1.Some families sit down every year and go over the story of Passover with their children.  What is the point of repeating this process year after year? 

A fundamental lesson repeated several times during the Passover narratives in the Bible is Moses giving the command to celebrate the Passover every year for all generations as a nation. The repetition is the most important part. It is to ensure that our children grow up to follow the L-rd and to keep His commandments. 

Two such texts of Moses is found in Exodus 13:5-9, “This is done because of what the   L-rd did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the L-rd’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand, the L-rd has brought you out of Egypt.” 

“And it shall be, when your children say to you, “What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, “It is the Passover sacrifice of the L-rd, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.” So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” (Exodus 12:26-27 NKJV)

Take into consideration that the text that is considered the holiest in the whole Hebrew Bible is the “Shema Israel” ״שמע ישראל״  “Hear O Israel.” (Deut . 6:4-9)This text declares the oneness and unity of G-d, our G-d, the G-d of Israel. Immediately after the proclamation, the text talks about the children.

We have a responsibility as parents or even as believers to educate our children and others to know who G-d is, what He has done and what His word says. It is not enough to just make sure our children are good students in school or excel in some sports activity. It is not enough to just discuss world happenings or politics with our neighbors and family.  When possible we need to take the opportunities G-d gives us to share what we believe. When core beliefs are not taught to the next generation are forgotten and fade away. Nothing is more important than preparing the next generation.

2.Passover is known by many names in scripture. One of my favorites is “the season of our freedom.” It is a time of celebrating the freeing of the Israelite slaves from Egypt and our own salvation from sin. What does freedom mean to you today? Are there any verses that help you understand what that freedom is?

I think our definition of freedom and its influence in our spiritual and physical lives must be broadened. G-d’s purpose of freeing the slaves from Egypt was that He would be their G-d. He wanted to have a relationship with them. The same goes for us when we are freed from sin. (Deut. 6:4, Exodus 6:7) His purpose was to have a connection with His creation, a connection that would bring His people to realize there was a G-d and He cared for them, a connection that would foster trust. 

In Deut. 11:10-11 G-d told the people that the Promised Land would not be like Egypt, a land that was predictable. The Nile rose and fell on a yearly cycle and because of that it required little trust on the Egyptians part. 

Israel, however, was a land that depended on the rain, the dew of heaven. Life would be different. It would require obedience and work. There would be times when uncertainty would come but He was still G-d. It required total trust in Him. We are not bound by cause and effect like the Nile River. Everything in our lives, everything that comes into our lives, is in G-d’s control. Nothing is beyond Him. We are not to despair.

All this brings me back to the word freedom. In the concentration camps of the Holocaust the Nazis took everything from the inmates in order to break them. However the one thing they could not take was the freedom of how to respond. The inmate still could choose how to respond, to give up and die or to hold on to life. For us also, between some incident that happens to us and our response there is a space. In that space we have the power to choose how we will respond. In that power lies our growth and our freedom in the L-rd. We did not have the freedom to choose the environment we were born into, or maybe even the conditions we find ourselves in right now but we always have the freedom to choose how we respond.

In reality we are the only ones responsible for the success or failure in our lives. G-d has given us the freedom to choose, to rise above what is and stretch toward what can be. Passover shows us this is real freedom, the freedom to live each moment to its very fullest, to be exactly what He created us to be no matter what. Choose life, an abundant life, one filled with what G-d has given us – Freedom.

Verses on freedom

Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Ephesians 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach G-d with freedom and confidence.

Psalms 119:45 I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

1 Peter 2:16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as G-d’s slaves.

Romans 8:20-21 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of G-d.

Galatians 2:4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign L-RD is on me, because the L-RD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the L-rd is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the L-rd is, there is freedom.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

3.We began counting the Omer on Tuesday night. What are some spiritual reasons for counting the Omer?

Tonight is the 5th night in the counting of the Omer.  We will continue to count until the 50th day which will be Shavuot on June 11th.  

One of the spiritual lessons behind the counting of the Omer is that it takes us from redemption to the place of being able to live our lives according to G-d’s Word and will. How? Passover symbolizes the day of our redemption or freedom from sin. Our beginning with G-d. These fifty days are a picture of our faith journey from a baby newly born into our faith to a mature believer.  As we go through these days leading up to Shavuot, rather than each day a mechanical counting of the Omer, we can allow G-d to identify and change those things that hold us back. When we truly set our face to giving G-d the opportunity to do this it will change us.

The offering brought for the Omer was barley. The priest waved it before the L-rd in every direction signifying G-d’s power over all. Barley was considered the most-coarse of grain. It was mainly used for animal food. It was as if the priest was symbolizing our state after redemption. We are still struggling with issues in our lives that are held over from before our redemption. We are saved but we are told in Philippians 2:12 to work out our own salvation. G-d saved us but we also have a role to play, working on those issues that still negatively influence our lives.

These days of the Omer take us from barley to wheat, from our animal food to the real bread. This is what is important to the Father. Sanctifying time is something we learn when we count the Omer. It is our choice how we spend our time however G-d has set us free so that we have the choice to make. We are not the same as before our redemption when we were slaves but now we are free people and we have the choice.

I have one last topic I would like to cover. I took the following from a teaching done by Rabbi Joe Shulam.  I think it is important to remember these events happened during Passover. Please read John 20:1-14

In these verses we see Mary went to the tomb but did not enter even though she saw the stone had been moved away.  All religious Jews would understand why she did not go in. If she had gone into the tomb it would have made her unclean. Her first impression was “they” had taken Yeshua away. The “they” was probably the Romans.

Then Peter and John (The disciple whom the L-rd loved) arrived at the tomb but John only looked inside.  Peter did not stop at the entrance. He ran inside. What Peter saw was that Yeshua was not in the Tomb. The text says: “he saw the linen cloth lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.   Why do you think this text is so important?

If someone comes to take the body of a dead person without authority or for some sinister reason, He will grab the body and run out, not worried if the dead body is covered with the linen cloth or the handkerchief that was wrapped around the dead man’s head.  

To open the Tomb with the round stone door rolled in place and sealed could not be something that one person, probably not two strong people, could have done. It would have taken at least three or four men to do this work.  

Again, even if the Romans legally wanted to take the body out of the tomb, they too would not bother to fold the head cloth and place it neatly folded. They most likely would have just taken it off the corpse and cast it down on the ground floor of the tomb.  

“Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then, the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:19-21 NKJV)

The phrase “Peace to you” is not a Greek phrase. It is a Greek translation of a very well-known Hebrew greeting: Shalom Aleichem – שלום עליכם!

But please notice that Yeshua entered the room where the disciples were gathered through locked doors. This small detail is provided for us by the Holy Spirit to let us know that on the outside, for the apostles and disciples, Yeshua was the same Galilean Preacher of Good News that he was before the Crucifixion. But now, He looks the same on the outside, and the disciples can recognize him. However, Yeshua is no longer a regular human being; He can walk through locked doors.