- Searching for the Afikomen
- Why three Matzot?
- Covenant, Redemption, Reconciliation
- The High Priest of our confession
- He is Coming
Breaking the Matzah/Afikomen.
The middle matzah on the Seder plate is broken in two. The larger part is put aside for later use as the Afikoman. This unusual action recalls the Eternal One’s splitting of the Sea of Reeds to allow the Children of Israel to cross on dry land. The smaller part of the middle matzah is returned to the Seder plate. This broken middle matzah symbolizes humility, and will be eaten later as the “bread of poverty.” The Seder Leader calls out Yachatz. Yachatz (“divide”) is step four (of fourteen) of the Passover seder. Three matzot that have been placed in a white bag (called a matzah tosh) are taken out and shown to all. The leader then says: “This is the Lechem Oni (the bread of affliction) which our forefathers ate in the Land of Egypt. All who are hungry, let them come and eat. All who are needy, let them come and celebrate the Passover with us.”
Searching for the Afikomen:
The Seder Leader takes the middle piece, calls out “Yachatz,” and breaks it in half.
The Seder Leader then takes the larger piece (called the Afikomen) and wraps it in a linen cover. The leader then tells the children to close their eyes and then he hides the Afikomen somewhere in the room. As the Seder progresses, the children are encouraged to search for the “lost Afikomen.” Since the Seder cannot end without it, once it is found (discovery is engineered to occur at the end of the Seder), the child receives a reward, and a small piece is given to each participant. The wine cups are thereafter refilled and grace after the meal is recited to close the meal. The purpose of the Afikomen game is to keep the children alert and attentive throughout the Seder. Why Three Matzot? Why Afikomen?
Why three Matzot?
Some of the sages have suggested that the three matzot represent the life and testimony of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. [Indeed the three Patriarchs represent the righteous life and ministry of the Holy One in Faith (Abraham), Hope (Isaac), and Love (Jacob).] But why is the middle matzah (Isaac) broken in half? This suggests the Akedah (the binding of Isaac) by his Father Abraham.
Covenant, Redemption, Reconciliation:
This is an illustration of the sacrifice of Messiah, since the first occurrence of the word love in the Scriptures (ahavah) (Genesis 22:2) refers to a father’s love for his “only” son who was offered as a sacrifice on Moriah (the very place where the Messiah was sacrificed). This part of the Seder is a clear prophetic witness to the provision of Messiah Ben Elohim. He is the Korban Pesach of the heavenly Father. Messiah is the “Seh Ha-Elohim” who takes away the sin of the world.
The broken middle piece of matzah is a picture of the suffering Mashiach.
This piece is taken, wrapped up, and carefully hidden from view, only to be discovered at the ‘end’ of the Seder. This is an image of the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah Ben Joseph from the dead. One day, we pray soon, all Israel will–in full faith, hope, and love–partake of the Lamb of the Almighty One who was slain for our transgressions. Then will the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fully understand and take hold of the reward promised to them by the Eternal Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Both Isaac and Messiah were born of a miraculous birth; both were sacrificed at Mount Moriah (Isaac the symbol, Messiah the reality); both were resurrected on the third day (Genesis 22:5); both carried the means of their execution; both were placed and sacrificed upon wood materials that were configured in the sign of the ancient Hebrew letter Tav (two sticks crossed together); this Sign of the Tav demonstrates ownership, redemption, covenant, and the ‘uniting’ of two parties; the reconciliation of the Holy One with man. Another tradition is that the three matzot represent the people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, respectively. But why would the priests be depicted as “broken?”
The High Priest of our confession:
This points to the Messiah who is the permanent “High Priest of our confession.” Messiah is our High Priest forever as was said by King David when he prophesied that Messiah (his descendant) would be “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4). Messiah provides us eternal redemption by means of His shed blood that was placed in the Holy of Holies made without hands (the Tabernacle in Heaven). This is why the symbolism of the broken priest is also included by the sages in the Passover Seder. The Messiah is the one who was “wounded for our transgressions,” “bruised for our iniquities.” It is by His stripes that “we are healed” (Isaiah 53).
He is Coming:
The Afikomen ritual has been a part of the Passover ceremony since Second Temple times. The ceremony of the Afikomen was part of the Passover service during the time of the Suffering Messiah Ben Joseph. The Greek word aphikomenos is a participle that means “He is coming!” and therefore Messiah will appear again soon as the Conquering Messiah Ben David. Preparing for the Second Cup. After the Yachatz ritual, wine for the second cup of the Seder is poured (the Cup of Deliverance).