Passover ~ A Brief Explanation: From the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan is the time for Passover, which is an 8 day festival. During Passover Jews celebrate their emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is the time for Jews to experience through rituals to experience what they have gained from the freedoms their ancestors had fought so hard to get from the Egyptian pharaohs.
After many warnings by Moses trying to convince the Pharaoh to set the Israelite slaves free, to no avail for them to be able to worship G-d*. Because of the Pharaoh’s refusal and ignoring Moses’s request, G-d sent upon Egypt 10 devastating plagues. These plagues affected everything in way or another in Egypt including the livestock and crops.
Midnight on the 15 Nissan in the year 2448 (1313 BC) G-d sent his last plaque of the 10, which killed the entire first-born of the Egyptians. G-d did not place his plaque on the Children of Israel or “passing-over” their homes. This is where the name of this holiday came from, Passover.
The Pharaoh blamed the Children of Israel for the 10 plaques and ordered them out of Egypt. Over 600,000 males plus woman and children started their trek to Mount Sinai that day as the G-d’s chosen people. They could only take the bread that did not have time to rise as their provisions during their long journey.
During Passover no leavened, (chametz), breads are eaten just as the Israelites did during their journey to Mount Sinai. Unless certified food, drink containing even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, or their derivatives are not consumed during Passover. This would include bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages.
What is eaten during Passover is flat unleavened bread, (matzah). “It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights, and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.”
The highlight of Passover is found during the first two nights of the holiday in the Seder. A 15 step ritual-packed feast that is a family oriented tradition is the Seder. The focus of the Seder is as follows:
- Eating matzah
- Eating bitter herbs to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites
- Drinking four cups of wine of grape juice ~ a royal drink to celebrate our newfound freedom.
- The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describes in detail the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfillment of the biblical obligation to recount to the children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover.
*Thank you Rhonda from Diamondhead for explaining the spelling of G-d. The Jews do not fully spell out the name of God out of high reverence to Him. He is so holy and pure and righteous that it is to them presumptuous to say or write His name in its entirety. It is on a higher scale than refusing to call your grandparent by his or her first name – to do so would show great disrespect for most of us.
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