Weekly Story: Moshiach’s Seudah

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

Being that we will be celebrating Moshiach’s seudah on the 8th day of Pesach in our homes, with our family, I decided to post some of the background about it, as well as a few questions and answers that the Rebbe explained.

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.

To accommodate the increasing number of students, it was necessary to build a large beis hamidrash. The Rebbe Rashab chose the lot where the house of his grandfather, the Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek, used to stand as the site of the new building.[1] In 5666 (1906) the new zal (study hall) was finally completed, and that Pesach all the students ate in the yeshiva.

On the first night of Pesach, before the Rebbe went to his own seder, he entered the yeshiva and observed the seder of the students. On the seventh day of Pesach, his son advised the bochurim who were responsible for taking care of the meals to invite his father the Rebbe for the final meal on the last day of Pesach.[2] To their delight, the Rebbe accepted the invitation, and he joined the meal together with the entire staff.

At that time, the Rebbe explained publically for the first time the significance of the last day of Pesach. He explained that the celebration of this day is in honor of the redemption from this final golus, and that the day’s final meal is called seudas Moshiach.[3] Therefore, just as we drink four cups of wine at the seder to commemorate the redemption from Mitzrayim (Egypt), we should drink four cups at the seudah of Moshiach in anticipation of the final redemption.

Moshiach’s Seudah

As noted on the last day of Pesach 5666 (1906), the Rebbe Rashab participated in a meal in the yeshiva and then publicized for the first time the fact that the Baal Shem Tov would eat a third meal on the last day of Pesach. The reason for this meal is brought out in its name Moshiach’s seudah.

In numerous sichos the Rebbe explained various aspects and we will mention a few of them:

Q. There is a mitzvah of believing in the coming of Moshiach every day, so how is this celebration different than that?

A. While the belief of Moshiach’s coming is one of the Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith, faith in itself does not always become one with the person. As the Gemora states, even a thief as he is about to rob someone requests from Hashem to help him succeed in his work. So if  he has faith in the Creator, why is he going against his express instruction? And the answer is that the faith didn’t permeate in him.

By eating matza, which exemplifies faith,[1] the Baal Shem Tov set out to make this faith part and parcel of the person, as the food and drink one teats becomes his flesh and blood.

Q. What is the connection of the coming of Moshiach specifically to the last day of Pesach?

A. While the entire Yom Tov of Pesach signifies the ultimate redemption, however, there is something unique to the final day of Pesach. The haftarah of that day is speaking about Chizkiyahu the king of Yehudah, who had complete faith in Hashem, and stated no one should leave their learning and Hashem will fight our enemies.

However, there are some parts of the haftarah that wasn’t fulfilled, such as the possuk that a lion will dwell with a sheep. That will happen only when Moshiach comes. So you see from the haftarah that there is a stronger connection to Moshiach on the eighth day of Pesach, than the other days.

Q. Did the Baal Shem Tov also drink four cups of wine at the seudah?

A. No, that was an innovation of the Rebbe Rashab. The reason for this is matza is not allowed to be enriched with anything that gives it an additional taste or flavor, while wine represents having a taste and enjoyment in the item. One of the differences between Chassidus Chabad and the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid is, that Chassidus Chabad brought out the concepts in a manner that even a regular Jew can understand – “taste” – G-dliness. Until then, for most people is was beyond their comprehension, and therefore although it was studied, nevertheless the concepts weren’t completely comprehended and enjoyed.

Q. Why did he publicize it in the yeshiva in the year 5666 and not earlier?

A: As noted above, the Rebbe Rashab stated that the mission of the Temimim is to bring about the coming of Moshiach. So it is connected to them. Furthermore, as noted that year the Rebbe Rashab began the hemshech of Rosh Hashanah which explained and clarified concepts in Chassidus in a way that it was not explained before. The reason he did it that year was because that year was an auspicious time for the coming of Moshiach, so in addition to revealing Chassidus on a higher level, he publicized that we should celebrate the coming of Moshiach may it be speedily in our days.[2]

[1] As is known matza has two/represents two aspects, the food of faith and the food of healing. See Hayom Yom entry for the 15th of Nissan.

[2] Likkutei Sichos vol. 7, pp. 272 – 278. Based on a sicha of Acharon shel Pesach 5732 (1972).

[1] The Tzemach Tzedek wrote in his will that no one should live in his house after his passing. Therefore, after the house burned in a fire, no house was built on that spot. Since the zal was a house of learning and not a personal residence, building it would not be in contradiction to the Tzemach Tzedek’s will. However, to ensure that no one would try to convert it into a house, it was built without a heating system.

[2] This is how it is recorded in Divrei Yemei HaTmimim. However, in Sefer HaSichos 5701 p. 105, the Frierdiker Rebbe notes that on the first night of Pesach, when his father went to see the seder that was set up for the bochurim, he stated that he will join them for the last meal of Yom Tov.

[3] The Rebbe Rashab mentioned at that seudah that in his youth, his brother the Raza once asked, “What is the celebration of the eight day of Pesach all about?” His sister Devorah Leah replied, “It is different from the seventh day, because we don’t say Shehecheyanu. On this day, we celebrate the fact that we kept the mitzvos of Pesach properly for an entire week.”

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim, He can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

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