Is the Christian “Lord’s Supper” being Correctly Celebrated?
By LEM Godden
For the Attention & Assessment of:
Jewish Journalist & Writer
Who addressed the following 3 questions:
In doing so, it is acknowledged that you are Jewish and not Christian and do not have a qualification in theology, yet have knowledge of, and celebrate the Jewish festivals. For the purpose of this assessment, this is deemed an appropriate viewpoint to be able to assess the matter addressed below and to obtain a realistic interpretation of how Jews in Jesus Christ's time may have interpreted his words on “The Lord’s Supper”
It is acknowledged that by providing information or your comment that this in no way compromises your own faith nor confirms any belief of yours in the Christian faith.
1) Based on the Scriptures below and with your knowledge and experience of the Jewish customs and symbolism of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread. What would be your interpretation of Christ's instructions to the disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”. Please also state in your answer a)How often it should be celebrated b) Whether one needs to be in “church” or “church elders” are required to administer this “remembrance”. c) What sort of bread or wine would have been used (i.e, leavened/unleavened alcoholic/non alcoholic or grape juice d) a brief outline of the significance of bread and wine to the Jewish faith (if any) be it now or in those times.
2) Based on the Scriptures below and your knowledge of Jewish customs, how do you conclude that the first disciples and their followers were celebrating the “Lord’s Supper”
3) Based on the scripture information provided and the other information on Page 1 and 2 : What would be your own final conclusion for a routine (or otherwise) celebration of the Christians “Lord’s Supper” throughout the year and what would be the basis for your conclusion, i.e. if it is based on a Jewish custom of the Feast of Passover or observance or awareness connected with bread or wine. (It may be there is none in your knowledge and you just base your conclusion on what is provided in these pages)
Current manner of celebrating the “Lord’s Supper”:The Christian interpretation of this command is “Holy Communion” or “Mass”. The Priest or Leader of the Church stands before the congregation using a special wafer symbolising the bread and one cup or goblet of non alcoholic red wine. They bless both and break the wafer or wafers saying the words of Jesus “this is my body broken for you” etc and “this is my blood shed for you for the remission of sins” All the congregation then go forward to receive a portion of the wafer and take a sip of wine from the cup. The cup is then wiped with a clean linen and the next person takes a sip likewise from the same cup. The priest or leader then drinks the remnants so that none is discarded (due to it being symbolically the Blood of Christ). Some churches use real bread, or crackers broken and wine or red grape juice and it is blessed and passed around the congregation and each person takes or breaks off a small piece to eat. Small individual goblets are sometimes provided with wine or juice instead of one large goblet. This is done once or twice a week in some churches (Sundays and a weekday), once a month in others, and some Christians who recognize Saturday (not Sunday) as being the Sabbath, celebrate it only once a year at the time of Passover, at the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In some home groups (which could meet any day of the week) the leader of the group may bless a bread roll and one wine glass of red wine and this is shared within the group and the bread passed around and a piece broken off, or sometimes the leader breaks it into small pieces and each person takes a piece. Some large churches have broken wafers and one goblet and each person takes a piece of wafer and dips it into the goblet of wine which they then eat.
Purpose of this request: Over the years I have discovered much error in accepted Christian church teaching and through my own knowledge and experience of the bible, I now begin to query the manner the church celebrates the “Lord’s Supper” known as “Holy Communion” or “Mass”. After reading all the relevant verses, my belief is that it may not matter how it is celebrated as long as we “remember him” and discern it as “the Lord’s body and blood” and do not eat or drink it carelessly. My concern is that many may feel like myself that one may be condemned by the church, other Christians, or even by God, if one does not take the “Holy Communion” in the current official manner. It may be the case that my lack of faith may be at fault, but in this highly charged period of fear over the flu epidemic (2009) I feel we should clarify this issue now in particular, for the current manner of celebrating “the Lords Supper” or “Holy Communion” is highly risky from the infection viewpoint, and I do not believe it is necessarily meant to, or has to be, celebrated this way. I would therefore like to know how the Jews may have viewed the command of Christ at the time, based on the scriptures provided below.
Facts of the very high infection risk. On two occasions in my life, I or my family have contracted diarrhoea and vomiting due to a child not being well and then eating food they had touched. The first incident was an 18 month old child being brought to my parents home, the child’s parents were unsure why she kept vomiting that morning and brought her out visiting anyway. The child was feeling better by the afternoon and she went around the family giving each one a sweet. I did not take one as I arrived after this occurred. Two mornings later, within the space of 6 hours, my mother, my 7 year old sister and my 21 year old brother all went down with this same sickness. I did not because I had not eaten a sweet touched by this child, neither did my father. The second incident was ten years later. I happened to visit a neighbour with friend for about 15 minutes, who had a 12 month old daughter. The child gave me a biscuit to eat, which I did. Shortly after I had eaten it her parents said “she keeps being sick, we don’t know why”. Immediately I knew I would get the same infection in a few days (which I did), having experienced the same scenario ten years earlier. I have also trained as a nurse and have since discovered that such infections of the stomach and bowels are usually passed by hand to mouth and can also be transmitted by touching clothes and other inanimate objects i.e. door handles, lift buttons, clothes and items we pick up or touch and then not washing our hands before eating or touching food. This is due to the fact that those who are not well still go out and about and may have first touched these items thus leaving the bacteria there. This risk is becoming more widely known now due to the advice being given for avoiding the flu epidemic, although flu and colds are also transmitted via droplets in the air. Keeping these two incidents in mind and now considering the “Lord’s Supper” or “Holy Communion” being shared in the current manner as explained above, we have the obvious similar risk when sharing a cup, and in some instances where everyone touches the bread and then eats it. Even if a pastor only touches and breaks the bread or wafer, are they taught on these risks and basics of hygiene? We also have the elderly who sometimes cannot move or wash so easily and children who are not yet trained in basic hygiene and touch anything and everything and then touch their food and in some churches the bread of Holy Communion. There are also those adults who are not so aware of personal hygiene issues (hand washing etc) and those who may not feel well and are acting in faith and come to Church anyway and take the bread and wine in the belief that the Lord might heal them through taking it. They may forget that in the process, that they may be infecting everyone else who is taking the bread and wine at that moment. Not all think or act this way but some may do so, through ignorance of disease transmission.
Provisional Conclusion for broader interpretation of “Lord’s Supper” In reading the scriptures below, with my limited knowledge of how the first Jewish Christians may have understood this celebration, my own conclusion is this: That it is likely that the Lord’s Supper is a meal and that the bread and wine was part of the meal. Christ took the bread and wine as they were eating, or just after they ate he blessed it and broke it. In some bible versions it says they were then handed the cup and were told to drink from it. However in the King James Version it says drink of it. I therefore query that of and from have the same meaning, for one could pour fluid out of a cup and still be drinking of or from that original cup, bottle or decanter. In addition to this, in Luke 22: 16-20 Christ first takes the cup at the start of the supper, he gives thanks for it and then tells the disciples to divide it among themselves. Then it would seem after supper he then takes his own cup and we assume the disciples have their own cup also from which they have poured some wine from Christ’s cup into their own and divided it. However,it is true, they may also perhaps have shared the cup. In 1Corinthians 11:23-26 St Paul says that Christ had also said do this do as often as you drink it. This would imply that whenever we have wine and/ or bread we should bless it and drink and eat it as if it was every time Christ’s body and blood. Keeping him in mind throughout the meal and in daily life at every meal time. He is then daily symbolically present with us as we drink and eat our meals. Therefore the “Lords Supper” may not necessarily have to be a huge communal supper, or experience at church, but something one could do even if alone or with family or friends as a regular remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. Yet 1Corinthians 11:33-34 it says if they are hungry to eat at home first. Which then implies they just also came together to eat bread and take the wine as a group and it was not full meal unless you were of the very poor. There are some who also say it was non alcoholic wine they drank, or grape juice, but if this was the case why in 1Corinthians 11:21 does Paul rebuke the people for being drunk while at the Lord’s Supper. From Acts 2:46 It just speaks of breaking bread and eating their meat (the meal) wiht gladness so perhaps at times it was only bread with their meals and not always wine, but they blessed it and broke it and remembered the Lord anyway. Whether it was one piece of bread shared by all was probably not necessarily essential for there would always have to be numerous loaves to cater for many people. So if a bread roll was given individually and we each broke it in remembrance for our own use only, it would not matter, for it is remembrance of Christ and saying the words that is important, each and every time we take bread or drink red wine, whether in a group or alone. Nevertheless, let each individual do as his conscience dictates and be fully persuaded in his own mind (see Romans 14:5 below) but let none of us judge or rebuke each other if they celebrate this command for the Lord’s Supper in other ways, and refuses it at church when celebrated in the usual manner.
CHRIST’S WORDS ON THE ISSUE
(All Scripture that follows is taken from King James Version)
Matthew 26: 17-30
Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. 30And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Mark 14: 12-26
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? 13And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. 14And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 15And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. 16And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. 18And as they sat and did eat, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you which eateth with me shall betray me. 19And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I? 20And he answered and said unto them, It is one of the twelve, that dippeth with me in the dish. 21The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 22And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. 23And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. 24And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. 25Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. 26And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives
Luke 22: 7-20
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. 8And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. 9And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? 10And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 12And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 14And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
DISCIPLES AND ST PAULS WORDS ON THE ISSUE
Acts 2: 36-47
36Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. 27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 33Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.
OTHER WORDS RELEVENT TO PRINCIPLE OF ONE BODY, ONE SPIRIT ONE BREAD
1 Corinthians 10: 1-33
(Dealing with idol worship and food offered, but reference to the bread and cup)
1Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 7Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 8Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 9Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.15I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 18Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? 20But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 22Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?23All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. 24Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. 25Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: 26For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. 27If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: 29Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? 30For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 12 (Dealing with principle of the people being “one body”)
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: 2You know that£ you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. 3Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.4There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by £the same Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.12For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink £into one Spirit. 14For in fact the body is not one member but many.15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19And if they were all one member, where would the body be?20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the £best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
DEALING WITH PRINCIPLE OF EACH PERSON BEING
FULLY PERSUADED IN ONE’S OWN MIND ON ANY ISSUE
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. 4Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. 5One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 6He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. 10But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. 13Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. 14I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. 16Let not then your good be evil spoken of: 17For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. 18For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. 19Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. 20For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. 21It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. 22Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. 23And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
A JEWISH VIEWPOINT
RESPONSE OF AVIVA LEE
As concerns some of the Divine law upholding the observance of The Pesach(Passover), perhaps in this context the place to begin is a brief glimpse into the historical setting for the Feast of The Matzah (in Biblical Hebrew literally 'Hag hamatzot' known to Gentiles as Feast of the Unleavened Bread). The command to the Jewish people from the mouth of Moshe (Moses) was given as Divine Law just prior to their departure from Egypt. This Law was reiterated at Mt. Sinai and at various other places during our wanderings in the desert. The Command to remember our departure from Egypt is replete with specific instructions about how to celebrate this annual feast. As a thumbnail sketch the reader is referred here to Exodus 12: 1 – 28 for an overview of the first instance of the Jewish Nation celebrating The Pesach. Please permit me to give one key point concerning the Divine Utterances to Moshe. Verse 14 of the aforementioned reference in Exodus records that The God specifically told Moshe that the celebration of our miraculous deliverance from Egypt is for the Jewish Nation and for 'our generations - an Eternal Decree to be observed,' and thus we understand the reason this feast is celebrated by almost all Jews everywhere to this very day, regardless of their orientation spiritually.
With that in mind if one believes in the Book of Exodus as Holy Writ it is existentially a question answered for all Time in this elevation on Earth.
Any Jew, especially Jesus - the son of Mary, would have celebrated The Pesach according to Jewish Law as given to the Jewish Nation just prior to their departure from Egypt. And while in this day and age there are a few Jews who do not fulfil the entire Law concerning The Pesach as a seven day celebration – may I reiterate - most all Jews celebrate at least the first night of The Pesach.
In the textual record of what has become known to Christians as "The Lord's Supper" we have the statement cited "...do this in remembrance of me....". The question arises what was the meaning of such a statement? To me, as a Jew - one must consider that statement as it has been made down through the centuries before and since the establishment of Christianity as a system of faith. This statement has been made by other Jews, whether rabbis, laypeople, parents or kabbalists. It is quite ordinary for a Jew who feels that death is imminent to ask those who consider that individual as a source of authority to do 'something' in their memory. So, to a Jew these words are not remarkable, but make perfect sense in the context of the scene in the room where those who considered themselves to be followers of the Jew Jesus – given that they all understood the political climate and the ramifications of their prolonged and time sensitive public statements and actions.
And certainly nothing that was said or done in that room discounts or in any way minimizes the obligation of every Jew, per Divine law - as given to the Jewish Nation prior to our leaving Egypt, the annual and seven day abstention from leaven and anything associated with or containing leaven of any sort. Nothing in Holy Writ honoured by we Jews would negate The Pesach as a remembrance to be observed annually for a consecutive seven day period.
Furthermore, for we Jews this celebration is compulsory and the promise of severe consequences for Jews who neglect to remember The Pesach and our departure from Egypt is echoed more than once in Holy Writ. Unlike the celebration of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which Gentiles are permitted to observe with the Jewish Nation according to the record in Holy Writ, The Pesach is not to be celebrated by the general Gentile population. It is written that the Pesach lamb may only be eaten by the convert to Judaism, a Jew and those who live in The Land who have made themselves subject to Jewish law and who are circumcised. This gives rise to an interesting question in terms of the free will observance of The Pesach by those who are by definition outside of the set of obedient believers in The God who are commanded to observe The Pesach.
According to Holy Writ, ideally The Pesach should be observed in Jerusalem. The Pesach is one of the three appointed festivals which the Jewish Nation of antiquity celebrated in Jerusalem, and this by commandment.
If the point of a Gentile celebrating The Pesach is to keep the observance as closely to the original celebration as possible, then it would be unnecessary for a member of the Christian clergy to 'administer' The Pesach. Surely, the Jews of antiquity were a patriarchal society. Each family was permitted to prepare its own Pesach offering and eat of it until midnight. Since it is forbidden to leave any of The Pesach offering until morning the Holy Writ advises that the lamb may be eaten by more than just one household. Of primary importance is that none of the Pesach offering be left over. And unlike the Gentile clergy of any persuasion, the Jewish clergy is rooted in familial ties and includes only those males of the House of Aaron which are kohanim or priests. While the Levites' service in the Holy Temple included among other tasks washing the hands of the officiating kohanim (and also to this very day in a communal worship setting when the kohanim bless the Jews gathered wherever), the kohanim were not required to nor commanded to serve The Pesach offering to anyone other than their own households. However, just as on all other days, holy days and the Shabbat (Sabbath) the kohanim offered particular sacrifices and officiated in the Temple or the Mishkan, (the Tent of Meeting in the desert during the wanderings).
Now, as to the elements used in the observance of The Pesach – most assuredly there would not be bread of any sort, involved in any manner. The matza used in the observance of The Pesach is strictly prepared without any leavening (yeast) or leavening agent. This is a fact, and the method for preparation of this flat thin flour food has been handed to us through our ancestors. The method may differ a bit from ethnic origin to ethnic origin. But, nonetheless, no Scripture- oriented observance of The Pesach can be made if there is any leavening or leavening agent found in the house, synagogue or community. The Pesach is both an individual and communal celebration and thus it is written. "No leaven is to be found within your borders." And concerning the element of wine or grape juice, this by default means that any wine or grape juice or beverage used during the entire seven day observance, may not be prepared or processed with leaven or any leavening agent. For example, it is exactly for this reason that beer (which contains yeast) is not bought, owned or drank by Jews which observe the fullness of the commandments given to Moshe concerning The Pesach. And finally this also accounts for the ritual of burning our leaven found in our homes which are inspected the night before we begin the observance. And it also accounts for the reason wherein by custom, we Jews in the days preceding The Pesach sell to a Gentile for the entire duration of the seven day Pesach observance, any leaven, leavening agent, or food which may have come into contact with leaven. And among the very strict Jews one will find that even the dishes which are used with leaven during the remainder of the year are either sold and stored away as well or ‘kashered’ (made free from the leaven influence – either by fire or boiling water). At the conclusion of The Pesach the items are then bought back.
It is understandable how the Christian system of faith has a ritual in their order of worship which is based in the ancient ritual of The Pesach. After all it is no secret that some rituals associated with Christianity sprang from Jewish rituals. And while the elements of the Christian ritual may be similar to the elements used by we Torah observant Jews it is also understandable how the Christian attempt to observe a Jewish ritual may fall short of that which God required of we Jews. This is due simply to a lack of True knowledge of The Pesach ritual and how it was observed annually from the first Pesach night until this very day.
Furthermore, the elements of both bread and wine have born a great significance to the Jewish Nation, to our spiritual development and to our system of faith as given to us by our forefathers. For example, by Divine Command, the 'show bread' was always present in the Holy Temple (Exodus 25:23-30/1Kings7:48-51).
There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the small group of Jews who met with Jesus the Jew during his last observance of The Pesach were in deed celebrating the meal in the same manner as had been done for centuries before. The evolution of their celebration as it was incorporated into the Christian system of faith no doubt took place over the years which followed the death of their teacher. Bear in mind that a Jew who observes the Divine Law concerning The Pesach refrains from eating leavening or any leavening agent for the entire seven day period designated in the Torah. Furthermore, the first day and the seventh day are days on which physical labour is strictly forbidden.
While no doubt, there are both Jews and Gentiles who disagree with my understanding of The Pesach and its associated rituals, the conclusion which I must draw is based solely upon my knowledge of Jewish Law as a layperson. And, though I do read with limited understanding portions of that Law in the original Hebrew – I do understand the Divine Utterances given to Moshe as recorded in Jewish Holy Writ. This coupled with the historical record of the subsequent arrest, interrogation and crucifixion of Jesus the Jew, I find no suggestion that these men would have celebrated The Pesach in some new manner.
As regards the cups used to serve the wine, it seems logical that just as today - there were even then, no doubt differences in the customs of how to serve a meal at The Pesach remembrance of the departure of we Jews as a Nation from Egypt. Largely this could be constrained by one's lack of wealth or restrained by one's discretion. Hence, we have the possibilities that the family with limited resources would not have more than one or two cups for several people and that the family with vast resources would have not only a cup for the designated patriarch serving the meal's wine or juice, but cups for each individual present as well.
In this day and age, and in light of the question as to if Gentiles are compelled to celebrate The Pesach perhaps more study and discussion is called for in order to determine the needs of each individual and each congregation who feel the need to participate in some way in a communal observance of their ritual which is rooted in the Jewish observance of The Pesach. Certainly in this day and age with certain contagious diseases appearing to be at the epidemic threshold one should be sensible in one’s observance of communal rituals with regard to preventing the spread of contagion – regardless of one’s system of faith or spiritual orientation.
Certainly, saving a life and guarding one’s life is a deep seated concept in Judaism. And according to Jewish tradition even The Holy Shabbat not only can, but MUST be violated if it is a matter of ‘pechuah nefesh’ – saving a life.
The blood of The Pesach lamb was spilled on the ground during the ritual slaughter prior to its being cooked in a prescribed manner in order to be eaten by the household. One would need to know of and understand the many verses of Holy Writ which prohibit the Jew from eating blood in order to understand why no doubt in the mind of a Jew ‘eating’ the body or drinking the blood of any creature is anathema. The reader is here referred to Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26; 17:10; 19:26; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23; 15:23; and I Samuel 14:34 which have recorded the specific command to refrain from ‘eating the blood’. I am unacquainted with any reference in all of Holy Writ which prophesies of or commands the Jewish people individually or as a community to disobey this very straightforward prohibition - even in a symbolical representation. The drinking of blood was a pagan act of worship and according to some sources sited in Jewish commentary associated not only with paganism but also with divination. Both pagan acts of worship and divination are strictly prohibited by the Law given at Mt. Sinai. And even though we know that many of The Laws were given in order to wean the Jewish people from the idolatry, cruelty and debauchery to which they had been exposed in pagan Egypt, we have no latitude of lifting the prohibition to eat blood in any context or setting.
While the showbread was always present in the temple and replaced week to week on The Shabbat with new showbread there is no reference nor any indication that the priests to whom the older showbread was allotted ever attributed any humanoid symbolism to the bread.
The command in the Holy Writings to ‘remember your deliverance from Egypt which The God did with a mighty hand…’ is exactly that a daily remembrance mentioned in many prayers. We Jews are commanded to daily remember our miraculous exit from Egypt. 'Yitzeat Mitzraim' (see translation below) mentioned in our daily prayers in numerous places, along with the prayer with which we conclude a meal which has included bread of any sort. With the exception of the seven day annual cycle of the actual celebration of The 'Passover' these prayers are intended to cause the devotee to "remember" as is commanded in the Torah. Whereas during the seven day annual celebration of the miraculous exit from Egypt there is a meal specifically commanded of we Jews and that is the meal on the first night of the 'Passover'. As to whether or not wine is served - that would be entirely at the discretion of the master of the household for during the 'Passover' meal there are namely two elements commanded for consumption and that is the lamb and the matza. In fact some rabbis teach that refraining from bread with leaven or a leavening agent is not a total fulfillment of the celebration of the 'Passover'. Rather the total fulfillment is in the abstention of leaven and the consumption of matza which does not contain leaven. And this is in fact commanded in the Torah. 'For seven days thou shalt eat matza.' However, the acts of observance associated with The annual holy days of The Pesach are on one level – no doubt – intended to emphasize, reinvigorate and refresh communally and individually our appreciation of the miraculous deliverance we witnessed first hand in Egypt from the first instant the Pharoah denied us our exit, to the very night he and the rest of the Egyptians demanded that we leave after the first born in Egypt were slain. It was in these brief moments that the command to eat unleavened bread for seven days first took shape. For it is recorded for all to read, that we left so quickly that our dough was still in the ‘kneading trough and we left Egypt with it on our backs’. Symbolically, this could on one elevation represent our spiritual departure from a place where elements contrary to Heaven and The Almighty were defeated and subsequently destroyed.
This coupled with the fact that the table at which one eats in a Jewish home is considered to be a symbolic representation of the Holy Altar and that much upward communication is accomplished and consummated at the table in a Jewish home stand as evidence that there was no compelling evidence in the days of Jesus the Jew to institute a ‘new’ observance for the entire Gentile population. And he certainly was not doing such for we Jews. Eating blood was no doubt also anathema to the Jew Jesus. So it seems logical to conclude that he and his disciples were observing only The Pesach as it had been given over to we Jews more than two thousand years prior to his crucifixion.
Following Further Request for Clarification:
"Yitzeat Mitzraim" translated means, "To exit Egypt" ... The Hebrew word "Yitzeat" has as its root, 'yitzea' or 'exit' and 'Mitzraim' is in fact the Hebrew Biblical and contemporary word for 'Egypt'. For those who wish to read the account of Exodus it can be found in the Bible. Exodus Chapters 1 to 14.
Further, there is a distinct difference in a 'celebration' and 'remembering' even though remembering is embodied in an annual celebration of many Holy Days. And also an annual celebration may include an element of 'remembering' - nonetheless, for the sake of a full understanding, we must keep each aspect separate. The Torah specifically commands we Jews to always remember our 'exit from Egypt' and thus our Sages included in many of the prayers we utter daily a verbal intonation about that miraculous exit. The Torah also specifically commands that we Jews celebrate The Pesach or 'Passover" once per annum for a period of seven days.
Hence, during all of the year except the seven day cycle known as 'Passover' we Jews utter prayers many times daily and those prayers include an utterance about our exit from Egypt even when a meal is not involved. Nonetheless, when we eat a meal which includes bread (whether that bread contains leaven or not) we utter what is known as "Birkat HaMazon" and this prayer is the concluding prayer to any meal at which a Jew eats bread (either with or without leaven - either celebratory or not).
Hence, during the seven day cycle known as 'Passover' we Jews utter the same 'Birkat Hamazon', but insert special 'Passover' specific phrases in addition to the regular phrase about our exit from Egypt.
Also, please understand that to a Jew of most any spiritual elevation, the table at which a meal is eaten is considered to be a spiritual substitute for the holy altar which was desecrated by our conquerors.
Furthermore, in associating daily with one another as the followers of the Jew Jesus were as you say, going from house to house and eating - though I do not speak from their writers' point of view - in many cultures -eating is a very social interaction. And certainly in Judaism of yore and Judaism today, eating was and is a very social act. Friends and family alike are included in Jewish observances. And this should be considered no doubt in any extrapolation of a conclusion as to what the followers were doing when they were meeting after the crucifixion of their teacher. Surely, from my point of view even though they gave birth to a new system of faith in a remarkably brief period of time, they did not automatically forsake Judaism.
As the instigator of this assessment and following the article of Aviva Lee, my conclusion on this issue would be the following. Not as a theologian but as one who just reads and is relying on the words of the Bible, not on any other historical record. I also offer grateful thanks to Aviva Lee for allowing free insight into her Jewish faith and customs in order to assist myself and those of all faiths, the ability to understand more deeply the basis of our own faith and facts about the Truth as God seems to have revealed it from the beginning of time.
It is reiterated again that any comments in this assessment do not reflect in any form, the views of Aviva Lee.
As per my provisional conclusion given at the start of this document, which was written before I read Aviva Lee’ article. It could be said that the current manner in which the “Lord’s Supper” is being celebrated is still correct. Where all drink of one cup, all being of one body, and of one Spirit. Looking at the scriptures I have provided above, I can understand why it is currently celebrated this way. However, in view of the current flu epidemic fears, and even as a general rule to avoid transference of unpleasant and unnecessary infection it may be wise for the priest officiating or touching the bread, to break it first so that if it is handed around the congregation they just pick up one piece and do not have to touch the whole bread in order to break a piece off. I believe the “one” cup used should be changed so that either individual cups are used, or at the very least, the wafer is partially dipped into the one cup by the priest or pastor and then given to the person, or the person themselves partially dips the wafer into the cup and that no-one drinks directly from the cup, which would immediately contaminate it for all. Some churches already do this. We also trust that the pastors/priests officiating at the service, or those touching the wafer or bread would not do so if unwell. We assume also that they wash their hands immediately before the service and only shake hands with others or similar after the service is completed. There is no guarantee on this being done however as it is down to the conscience and conscientiousness of each priest/pastor and those that officiate with him/her. Another alternative is the disposable combined individual cups and wafers one can buy are provided, but these may be too costly for some churches.
However, I do not think the current method is the only way of celebrating the “Lord’s Supper” or “Communion” or “remembrance” and if we look very closely at the words in the bible on this issue, in the light of Jewish rituals and understanding of God’s commands, is it really the correct way, or rather, the manner of remembrance Jesus Christ had in mind? If we take into consideration the description of what Jews currently do and what the verses in Acts 2 describe, it would seem that “the Lord’s Supper” could have been a meal, and a meal for varying numbers of people, or just bread and wine, or just bread. For in Acts 2 we have the new believers going from house to house breaking bread. While Aviva suggests this may have been just a social activity, the other verses before this one mention doctrine, breaking of bread and of prayers implying a particular purpose for the prayer and bread. Later in 1Corinthians 11, Paul mentioned when you come together therefore into one place to eat the Lord’s supper and this also seems to imply small groups in a home and also a large group as the church of the area. After reading Aviva’s response, that the Jews say prayers daily whenever bread is eaten, as remembrance of the Exodus and the fact that God himself had showbread placed on the alter before him always (See Below Exodus 25:30). This would seem to imply that this showbread symbolised Christ always being before Him, on account of Christ’s eventual sacrifice for our sins. Although I trust such a notion does not offend Aviva, or other Jews who may read this. I say such a thing only because I am taking into account the writings in the New Testament also. If the command by Jesus to do this in remembrance of me is common practice among Jews to say prior to death, then it would seem logical (looking at it from a Christian viewpoint) that Christ was instituting a new command of remembrance for those that believed in Him. Be they Jews who may well still be keeping the Jewish Holy Days, or Gentiles who would probably just keep this new command of remembrance. For as Aviva has brought to our attention, it would seem logical that Gentiles should not be celebrating the Passover or Pesach, for it was a remembrance of their(Israelite) deliverance, yet still a sign for the world to see it yearly as a festival of the Jews remembering that event and as a proof that it really occurred. Yet the Gentiles and all Jews who have since believed in Jesus Christ have this new remembrance instituted by Jesus. This remembrance which seems to be very similar to the daily prayer when bread is eaten for the daily remembrance of the 'Yitzeat Mitzraim' or exit of Egypt. The verbal intonation of prayer in the case of the death and remembrance of Jesus, being along the lines of… the body of Christ broken for me for the forgiveness of sins… and….. the blood of Christ shed for me for the remission of sins for me and for the world, or similar suitable and appropriate words as is currently also used during Communion or Mass. Once the Bible or New Testament is read and Jesus Christ is believed to be one’s saviour and therefore it is discerned and understood that the bread and wine represents His death and resurrection. It would seem that any person could be allowed to break the bread and utter such words, be they at home alone, with their family, or in a small or large group. The bread could be a loaf broken for many, or individual rolls or a slice of bread given to each person. This could then broken and eaten by that one person at the start of the meal with the appropriate words, or during the meal to be broken at the same time as all those present and then to be eaten as part of the meal as an act of remembrance of Jesus Christ while one eats. In this way Jesus is present with us throughout the meal. The same also with the wine. If wine is with the meal (and it may not be essential) then one gives thanks for the meal and then the appropriate words or verbal intonation is said for the bread and wine (if present) as being the body and blood of Christ. Then as one eats and drinks, Jesus again is symbolically present and remembered throughout the meal. He did say do this in remembrance of me and also as oft (often) as you drink it. Therefore it would seem that whenever we have red wine and/or bread we are meant to say the appropriate words to remember Him once again. Perhaps also, even if we are in the pub, not getting drunk I hope, but better we stand as witness (and even an opportunity to witness) that we believe and that He is present before those who do not know, than that He is hidden and forgotten? Either that, or we have white wine instead when in a pub or similar. As I say, he said as often as you drink it, what else therefore could it mean?
For it seems to me that as the exit or exodus of the Jews from Egypt has been remembered for nearly 4000 years due to their strict adherence of this command to remember, at the Passover or Pesach and whenever bread was eaten, this being a daily occurrence. So probably Christ also wanted the fact of his life, death and resurrection to be daily remembered as a fact, as a testimony, as a proof of His existence and resurrection and return. Even as the world still has proof of God’s miraculous works on behalf of the Jews and the other tribes of Israel, so many years ago at the Exodus of Egypt. Why? Because it is God’s proof now to us that He exists. The Exodus of the Jews at the time it occurred was to prove God’s existence to all the world at that time, and also now. The name Israel means God Prevails or something very similar to this. The word prevail means to have power, to succeed, to be victorious. Therefore I say, this is still God’s message to all the world, through the nation of Israel, that God does exist and will prevail. Not that the Jews or Israel will prevail, but that God will prevail. Please note the difference. The Jews cannot help being Jews, they are born into the nation by chance, it is not their fault, no-one has control as to their birth. But it is written that the Jewish nation has been created as a light to the Gentiles. To those who may not know, please be aware, that if we are not a Jew then we are a Gentile. The fact that the nation of Israel exists today and who still celebrate the Passover or Pesach on the earth IS that light. A confirmation of those miraculous events of plagues, death of the firstborn, parting of the seas and ultimately of God’s power and existence.
Now we believers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are meant to be the light of Christ doing the works and miracles he did and by our love to serve one another and God. Remembering Jesus Christ on a daily basis by the breaking of bread as his body, using the appropriate words, and when red wine is with the meal, the blessing of the wine as his shed blood, we therefore remember his life, death and resurrection……until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:26.
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come…
The Ark of God, the Mercy Seat where God would speak -as a voice and a power present-
and the Alter with the showbread always before him.
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, 5And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, 6Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.10And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. 13And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 14And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. 15The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. 16And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.23Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 24And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about. 25And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about. 26And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof. 27Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table. 28And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them. 29And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them. 30And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before me alway.31And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same. 32And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side: 33Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick. 34And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers. 35And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick. 36Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold. 37And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. 38And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. 39Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. 40And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.
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