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February 2006
Rabbi Monique Susskind Goldberg


Dear Rabbi,

Last year you answered a question I had concerning Passover in the 1st century. I would like to ask you another related question about Passover. Do you know if when Nisan 15 fell on the 7th day of the week the Passover meal which would normally have been eaten the evening before would have been moved ahead one day to the evening before Nisan 14 in order to eat the meal properly and not leave anything leftover and avoid the possibility of profaning the Sabbath? Since Exodus 12:8-10 says that the sacrificial lamb should be eaten that night and roasted with fire and anything left over should be burned with fire before morning. Do you think it possible that in those times the actual eating of the Passover meal could have been moved? I know from my own experience that during Hanukah the candles are lit after sunset each day except before Shabbat when they are lit before sunset to avoid profaning the Sabbath. This may not be quite the same thing but the thought occurred to me that when lambs were eaten, perhaps the Passover meal might have been moved also. However, since it is a much longer event it would have to be moved ahead a whole day.
In case you are curious as to why I'm asking this, it has to do with the Passover in the Christian Gospels. Three of the Gospels call the meal before the crucifixion the Passover meal, but the Gospel of John says Passover itself was later and seems to indicate it was on the Sabbath. I'm wondering if this may be the reason for what seems like a contradiction.


It's nice to hear from you again. I do not have an answer to the contradiction in the Gospel about Jesus' last supper. The date of the Passover Seder is never changed. If it occurs on Friday evening the food is cooked beforehand, as it is done for every other Shabbat. I do not know what happened with the leftover sacrificial lamb during Temple times. Since sacrifices were offered on Shabbat in the Temple, perhaps the leftovers were burned in the Temple. In any case, I never read or heard about moving the Seder night. Even when Pessah is on Sunday, and the Seder is on Saturday evening, which is very complicated because one has to prepare the Seder meal before Shabbat, the day is not changed.

Sorry not to be very helpful.

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