Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On The Cup of Blessing, For Pastor Steven

The Pesach seder is a reliving of our exodus from Egypt, a participation in Yeshua's final meal with His students, and a proleptic taste of a banquet yet to come. The third cup taken during the night of our seder is called the "Cup of Blessing" and follows the recitation of birkat hamazon. For many less observant Jews this is the only time during the year that birkat hamazon will be recited with its accompanying cup. However one can and should make a blessing over bread and wine throughout the year. For chasidei Yeshua it should be all the more greatly valued.

Soncino Zohar, Bereshit, Section 1, Page 250a, b:

“Rab Hamnuna the Elder would not allow anyone else to take the cup of blessing, but he himself took it in his two hands and said the blessing. We have affirmed that the cup should be taken in the right hand, and not in the left. It is called "cup of salvations—Kos Yeshuot" (Ps. CXVI, 13), because through it blessings are drawn from the supernal salvations, and in it is collected the supernal wine. Also, the table over which the blessing is said should not be devoid of both bread and wine. The Community of Israel is called "cup of blessing", and therefore the cup should be raised both by the right hand and the left hand, so as to be set between. It should be filled with wine, because of the wine of the Torah which issues from the future world. There is a mystic allusion in this cup of blessing to the holy chariot (vehicle for the divine Presence). The right and left hands correspond to the north and south, between which is "the couch of Solomon". He who says the blessing should fix his eye upon the cup to bless it with four blessings. Thus the cup contains the emblem of faith, north, south, east, and west, and so the holy chariot. There should be bread on the table in order that the lower bread may be blessed, and the "bread of poverty" may become the "bread of luxury". In this way the Community of Israel will be blessed in all four directions, above and below-above by the Bread of Blessing and the Cup of Blessing through which King David is joined to the patriarchs, and below, that bread should never be lacking from the Israelite's table.”
1 Corinthians 10:16:
The Cup of Blessing which we bless, is it not the joining of the blood of Mashiach? The bread which we break, is it not the joining of the body of Mashiach?
Although I am not able to elaborate on this topic at great depth, it should be understood that the Cup of Blessing described above in both the Zohar and 1 Corinthians are one and the same. Please take time to reflect upon both passages.

After eating bread we recite Birkat Hamazon, the grace after meals, as its written: "When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless Hashem your G-d for the good land which he gave you". (Due. 8:10) When three or more people are present this is done in a somewhat more elaborate fashion. Those in attendance are given a formal invitation (zimmun) to participate. The leader holds in the palm of his right hand a full cup of wine. The cup is elevated off the table making a connection to the passage from Psalms, “I will lift the Cup of Salvations and I shall call on Hashem.” In conclusion of the Birkat Hamazon the leader makes the preliminary blessing over wine and drinks from the cup.

1 Corinthians 23:26:
For I received from the Master that which I also delivered to you, that the Master Yeshua in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had made the berakha, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way the cup also after the meal, saying, “This cup is the renewal of the covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, do so in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Master’s death until He comes.

8 comments:

Pastor Steven said...

Thanks Tim, I appreciate the insight. I will have to reflect on this a little more before I comment in more detail.

Peace,

Steven

Tim Layne said...

Feel free to ask any questions. I expect them.

Pastor Steven said...

Very interesting post, I'm interested in Messianic Jewish practise when it comes to Yeshua's word's at the last supper to. . ."do this in remembrance of Me."

1.) Would there be other celebrations through-out the year where bread & wine would be blessed in this manner, either in the synagogue or the home?

2.) Do you view the bread and the wine as true means of grace?

3.)Why do you think that the celebration of the "Lord's Supper" became the center act of worship for the early church and do you think that was Yeshua's intent?

Peace,

Steven

Tim Layne said...

1. Any time three or more eat a meal containing bread the meal becomes a formal gathering (mezuman). This would include most holidays…especially shabbat, but also could include eating lunch with two friends. It should be mentioned that from the perspective of Torah tradition a meal is some kind of holy event. By saying that lunch with friends could be considered a “communion” I risk sounding irreverent in the eyes of many Christians. Its not that I consider the bread and wine a small thing, but that Jewish tradition regards any group meal as a kind of holy gathering. “Three people who dine together and say words of Torah it is as if they have eaten from the table of the Almighty (M. Avot 3:3).

2. Could you rephrase your second question.

3. In Jewish tradition bread has a certain mystical quality to it as does wine. Jewish meals are holy and when eaten properly are acts of worship. Our Messianic tradition is not the only Jewish tradition to afford great meaning to communal meals. Chasidic (“ultra-orthodox” [this isn’t really a good term]) groups eat at their Rebbe’s tish (table). Its more than just a gathering, they come to connect as a group, learn from his Torah, and transcend spiritually through the experience. In reality a “Lords Supper” is the Christian version of a Chasidic Tish. It looks different when it takes place outside of Jewish culture, but the goal is the same. These communal meals have always been important to Jewish worship. From the perspective of Jewish thought particularly chasidic thought the elevation of this kind of meal by the followers of our Rebbe and Messiah who is no longer with us in body makes perfect sense.

Great questions.

Pastor Steven said...

In my second question I was wondering if those in the Messianic tradition view the blessed bread and wine as means by which G-d imparts grace to those who receive the sanctified gifts of the Lord's Supper or the bread and wine at the Seder.

We believe that the Messiah Yeshua is really and truly present with us in a special way. In what we believe to be a "sacrament" (an outward sign of a inward grace and a means by which we receive the same.) In some christian traditions the bread & cup of wine or (fruit of the vine) are served with the word's "the Bread of heaven/the cup of salvation." "Or the body of Christ given for you/the blood of Christ shed for you." Even though there is no one common belief about what is happening at the celebration of the "Eucharist", which is a Greek word that means thanksgiving.

Just as the Seder is both a remembrance meal and a relieving or entering into the event in a spiritual way.
So the Lord's Supper is the recalling of how Yeshua through His death became the Lamb of G-d who takes away the sins of the world, delivering us from sin, hell, death and the grave. And also a way we can have communion (fellowship) with the Lord, through the blessed bread and wine. Please correct me if I'm misinformed about the Jews understanding of the Seder meal. Thanks for your answers so far, have a blessed Sabbath.

Peace,

Steven

Tim Layne said...

Pastor Steven: In a previous post (Besorah, A Torah of Friendship) I wrote about the “Storehouse of Grace” which was revealed to Moshe Rabeinu on Mt. Sinai. It is said that from this storehouse The Tzaddik (Mashiach Yeshua) will give grace to both the sinners of Israel and the nations. We see in the story of Joseph (who is traditionally called “Yosef HaTzaddik”) an allusion to this. From his storehouses of grain Joseph gives sustenance to the both the nations and his brothers as well, although they remain unaware of his true identity. When we eat the bread of Mashiach we are receiving of the grain from his storehouse.

The blessing we say over the bread is somewhat unusual…Baruch atah HaShem, Elokaynu, melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz. It means “Blessed are You HaShem our G-d, King of the universe, the one who brings up bread from the earth.” On a very simple level the blessing is thanking G-d for his provision of healthy crops which have sprouted up from the ground. However, in a more profound sense the blessing is an allusion to the resurrection of the dead, specifically that of Yeshua and by extension the saints as well. We see in the cake, of matzah or bread, an allusion to the resurrected righteous which have been harvested from the four corners of the earth and formed into one body. The bread provides physical nourishment which is a symbol of the spiritual sustenance we receive through our unity with The True Tzaddik. We are unified with Him just as He is unified with HaShem.

So I think my answer is "Yes."

Pastor Steven said...

Tim,

Thanks for the responses, your answers have been helpful in helping me to better understand Messianic Jewish belief and practice.

In the Didache (a first or second century Christian treatise on Church practice) comes this prayer. 'Just as the bread broken was scattered on the hills, then was gathered and became one, so let your Church be gathered from all the ends of the earth into your kingdom, for yours is the glory and power through all ages.'

Have a holy & blessed Pesach,

Steven

Miss Serenity said...

Interesting conversation you had there! I think I learned something myself through that Tim. :)