Vine of David, a publishing arm of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) has recently published two different Haggadot in time for Pesach. (However, I just heard that they have already sold-out of all the Pesach Haggadahs).
FFOZ has an excellent reputation in regard to the quality of their materials. They have consistently put out quality publications, and continue to increase the quality with every new product.
Derek Leman, a friend, colleague, and fellow-blogger just spent an afternoon with the guys from FFOZ and was able to visit their headquarters and beautiful Beit Midrash. You can read about Derek’s experience on his blog.
I have been quite impressed with these two new Haggadot and believe FFOZ has made a contribution to how Messianic Jews will observe Pesach in the future.
The Passover Haggadah
Vine of David’s new Passover Haggadah is sure to change the face of all Messianic Haggadot. It is very well laid out, with Hebrew on the right side of the page, and English and essential transliterations on the left. The Hebrew font is easy to read and large.
It is also a complete Haggadah, retaining all the traditional elements of the Seder, while adding Messianic elements. I even applaud FFOZ for retaining some traditional songs in the back like Chad Gadya.
One of the strengths of this Haggadah is also one of its weaknesses. Because it is a complete Haggadah retaining the traditional elements and Messianic supplements, it is a little long. As such, it will be interesting to see how many congregations will adopt it for their communal Seders.
The illustrations accompanying the text are another nice touch. However, a couple of the illustrations I found a little out of place in a Messianic Jewish Haggadah. For example, on p.16 there is an illustration of a family sitting around the seder table. One figure on the left is wearing a large felt yarmulke, a beard, and peyos. The rest of the family looks more Modern-Orthodox. What I found a little disconnecting is that the family hardly resembles 90% of American Jews.
If this were a Haggadah published by Chabad or Artscroll I would not even bat an eye. But for a Haggadah aimed at a wider Jewish community, Jewish people will need to see themselves reflected in the pages. It would be more helpful if the illustrations reflected the diversity of the American Jewish community today.
However, this is really a minor detail, and overall the new Vine of David Haggadah is definitely a positive contribution to Messianic Haggadot and I would not be surprised if it becomes a staple of Messianic households in the future.
I highly recommend this Haggadah for your Seder table.
The Seudat Mashiach Haggadah
Vine of David’s second Haggadah is probably the most innovative of the two new Haggadot. It is a Haggadah for Seudat Mashiach – the Meal of Messiah. For those unfamiliar with this practice, there is a custom among many Chasidim to observe another Seder on the last night of Pesach. This special Seder, called Seudat Mashiach – the Meal of Messiah, is observed in anticipation of the Messianic banquet that will happen when Mashiach returns. The custom was implemented by the Baal Shem Tov, and recalls not just the themes of our redemption from Egypt, but heavily draws on our future redemption and the regathering of Israel.
A Seudat Mashiach is very loose. It is based on the themes and four cups of a regular Seder, but traditionally there has not been a set Haggadah for this in the wider Jewish community. Some households and communities do have certain customs during their meal, but these practices will vary widely. Most of the Seudot Mashiach I have attended in Chasidic communities have mostly centered around telling stories and singing niggunim. There was no set reading or a real set order.
Several of us have observed the practice of Seudat Mashiach for nearly ten years, and a few Messianic Jewish communities have even hosted a Seudat Mashiach in their congregations. As a Messianic Jew, I have always found this custom deeply meaningful and another way to express my Messianic hashkafa within a Jewish context.
Vine of David’s new Haggadah for the Meal of Messiah introduces this practice to a wider audience in the Messianic Jewish community and creates a set order and text for this sacred meal. It also uses the same nice, clean layout and format of their Passover Haggadah.
I am interested to see if this practice will continue to catch on in the wider Messianic Jewish community, and how Vine of David’s Haggadah for this special meal will be adopted.
I again applaud Vine of David for these two new contributions to the Messianic Jewish community and would greatly encourage you to get a copy of each of these Haggadot and consider using them in your home and congregation in the future.
Yasher koach to my friends over at FFOZ/Vine of David!