Summary Lesson 39: “The Hearts Of The Children Shall Turn To Their Fathers”
- Specific Seat for Elijah: The ancient eating arrangement at the Passover meal (Seder) was “U” shaped. The oldest was in the second seat with one of the youngest of his choice seated at his right hand, in the first seat. At the other end of the “U” shaped seating arrangement was an empty chair for Elijah, directly opposite the youngest and the oldest, symbolic–if you-please of Elijah turning the hearts of fathers to children and the children to the fathers.
- Secular Reason for Genealogy: “The tradition of listing family histories is an ancient one in Israel, for only by thus proving connection with some family or clan could a man claim the privileges of citizenship. If . . . the local population joined the Israelites (in the period of the Conquest or early monarchy) they were brought into the genealogical framework of the tribe as a means of assimilating them” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Genealogy for Temple Service: “In the period of the Second Temple purity of descent was important chiefly for the kohanim [priests] . . . Since the various offices in the Temple service passed from father to son, the purity of those families whose priestly roles were known by long tradition was beyond question. “But Judaism never claimed that wisdom was the monopoly of prominent families (‘A learned bastard takes precedence over an uneducated high priest’– Mishnah, Horayot 3:8). Indeed some sages were even said to have been descended from evil gentiles who repented their ways and became good Jews.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
- Memories of Ancient Israelite Temple Rituals: Clothing, washing, synagogue layout and seating reflect practices done in temple times. A hope for its return was and still is constantly repeated. “The rabbis of that generation enacted new laws whose purpose was to fulfill the biblical verse, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem . . .’ (Psalm 137). They decreed that a corner of every house, a part of every meal, even some of every woman’s jewelry, be set aside–in memory of the Temple. Special prayers were formulated to express the yearning of the people to return to Zion and to worship once again in the Temple of God. Most historians believe that these prayers, customs, and hopes helped to unite the Jewish people and kept alive the hope of returning to Zion, a hope which was fulfilled in our days.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)