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Passover
Passover
Matzo, the symbol of the Passover holiday
Official name Hebrew: פסח (Pesach)
Observed by Jews, Samaritans, Hebrew Roots
Type One of the Three Pilgrim Festivals
Significance Celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues.
Beginning of the 49 days of Counting of the Omer
Begins 15th day of Nisan
Ends 21st day of Nisan in Israel, and among some liberal Diaspora Jews; 22nd day of Nisan outside of Israel among more traditional Diaspora Jews.
2009 date sunset of April 8 to nightfall of 15 April / 16 April (7th day)
2010 date sunset of March 29 to nightfall of 5 April / 6 April (7th day)
2011 date sunset of April 18 to nightfall of 25 April / 26 April (7th day)
Celebrations In Jewish practice, one or two festive Seder meals - first two nights; in the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Korban Pesach. In Samaritan practice, men gather for a religious ceremony on Mount Gerizim that includes the ancient Passover Sacrifice.
Related to Shavuot ("Festival of Weeks") which follows 49 days from the second night of Passover.

Passover (Hebrew, Yiddish: פֶּסַח Pesach, Tiberian: [pesaħ]  ( listen), Israeli: Pesah, Pesakh, Yiddish: Peysekh, Paysakh) is a Jewish and Samaritan holy day and festival commemorating the Hebrews' escape from enslavement in Egypt.

Passover begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan (equivalent to March and April in Gregorian calendar), the first month of the Hebrew calendar's festival year according to the Hebrew Bible.[1]

In the narrative of the Exodus, the Bible tells that YHWH inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Hebrew slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of all of the firstborn, from the Pharaoh's son to the firstborn of the dungeon captive, to the firstborn of cattle. The Hebrews were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover".[2] When Pharaoh freed the Hebrews, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is called "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread".[3] Matza (unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday. This bread that is flat and unrisen is called Matzo.

Together with Shavuot ("Pentecost") and Sukkot ("Tabernacles"), Passover is one of the three pilgrim festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire Jewish populace historically made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Samaritans still make this pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim, but only men participate in public worship.[4][5]

Contents

Date in the spring and length

Passover begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to the full moon of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, in accordance with the Hebrew Bible.[1] Passover is a spring festival, so the 14th day of Nisan begins on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, being the test for the onset of spring.[6] If the barley was not ripe an intercalary month (Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 12th century, the date has been determined mathematically.[citation needed]

In Israel, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days observed as legal holidays and as holy days involving abstention from work, special prayer services, and holiday meals; the intervening days are known as Chol HaMoed ("festival days"). Diaspora Jews historically observed the festival for eight days, and most still do. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews and Israeli Jews, wherever they are, usually observe the holiday over seven days. The reason for this extra day is due to enactment of the Sages. It is thought by many scholars that Jews outside of Israel could not be certain if their local calendars fully conformed to practice of the Temple at Jerusalem, so they added an extra day. But as this practice only attaches to certain (major) holy days, others posit the extra day may have been added to accommodate people who had to travel long distances to participate in communal worship and ritual practices; or the practice may have evolved as a compromise between conflicting interpretations of Jewish Law regarding the calendar; or it may have evolved as a safety measure in areas where Jews were commonly in danger, so that their enemies would not be certain on which day to attack.[7]

Karaite Jews and Samaritans use different versions of the Jewish calendar, which are often out of sync with the modern Jewish calendar by one or two days. In 2009, for example, Nisan 15 on the Jewish calendar used by Rabbinical Judaism corresponds to April 9. On the older[citation needed]Jewish calendars used by Karaites and Samaritans, Abib or Aviv 15 (as opposed to 'Nisan') corresponds to April 11 in 2009. The Karaite and Samaritan Passovers are each one day long, followed by the six day Festival of Unleavened Bread - for a total of seven days.

Origins of the festival

Passover is a biblically mandated holiday, indicating that it was already old and traditional by the time of the redaction of the Pentateuch:

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the LORD'S Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. (Leviticus 23:5)

The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan.[8] An unblemished lamb or goat is to be set apart on Nisan 10,[9] and slaughtered on Nisan 14 "between the two evenings",[10] a phrase which is, however, not defined. It is then to be eaten "that night", Nisan 15,[11] roasted, without the removal of its internal organs[12] with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.[11] Nothing of the sacrifice on which the sun rises may be eaten, but must be burned.[13] The sacrifices may only be performed in Jerusalem.[14]

The biblical regulations pertaining to the original Passover also include how the meal is to be eaten: "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover" (Exodus 12:11).

Some of these details can be corroborated, and to some extent amplified, in extrabiblical sources. The removal (or "sealing up") of the leaven is referred to the Passover Papyrus, an Aramaic papyrus from 5th century BCE Elephantine in Egypt.[15] The slaughter of the lambs on the 14th is mentioned in The Book of Jubilees, a Jewish work of the Ptolemaic period, and by the Herodian-era writers Josephus and Philo. These sources also indicate that "between the two evenings" was taken to mean the afternoon.[16] Jubilees states the sacrifice was eaten that night,[17] and together with Josephus states that nothing of the sacrifice was allowed to remain until morning.[18] Philo states that the banquet included hymns and prayers.[19]

The Biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering:

And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes." (Deuteronomy 16:12)

Exodus 12:14 commands, in reference to God's sparing of the firstborn from the Tenth Plague:

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Exodus 13:3 repeats the command to remember:

Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength the hand of the LORD brought you out from this place.

Origin of the name

"The Jews' Passover"—facsimile of a miniature from a 15th century missal, ornamented with paintings of the School of Van Eyck

The verb "pasàch" (Hebrew: פָּסַח‎) is first mentioned in the Torah account of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:23), and there is some debate about its exact meaning: the commonly held assumption that it means "He passed over", in reference to God "passing over" the houses of the Hebrews during the final of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, stems from the translation provided in the Septuagint (παρελευσεται in Exodus 12:23, and εσκεπασεν in Exodus 12:27). Judging from other instances of the verb, and instances of parallelism, a more faithful translation may be "he hovered over, guarding." Indeed, this is the image used by Isaiah by his use of this verb in Isaiah. 31:5: "As birds hovering, so will the Lord of hosts protect Jerusalem; He will deliver it as He protecteth it, He will rescue it as He passeth over" (כְּצִפֳּרִים עָפוֹת—כֵּן יָגֵן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, עַל-יְרוּשָׁלִָם; גָּנוֹן וְהִצִּיל, פָּסֹחַ וְהִמְלִיט.) (Isaiah 31:5) Targum Onkelos translates pesach as "he had pity". The esoteric explanation of the "passover" term is the Sun's passing over the Vernal Equinox, which is similar to the meaning of the Christian Easter observance. In both religions the Vernal Equinox is the cyclical dividing time when warmth/light overcomes the cold/dark and the world is once again reborn anew. The English term "Passover" came into the English language through William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, and later appeared in the King James Version as well.


The term Pesach (Hebrew: פֶּסַח‎) may also refer to the lamb or kid which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the Korban Pesach in Hebrew). Four days before the Exodus, the Hebrews were commanded to set aside a lamb.(Exodus 12:3) and inspect it daily for blemishes. During the day on the 14th of Nisan, they were to slaughter the animal and use its blood to mark their lintels and door posts. Up until midnight on the 15th of Nisan, they were to consume the lamb. Each family (or group of families) gathered together to eat a meal that included the meat of the Korban Pesach while the Tenth Plague ravaged Egypt.

In subsequent years, during the existence of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem, the Korban Pesach was eaten during the Passover Seder on the 15th of Nisan. However, following the destruction of the Temple, no sacrifices may be offered or eaten. The Seder Korban Pesach, a set of scriptural and Rabbinic passages dealing with the Passover sacrifice, is customarily recited during or after the Mincha (afternoon prayer) service on the 14th on Nisan.[20] The story of the Korban Pesach is also retold at the Passover Seder,meaning order, and the symbolic food which represents it on the Seder Plate is usually a roasted lamb shankbone, chicken wing, or chicken neck.

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Historically, these terms have been used interchangeably: "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching." (Luke 22:1)

However, at least from the first century, it was commonly held among Pharisees, that the Feast of Unleavened Bread started the day following the Passover feast, and lasted seven days:

"The feast of unleavened bread succeeds that of the passover, and falls on the fifteenth day of the month, and continues seven days, wherein they feed on unleavened bread; But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first "partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them, (Antiquities of the Jews Book 3, Chapter 10, Section 5)."

Historic offering, "Korban Pesach"

When the Temple in Jerusalem was standing, the focus of the Passover festival was the Korban Pesach (lit. "Pesach sacrifice," also known as the "Paschal Lamb"). Every family large enough to completely consume a young lamb or Wild Goat was required to offer one for sacrifice at the Jewish Temple on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan,[21] and eat it that night, which was the 15th of Nisan.[22] If the family was too small to finish eating the entire offering in one sitting, an offering was made for a group of families. The sacrifice could not be offered with anything leavened,[23] and had to be roasted, without its head, feet, or inner organs being removed[24] and eaten together with matzo (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs).[24] One had to be careful not to break any bones from the offering,[25] and none of the meat could be left over by morning.[26]

Because of the Korban Pesach's status as a sacred offering, the only people allowed to eat it were those who have the obligation to bring the offering. Among those who can not offer or eat the Korban Pesach are: An apostate (Exodus 12:43), a servant (Exodus 12:45), an uncircumcised man (Exodus 12:48), a person in a state of ritual impurity, except when a majority of Jews are in such a state (Pesahim 66b), and a non-Jew. The offering must be made before a quorum of 30 (Pesahim 64b). In the Temple, the Levites sing Hallel while the Kohanim perform the sacrificial service. Men and women are equally obligated regarding the Korban Pesach (Pesahim 91b).

Women were obligated, as men, to perform the Korban Pesach and to participate in a Seder.

Today, in the absence of the Temple, the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach is memorialized in the Seder Korban Pesach, recited in the afternoon of Nisan 14, and in the form of symbolic food placed on the Passover Seder Plate, which is usually a roasted shankbone. The eating of the afikoman substitutes for the eating of the Korban Pesach at the end of the Seder meal.[27] Many Sephardi Jews have the custom of eating lamb or goat meat during the Seder in memory of the Korban Pesach.

Modern observance and preparation

Removing all chametz

Chametz (חמץ, "leavening") refers either to a grain product that is already fermented (e.g. yeast breads, certain types of cake, and most alcoholic beverages), or to a substance that can cause fermentation (e.g. yeast, sourdough or high fructose corn syrup). The consumption of chametz is forbidden during Passover in most Jewish traditions. According to Halakha, the ownership of chametz is also proscribed.

The specific definition of chametz varies among religious and ethno-cultural traditions. In Ashkenazic and certain Sephardic applications of Jewish Law, chametz does not include baking soda, baking powder or like products. Although these are leavening agents, they leaven by chemical reaction whereas the prohibition against chametz is understood to apply only to fermentation. Thus, bagels, waffles and pancakes made with baking soda and matzo meal are considered permissible, while bagels made with yeast, sourdough pancakes and waffles, and the like, are prohibited. Karaite Jews and many non-Ashkenazic Jewish traditions do not observe a distinction between chemical leavening and leavening by fermentation.

The Torah commandments regarding chametz are:

  • To remove all chametz from one's home, including things made with chametz, before the first day of Passover. (Exodus 12:15). It may be simply used up, thrown out (historically, destroyed by burning, since there was no weekly garbage pickup in ancient times), or given or sold to non-Jews (or non-Samaritans, as the case may be).
  • To refrain from eating chametz or mixtures containing chametz during Passover. (Exodus 13:3, Exodus 12:20, Deuteronomy 16:3).
  • Not to possess chametz in one's domain (i.e. home, office, car, etc.) during Passover (Exodus 12:19, Deuteronomy 16:4).

Spring cleaning

Observant Jews typically spend the weeks before Passover in a flurry of thorough housecleaning, to remove every morsel of chametz from every part of the home. The Halakha requires the elimination of olive-sized or larger quantities of leavening from one's possession, but most housekeeping goes beyond this. Even the cracks of kitchen counters are thoroughly scrubbed, for example, to remove any traces of flour and yeast, however small. Any item or implement that has handled chametz must then be fully cleansed to remove all traces of chametz from them. This is usually accomplished through heat: either by directly heating the implements or by subjecting them to boiling water. Some Jewish bakeries subject their ovens to blowtorches until they glow red hot (a process called libun gamur).

Traditionally, Jews do a formal search for remaining chametz (bedikat chametz) after nightfall on the evening before Passover. A blessing is read (על ביעור חמץ - al biyur chametz, "on the removal of chametz"), and one or more members of the household proceed from room to room to check that no crumbs remain in any corner. In very traditional families, the search may be conducted by the head of the household; in more modern families, the children may be the ones who do the search, under the careful supervision of their parents.

It is customary to turn off the lights and conduct the search by candlelight, using a feather and a wooden spoon: candlelight effectively illuminates corners without casting shadows; the feather can dust crumbs out of their hiding places; and the wooden spoon which collects the crumbs can be burned the next day with the chametz. Some forgo the traditional tools and use modern equivalents, such as a flashlight, table brush and dustpan.

Because the house is assumed to have been thoroughly cleaned by the night before Passover, there is some concern that making a blessing over the search for chametz will be for naught ("bracha l'vatala") if nothing is found. Thus, 10 morsels of bread smaller than the size of an olive are traditionally hidden throughout the house in order to ensure that there some chametz will be found.

Sale of chametz

Chametz may be sold rather than discarded, especially in the case of relatively valuable forms such as liquor distilled from wheat, with the products being repurchased afterward. In some cases, they may never leave the house, instead being formally sold while remaining in the original owner's possession in a locked cabinet until they can be repurchased after the holiday. Although this practice dates back many years, some contemporary rabbinical authorities have come to regard it with disdain - since the supposed "new owner" never takes actual possession of the goods.

The sale of chametz may also be conducted communally via a rabbi, who becomes the "agent" for all the community's Jews through a halakhic procedure called a kinyan (acquisition). Each householder must put aside all the chametz he is selling into a box or cupboard, and the rabbi enters into a contract to sell all the chametz to a non-Jewish person (who is not obligated to observe the commandments) in exchange for a small down payment (e.g. $1.00), with the remainder due after Passover. This sale is considered completely binding according to Halakha, and at any time during the holiday, the buyer may come to take or partake of his property. The rabbi then re-purchases the goods for less than they were sold at the end of the holiday.[28]

Observant Jewish store owners who stock leavened food products sell everything in their storeroom in this fashion with the full knowledge that the new owner is entitled to claim the property. In Eastern European shtetls, Jewish tavernkeepers, would sell their alcoholic chametz and risk having their neighbors enter their cellars to drink the liquor.[citation needed]

Burning the chametz

Following the formal search for chametz, any leavened products that were found during the search, along with 10 morsels of bread, are burned (s'rayfat chametz). The head of the household declares any chametz that may not have been found to be null and void "as the dust of the earth" (biyur chametz). Should more chametz actually be found in the house during the Passover holiday, it must be burnt as soon as possible.

Unlike chametz, which can be eaten any day of the year except during Passover, kosher for Passover foods can be eaten year-round. They need not be burnt or otherwise discarded after the holiday ends. The sole exception is the historic sacrificial lamb, which is almost never part of the modern Ashkenazi Jewish holiday but is still a principal feature of Samaritan observance and non-Ashkenazi Jewish observance. The meat of this lamb, which is slaughtered and cooked on the evening of Passover, must be completely consumed before the morning.(Exodus 12:15)

Matzo

Commandments and symbolism

Machine-made matzo

The main symbol of the Passover holiday is matzo, or unleavened bread. This is a type of flatbread made solely from flour and water which is continually worked from mixing through baking, so that it is not allowed to rise. Matzo may be made by machine or by hand; the latter type of matzo, called shmura matzo ("watched" or "guarded" matzo), is the bread of preference for the Passover Seder in Orthodox Jewish communities.

The Torah contains a Divine commandment to eat matzo on the first night of Passover and to eat only unleavened bread (i.e., matzo) during the entire week of Passover.[29] Accordingly, the eating of matzo figures prominently in the Passover Seder. There are several explanations for this.

The Torah says that it is because the Hebrews left Egypt with such haste that there was no time to allow baked bread to rise; thus, flat bread, matzo, is a reminder of the rapid departure of the Exodus.[30] Other scholars teach that in the time of the Exodus, matzo was commonly baked for the purpose of traveling because it preserved well and was light to carry (making it similar to hardtack), suggesting that matzo was baked intentionally for the long journey ahead.

Matzo has also been called Lechem Oni (Hebrew: "poor man's bread"). There is an attendant explanation that matzo serves as a symbol to remind Jews what it is like to be a poor slave and to promote humility, appreciate freedom, and avoid the inflated ego symbolized by leavened bread.[31]

Matzo baking

Handmade shmura matzo

In the weeks before Passover, matzos are prepared for holiday consumption. In Orthodox Jewish communities, men traditionally gather in groups ("chaburas") to bake a special version of handmade matzo called "shmura matzo", or "guarded matzo", for use at the Seder. These are made from wheat that is guarded from contamination by chametz from the time of summer harvest to its baking into matzos five to ten months later.[32] Shmura matzo dough is rolled by hand, resulting in a large and round matzo. Chaburas also work together in machine-made matzo factories, which produce the typically square-shaped matzo sold in stores.

The baking of shmura matzo is labor-intensive, as only 18–22 minutes is permitted between the mixing of flour and water to the conclusion of baking and removal from the oven; however, most are completed by 5 minutes after first being kneaded.[33] Consequently, only a small amount of matzos can be baked at one time, and the chabura members are enjoined to work the dough constantly so that it is not allowed to ferment and rise. A special cutting tool is run over the dough just before baking to keep the matzos flat while baking; this creates the familiar dotted holes in the matzo.

After the matzos come out of the oven, the entire work area is scrubbed down and swept to make sure that no pieces of old, potentially leavened dough remain, as any stray pieces are now chametz, and can contaminate the next batch of matzo.

Passover dishes

Due to the strict separation between matzo products and chametz during Passover, observant families typically own complete sets of serving dishes, glassware and silverware for use only during Passover. Under certain circumstances, some chametz utensils can be immersed in boiling water (hagalat keilim) to purge them of any traces of chametz may have accumulated during the year. Many Sephardic families thoroughly wash their year-round glassware and then use it for Passover, as the Sephardic position is that glass does not absorb enough traces of food to present a problem.

Fast of the firstborn

On the morning before Passover, the fast of the firstborn takes place. This fast commemorates the salvation of the Hebrew firstborns during the Plague of the Firstborn (according to the Book of Exodus, the tenth of ten plagues wrought upon ancient Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Children of Israel), when, according to Exodus (12:29): "...God struck every firstborn in the Land of Mitzrayim (ancient Egypt)...." Many authorities, including the Rema, note the custom that fathers of firstborn sons are required to observe the fast if their son has not yet reached the age of Bar Mitzvah. In practice, however, most firstborns only fast until the end of the morning prayer service in synagogue. This is due to the widespread custom for a member of the congregation to conduct a siyum (ceremony marking the completion of a section of Torah learning) right after services and invite everyone to partake in a celebratory meal. According to widespread custom, partaking of this meal removes one's obligation to fast.

If the firstborn is a boy in a Jewish family, that boy will have to fast after he has his Bar Mitzvah.

The Passover seder

Table set for the Passover Seder

It is traditional for Jewish families to gather on the first night of Passover (first two nights in communities outside the land of Israel) for a special dinner called a seder (סדר—derived from the Hebrew word for "order", referring to the very specific order of the ritual). The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of the meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah. Four cups of wine are consumed at various stages in the narrative. The Haggadah divides the night's procedure into 15 parts:

  1. Kadeish קדש - recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine
  2. Urchatz ורחץ - the washing of the hands - without blessing
  3. Karpas כרפס - dipping of the karpas in salt water
  4. Yachatz יחץ - breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the afikoman which is eaten later during the ritual of Tzafun
  5. Maggid מגיד - retelling the Passover story, including the recital of "the four questions" and drinking of the second cup of wine
  6. Rachtzah רחצה - second washing of the hands - with blessing
  7. Motzi מוציא - traditional blessing before eating bread products
  8. Matzo מצה - blessing before eating matzo
  9. Maror מרור - eating of the maror
  10. Koreich כורך - eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror
  11. Shulchan oreich שולחן עורך - lit. "set table"—the serving of the holiday meal
  12. Tzafun צפון - eating of the afikoman
  13. Bareich ברך - blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
  14. Hallel הלל - recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine
  15. Nirtzah נירצה - conclusion

These 15 parts parallel the 15 steps in the Temple in Jerusalem on which the Levites stood during Temple services, and which were memorialized in the 15 Psalms (#120-134) known as Shir HaMa'alot (Hebrew: שיר המעלות‎, "Songs of Ascent").[34]

Bronze matzo plate inscribed ""Ha Lachma Anya" ("This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Egypt,") the opening words of the "Maggid" (Retelling). Design: Maurice Ascalon.

The seder is replete with questions, answers, and unusual practices (e.g. the recital of Kiddush which is not immediately followed by the blessing over bread, which is the traditional procedure for all other holiday meals) to arouse the interest and curiosity of the children at the table. The children are also rewarded with nuts and candies when they ask questions and participate in the discussion of the Exodus and its aftermath. Likewise, they are encouraged to search for the afikoman, the piece of matzo which is the last thing eaten at the seder. Audience participation and interaction is the rule, and many families' seders last long into the night with animated discussions and much singing. The seder concludes with additional songs of praise and faith printed in the Haggadah, including Chad Gadya ("One Kid Goat").

Maror

Maror, one disallowed type and two acceptable kinds (L to R): "chrein" (Yiddish)- grated horseradish with cooked beets and sugar, not acceptable maror due to its sweetness; romaine lettuce; and whole horseradish root, often served grated.

A commandment to eat Maror, bitter herbs (typically, horseradish, romaine lettuce, or green onions), together with matzo and the Passover sacrifice Exodus 12:8. In the absence of the Temple, Jews cannot bring the Passover sacrifice. This commandment is fulfilled today by the eating of Maror both by itself and together with matzo in a Koreich-sandwich during the Passover seder.

Recounting the Exodus

On the first night of Passover (first two nights in communities outside Israel), a Jew is required to recount the story of the Exodus from Egypt. This commandment is performed during the Passover seder.

Four cups of wine

There is a Rabbinic requirement that four cups of wine are to be drunk during the seder. This applies to both men and women. The Mishnah says (Pes. 10:1) that even the poorest man in Israel has an obligation to drink. Each cup is connected to a different part of the seder: the first cup is for Kiddush, the second cup is connected with the recounting of the Exodus, the drinking of the third cup concludes Birkat Hamazon and the fourth cup is associated with Hallel.

Children in Passover

The four questions

Children have a very important role in the Passover seder. Traditionally the youngest child is prompted to ask questions about the Passover seder, beginning with the words, Mah Nishtana HaLeila HaZeh (Why is this night different from all other nights?). The questions encourage the gathering to discuss the significance of the symbols in the meal. The questions asked by the child are:

Why is this night different from all other nights?
On all other nights, we eat either unleavened or leavened bread, but tonight we eat only unleavened bread?
On all other nights, we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight, we eat only bitter herbs?
On all other nights, we do not dip [our food] even once, but tonight we dip twice?
On all other nights, we eat either sitting or reclining, but tonight we only recline?

Often the leader of the seder and the other adults at the meal will use prompted responses from the Haggadah, which states, “The more one talks about the Exodus from Egypt, the more praiseworthy he is.” Many readings, prayers, and stories are used to recount the story of the Exodus. Many households add their own commentary and interpretation and often the story of the Jews is related to the theme of liberation and its implications worldwide.

Afikoman

The afikoman — an integral part of the Seder itself — is used to engage the interest and excitement of the children at the table. During the fourth part of the Seder, called Yachatz, the leader breaks the middle piece of matzah into two. He sets aside the larger portion as the afikoman. Many families use the afikoman as a device for keeping the children awake and alert throughout the Seder proceedings by hiding the afikoman and offering a prize for its return. Alternately, the children are allowed to "steal" the afikoman and demand a reward for its return. In either case, the afikoman must be consumed during the twelfth part of the Seder, Tzafun.

Concluding songs

After the Hallel, the fourth glass of wine is drunk, and participants recite a prayer that ends in “Next year in Jerusalem!”. This is followed by several lyric prayers that expound upon God's mercy and kindness, and give thanks for the survival of the Jewish people through a history of exile and hardship. Some of these songs, such as "Chad Gadiyah" are allegorical.

Holiday week and related celebrations

In Israel, Passover lasts for seven days with the first and last days being major Jewish holidays. In Orthodox and Conservative communities, no work is performed on those days, with most of rules relating to the observances of Shabbat being applied. A seder is held on the first day.

Outside Israel, in Orthodox and Conservative communities, the holiday lasts for eight days with the first two days and last two days being major holidays. A seder is conducted twice, on both the first and second days. In the intermediate days necessary work can be performed. Reform Judaism observes Passover over seven days, with the first day being a major holiday when a seder is held.

Like the holiday of Sukkot, the intermediary days of Passover are known as Chol HaMoed (festival weekdays) and are imbued with a semi-festive status. It is a time for family outings and picnic lunches of matzo, hardboiled eggs, fruits and vegetables, and Passover treats such as macaroons and homemade candies.

The prohibition against eating leavened food products and regular flour during Passover results in the increased consumption of potatoes, eggs and oil in addition to fresh milk and cheeses, fresh meat and chicken, and fresh fruit and vegetables. To make a "Passover cake," recipes call for potato starch or "Passover cake flour" (made from finely granulated matzo) instead of regular flour, and a large amount of eggs (8 and over) to achieve fluffiness. Cookie recipes use matzo farfel (broken bits of matzo) or ground nuts as the base. For families with Eastern European backgrounds, borsht, a soup made with beets, is a Passover tradition.

Some hotels, resorts, and even cruise ships across America, Europe and Israel also undergo a thorough housecleaning to make their premises "kosher for Pesach" to cater to observant Jews.

Counting of the Omer

Beginning on the second night of Passover, the 16th day of Nisan,[35] Jews begin the practice of the Counting of the Omer, a nightly reminder of the approach of the holiday of Shavuot 50 days hence. Each night after the evening prayer service, men and women recite a special blessing and then enumerate the day of the Omer. On the first night, for example, they say, "Today is the first day in (or, to) the Omer"; on the second night, "Today is the second day in the Omer." The counting also involves weeks; thus, the seventh day is commemorated, "Today is the seventh day, which is one week in the Omer." The eighth day is marked, "Today is the eighth day, which is one week and one day in the Omer," etc.

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, a sheaf of new-cut barley was presented before the altar on the second day of Unleavened Bread. Josephus writes

On the second day of unleavened bread, that is to say the sixteenth, our people partake of the crops which they have reaped and which have not been touched till then, and esteeming it right first to do homage to God, to whom they owe the abundance of these gifts, they offer to him the first-fruits of the barley in the following way. After parching and crushing the little sheaf of ears and purifying the barley for grinding, they bring to the altar an assaron for God, and, having flung a handful thereof on the altar, they leave the rest for the use of the priests. Thereafter all are permitted, publicly or individually, to begin harvest.[36]

Since the destruction of the Temple, this offering is brought in word rather than deed.

One explanation for the Counting of the Omer is that it shows the connection between Passover and Shavuot. The physical freedom that the Hebrews achieved at the Exodus from Egypt was only the beginning of a process that climaxed with the spiritual freedom they gained at the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Another explanation is that the newborn nation which emerged after the Exodus needed time to learn their new responsibilities vis-a-vis Torah and mitzvot before accepting God's law. The distinction between the Omer offering—a measure of barley, typically animal fodder—and the Shavuot offering—two loaves of wheat bread, human food—symbolizes the transition process.

Seventh day of Passover

Shvi'i shel Pesach (שביעי של פסח "seventh [day] of Passover") is another full Jewish holiday, with special prayer services and festive meals. Outside the Land of Israel in the Jewish diaspora, Shvi'i shel Pesach is celebrated on both the seventh and eighth days of Passover. This holiday commemorates the day the Children of Israel reached the Red Sea and witnessed both the miraculous "Splitting of the Sea," the drowning of all the Egyptian chariots, horses and soldiers that pursued them, and the Passage of the Red Sea. According to the Midrash, only Pharaoh was spared to give testimony to the miracle that occurred.

Hasidic Rebbes traditionally hold a tish on the night of Shvi'i shel Pesach and place a cup or bowl of water on the table before them. They use this opportunity to speak about the Splitting of the Sea to their disciples, and sing songs of praise to God.

Second Passover

The "Second Passover" (Pesach Sheni) on the 14th of Iyar in the Hebrew Calendar is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Numbers 9:6-13) as a make-up day for people who were unable to offer the pesach sacrifice at the appropriate time due to ritual impurity or distance from Jerusalem. Just as on the first Pesach night, breaking bones from the second Paschal offering (Numbers 9:12) or leaving meat over until morning (Numbers 9:12) were prohibited.

Today, Pesach Sheni on the 14th of Iyar has the status of a very minor holiday (so much so that many of the Jewish people have never even heard of it, and it essentially does not exist outside of Orthodox and traditional Conservative Judaism). There are not really any special prayers or observances that are considered Jewish law. The only change in the liturgy is that in some communities Tachanun, a penitential prayer omitted on holidays, is not said. There is a custom, though not Jewish law, to eat just one piece of Matzah on that night.[37]

Common Foods

Because the house is free of chametz for eight days, the Jewish household typically eats different foods during the week of Passover. Many meals include leftovers from the initial seders. Other foods are also prepared, these include:

  1. Matzah brei - Softened matzah fried with egg and fat; served either savory or sweet
  2. Matzah Cereal - A fine matzah meal, boiled in water and often served with milk and butter
  3. "Matzah Kugel" - Kugel made with matzah instead of noodles.
  4. "Charoset" - a sweet, dark-colored, lumpy paste made of fruits and nuts
  5. "Chrain" - horseradish and beet relish
  6. "Gefilte fish" - poached fish patties or fish balls made from a mixture of ground deboned fish, mostly carp or pike
  7. "Chicken Soup with Matzah balls" - Dumpling made from matzah meal served in soup
  8. "Rice, often with saffron or raisins - nearly all Sephardic Jews and many Mizrachi and Ashkenazi Jews consider rice to be an essential food for the Passover table. There is much controversy, however it is to be noted from the Talmud (Pesahim 114b,) "What are the two cooked foods served at the Seder table? Rab Huna said, 'spinach and rice.'" Thus, the accepted tradition, as confirmed in the commentary of Rashi is that rice is not Chametz. The concern arises from worries that in storage, rice may have been contaminated with even one kernel of wheat or other chametz. Therefore, rice must be carefully inspected prior to cooking. Some Haredi sects do not eat rice as a matter of minhag.

Influence

Paschal month

Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic people look up at the goddess from the realm below.

The Germanic goddess Ēostre (also Ēastre and Old High German Ôstarâ), whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath, has given its name to the Christian festival of Easter, is attested only by Bede, in his 8th century work De temporum ratione. He states that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honor during Ēostur-monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the "Paschal month

Holiday of Easter

The Last Supper (Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (1498), by Leonardo da Vinci). The Synoptic Gospels state that Christ's Last Supper was a Passover seder.

The holy day of the Christian feast of Easter is actually called "Passover" (or a derivative of Pascha) in most languages other than English and German, and its central theme is that Christ was the paschal lamb in human form – a sacrifice by God (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).[38] Additionally, the Synoptic Gospels relate that Christ's Last Supper was a Passover seder (Luke 22:15-16).

With a few sectarian exceptions, the date of Easter was always determined by taking into account the same lunisolar cycles. Since the 4th–5th centuries CE, the most approved method has used a 19-year cycle of lunar months to set Easter to the first Sunday following the first full moon falling on or after the spring equinox, the full moon being reckoned functionally as the 14th of the lunar month, and the equinox being reckoned functionally as March 21. Because of the drift of the seasons and lunations under the Julian calendar, over the centuries the Easter cycle fell out of synchronization with the sun and moon. But the Gregorian reforms restored the equinox to March 21 and corrected the tabulated lunar cycles, so that the Gregorian calendar's Easter is almost always the same as would be computed by more precise astronomical computations.

Gregorian Easter usually falls up to seven days after Passover, but in years 8, 11, and 19 of the Hebrew calendar's 19-year cycle, (corresponding respectively to years 11, and 14, and 3 of the Christian 19-year cycle) Passover falls about a month after Gregorian Easter. Similarly, because the solar year of the Julian calendar is too long compared to the spring equinox year, Orthodox Easter occurs about a month after Gregorian Easter in years 3, 8, 11, 14 and 19 of the Christian 19-year cycle. Three of these years (3, 11, and 14) correspond to years in which Passover is about a month after Gregorian Easter. So in these years (years 19, 8, and 11 of the Hebrew calendar's cycle) Passover will occur in the same lunation as Julian (Eastern Orthodox) Easter. However, because the Julian calendar's tabulated lunar months are now 3 to 5 days behind the astronomical facts, Passover even in these years will always precede Orthodox Easter. In years 8 and 19 of the Christian cycle (corresponding to years 5 and 16 of the Hebrew calendar's cycle), Passover and Gregorian Easter will be in the same lunation, and Julian Easter will be a lunation later. This state of affairs will continue until 2199, after which the Gregorian epacts will shift. Beginning in 2200, Passover will be a month after Gregorian Easter in four years out of nineteen - in years 3, 8, 11, and 19 of the Jewish cycle (corresponding respectively to years 6, 11, 14, and 3 of the Gregorian cycle).

Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide do not observe Easter but, instead, observe only the Last Supper on the first evening of Passover; they do not necessarily use the same date as the modern Jewish calendar, but it sometimes corresponds with the same full moon as the festival of Purim.[39]

Church of God World Mission Society celebrates Passover according to the instruction given by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (Matt 26 and Luke 22) every year January 14 sacred calendar. According to the new testament, the children of God and the great multitude will celebrate the Passover in the last days.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b (Ex 12:6,Lev 23:4; Lev 23:5; Num 9:2,5, Num 9:3,5, Num 28:16)
  2. ^ Exodus 12:12
  3. ^ Lev 23:6, Num 28:17, Num 33:3
  4. ^ K'fir, Amnon (2007-05-02). "The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice". ynet news. http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3394699,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  5. ^ "Ancient Samaritan sect marks Passover sacrifice near Nablus". Haaretz. 2007-01-05. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/854549.html. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  6. ^ The barley had to be "eared out" (ripe) in order to have a wave-sheaf offering of the first fruits according to the Law. Jones, Stephen (1996). Secrets of Time.  This also presupposes that the cycle is based on the northern hemisphere seasons.
  7. ^ De Lange, Nicholas (2000). An Introduction to Judaism. New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press. p. 97
  8. ^ Exodus 13:7
  9. ^ Exodus 12:3
  10. ^ Exodus 12:6
  11. ^ a b Exodus 12:8
  12. ^ Exodus 12:9
  13. ^ Exodus 12:10
  14. ^ Deuteronomy 16:2,Deuteronomy 16:5
  15. ^ James B. Prichard, ed., The Ancient Near East-An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Volume 1, Princeton University Press, 1958, p. 278.
  16. ^ "On the feast called Passover...they sacrifice from the ninth to the eleventh hour", Josephus, Jewish War 6.423-428, in Josephus III, The Jewish War, Book IV-VII, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1979. Philo in one place (Special Laws 2.148) states that the victims are sacrificed "from noon till eventide", and in another place (Questions on Exodus 1.11) that the sacrifices begin at the ninth hour. According to Jubilees 49.12, "it is not fitting to sacrifice [the Passover] during any time of light except during the time of the border of evening."
  17. ^ Jubilees 49.1.
  18. ^ "And what is left of its flesh from the third of the night and beyond, they shall burn with fire," Jubilees 49.12. "We celebrate [the Passover] by fraternities, nothing of the sacrificial victims being kept for the morrow," Josephus, Antiquities 3.248.
  19. ^ "The guests assembled for the banquet have been cleansed by purificatory lustrations, and are there...to fulfill with prayers and hymns the custom handed down by their fathers." Philo, Special Laws 2.148, in Philo VII: On the Decalog; On the Special Laws I-III, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1937.
  20. ^ Eliyahu Kitov, The Book of Our Heritage: The Jewish Year and Its Days of Significance, Feldheim, 1997, p. 562.
  21. ^ Num 9:11)
  22. ^ (Exodus 12:6)
  23. ^ (Exodus 23:18)
  24. ^ a b (Exodus 12:9)
  25. ^ (Exodus 12:46)
  26. ^ (Exodus 12:10Exodus 23:18)
  27. ^ Mishnah Pesachim 119a.
  28. ^ Pesach questions and answers by the Torah Learning Center.
  29. ^ Exodus 12:18
  30. ^ "Thought For Food: An Overview of the Seder". http://www.askmoses.com/article.html?h=107&o=60495}. 
  31. ^ What is the kabbalistic view on chametz? by Rabbi Yossi Marcus
  32. ^ These Matzos are often begun to be produced in early November
  33. ^ "Making matzo: A time-honored tradition". http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/050422/matzo.shtml. 
  34. ^ Shir Ha Ma’a lot.
  35. ^ Karaite Jews begin the count on the Sunday within the holiday week. This leads to Shavuot for the Karaites always falling on a Sunday.
  36. ^ Josephus, Antiquities 3.250-251, in Josephus IV Jewish Antiquities Books I-IV, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1930, pp. 437-439.
  37. ^ "Pesach Sheini". http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/omer/5755/vol1no21.html. 
  38. ^ Taylor Marshall, The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of the Catholic Christianity, Saint John Press, 2009 ISBN 9780578038346 page 69.
  39. ^ Passover. Louis Jacobs, Ernst Kutsch, Rela M. Geffen, and Abram Kanof. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 15. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p678-683.

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

English

Proper noun

Singular
Passover

Plural
-

Passover

  1. The eight-day Jewish festival of Pesach, commemorating the biblical story of Exodus, during which the first-born sons of the Israelites were passed over while those of the Egyptians were killed.
  2. The Christian holy day generally falling on the first day of the Jewish Passover

Translations

See also

Anagrams


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


the name given to the chief of the three great historical annual festivals of the Jews. It was kept in remembrance of the Lord's passing over the houses of the Israelites (Ex 12:13) when the first born of all the Egyptians were destroyed. It is called also the "feast of unleavened bread" (Ex 23:15; Mk 14:1; Acts 12:3), because during its celebration no leavened bread was to be eaten or even kept in the household (Ex 12:15). The word afterwards came to denote the lamb that was slain at the feast (Mk 14:12-14; 1Cor 5:7).

A detailed account of the institution of this feast is given in Ex. 12 and 13. It was afterwards incorporated in the ceremonial law (Lev 23:4-8) as one of the great festivals of the nation. In after times many changes seem to have taken place as to the mode of its celebration as compared with its first celebration (comp. Deut 16:2, 5, 6; 2Chr 30:16; Lev 23:10-14; Num 9:10, 11; 28:16-24). Again, the use of wine (Lk 22:17, 20), of sauce with the bitter herbs (Jn 13:26), and the service of praise were introduced.

There is recorded only one celebration of this feast between the Exodus and the entrance into Canaan, namely, that mentioned in Num 9:5. (See JOSIAH.) It was primarily a commemorative ordinance, reminding the children of Israel of their deliverance out of Egypt; but it was, no doubt, also a type of the great deliverance wrought by the Messiah for all his people from the doom of death on account of sin, and from the bondage of sin itself, a worse than Egyptian bondage (1Cor 5:7; Jn 1:29; 19:32-36; 1 Pet 1:19; Gal 4:4, 5). The appearance of Jerusalem on the occasion of the Passover in the time of our Lord is thus fittingly described: "The city itself and the neighbourhood became more and more crowded as the feast approached, the narrow streets and dark arched bazaars showing the same throng of men of all nations as when Jesus had first visited Jerusalem as a boy. Even the temple offered a strange sight at this season, for in parts of the outer courts a wide space was covered with pens for sheep, goats, and cattle to be used for offerings. Sellers shouted the merits of their beasts, sheep bleated, oxen lowed. Sellers of doves also had a place set apart for them. Potters offered a choice from huge stacks of clay dishes and ovens for roasting and eating the Passover lamb. Booths for wine, oil, salt, and all else needed for sacrifices invited customers. Persons going to and from the city shortened their journey by crossing the temple grounds, often carrying burdens...Stalls to change foreign money into the shekel of the temple, which alone could be paid to the priests, were numerous, the whole confusion making the sanctuary like a noisy market" (Geikie's Life of Christ).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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