Printable Program for Your Moshiach's Meal

With suggested readings for each of the four cups (updated for Passover 2021)

As the final hours of Passover slip away, Jews in every part of the world celebrate the Feast of Moshiach (Moshiach’s Seudah in Yiddish), a custom of the Baal Shem Tov and his students. Just as we enter Passover with a celebration of the liberation from Egypt, so we sign off with a celebration of a much greater liberation yet to come.

This rich and multifacted custom was vigorously encouraged by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory who would personally expound each year at great length about the messianic spark inside each of us and how tapping into our unlimited potential to do but one more act of goodness holds the potential of global transformation.

Usually, many people gather for the feast, everyone sings, the rabbi talks a little, and everyone imbibes four cups of wine (or grape juice). Since many of us will be at home again this year, this means that you and I are now taking the place of the rabbis and communal leaders.

As we collectively prepare to celebrate these festive days in our own homes — and thus continue to elevate and transform our personal abodes into sanctuaries of immense holiness in greater measure than ever before — we hope and pray that very soon we will merit the coming of Moshiach, when our entire world will know no more pain and suffering.

Not sure what to do?

If you can join us in person come to the Chabad House at 6:30 Sunday April 4th. If you can't and would like to do it at home here’s a suggested program, comprising four readings, each of which may be followed by a cup of wine.

What You Will Need to Prepare in Advance

  • Enough wine or grape juice for each participant to drink four cups.
  • Wine glasses.
  • Matzah (ideally shmurah matzah).
  • Kosher for Passover refreshments.
  • Reading material (such as this page and the articles listed below) printed before the onset of the holiday.
  • (Since it is customary to sing the Hopp Cossack melody at this meal, you may want to practice it or even print up the sheet music here in advance as well.)

The Program

Pray the afternoon service on the final day of Passover earlier than usual, so you have enough time to set the table and wash for matzah well before sunset. The program is flexible, but we suggest you sing your favorite niggunim (Chassidic melodies) and read the following four articles, each one followed by a l'chaim over another (small) glass of wine or grape juice.

As you sip your l'chaims bless all those in need of healing with a speedy recovery, accept mitzvah resolutions upon yourself, and pray for the arrival of the era Moshiach, which the world so desperately needs.

After night has fallen, don't forget to include the Passover inserts in Grace After Meals (and give the rabbi some time to repurchase your chametz before defrosting those bagels in the freezer).

Next Year In Jerusalem!

Cup 1: A Teaching of the Rebbe

A Reflection of Moshiach

The eighth day of Pesach is traditionally associated with our hopes for the coming of Moshiach. For this reason, the  haftorah read on that day contains many prophecies which refer to the era of the redemption. Among the best-known of these: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb; the leopard will lie down with a young goat”;1 “He will raise a banner for the nations and gather in the exiles of Israel.”2

About two hundred and fifty years ago, as the time for Moshiach drew closer, the Baal Shem Tov instituted a custom which underlines the connection between the redemption and the eighth day of Pesach: on that day he would partake of Moshiach’s Seudah, the festive meal of Moshiach. 3

Transforming the Belief in Moshiach into Reality

Moshiach’s Seudah is intended to deepen our awareness of Moshiach and enable us to integrate it into our thinking processes. The twelfth article of Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith is4 “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Moshiach. Even if he delays, I will wait every day for him to come.” Though all believing Jews accept this principle intellectually, for many the concept of Moshiach remains an abstraction. Partaking of Moshiach’s Seudah reinforces our belief in this principle, translating our awareness of Moshiach into a meal, a physical experience which leads us to associate this concept with our flesh and blood.

The Baal Shem Tov’s linking of our awareness of Moshiach to the physical is significant, because it prepares us for the revelations of the era of the redemption. In that era, the G‑dliness that is enclothed within the physical world will be overtly manifest. As the prophet Isaiah declared, “The glory of G‑d will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together.”5 At that time, “the glory of G‑d” will permeate even the physical aspects of the world—“all flesh.”

Chassidut explains6 that the preparations for a revelation must foreshadow the revelation itself. Since, in the era of the redemption, the revelation of G‑dliness will find expression even in the physical world, it is fitting that our preparation for these revelations be associated with physical activities such as eating and drinking.

Transforming the Worldly

Moshiach’s Seudah, as mentioned above, is held on the eighth day of Pesach. The Torah originally commanded us to celebrate Pesach for seven days. When our people were exiled, however, a certain degree of doubt arose regarding the exact date on which the holidays should be celebrated. To solve the problem of determining the Jewish calendar in exile, our sages added an extra day to each festival. In other words, the eighth day of Pesach had been an ordinary day, but through the power endowed by the Torah, the Jewish people were able to transform it into a holy day.

When Moshiach comes, a similar transformation will occur throughout all of creation. Even the material and mundane aspects of the world will reveal G‑dliness. Celebration of Moshiach’s Seudah on the eighth day of Pesach—once an ordinary day, now transformed—anticipates the kind of transformation that will characterize the era of the redemption.

Why the Baal Shem Tov?

That the Baal Shem Tov originated the custom of Moshiach’s Seudah is particularly fitting. Once, in the course of his ascent to the heavenly realms on Rosh Hashanah,7 the Baal Shem Tov encountered Moshiach and asked him, “When are you coming?” Moshiach replied, “When the wellsprings of your teachings spread outward.”

The goal of the Baal Shem Tov’s life was to prepare us for Moshiach, and the institution of Moshiach’s Seudah was part of that life’s work.

The Contribution of Chabad

Like many other teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the custom of conducting Moshiach’s Seudah was explained and widely disseminated by the successive rebbes of Chabad. Moreover, in 5666 (1906) the Rebbe Rashab (the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) added a new element to Moshiach’s Seudah: the drinking of four cups of wine.8

During the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the main ingredient of Moshiach’s Seudah was matzah. The tasteless flatness of matzah symbolizes selfless humility, a desire to transcend oneself. Wine, by contrast, is flavorful and pleasurable, and thus symbolizes the assertiveness of our individual personalities. Combining matzah and wine in Moshiach’s Seudah teaches us that self-transcendence does not require that we erase our personal identities. Self-transcendence may be accomplished within each individual’s nature. A person can retain his distinctive character and identity, yet dedicate his life to spreading G‑dliness instead of pursuing personal fulfillment. Once he has fundamentally transformed his will, an individual can proceed to a more complete level of service of G‑d in which his essential commitment permeates every aspect of his personality.

This innovation of the Rebbe Rashab exemplifies the comprehensive contribution of Chabad Chassidut to the legacy of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov taught each Jew how to reveal his essential G‑dly nature and thus rise above his personal identity. Chabad, an acronym for the Hebrew words chochmahbinah and daat (“wisdom, understanding and knowledge”), brings the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings into the realm of the intellect, allowing them to be integrated and applied within each individual’s personal framework.

The Mission of Our Generation

Our generation has been charged with the responsibility of making all Jews aware of Moshiach—and this includes the custom of conducting Moshiach’s Seudah. This mission is particularly relevant in our day, for the Jewish people have completed all the divine service necessary to enable Moshiach to come. As the Previous Rebbe expressed it, “We have already polished the buttons.”9 Moshiach is waiting: “Here he stands behind our wall, watching through the windows, peering through the crevices.”10 The walls of exile are already crumbling, and now, in the immediate future, Moshiach will be revealed.

There are those who argue that speaking openly about the coming of Moshiach may alienate some people. The very opposite is true. We are living in the time directly preceding the age of Moshiach. The world is changing, and people are willing, even anxious, to hear about Moshiach. It is thus our duty to reach out and involve as many people as possible in the preparations for his coming.

These endeavors will escalate the fulfillment of the prophecies of the haftorah recited on the eighth day of Pesach:11 “A shoot will come forth from the stem of Yishai . . . , and the spirit of G‑d will rest upon him”—with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.

Adapted from Likkutei Sichot, vol. 7, pp. 272–278, and the Rebbe’s talks of the last day of Pesach 5722 [1962].

Cup 2: Elijah's Cup and the Mysterious Guest (Asharon Baltazar)

Around a long, set table, the crowd of Chassidim held their breath, afraid to miss a word from Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heshel of Opatow, who sat at the table’s head, his face aflame with the words of Torah. Suddenly, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua’s face broke into a warm smile, which widened until it crinkled his kind eyes. When asked to share the source of his joy, Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua replied with a story.

Many years ago, there lived a G‑d-fearing,The couple always celebrated Passover as royalty wealthy couple. Given their prosperity, the couple had always celebrated Passover as royalty, and every year, their festive table was bedecked with the finest ornate plates, flanked by exquisite silverware and goblets. But the centerpiece of it all, gleaming on the table like a brilliant gem, was their cup of Elijah. The pious woman had it embellished with gold and silver out of reverence for the famous prophet, and guests struggled to tear their eyes away from it.

Over time, successive economic downturns diminished the couple’s wealth, and they had to resort to selling their possessions to buy food. By the time Passover Eve arrived, the couple had nothingnot even wine or matzah. The man, looking defeated, held up the adorned Elijah’s cup.

“Perhaps it’s time to sell it? We need food and other necessities for the holiday, and this is our last valuable.”

But the pious woman refused to hear any of it, determined not to let go of the cherished possession honoring the prophet who will herald the Redemption. Uncertain what to do next, the man decided to leave for the synagogue. Perhaps help would rain from Heaven.

It was around midday when a sudden knock on the door echoed through the bare household. The woman, who wasn’t expecting any visitors, opened to a wizened stranger peering at her with wide, pleading eyes.

“Is it possible to spend the holiday with you?” he said, giving his surroundings a glance. “I have nowhere to go for Passover. Nobody here knows me.”

The woman cleared her throat, forcing a smile. “We’d love to, but we have nothing ourselves. Our house is empty.”

Shaking his head, the stranger busied himself with his traveling bag, and moments later, pulled out a pouch, which clinked merrily. The woman felt the reassuring heft of coins as he lowered it into her hands.

“This is for the holiday,” the stranger said, smiling at the speechless woman. “Buy whatever you need. Your husband can find me in the synagogue; I’ll be praying.”

When the man returned home that evening, he found his wife quivering with excitement as delightful smells wafted from the kitchen. Before he could ask what had happened, she burst into a story about a strange guest. Without another word, the man hurried to fetch the stranger from the specified synagogue, but returned empty-handedthe stranger was nowhere to be seen.

That night, the Seder stretched into the late hours, permeated by indescribable joy. Following Grace After Meals, it was time to open the door for Elijah. The beautiful cup, unscathed and unsold, sat ready on the table, but the husband had succumbed to exhaustion and sat slumped in his chair, snoring softly.

Moments later, someone knocked on the door, and the woman hardly contained her gasptheir generous guest had returned.

“I’m so relieved to see you!” exclaimed the woman brightly, rushing over to where her husband was sleeping. “We looked for you all over. Let me wake my husband up, so he can thank you too . . .”

But as she began to rouse her husband, the stranger’s“I’m terribly sorry, but I’m in a hurry to go.” expression turned to alarm and his hand shot for the doorknob. “I’m terribly sorry, but I’m in a hurry to go.” And before the woman could stop him, the stranger was swallowed up by the night.

When the man awoke, his wife told him of their guest’s hasty call. He found the incident so bizzare, he had a hard time believing her, if not for the inexplicable bounty that covered their previously bare table.


Years passed, and the man exhaled his final breath and swiftly ascended to the Heavenly Court. Indeed, he was an individual who adhered to the Torah’s every command, and the supernal judges failed to find a single flaw. The gates of Heaven swung open. As the man approached them, he noticed a figure waiting for him, wearing a stern look. It was the strangerotherwise known as Elijah the Prophetwho visited him many Passover nights ago, and he now denied the man another step forward.

“You are undeserving of this reward,” Elijah said firmly. “You embarrassed me that night by attempting to sell my cup.”

The man tried explaining his motives, but Elijah was unimpressed. For two years, the man waited outside the gates, and was still standing there when his wife found her way to Heaven. Though the pious woman was given immediate permission to proceed to Heaven, she declared that she didn’t want to enter without her husband. Neither were going in.

Two more years stretched out until right now, concluded the rabbi, when the righteous men of the generation intervened, urging Heaven to show mercy.

This time, the couple was allowed in.

Cup 3: Why Is Moshiach Called a Metzora (Leper)? (Yehuda Shurpin)

In the Torah, the skin condition tzaraat (commonly translated as leprosy) was actually a supra-natural affliction for one who gossiped. One who was afflicted with the malady was considered impure and had to undergo a purification process. Moses’ sister, Miriam, was punished with the condition after she spoke disparagingly about her brother.

And yet, when the Talmud discusses the names of the Moshiach, it calls him chivara devei Rebbi, “the leper of the house of Rebbi,”12 citing proof from Isaiah 53:4: “Indeed our illnesses he did bear and our pains he endured; yet we did esteem him injured, stricken by G‑d, and afflicted.”

How could this most righteous person be associated with this terrible malady, the result of sin?

Suffering

Examining the verse cited in the Talmud, some commentaries explain that Moshiach will not actually be a leper. Rather, he will be afflicted with great suffering and illness, and in his merit G‑d will forgive us and heal us.13

The question, however, remains: Why did the Talmud specifically associate his suffering with tzaraat? Couldn’t he just have been described as “one who suffers”?

To understand this, we first need to understand why people don’t suffer from tzaraat nowadays.

Why No Tzaraat Nowadays?

In discussing the laws of tzaraat, the Torah starts with the words “If a person [adam] will have in his skin a white spot . . .”14 The usage of the Hebrew word adam seems rather strange in this context.

Scripture generally uses four names to refer to man: adam, ishgever and enosh. Each of these terms describes a specific aspect of humanity.

Adam refers to a complete person, one who has attained wisdom and understanding; ish is descriptive of moral, emotive attributes; enosh signifies deficiency in either intellect or emotions; gever denotes strength and mastery over obstacles.15

So why did the Torah use the name adam, the loftiest of epithets, to describe one who was struck with tzaraat?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi16 points out that tzaraat was an ailment that only affected the skin, but nothing internally. Thus, it was precisely the adam, the person who had (almost) perfected himself, who was struck with tzaraat. For even one on such a lofty level can at times need refinement. However, the blemish was only “skin deep,” for internally he already perfected himself.

It is for this reason that nowadays no one is afflicted with tzaraat. In our current lowly spiritual state, even the righteous have internal refining that they need to do.

Moshiach Refining the Externalities

This may help explain why Moshiach is described as being afflicted with tzaraat. For the spiritual deficiencies that will be healed due to his merit are merely externalities that have yet to be refined.

In other words, throughout this long and bitter exile, we have been involved in refining and healing the world. At the end of the process, only the external spiritual maladies will remain. Moshiach will endeavor to refine these final external failings.17

But Why the Name?

As beautiful and uplifting as the above explanation may be, it does not explain why the Talmud tells us that the actual name of Moshiach is “the leper of the house of Rebbi.”

Although Moshiach may very well refine the last vestiges of external impurities, that is merely a single aspect of a multifaceted leader who will usher in the era of Redemption, gather in the exiles and rebuild the Holy Temple. So why call him with a name attesting to his dealings with the negative instead of one that attests to his main, positive purpose?

Too High

One of the many unique aspects of tzaraat is that even after one appeared to have tzaraat, he was not considered impure until the kohen saw it and verbally declared the person impure. Thus, for example, if a newlywed appeared to have become afflicted during the first week of marriage, he or she would not be brought to the kohen to be declared impure until the festivities ended.

The Kabbalists explain that tzaraat itself actually comes from a very lofty and sublime source. It wasn’t the tzaraat itself that made the person impure; it was the declaration that did it. Until the declaration, not only was he not impure, he was a manifestation of sublime lights, albeit the harsh aspects of holiness, known as gevurot.18

Thus, he was brought to the kohen, the embodiment of supernal chesed (kindness). The polar opposite of the gevurot, the kohen was (eventually) able to “elevate” these lights and sweeten the judgments by declaring the person pure.

But the process was not always the same. At times, the ailment was such that the kohen was able to declare the person pure immediately, “sweetening the judgment” right away. Others, however, were to be initially declared impure. These were lights that originated as lofty embodiments of supernal judgment but which, ultimately, as is prone to happen with too much of the attribute of severity and judgment, devolved to a state of impurity and needed to go through a purifying process.

In other words, just like the attribute of gevurahtzaraat at its source is an influx of extraordinary intensity that is more than the recipient can handle. From this intensity is born the harsh judgments as they exist in the realm of holiness, which can ultimately give birth to the impure symptoms.

The Rebbe explains that this is why Moshiach is called a metzora, one who has tzaraat. For the objective of the Moshiach is to reveal the extraordinary and intense spiritual energy that up until that point the world was unable to handle.19

For more on this, see The Holy Leper.

May we merit the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days!

Cup 4: A Personal Experience (Elana Mizrahi)

My husband and I had been married for three-and-a-half years, and we desperately wanted children. We were living in Jerusalem at the time. Passover was coming to an end, and although we had had a wonderful holiday, there was a sadness that clouded our joy. It had been another seder without a baby, another week of Chol Hamoed without a child to take around to parks and festive events. Another year of asking, “When will our personal redemption come?”

On the How could one more blessing hurt?seventh day of Passover, we ate what I thought was going to be the last holiday meal in the mid-morning, and I settled down to read and enjoy the last hours of Passover. (In Israel, Passover is celebrated for seven days; outside of Israel, an eighth day is observed as well.) All of a sudden, I heard a knock on my door. Two friends had come to visit. One of them was single, the other newly married.

“Elana, come. We’re taking you to my mother in-law’s cousin. She’s married to a great tzaddik [righteous man].” Here was an opportunity for me to receive a blessing for children.

We wound our way through the twisted alleyways of a very religious neighborhood in Jerusalem, until we arrived at the tzaddik’s home. His wife, the rebbetzin, opened the door. She greeted us as though we were old friends, although she didn’t even know who I was or why I was coming to meet her and her husband. She rushed us to the dining-room table, which was laid out with salads and delicacies. Before I knew it, I was sitting at the table, surrounded by this incredible family and being served tons of food.

Now, just as a side note, by this point in the week I had had my full of meat and chicken and potatoes. I definitely was not hungry and had no idea that I was going to be eating yet another (mind you, delicious) Passover meal. I thought that I was done already. But no, the rebbetzin informed me that we were taking part in the Seudat Moshiach (“Meal of Moshiach”). I had no idea what she was talking about. She then turned to me and said, “I’m not trying to be nosy, but do you want a blessing from my husband for children?”

I nodded yes. I had already received various blessings; undergone many, many treatments; and tried dozens of things to become pregnant. How could one more blessing hurt?

And, a Should they go back to Egypt? Should they fight? What now?year later to the day, I gave birth to my son. A few months after his birth, my single friend got married; five years later, she gave birth to her second son, also on the last day of Passover.

So, what is the Seudat Moshiach? What is its power?

G‑d took the Jewish people out of Egypt, and seven days later, they stood before the Red Sea. The Egyptians were almost upon them; there was nowhere to go. They felt desperation. Should they go back to Egypt? Should they fight? What now? Moses stretched out his arm and raised his staff to the sea. Nothing happened. Then one man, Nachshon the son of Aminadav, stepped into the sea. Nothing happened. He kept walking until the water was up to his chest, then up to his neck, then his nose. And then it happened. The sea split, and the nation of Israel passed through. Once they reached the other side, their enemy came chasing after them, and the wall of water crashed down, drowning the Egyptian soldiers in the stormy sea.

What would have happened if Nachshon hadn’t jumped in? What would have happened if he hadn’t kept walking into the waters? Would G‑d have split the sea open? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.

What would have happened if you decided you couldn’t meet “one more” person? What if you had turned down that opportunity to go on “one more date,” the one where you met your husband? Would you be married now? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.

What would have happened if you decided that you had had enough, and you were done trying to conceive? What if you decided this when you had only one more chance to ovulate? Would you have a baby now? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.

And what It’s all about the one more good deedif you were tired of dealing with rejection and sending out resumes? If you hadn’t sent out that last one, would you be working now? Maybe, maybe not.

The last day of Passover, when we have the Seudat Moshiach, is about the “one more.” The one more meal, one more blessing, one more date, one more try. It’s about the one more good deed that will tip the scales and bring the redemption.

And for me, it will always be about the blessing I received on the last day of Passover, and the precious baby I was given on that day—my Avraham Nissim, for nissim means “miracles.”

FOOTNOTES

1.

Isaiah 11:6.

2.

Ibid. 11:12.

3.

Ha-Yom Yom, 22 Nissan.

4.

This represents the popular, shortened form of these thirteen principles as printed in many siddurim. The original version appears in full in Rambam’s commentary on the Mishnah, in the introduction to ch. 10 of Sanhedrin (Perek Chelek).

5.

Isaiah 40:5.

6.

Cf. On the Essence of Chassidus, ch. 4, p. 15.

7.

As related in a letter addressed by the Baal Shem Tov to his brother-in-law R. Gershon Kitover, describing his soul’s ascent on Rosh Hashanah 5507 [1746]. The letter was first published in Ben Porat Yosef, and appears in part in Keter Shem Tov, sec. 1.

8.

See Sefer ha-Sichot 5698, p. 277.

9.

Sichot of Simchat Torah 5689 [1928].

10.

Song of Songs 2:9; cf. liturgy of Kiddush Levanah (Siddur Tehillat Hashem, p. 239). See also Sefer ha-Sichot 5699, p. 316.

11.

Isaiah 11:1–2.

12.

Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b.

13.

See Ramban Biur Parshat Hinei Yaskil Avdi.

14.

Leviticus 13:2.

15.

For more on this see On the Teachings of Chassidus: Chapter 7: Man.

16.

Likutei Torah, Vayikra, 22b.

17.

See Likutei Sichot, vol. 37, pp. 33.

18.

See Eitz Chaim, Shaar Leah v’Rachel 7.

19.

See Likutei Sichot, vol. 37, pp. 33-36; See also Maharal, Chidushei Aggadot, Sanhedrin 98b and Netzach Yisrael, 41.