Monday, March 29, 2010


Spring is in the air, and for Jews all over the world this means the Holiday of Passover.

Passover is the holiday that commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt after long years of slavery, as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah. On the evening of the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which falls this year on March 29th, 2010, Jews all over the world will begin to celebrate Passover. The holiday is celebrated for seven days.

During Passover Jews celebrate freedom in various symbolic ways. The Torah commands that the Jewish people tell the story of the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt to each generation, so that they will learn and appreciate the power of God.  To fulfill this obligation, Jewish people all over the world hold a ritual feast on the first night, and in the Diaspora a second night. This night is called Leyl Haseder, meaning order or arrangement where families and friends gather around the table to read the Haggadah, the book telling the story of the liberation from slavery in Egypt.

Haggadah (הַגָּדָה) means “telling” and reading this book fulfills the Biblical commandment to “tell your sons and daughters” about the liberation from slavery in Egypt. The Haggadah serves as an organized guide for the Seder, which is performed in much the same way all over the world.

The Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating Matzah (מַצָּה unleavened bread) and other symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate. During the Seder, Jews study the meaning of the different passages and sing Passover songs.  As the significance of the Seder is to teach the younger generation about the Exodus, there are different parts that help keep the crowd interested and alert: There are four questions that the children ask during the Seder and the adults answer, and there is a Passover version of a treasure hunt with an expectation for reward, that keeps all the children enthusiastic throughout the Seder. 

One of the most important figures of the story of the Exodus story is Moses (מֹשֶׁה)-the leader and prophet, who communicated God’s words and miracles to the Children of Israel, and to the world. Interestingly enough, his name is mentioned only once or twice in the Haggadah. The most common explanation for this minimal recognition of his role is the idea that the deliverance from Egypt was purely a divine happening.

Moses’ biography, as told in the Torah is fascinating. His whole existence is miraculous, and the long life he lived, as well as the roles he fulfilled have special significance to the history of the Jewish nation.


Cherry Cadle said...

Happy Passover to you and your family Linda. Thanks for the enlightment.

Angela Palacio said...

Linda this is great. It is well written, informational and educational. Thanks for sharing as usual.

Jane Crawford said...