The Last Day of Pesach,1 Day 7 of the Omer

בַּיּוֹם מְהַדְּרִים: לְקַדֵּשׁ, אַחַר כָּךְ מִתְפַּלְלִים תְּפִלַּת הַמִּנְחָה, וְאַחַר זֶה סְעוּדַּת יוֹם טוֹב.

[On the last day of Pesach,2 ] one makes a point of observing the following sequence: One first recites the daytime Kiddush, then Minchah, and only then comes the festive meal of Yom-Tov.3

הַבַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב הָיָה אוֹכֵל ג' סְעוּדּוֹת בְּאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל פֶּסַח. סְעוּדַּת אַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל פֶּסַח הָיְתָה נִקְרֵאת — אֵצֶל הַבַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב — מָשִׁיחַ'ס סְעוּדָּה. אַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל פֶּסַח אִיז מָשִׁיחַ'ס סְעוּדָּה, וַוייל אַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל פֶּסַח אִיז מֵאִיר גִּילּוּי הֶאָרַת הַמָּשִׁיחַ.

בִּשְׁנַת תּרס"ו הִתְחִיל הַסֵּדֶר, אֲשֶׁר תַּלְמִידֵי תּוֹמְכֵי תְמִימִים יֹאכְלוּ יַחַד בְּחַג הַפֶּסַח בְּהֵיכַל הַלִּמּוּד. וְהָיָה אָז שׁ"י תַּלְמִידִים וְח"י שֻׁלְחָנוֹת. סְעוּדַּת אַחֲרוֹן שֶׁל פֶּסַח אָכַל אַאַמוּ"ר בְּיַחַד עִם הַתַּלְמִידִים, וְצִיוָּה לָתֵת לְכָל תַּלְמִיד ד' כּוֹסוֹת. וְאָמַר אָז: דאָס אִיז סְעוּדַּת מָשִׁיחַ.

It was the custom of the Baal Shem Tov to partake of three meals4 on the Last Day of Pesach. The last of these he called Mashiach’s Seudah “the festive meal of Mashiach,” for on the last day of Pesach, the radiance of Mashiach is openly revealed.5

From the year 5666 (1906), it became the custom for the students of the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah in Lubavitch to take their Pesach meals together in the study hall.6 At that time there were 310 students sitting at 18 tables. [That year,] my revered father, the Rebbe [Rashab], joined the students for the [third] festive meal, and directed that each of them receive four cups of wine.

“This is Mashiach’s Seudah,” he declared.7

To Fill In the Background

The Eighth Day of Pesach is traditionally associated with the coming of Mashiach. For this reason, this day’s haftarah8 includes prophecies that describe the era of the Redemption. Partaking of Mashiach’s Seudah expresses our awareness of Mashiach in a physical experience, making this concept part of our flesh and blood.

The teachings of Chassidus explain9 that in order for spiritual revelations to descend from above, parallel preparations must first be made below. Since, in the Era of the Redemption, G‑dliness will find expression even in the physical world, we prepare ourselves for this revelation through physical actions, such as eating and drinking.

In the time of the Baal Shem Tov, the main element of Mashiach’s Seudah was matzah. The simple and unpretentious taste of the poor bread of affliction points to self-transcendence, a necessary preparatory step for the revelations of Mashiach that will take us beyond our garish egos.

Moreover, since matzah is relatively tasteless, it symbolizes teachings that are assimilated without the pleasure derived from rational comprehension. In this context, the addition of four cups of wine by the Rebbe Rashab is significant, for wine not only has a taste, but moreover leads to joy and pleasure. It thus represents the characteristic contribution of the Chabad school of Chassidus, which explains the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov in rationally comprehensible terms, thereby making them palatable and pleasurable.10