Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Following a tradition instituted by the Baal Shem Tov, Jews all over the world celebrate the waning hours of Pesach with Mashiach’s Seudah, a feast celebrating the Divine revelation of Mashiach.



Why Do We Celebrate This Meal?

On the last day of Pesach we read verses from the book of Yeshaya (perek 11) as the haftorah. This reading includes many wondrous prophecies about the era of Mashiach.

The prophecy foretells of a leader upon whom “the spirit of the G-d shall rest, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of G-d.”

In addition to bringing peace to mankind (“He will judge the poor justly, and he shall chastise with equity the humble of the earth”), the new peace and G‑dly understanding will extend to all of G‑d’s creatures: “And a wolf shall live with a lamb, and a leopard shall lie with a kid . . . and a small child shall lead them.”

The Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the chassidic movement, was the first one to celebrate this meal, with an open door, allowing anyone who wished to partake.

The Rebbe Rashab, the Fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, explained that on the last day of Pesach: “The radiance of Mashiach is shining.”


When Is the Mashiach’s Meal?

Mashiach’s Meal is held following Minchah on the eighth day Pesach, this year on Thursday, April 13. In Israel, where Pesach is seven days long, Mashiach’s Seudah is held on the seventh day.

Like many other teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, the custom of conducting Mashiach’s Seudah was explained and widely disseminated by the successive rebbes of Chabad. Moreover, in 1906 the Rebbe Rashab added a new element to Mashiach’s Seudah: the drinking of four cups of wine. The Rebbe added that we should drink each cup with the intention that we are drinking this particular kos in celebration for the coming of Mashiach.

The “menu” for the Seudah is a most simple one: matzah and wine.


The Mission of Our Generation

Our generation has been charged with the responsibility of making all Jews aware of Mashiach – and this includes the custom of conducting Mashiach’s Seudah. This mission is particularly relevant in our day, for the Jewish people have completed all the divine service necessary to enable Mashiach to come. As the Previous Rebbe expressed it, “We have already polished the buttons.” Mashiach is waiting: “Here he stands behind our wall, watching through the windows, peering through the crevices.” The walls of exile are already crumbling, and now, in the immediate future, Mashiach will be revealed.

We pray that this seudah celebrates his imminent arrival.

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at [email protected].