Jewish Ways

Moshiach Seudah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 8, 2015

Pesach begins with a special meal, the Seder. In the past 250 years or so, the custom has grown to conclude it with another special meal on the final afternoon of Pesach, known as Moshiach Seudah, or the Messiah's meal.

The Moshiach Seudah was instituted by the Ba'al Shem Tov (1698-1760) the founder of Chasidism, and is today practised mostly by Chasid, especially from Chabad (Lubavitch).


Not working on Pesach eve

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 2, 2015

We usually think of the day of run-up to the Seder as packed with jobs: cooking, preparing the house for guests, setting the table, etc.

However, the Mishnah Berurah (468:1), citing the Jerusalem Talmud, rules that one should not do work after midday on the day leading up the Seder. If something is absolutely necessary for the festival, it is allowed.


Having guests at Seder

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 26, 2015

"This is the bread of affliction ... let all who are hungry come and eat." So begins the retelling of the Exodus on the Seder night. When we are weighed down with worries and problems, we are less available to care for others, to notice who may be hungry.


Bouncing in the Kedushah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 19, 2015

The Kedushah, part of the chazan's repetition of the Amidah, is built around biblical verses in which angels are heard praising God's holiness.


Koshering pans for Pesach

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 12, 2015

Dishes and pans used for chametz are not used on Pesach. For some people, that means buying duplicates of everything for the week of Pesach. However, there is a cheaper way: koshering kitchen utensils for Pesach.

The rabbis rule that the koshering method must parallel the way the chametz got there in the first place.


Adon Olam

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 5, 2015

Shabbat morning prayers end with singing Adon Olam, by far the most well-known liturgical poem (piyut). It dates back to the 13th century, part of the golden age of medieval Hebrew poetry.

Adon Olam is about God's eternal existence, Creation, and trusting God in times of trouble.


Making a noise on Purim

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 26, 2015

On Purim there is a comprehensive breakdown of decorum in shul, the most blatant expression of which is the outbreak of noise-making whenever Haman's name is uttered during the Megillah reading.


Writing a megillah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 19, 2015

Megillat Esther is read on Purim from a handwritten parchment scroll. It is better to read from a scroll, but ok to read it from a book if a scroll is unavailable.

Traditionally, trainee sofrim, scribes, cut their teeth by first writing a Megillat Esther. Esther is known as the "easiest" biblical book to write (though there's nothing easy about being a scribe).


Psalm of the Day

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 19, 2015

The Levites were the master singers of the Temple. They sang psalms and played music to accompany the divine service. Every morning and afternoon, during the wine libation of the daily tamid offering, the Levites sang a specific psalm depending on the day of the week. Each daily psalm, Shir shel Yom, contains a reference to that day of Creation.


Shabbat siren

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, February 5, 2015

If you have ever spent Shabbat in Jerusalem, you will have heard the siren sound 40 minutes before sunset announcing the imminent onset of Shabbat. The city streets begin to fall quiet. This continues a very old tradition dating back to the Temple.