew you weren’t questioning any prophecy. At the same time, I understand why you have made this clarification in case anyone reading this was confused.

          Your comment about the clergy being upset with Jesus is an important one I think. The ones who should have most recognized him became his greatest critics. Maybe some recognized him but, just like the others, were threatened by his popularity.

          I must mention your comment about your travels to southern Europe. I can imagine those trips hold wonderful memories. I hope you get out the picture albums occasionally.

          Lastly, I have no idea how donkeys are trained.

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