edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
What are your views? Do you celebrate it with your family? Have any of our church fathers/leaders addressed this topic before?


  • Thanksgiving is probably the only American holiday that has a Christian background. The Church Fathers obviously never spoke about it since Thanksgiving began as an American Holiday about 300 years ago. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Thanksgiving since we are "giving thanks" to God for what He has given us and for what He has not given us.
  • edited September 2014
    Thanks for your post.
  • The only poem, I have ever memorized:

    Thanksgiving day will soon be here;
    it comes around but once a year;
    if I could only have my way;
    We'd have Thanksgiving every day.
  • edited September 2014
    They teach that in graduate school? :p
  • No, I was just adding an oddity from my days in third grade.
    It was an irrelevant comment either from a religious or secular perspective.
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    What about if it falls on a fasting day?  Or the day before the fasting day?

    Can't comment about it being on a fast, since Thanksgiving in Canada is in October, but if its on a fast day, fast.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    What about all the families who drink wine and get drunk in front of their children every year?

    What about them? I'm not sure why you are so concerned about what others do? People who drink to get drunk don't really need an excuse or holiday to overindulge. It's sad. But in the end, we can only change ourselves.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    What about all the Copts who prepare for months in advance to plan this day as if it were a sacrament in our church?

    I haven't met such Copts, but if they exist, then my comment above still applies.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    What about the 364 days we don't thank God?

    Every day is a day of thanksgiving though. Whenever we pray the agpeya, we pray the Thanksgiving Prayer. Whenever we attend the liturgy, we give thanks go God. In fact, the very word 'eucharist' means thanksgiving.

    The same can be said about Christmas, or Easter. Why do we only celebrate one day for the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ? The fact is though, every time we celebrate the liturgy, we celebrate Christ's incarnation, death and resurrection. The same is true of Thanksgiving.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    What about the people who give their children non-alcoholic wine on this day?

    So? We should at least be thankful that it is non-alcoholic at the very least.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145651#msg145651 date=1317835818]
    Why does turkey = thanking God? How come we become Americanized so fast but take years and decades to become Orthodoxized?

    Turkey doesn't equal thanking God, anymore than the Christmas tree equals a celebration of the incarnation or Easter eggs equals the Resurrection. It's just a secular aspect of a secular holiday. However, any secular holiday can be transformed ('baptized') into a Christian holiday and be a spiritual event.
  • Great answer by Cephas. . .but why are you thinking about Thanksgiving now? It's only October. . .

    In any case, my family does "celebrate" (as do most Copts in the U.S.) but I haven't noticed anyone making a fuss about it. The maximum amount preparation done is a a few days. It is basically a family reunion. If it falls on a fasting day, it depends on who's doing the cooking, lol. You get the mom who give you the fitari or siyami option or one who just offers you 10 types of shrimp and fish. I prefer the latter, it shows that the family has it's priorities in order and that it can still enjoy a meal together in love.

    BTW, if it comes before the fast this year, try the Turkey fried (you won't regret it)  ;D

  • edited September 2014
  • You are a spiritual perfectionist, TITL. It is not a bad thing, on the contrary, that is a great quality. The downside is you become "spiritually offended" easily.
  • edited September 2014
  • [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145735#msg145735 date=1317915369]
    [quote author=Unworthy1 link=topic=12429.msg145734#msg145734 date=1317914094]
    You are a spiritual perfectionist, TITL. It is not a bad thing, on the contrary, that is a great quality. The downside is you become "spiritually offended" easily.

    I don't see how your comment is relevant to anything. Please stay on topic.
    We're talking about Thanksgiving, not TITL.

    Unworthy1 thinks it is relevant - TITL doesn't have to agree. TITL is the one who brought up this issue and I believe is blowing it out of proportion because TITL is easily offended by trivial things. I don't see what there is to discuss or what you are seeking. This is nothing new nor is it limited to Thanksgiving. People always celebrate with feasts, especially before a fast. Is it right? I don't think so. What should we do? Be simple and not participate. There is no need to condemn others for it.

    Not everyone is at the same spiritual level, especially when a family gathers (some are church goers, others aren't, etc.). But if my spiritual father taught me anything it is that you set the table for the person with the lowest spiritual level and dine with them so as not to offend them. So, if I know (X) is coming to Thanksgiving dinner and (X) never fasts, should I prepare "fool medamas"? No! I should prepare food so that he doesn't feel uncomfortable and have a few options for others. We don't shame people into fasting.

    So, don't be upset that the host has prepared fitari food - he/she could just be covering the shortcomings of others who are coming.

    Rather, thank God that you have a family that cares about each other enough to come together. Thank God that the host spends time to prepare a meal. Thank God, that he gives us more than we ask or need.

    But I may be missing the point. . .
  • Hey folks, let's not attack the messenger...

    Thanksgiving, like most American holidays, is about eating and drinking too much. For some people, that also includes alcohol. I'm not a big fan of most U.S. holidays, since they're mostly about buying things and I never have the money to participate. I do like the idea of a day specifically devoted to giving thanks for all of our blessings (not because we shouldn't give thanks every day, but because for so many people this is the one day they actually might reflect and think about it...if they're not too stuffed with food to think). To the extent that people still do that, I think it's good; But I think that's honestly a minority of celebrations, just like most people (even "Christian" people) do not really celebrate Christmas as the religious holiday it is. Sure, they might sing "Silent Night" or "Away in a Manger" or some other vaguely Christian songs, but so what. They do it in between orgies of food and presents, and there's essentially no difference to most people between singing those or "Auld Lang Syne" or "Frosty the Snowman". It's just something you do at Christmas.

    Wow, I'm negative today. Sorry. Bottom line: Thanksgiving CAN be good, if you approach it with the right priorities. And I do like turkey and mashed potatoes, I won't lie.  :)
  • i celebrated it once in pakistan with pumkin pie and spicy tea!
    that was my first time, as i am not american.
    try the tea without milk for fasting days and once u have a house of yr own u can do a beatiful sayami thanksgiving with readings from the psalms before and after dinner
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145733#msg145733 date=1317913519]

    Cephas, my questions were rhetoric, but thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I see. Well regardless, I think what I said is still applicable.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145733#msg145733 date=1317913519]
    Honestly, I had a hunch before I started this thread that I was going to be the only person on this forum with opposing views of Thanksgiving. I did not start this thread for others to convince me of their views, or vice versa. This forum has enough arguments as it is. I was interested in how others celebrated this day and the opinions of Copts who live in the US and Canada.

    Here in Kanaka, because Thanksgiving is in October, we don't worry about there being a fast. For me personally, I'm just glad I get the long weekend. We usually celebrate by going over to close family friends and just eating, drinking and making merry. It's an occasion for friends to get together and just have a good time. Again, the added bonus is that it is a long weekend, so you won't see anyone here trying to book the time off in advance.
  • edited September 2014
  • Sure add wine, what's the big deal? Last I remember there was wine at the Wedding of Cana. Their is nothing inherently wrong with wine. . .we're not Muslims. Their is no one formula fits all, TITL. Ever heard of St. Moses?

    I'm sure your teta is a sweet lady, but I disagree.
  • I agree, because I'm sure Egyptian grandmas are just like every other kind of grandma: They make you food and YOU EAT IT. Period. There is no disagreeing with grandma. She has the frying pan and knows how to use it...  :o
  • edited September 2014
  • [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145826#msg145826 date=1318105569]
    mm, that's everyone's all time favorite comeback to everything nowadays: "we're not Muslim". Good to know, Unworthy1.

    Dzheremi, I'm sorry, you agree with whom?

    Well when you don't want to put wine on the table when our Lord drank wine at the Last Supper, what else can I say?!

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145817#msg145817 date=1318085456]
    [quote author=Unworthy1 link=topic=12429.msg145737#msg145737 date=1317917320]
    But if my spiritual father taught me anything it is that you set the table for the person with the lowest spiritual level and dine with them so as not to offend them.

    So if the lowest spiritual level happens to drink with every meal, I should add wine to the table?

    I don't see how their "comfort" at the table is consistent with anyone's spiritual growth (theirs or mine). It weakens the one fasting and strengthens the one who isn't.
    If I never fasted, and someone invited me to their house with Koshary on the table, I'd be humbled and possibly learn a lesson. Why on earth would I take offense to that?

    My teta taught me something once, and I'll never forget it, "When the church fasts, all the pots and pans fast as well"... Which is to say, the person cooking, whether having guests or not, should never make non-fasting food during fasting times.

    (emphasis mine)

    I didn't comment on the bolded portion so I will. Their comfort is very important! If you have ever read the sayings of the fathers, you would realize that hospitality by monks to visitors was/is of the utmost importance. Imagine I go visit a monk as a layperson and spend a few nights with him. He eats a piece of bread at noon once a day. Should he change how he eats or make me eat like him? He doesn't get any "weaker" because he knows fasting isn't about food. What weakens a person is when they don't show love and compassion to the person still struggling in their spiritual life because they want to keep the fast.

    I have yet to understand why this is bothering you?! No one is forcing you to eat turkey on thanksgiving or drink wine
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145826#msg145826 date=1318105569]
    mm, that's everyone's all time favorite comeback to everything nowadays: "we're not Muslim". Good to know, Unworthy1.

    It's not so much a favourite comeback as it is a reality. A lot of Islamic concepts have crept into the Coptic mentality and that is a sad reality. After over 1300 years of Islamic influence in Egypt, it is no surprise. For instance, the concept of 'haram' and 'halal'. You will hear Copts speak about something being 'haram'. Orthodoxy has no concept of 'haram'. 'The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness' (cf. Psalm 24 and 1 Corinthians 10).

    As for the proper fast, I had posted this elsewhere, but might as well post it here as well:

    The Proper Fast and its Effects According to the Fathers
    by Mena Rizkalla

    Fasting is a medicine; but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskilfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy. - St. John Chrysostom, Concerning the Statues, Homily III

    Spoken as though a pharmacist, St. John Chrysostom summarizes the importance of fasting – it is not an option he is teaching us, rather, it is a needed tool. Even though our body requires this drug, he realizes that we might not recognize the need for it if we are not using it properly. The focus of our meditation this week, then, is on the proper fast, and the effects of fasting on our spiritual lives. Another time we will speak of the “healing” that fasting brings – for only by understanding these three will we ever fully appreciate our need for fasting.

    Fasting must not be a mere physical fast. It is not simply abstinence from food until a certain hour of the day, nor is it simply avoiding meats and dairy products. An acceptable fast is fast of the body and soul, it is a fast where we struggle to be true Christians. Justin Martyr writes, “This is not the fast which I have chosen, saith the Lord; but loose every unrighteous bond, dissolve the terms of wrongous covenants, let the oppressed go free, and avoid every iniquitous contract. Deal thy bread to the hungry, and lead the homeless poor under thy dwelling; if thou seest the naked, clothe him; and do not hide thyself from thine own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy garments shall rise up quickly: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall envelope thee." (Studies in Philosophy and Other Articles, Chapter XV, In What the True Fasting Consists)

    A proper fast then, is a fast in which not only your flesh is held under subjection, but your spirit is ‘released’, as His Holiness teaches, from the bonds of sins. It is a time in which love of God and your neighbour must be made manifest.

    St. Athanasius speaks both of the effects of fasting and what the proper consists of as well, “Behold, my brethren, how much a fast can do, and in what manner the law commands us to fast. It is required that not only with the body should we fast, but with the soul. Now the soul is humbled when it does not follow wicked opinions, but feeds on becoming virtues. For virtues and vices are the food of the soul and it can eat either of these two meats, and incline to either of the two, according to its own will.” (First Festal Letter)

    Here it is emphasized that a person’s will is the essential battle – that a person must choose to fast the proper fast. For this reason we must hold ourselves in examination constantly – checking to see if we are fasting mechanically, or whether we are struggling to fast a true fast.

    The Fathers in the Paradise teach us how to fast practically, lest we observe the opposite extreme of abusing our bodies in the pretences of righteousness and zealousness, “Abba Joseph asked Abba Poemen what was the proper way in which to fast, and Abba Poemen said unto him, "I prefer the man who eateth every day a very small quantity of food, and who doth not satisfy his cravings for food." And Abba Joseph said unto him, "When thou wast a young man didst thou not fast two days at a time, O father?" Then the old man said unto him, "Yea, I did, and three days at a time, and four days at a time, and even a week at a time; and the old men, like men of might, have tried all these by experience, but they have found that it is beneficial for a man to eat an exceedingly small quantity of food each day, and because of this they have delivered unto us an easy way to the kingdom." (Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Vol. II, On Fasting and Abstinence, #102)


    "Abstinence in respect of the soul consisteth in making straight its ways and habits, and courses of action, and in cutting off the passions of the soul." (Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Vol. II, Questions and Answers on the Ascetic Rule #324)

    So a proper fast consists of subjecting the flesh, freeing the spirit, much prayer, and above all, an expression of true Christianity: love. One is not fasting if he is simply avoiding certain foods, nor is he fasting if he brings upon himself all sorts of bodily afflictions as though these are what the Lord requires – a Lord requires a fasting, struggling, honest heart.
    With this proper fast, then, come numerous effects, and one need not do more than read the words of our Fathers to learn of these. St. Ambrose teaches that we will have our sins washed and be granted power, "And what is the intention of the Scripture which teaches us that Peter fasted, and that the revelation concerning the baptism of Gentiles was made to him when fasting and praying, except to show that the Saints themselves advance when they fast. Finally, Moses received the Law when he was fasting; and so Peter when fasting was taught the grace of the New Testament. Daniel too by virtue of his fast stopped the mouths of the lions and saw the events of future times. And what safety can there be for us unless we wash away our sins by fasting, since Scripture says that fasting and alms do away sin?" (Epistle LXIII)

    St. John Chrysostom teaches how much our fast affects prayer, “He that fasts is light, and winged, and prays with wakefulness, and quenches his wicked lusts, and propitiates God, and humbles his soul when lifted up. Therefore even the apostles were almost always fasting. He that prays with fasting hath his wings double, and lighter than the very winds." (Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Homily LVII)

    The desert fathers tell us that it will strengthen our heart, “A brother asked an old man quetions about comforts [or pleasures], and the old man said unto him, "Eat grass, wear grass, and sleep on grass, and then thy heart will become like iron." (Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Vol. II, On Fasting and Abstinence, #69)

    We will pray more easily, “A fasting man prays austerely, but the mind of someone intemperate is filled up with unclean imaginings.” (John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, p. 168)

    Our father Evagrios, a universal saint, summarizes nicely,Fast before the Lord according to your strength, for to do this will purge you of your iniquities and sins; it exalts the soul, sanctifies the mind, drives away the demons, and prepares you for God's presence. (Evagrios the Solitary, The Philokalia, Vol. I, p.36)

    The greatest ‘effect’ though, is that the Lord Himself looks upon our small sacrifice and struggle, and will Himself come to our aid, “Begrudge the stomach and your heart will be humbled; please the stomach and your mind will turn proud. And if you watch yourself early in the morning, at midday, and in the hour before dinner, you will discover the value of fasting, for in the morning your thoughts are lively, by the sixth hour they have grown quieter and by sundown they are finally calm. If you can begrudge the stomach, your mouth will stay closed, because the tongue flourishes where food is abundant. Fight as hard as you can against the stomach and let your vigilance hold it in. Make the effort, however little, and the Lord will quickly come to help you. (John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, pg. 168)

    The fathers are unanimous on our fasting then, a proper fast is a fast of the heart: we keep His commandments, we love our neighbour, and we love Him. It is a fast in which we seek earnestly for virtues, not after the lusts of the flesh. By and through this struggle, we are aided to pray properly, our hearts are strengthened, we are granted internal peace, but most importantly, in our trials and tribulations, the Lord will come swiftly to our aid. From this, then, we are not surprised at the healing that comes with our fast, which we will discuss during this season as well. Let us all pray that we may fast an acceptable fast before Him, in purity and righteousness, even as He fasted on our behalf and was tempted. Let us, like Him, fast that we may elevate our bodies and souls to the heavenly, and drive away demons with humility and abasement, looking always to the glory and hope that is in Christ our redeemer.

    Glory be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

  • edited September 2014
  • Your grandmother! I agree with everyone's grandmother except for mine, because she said joining the church was "stupid". :o (Hence I don't tell her about what is going on my life very much.)

    But I don't see what could be wrong by cooking fasting food even if you are having a non-fasting guest. My mother always taught me that when you are a guest in someone's house, you eat what they eat whether it is what you would eat or not. Isn't this essentially what the church teaches? I know we've had threads before about whether it is permissible to break your fast when you are a guest in a non-fasting house, and I'm pretty sure that the answer has been consistently yes, so I figure the other way around should be good too, as long as your guest does not have medical problems that would be aggravated or something like that.

    [quote author=TITL link=topic=12429.msg145826#msg145826 date=1318105569]
    mm, that's everyone's all time favorite comeback to everything nowadays: "we're not Muslim". Good to know, Unworthy1.

    Dzheremi, I'm sorry, you agree with whom?
  • [quote author=dzheremi link=topic=12429.msg145830#msg145830 date=1318111338]
    Your grandmother! I agree with everyone's grandmother except for mine, because she said joining the church was "stupid". :o (Hence I don't tell her about what is going on my life very much.)

    But I don't see what could be wrong by cooking fasting food even if you are having a non-fasting guest. My mother always taught me that when you are a guest in someone's house, you eat what they eat whether it is what you would eat or not. Isn't this essentially what the church teaches? I know we've had threads before about whether it is permissible to break your fast when you are a guest in a non-fasting house, and I'm pretty sure that the answer has been consistently yes, so I figure the other way around should be good too, as long as your guest does not have medical problems that would be aggravated or something like that.

    (emphasis mine)

    Yes! That applies to hosts serving non-fasting food during a fast as well. Eat and don't judge them.
  • The way TITL has been describing the situation it seems that she has been the guest. So, it is pretty simple as dzheremi said.

  • Thursday is a fish accepted day in the Fast.  Legumes are not the main dish in that matter.

    Wine, within the Christian context:  is a medication it is to be taken as such.  It is not for making merry or feeling good when you have had a bad day at the office.

    St. Paul:  "a little (key word:  little) wine is good for the stomach."  This does not include distilled products.  Our Lord never got drunk or drank for merry.  Hence, it is not within the context of the example and precedence of the Son of the Living God for it (wine) to be used haphazardly.

    I don't care about Islam.

    I don't have a problem with a national holiday giving thanks to the Almighty.  I have difficulty with our people enjoining themselves with the frivolity and folly of American hypocrisy.
  • Thank you.
  • + Irini nem ehmot,

    [quote author=ilovesaintmark link=topic=12429.msg145887#msg145887 date=1318290630]
    St. Paul:  "a little (key word:  little) wine is good for the stomach."  This does not include distilled products.  Our Lord never got drunk or drank for merry.  Hence, it is not within the context of the example and precedence of the Son of the Living God for it (wine) to be used haphazardly.

    This illustrates a gross negligence in understanding historical context and scripture. First off, in 1st century Palestine, wine was consumed more than water. Why? Because of sanitation. Clean water was hard to come by and wine was the best alternative.

    Secondly, your proof-text of St. Paul's advice to St. Timothy only illustrates your own preconceived biases and reading into the text. St. Paul's is speaking directly to St. Timothy and prescribing him something the way a physician prescribes medication to a patient. This is meant only for Timothy and not meant to be applied willy nilly universally, anymore than a prescription for a particular drug is meant to be used willy nilly by anyone other than the prescribed patient.

    Thirdly, your understanding of Christ's daily life and what He did or did not drink further reveals your preconceived biases. Let's see what scripture says about Christ's drinking:

    [quote=Matthew 11:18-19 (EOB)]As it is, John came neither eating nor drinking, and so they say,‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and so they say, ‘Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, Wisdom is justified by her children!”

    What do we glean from this? Christ was clearly a social drinker, to the extent that the Pharisees accused Him of being a drunk. If nothing else, Christ drank more than the self-righteous Pharisees. Add to that, have you ever read what the Passover Seder entails? Here it is for your reference:

    The Jewish Sages say that Passover occurs on the 15th of Nissan just as the moon grows for 15 days. The conclusion is that our growth must be in 15 gradual steps just like the Passover puzzle is constituted by 15 pieces that, when assembled, will give us freedom.

    Kadeish (blessings and the first cup of wine)
    Kadeish is Hebrew Imperative for Kiddush. This Kiddush is a special one for Passover, it refers to matzot and the Exodus from Egypt. Acting in a way that shows freedom and majesty, many Jews have the custom of filling each other's cups at the Seder table. The Kiddush is traditionally said by the father of the house.

    Ur'chatz (wash hands)
    In traditional Jewish homes, it is common to ritually wash the hands before a meal. According to most traditions, no blessing is recited at this point in the Seder, unlike the blessing recited over the washing of the hands before eating bread at any other time. However, followers of Rambam or the Gaon of Vilna do recite a blessing.

    Karpas (appetizer)
    Each participant dips a vegetable into either salt water (Ashkenazi custom; said to serve as a reminder of the tears shed by their enslaved ancestors), vinegar (Sephardi custom) or charoset (older Sephardi custom; still common among Yemenite Jews). Another custom mentioned in some Ashkenazi sources and probably originating with Meir of Rothenburg[citation needed], was to dip the karpas in wine.

    Yachatz (breaking of the middle matzah)
    Three matzot are stacked on the seder table; at this stage, the middle matzah of the three is broken in half. The larger piece is hidden, to be used later as the afikoman, the "dessert" after the meal. The smaller piece is returned to its place between the other two matzot.

    Magid (The telling)
    The story of Passover, and the change from slavery to freedom is told. At this point in the Seder, Moroccan Jews have a custom of raising the Seder plate over the heads of all those present while chanting "Bivhilu yatzanu mimitzrayim, halahma anya b'nei horin" (In haste we went out of Egypt [with our] bread of affliction, [now we are] free people).

    Ha Lachma Anya (invitation to the Seder)
    A bronze matzo plate designed by Maurice Ascalon, inscribed with the opening words of Ha Lachma Anya

    The matzot are uncovered, and referred to as the "bread of affliction". Participants declare (in Aramaic) an invitation to all who are hungry or needy to join in the Seder. Halakha requires that this invitation be repeated in the native language of the country.

    Mah Nishtanah (The Four Questions)
    The Mishna details questions one is obligated to ask on the night of the seder. It is customary for the youngest child present to recite the four questions.[14] Some customs hold that the other participants recite them quietly to themselves as well. In some families, this means that the requirement remains on an adult "child" until a grandchild of the family receives sufficient Jewish education to take on the responsibility. If a person has no children capable of asking, the responsibility falls to their spouse, or another participant.[15] The need to ask is so great that even if a person is alone at the seder they are obligated to ask themselves and to answer their own questions.[15]

    Ma nishtana ha lyla ha zeh mikkol hallaylot?
    Why is this night different from all other nights?
    Shebb'khol hallelot anu okh’lin ḥamets umatsa, vehallayla hazze kullo matsa.
    Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either leavened bread or matza, but on this night we eat only matza?
    Shebb'khol hallelot anu okh’lin sh’ar y'rakot, vehallayla hazze maror.
    Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night we eat bitter herbs?
    Shebb'khol hallelot en anu matbillin afillu pa‘am eḥat, vehallayla hazze sh'tei fe‘amim.
    Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once, but on this night we dip them twice?
    Shebb'khol hallelot anu okh’lin ben yosh’vin uven m'subbin, vehallayla hazze kullanu m'subbin.
    Why is it that on all other nights we dine either sitting upright or reclining, but on this night we all recline?

    A fifth question which is present in the mishnah has been removed by later authorities due to its inapplicability after the destruction of the temple is:

    5. Shebb'khol hallelot anu okh’lin basar tsali shaluk umvushal, vehallayla hazze kullo tsali.
    Why is it that on all other nights we eat meat either roasted, marinated, or cooked, but on this night it is entirely roasted?

    The four questions have been translated into over 300 languages.[16]

    We eat only matzah because our ancestors could not wait for their breads to rise when they were fleeing slavery in Egypt, and so they were flat when they came out of the oven.
    We eat only Maror, a bitter herb, to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that our ancestors endured while in Egypt.
    The first dip, green vegetables in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of our tears with gratefulness, and the second dip, Maror in Charoses, symbolizes the sweetening of our burden of bitterness and suffering.
    We recline at the Seder table because in ancient times, a person who reclined at a meal was a free person, while slaves and servants stood.
    We eat only roasted meat because that is how the Pesach/Passover lamb is prepared during sacrifice in the Temple at Jerusalem.

    The Four Sons
    The traditional Haggadah speaks of "four sons"—one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is simple, and one who does not know to ask. Each of these sons phrases his question about the seder in a different ways. The Haggadah recommends answering each son according to his question, using one of the three verses in the Torah that refer to this exchange.

    The wise son asks "What are the statutes, the testimonies, and the laws that God has commanded you to do?" One explanation for why this very detailed-oriented question is categorized as wise, is that the wise son is trying to learn how to carry out the seder, rather than asking for someone else's understanding of its meaning. He is answered fully: You should reply to him with [all] the laws of pesach: one may not eat any dessert after the paschal sacrifice.

    The wicked son, who asks, "What is this service to you?", is characterized by the Haggadah as isolating himself from the Jewish people, standing by objectively and watching their behavior rather than participating. Therefore, he is rebuked by the explanation that "It is because God acted for my sake when I left Egypt." (This implies that the Seder is not for the wicked son because the wicked son would not have deserved to be freed from Egyptian slavery.) Where the four sons are illustrated in the Haggadah, this son has frequently been depicted as carrying weapons or wearing stylish contemporary fashions.

    The simple son, who asks, "What is this?" is answered with "With a strong hand the Almighty led us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage."

    And the one who does not know to ask is told, "It is because of what the Almighty did for me when I left Egypt."

    Some modern Haggadahs mention "children" instead of "sons", and some have added a fifth child. The fifth child can represent the children of the Shoah who did not survive to ask a question or to Jews who have drifted so far from Jewish life that they do not participate in a Seder.[17][18]

    For the former, tradition is to say that for that child we ask "Why?" and, like the simple child, we have no answer.

    '"Go and learn"

    Four verses in Deuteronomy (26:5-8) are then expounded, with an elaborate, traditional commentary. ("5. And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God: 'A wandering Aramean was my parent, and they went down into Egypt, and sojourned there, few in number; and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6. And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. 7. And we cried unto the Lord, the God of our parents, and the Lord heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders.")

    The Haggadah explores the meaning of those verses, and embellishes the story. This telling describes the slavery of the Jewish people and their miraculous salvation by God. This culminates in an enumeration of the Ten Plagues:

        Dam (blood)—All the water was changed to blood
        Tzefardeyah (frogs)—An infestation of frogs sprang up in Egypt
        Kinim (lice)—The Egyptians were afflicted by lice
        Arov (wild animals)—An infestation of wild animals (some say flies) sprang up in Egypt
        Dever (pestilence)—A plague killed off the Egyptian livestock
        Sh'chin (boils)—An epidemic of boils afflicted the Egyptians
        Barad (hail)—Hail rained from the sky
        Arbeh (locusts)—Locusts swarmed over Egypt
        Choshech (darkness)—Egypt was covered in darkness
        Makkat Bechorot (killing of the first-born)—All the first-born sons of the Egyptians were slain by God

    With the recital of the Ten Plagues, each participant removes a drop of wine from his or her cup using a fingertip. Although this night is one of salvation, the Sages explain that one cannot be completely joyous when some of God's creatures had to suffer. A mnemonic acronym for the plagues is also introduced: "D'tzach Adash B'achav", while similarly spilling a drop of wine for each word.

    At this part in the Seder, songs of praise are sung, including the song Dayenu, which proclaims that had God performed any single one of the many deeds performed for the Jewish people, it would have been enough to obligate us to give thanks.

    Kos Sheini (Second Cup of Wine)
    Magid concludes with the drinking of the Second Cup of Wine.

    Rohtzah (ritual washing of hands)
    The ritual hand-washing is repeated, this time with all customs including a blessing.

    Motzi ("who brings forth")
    The blessing, which includes the words "who brings forth" (motzi in Hebrew), is said with matzah.[19]

    The blessing over the matzah is recited and then the matzoh is eaten.[19]

    Maror (bitter herbs)
    The blessing for the eating of the maror (bitter herbs) is recited and then it is dipped into the charoset and eaten.[19]

    Koreich (sandwich)
    The maror (bitter herb) is placed between two small pieces of matzo, similarly to how the contents of a sandwich are placed between two slices of bread, and eaten. This follows the tradition of Hillel, who did the same at his Seder table 2000 years ago (except that in Hillel's day the Paschal sacrifice, matzo, and maror were eaten together.)

    Shulchan Orech (the meal)
    A Seder table setting
    The festive meal is eaten. Traditionally it begins with the hard-boiled egg on the Seder plate.[20]

    Tzafun (eating of the afikoman)
    The afikoman, which was hidden earlier in the Seder, is traditionally the last morsel of food eaten by participants in the Seder.

    Each participant receives an olive-sized portion of matzo to be eaten as afikoman. After the consumption of the afikoman, traditionally, no other food may be eaten for the rest of the night. Additionally, no intoxicating beverages may be consumed, with the exception of the remaining two cups of wine.

    In some families, the children steal the afikoman and ask for a reward for its return.

    Bareich (Grace after Meals)
    The recital of Birkat Hamazon.

    Kos Shlishi (the Third Cup of Wine)
    The drinking of the Third Cup of Wine.

    Note: The Third Cup is customarily poured before the Grace after Meals is recited because the Third Cup also serves as a Cup of Blessing associated with the Grace after Meals on special occasions.

    Kos shel Eliyahu ha-Navi (cup of Elijah the Prophet)
    In many traditions, the front door of the house is opened at this point. Psalms 79:6-7 is recited in both Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions, plus Lamentations 3:66 among Ashkenazim.

    Most Ashkenazim have the custom to fill a fifth cup at this point. This relates to a Talmudic discussion that concerns the number of cups that are supposed to be drunk. Given that the four cups are in reference to the four expressions of redemption in Exodus 6:6-7, some rabbis felt that it was important to include a fifth cup for the fifth expression of redemption in Exodus 6:8. All agreed that five cups should be poured but the question as to whether or not the fifth should be drunk, given that the fifth expression of redemption concerned being brought into the Land of Israel, which - by this stage - was no longer possessed of an autonomous Jewish community, remained insoluble. The rabbis determined that the matter should be left until Elijah (in reference to the notion that Elijah's arrival would precipitate the coming of the Messiah, at which time all halakhic questions will be resolved) and the fifth cup came to be known as the Kos shel Eliyahu ("Cup of Elijah"). Over time, people came to relate this cup to the notion that Elijah will visit each home on Seder night as a foreshadowing of his future arrival at the end of the days, when he will come to announce the coming of the Jewish Messiah. In the late 1980s, Jewish feminists introduced the idea of placing a Cup of Miriam filled with water (to represent the well that existed as long as Miriam, Moses' sister, was alive in the desert) beside the Cup of Elijah. Many liberal Jews now include this ritual at their seders as a symbol of inclusion.[21]

    Hallel (songs of praise)
    The entire order of Hallel which is usually recited in the synagogue on Jewish holidays is also recited at the Seder table, albeit sitting down. The first two Psalms, 113-114, are recited before the meal. The remaining Psalms of the Hallel proper, Psalms 113-118, are recited after the Grace after Meals, followed by Psalm 136.

    Following Psalm 136, the Nishmat, a portion of the morning service for Shabbat and festivals, is traditionally recited. There is a divergence concerning the paragraph Yehalleluha which normally follows Hallel. Ashkenazim recite it immediately following the Hallel proper, i.e. at the end of Psalm 118. Sephardim recite it at the end of Nishmat.

    Afterwards the Fourth Cup of Wine is drunk and a brief Grace for the "fruit of the vine" is said.

    The Seder concludes with a prayer that the night's service be accepted. A hope for the Messiah is expressed: "L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim! - Next year in Jerusalem!" Jews in Israel, and especially those in Jerusalem, recite instead "L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim hab'nuyah! - Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!"

    Although the 15 orders of the Seder have been complete, the Haggadah concludes with additional songs which further recount the miracles that occurred on this night in Ancient Egypt as well as throughout history. Some songs express a prayer that the Beit Hamikdash will soon be rebuilt. The last song to be sung is Chad Gadya ("One Kid Goat"). This seemingly childish song about different animals and people who attempted to punish others for their crimes and were in turn punished themselves, was interpreted by the Vilna Gaon as an allegory to the retribution God will levy over the enemies of the Jewish people at the end of days.

    Following the Seder, those who are still awake may recite the Song of Songs, engage in Torah learning, or continue talking about the events of the Exodus until sleep overtakes them.


    Count that? That's FOUR cups of wine. Most people are pretty well plied after 2 cups, so imagine 4.

    And then let's not forget the wedding at Cana of Galilee, and how Christ created more wine after the guests were totally drunk. Keep in mind that there were 6 waterpots that were approximately 25-30 gallons each. And if you think Christ did not drink at the wedding, you need to brush up on your 1st century Palestinian Jewish customs. I would think drinking at a wedding constitutes drinking for merriment, wouldn't you?
  • Legendary response, Cephas.

  • I also believe that David and Solomon had a multitude of wives and that has been deposed in the concept of monogamy and Holy Matrimony.

    I do not believe the Scriptures (at least my version) does not identify that the people were drunk at Cana of Galilee.

    They (the Pharisees) wanted to attribute Our Lord as a drunk, demon-possessed, and Belzebub to try to discredit His Word.

    Our Lord also did not follow the Jewish ritual of washing at times, does that make Him a sinner (God forbid)?
  • A post from Fr. Peter:

    I think you are assuming that people who drink alcohol must get drunk.

    As far as I can see, there is no reason why the guests at the wedding feast in Cana should have all been so drunk that they were unable to tell the difference in the quality of wine.

    I think we might assume that the wedding which our Lord attended would have been one of devout Jewish people who would not have wished to drink so much wine that they became drunk. In my reading of the passage the speaker is speaking generally. If I was at a BBQ and we had all had a burger and some kebabs and then the host brought out something amazing, I might say 'Usually when everyone is completely stuffed with food the host brings out the really rubbish sausages, but you have saved the best food till last'. It would not mean absolutely that everyone there had eaten as much as they physically could, it would rather be drawing attention to the fact that the host has 'saved the best till last'. I understand John 2:10 to be written in the same way. If we want to say that everyone was too drunk to be able to tell the difference between the wines then how was anyone sober enough to speak to Christ? And if they were sobering up because they were drinking grape juice then why were they not sober enough to complain that in fact they were not being offered wine at all? Why would it not be wine? We are told not to get drunk, not commanded never to drink alcohol. And it can be shown that even in Egyptian history alcoholic wine was well known and used. If it were not so then certain of the Fathers would not have counselled abstinence.
    This is not to be taken as an encouragement for anyone to drink alcohol, but generally speaking it is not generally a sin to drink a little wine since history itself shows to us that Orthodox Christians have drunk alcoholic wine and allowed its consumption throughout the ages, but in any particular Orthodox Christian's life it might be a sin which is why the advice of a spiritual father is necessary. It may well be that many might choose not to consume any alcoholic drinks at all, and also to habitually abstain from certain foods, but in these matters we are best served by speaking to our own spiritual fathers, who know our own circumstances, and are best placed to provide personal advice to us. This is an issue where one absolute rule is not appropriate.

    An answer from His Grace Bishop Youssef:

    In the miracle at the wedding of Cana of Galilee, the Holy Bible does not mention that our Lord drank wine. As for the Holy Gospel of St. Luke 7:34 Jesus did not say "a glutton and a winebibber" about himself.  These were false accusations by the Pharisees. Christ was comparing His life with that of St. John the Baptist. Our Lord lived an ordinary life in the city, while St. John lived in the wilderness eating locusts and wild honey. The very same men that had depicted St. John the Baptist as wild, because he came neither eating nor drinking, had also  unjustly depicted our Lord Jesus  as corrupt in his morals, because He came eating and drinking with sinners.

    Regarding the Church’s viewpoint in relation to alcohol drinking; the Church does not say drinking alcohol is sinful but the abuse of alcohol is sinful. Although this is the position of the church, it advocates complete abstinence from drinking because the possibility of abuse is usually very high.

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