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Passover or Pesach in Hebrew is an eight-day Jewish holiday celebrated in the wake of spring from the 15th to the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan (April 15th-23). Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. According to Jewish and Christian biblical texts, this event foreshadowed G-d's deliverance of the Hebrews from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, after pharaoh repeatedly refused to let the Hebrews go. One of the afflictions from G-d was to kill all the first born of Egypt at the stroke of midnight. But He spared the Hebrews' first born by passing over their homes that were sprinkled with the blood of sacrificial lambs. Pharoah eventually gave up and let the Hebrews go. The Hebrews left Egypt in such a hurry that even the bread they had been baking as food for their journey to Mount Sinai as G-d's chosen people, had no time to rise. In times past, Passover was observed with the sacrifice of Paschal lamb, which would be roasted and eaten at the Seder on the first night of the holiday until the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century.
Passover is divided into two parts: the first two days and the last days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Reed Sea) are "full-fledged" holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night and days. No work or driving is permitted, no writing or switching on and off of electrical devices. Cooking, as well as taking things outdoors is permitted. The four days in the middle are called Chol Hamoed, a semi-festive "intermediate days," so most forms of work are permitted. Chametz (leavened grain) in food or drink is not permitted during the 8-day holiday of Passover. This includes bread, grains, pasta, cookies, cereal, processed foods and drinks, and most alcoholic beverages. Homes are ridden of chametz (leavened grain in days leading up to Passover. This involves a full-out spring-cleaning search and destroy mission during the weeks before Passover and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew and bought back after the Passover holiday.
Instead of chametz, matzah a flat-unleavened bread is eaten. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights, and of matzah on the two Seder nights, and during the rest of the holiday it is optional. Ideally, handmade shmurah matzah is used, which has been fervently guarded against condensation from the moment of harvest. The highlight of Passover is the Sweder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast. The focal points of the Seder are:
- Eating matzah
-Eating bitter herbs - to commemorate the bitter slavery endured by the Israelites
-Drinking four cups of wine or grape juice - a royal drink to celebrate their new-found freedom
The recitation of the Haggadah, a liturgy that describe in detail the story of the Exodus from ancient Egypt. The Haggadah is the fulfilment of the biblical obligation to recount to their children the story of the Exodus on the night of Passover. It begins with a child asking the traditional four questions: https://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1486798/jewish/The-Four-Questions-Explained.htm
Passover celebrates the greatest series of miracles experienced in biblical history. As matzah is flat and unflavoured, embodying humility, so the Jews believe we ought to aim to live - by ridding ourselves of inflated ego and haughtiness we are able to dive into the ocean of miracle of the divine power of G-d in each of us.
Key terms: Passover/Pesach/Jewish Holiday/Devinee deliverance/No chametz/The Seders/Matzah/Bitter herbs/Four cups of wine/grape juice/Haggadah/Four Questions
15th - 23rd April 2023
Date changes every year, check event website for new dates.