Jul 30, 2014

Five Freedom-Loving Facts About Passover

Why was Friday night different from all other nights?

Five Freedom-Loving Facts About Passover Five Freedom-Loving Facts About Passover Five Freedom-Loving Facts About Passover

On the surface, the feast of Passover or Pesach in Hebrew, is about freedom, family and food. It celebrates the Jews Exodus from Egypt in specifically ordered ways. For example:

1. Passover began Friday night, April 6, at sundown, and continues through April 14.

2. Matzah, an integral part of the Seder, is an unleavened bread used throughout the holiday to represent the Jews' rapid exile from Egypt. Their flight happened so quickly that they didn't have time to allow the dough to rise before baking.

3. The Seder supper is the beginning of the eight days of observance.

According to Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, "Seder is the Hebrew word for ‘order’ and it refers to the carefully ordered Passover dinner party/symposium, typically held at home, which brings people together to experience the move from slavery to freedom in story, song, and conversation – especially the raising of questions about what it means to go free and to be free. 

"The evening is anchored by rituals including drinking, over the course of the evening, four cups of wine recalling the four times when the Israelites are described as being redeemed, eating the Matzah, and also bitter herbs, meant to evoke the bitterness of slavery. Those bitter herbs are dipped in a bit of sweet apple or date relish, reminding those gathered of the sweetness that can be found at even the most difficult of times, and of the promise of even greater sweetness to come.

4. The youngest person at the table who can speak is the one who kicks off the meal and the holiday by asking the question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" because he or she can plainly see that the table laid before them is not an ordinary meal.

5. The Seder comprises 15 parts that include blessings, Psalms, eating the dinner, the retelling of the story of the Jews' Exodus from Egypt, symbolic eating of the bitter with the sweet and finally the wish that next year the feast will be celebrated in Jerusalem.

Sources: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield and Judaism 101

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