1. AT THE PASSOVER TABLE : A BLEMISHED PIG LONGSIDE THE SPOTLESS LAMB.
“On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household…Your lamb shall be without blemish…now you shall guard it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:3, 5, 6-7, 13b; Emphases ours).
“And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers…” (Malachi 3:4-5; See this week’s Haftarah)
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, shortened Hogwarts, is a fictional British school of magic for students aged eleven to eighteen, and is the primary setting for the first six books in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. (Wikipedia)
On Monday evening of next week (April 10th) Jews round the world will gather around their Seder tables to celebrate the delivery of their ancient ancestors from bondage in Egypt. They will be remembering the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their doorposts, the blood which caused them to be “passed-over” when the LORD went in judgment through the land. A central part of our celebrating this feast of Passover is recounting together the record of what happened on that wonderful evening, “And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what YHVH did for me when I came up from Egypt” (Exodus 13:8).
We are assisted in doing this by a haggadah (Hebrew: “The Telling”), a book from which all those sitting round the table will read during the course of the Seder. Although a particular Hebrew form of Haggadah has become more or less standard in Israel, there is no Biblical rule about it and there are many variants. The important thing is that it relates the story of deliverance in a language all can understand; that it have places to pause for such directives as eating the bitter herbs; and that it end in thanksgiving and praise—usually several pages of Psalms to be recited or sung together.
This past weekend we found our attention drawn to a large advertisement on the second page of The Jerusalem Post, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Seder…Available now at Judaica bookstores near you.” Within the advertisement was a picture of a book entitled, The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah.
This new “Haggadah” is the brainchild of a Jewish rabbi in Queens, New York named Moshe Rosenberg. Although self-published, it exploded in mass-market this past week, racing already to best-seller status. By yesterday it had become the #1 bestselling Haggadah on Amazon.com; according to some reports it is now nearing the top of their general book list. Since this first edition is aimed primarily at English speakers, and there is only a week to go before Passover, it is unlikely to have major sales in Israel…at least not this year.
In a recent interview, Rabbi Rosenberg sought to explain his rationale for producing the haggadah:
There are so many parallels between Harry Potter’s journey from unwanted orphan to the savior of wizard-kind…The entire Harry Potter series, and each book, contains many of the key elements and lessons of the Exodus story—uplifting the downtrodden, sharing our current wealth and prosperity with others, education, different learning styles, parent-child relationships, unconditional love and kinship with one another and so on. It’s always been a gift to have a common language with which to communicate with anyone that you’re teaching, and Harry Potter has been exactly that. 1)
Rosenberg goes on to assure readers that the new Haggadah “contains the full Hebrew text of a traditional Ashkenazi haggadah, an English translation, and sections throughout of Harry Potter-themed commentary and divrei-Torah [passages from the Torah]. 2) An entry on Facebook a few days later by “Nice Jewish Fangirls” announced an interview in which, “We speak with Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg, author of the hot-off-the-presses The Unofficial Hogwarts Haggadah, diving into the links between the magical world and the Jewish holiday of redemption” (Emphases ours.).
So why should we find the appearance of this “Hogwarts Haggadah” seriously disturbing, enough to bring before your attention today?
* It seeks to provide a harmonization between God’s way of redemption from slavery and Satan’s way—sorcery. It is remarkable that the very second sentence in this week’s reading from the Prophets places this at the top of the list of offences God will draw near Israel to judge: “I will be a swift witness against sorcerers…” (Malachi 3:5; see Haftarah )
Our God’s hatred for all forms of sorcery, magic, witchcraft (Numbers 23:23; Isaiah 47:12; Revelation 9:21) is linked with its root is rebellion against His Life: “The sin of magic (Hebrew: kesem; I Samuel 15:23) is rebellion.” That was the first temptation against Adam and Eve in the Garden—to rebel against God’s good word and seek another way of “enlightenment.” (The word for “sorcery” in Numbers 23:23 is nakhash—same as the word for “serpent” in Genesis 3). A craving after this hidden knowledge through sorcery is listed as one of the “works of the flesh” in Galations 5:20.
* It is an attempt to harmonize God’s way for His people with a way He has soberly warned them to avoid (a headline in the March 29th The Algemeiner reads: “Newly released ‘Harry Potter’ Haggadah Parallels Biblical Exodus with Hogwarts Journeys, Messages”). In the Torah Portion two weeks ago we saw how Aaron was seduced into forming gold into a calf, an idol which the people could worship—while at the same time calling them to “observe a feast to YHVH” (Exodus 32:5).
* This unholy “harmony” is aimed at Jewish young people. The fictional “Hogwarts” (see Wikipedia entry above) was a school of witchcraft and wizardry “for students aged eleven to eighteen. It is these (and younger) which are expected to be the market for the new book.
* We see the presence of this “Haggadah” on any Seder table this holy night as being a blasphemous satanic mockery of the “Lamb” whose blood was the salvation for God’s people Israel (and all the children of Adam).
On the 10th day of the month a lamb (which would be slaughtered on the night of the 14th) set aside—a lamb “without blemish.” (Exodus 12:5). This new “haggadah” places on the table with the Passover Lamb, that which Judaism sees as the most un-clean animal (hog/pig) covered with blemishes (warts).
* That this Passover season, there would be “no sorcery against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel…that it will be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘Oh what God has done!’” (Numbers 23:23).
* For the veil to come off the eyes of Jews as they prepare for and observe this wonderful season of Passover. That they will have revealed to them in the Passover Lamb the “Lamb of God, which carries away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29).
* That they will have the veil lifted from their eyes and come into the salvation and redemption of the Lamb who sits on the throne. “For outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:15).
1) “Magical Seders ahead with Harry Potter Haggadah”: The Jewish Chronicle (Online), 31 March 31, 2017.
–Martin and Norma Sarvis