‘Mashiach now’ Or ‘Bauen Sie gut’

Thursday, 28 April, 2016 - 6:17 am

“Bauen Sie gut!” – “Build well!” That’s what German Ashkenazic Jews, the Yekes, wish each other before Seder night. This is an ancient custom that most of world Jewry knows nothing about. What a pity.

During the years I’ve spent in Switzerland I’ve learned that every local custom has ancient sources. We’re talking about communities that are hundreds of years old. Regarding this particular custom, for instance, Alsace Jews were wishing each other “Bauen Sie gut!” long before the Ba’al Shem Tov was born…

So what does this “Build well” mean?

Its source (as my friend, the historian Dr. Simon Erlanger explained to me) is a medieval translation of the song “Adir Hu, Yivneh Beito Bekarov” that appears in some versions of the Pesach Haggadah, the emphasis being on the word “Yivneh” – “will build.”

My learned friend Edouard Selig added to this that hundreds of years ago German Jews did not have Seder plates; they built from the matzahs and from the other components of the Seder a sort of “castle”, and that is the source of the wish, “Build well.”

Whatever the source is, this congratulation is seen as a Segulah that says: When you observe the Pesach Seder with all its halachas, you are thereby building the Holy Temple; in other words, you are furthering the coming of the Mashiach, an event that will include the building of the Temple.

If you ask me, I think all Jews should adopt that wonderful wish – Bauen Sie gut!


My friends, if you did not wish each other “Bauen Sie gut” on Seder night, you have a second chance this coming Shabbat, the last day of Pesach.

Whereas Ashkenazic Jews build the Temple at the first meal of Pesach, the Ba’al Shem Tov does that at the last one. The Ba’al Shem Tov declared the Se’udah (meal) of the last day of Pesach to be “Se’udat Mashiach” – the meal of the Messiah – since on this day the light of the Mashiach is present in the world.


Ribono shel Olam, Master of the World, ‘Mashiach now’ Or ‘Bauen Sie gut’, Choose either one, as You like; in any case, we’re ready!


Chag Same’ach!


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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