The Rapture Series
Why Do you Believe? What Do you Believe? How Do You Believe? Who Do You Believe?
“Reason to Believe
By (Greg Killian)
The Number Four (4)
As you study the Pesach, notice how often the number four shows up. The great Kabbalist, the Maharal of Prague, teaches that when something is true, it is true on every possible plane. It is true philosophically, linguistically, mathematically and spiritually. And so we learn that the number four is the number, more than any other, that encapsulates the message of exile and redemption, otherwise it would not be the one used. Keep in mind that our Sages teach us that the Egyptian exile is the prototype for all future exiles (see the redemption study for more on this topic).
Four Cups of Wine
We were in exile, estranged from our land and from HaShem. Therefore, HaShem, Blessed be He, redeemed us with four mighty acts:
Shemot (Exodus) 6:6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel,
1. I [am] HaShem, and
2. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and
3. I will rid you out of their bondage, and
4. I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
The redemption of Shemot 6:6 is represented by the four cups of wine we take during our seder.
Pesachim 117b R. Hanan said to Raba: This proves that Grace after meals requires a cup [of wine]. Said he to him: Our Rabbis instituted four cups as symbolizing freedom: let us perform a religious act with each.
The Gemara indicates that the number four expresses freedom, and connects each cup to a particular mitzva of the seder night: the first cup is that of Kiddush; over the second cup we recite the haggada; the third cup is that of birkhat Hamazon (Grace after the Meal); and over the fourth cup we recite hallel.
The four questions reflect, that our redemption, if we are to be redeemed, must come about when we leave exile and leave estrangement from HaShem. The question of the wise son reflects that we are only truly free when we stop serving the world and start serving HaShem:
- If we are free, why do we still eat matza, "the bread of affliction"?
- If we want to recall the bitterness of servitude by eating bitter herbs, why do we recline like royalty?
It mystifies the son who no longer believes in answers. We must use the empathy and compassion that a mother would have for her child to free him enough to listen.
But the same paradox frees the simple son to redefine what the experience means to him.
The freest of all is the wise son. Once the door is open, he asks the most honest question of all:
- "How shall I serve the God who has made me free?"
Pesach is celebrated the evening of the fourteenth (10+4) day of Nisan.
The women came to His Majesty’s empty grave on the fourth day of Passover.
The Jews came out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) after 4 x 100 years:
Bereshit (Genesis) 15:13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
Bereshit (Genesis) 15:13 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.
We may eat chametz (leaven bread) on Erev (the day before) Pesach only until the end of the fourth hour ("zemanit"), i.e., only within the first third of the day.
1. The Festival of Pesach - Shemot 34:25.
2. The Festival of Matzot - Shemot 23:15.
4. The Festival of Spring - Devarim 16:1.
So, as you study Pesach, notice how intimately the number four is woven into the fabric of this feast. Remember:
The number four signals a
whole, a fullness, and a completion. It signals exile, but, it also signals redemption!
Forty (40) is 10 X 4 and is therefore intimately associated with the number four. You will also see this number showing up repeatedly in the story of our exile and redemption. Some well known examples are:
Moses was forty years in Mitzrayim, forty years in Midian, and forty years in the wilderness. Moses went up on mount Sinai three different times for forty days each.
The spies spied out the land for forty days.
The Children of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years.
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