What is Passover / Pesach?


Passover is the holy and joyous festival that commemorates Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt. The Jews cried out to God in their oppression, and God sent Moses to deliver them. But Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, so God told Moses He would strike every Egyptian home with the death of the firstborn.

The Jews were instructed to slay a lamb and “take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses” on that night. Then God promised, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” The Jewish captives were also told to eat the sacrificial lamb in haste as they prepared to leave Egypt in the first Exodus. (Exodus 12)

The command to observe Passover is also found in Exodus 12: “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. … That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. … Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’S Passover’” Passover and the Exodus mark God’s redemption of Israel and their birth as a nation as Jewish families were liberated and led to the Promised Land.

Some of the Jewish Passover rituals have carried over to the Christian holy days of Good Friday and Easter. Many of the aspects of communion or the Lord’s Supper are also taken from the Passover tradition.

Jesus regularly observed the ceremonies of Passover by going to Jerusalem to celebrate this festival with His disciples. It was during the Passover celebration that Jesus taught His followers the significance of His approaching death. (Luke 22:1-20)  Jesus underscored the importance of Passover to Him as a Jew, when he told his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

Jewish Virtual Library: The process of cleaning the home of all leavened bread in preparation for Passover is an enormous task. To do it right, most Jews spend several days and even weeks scrubbing down their kitchens, thoroughly cleaning the insides of stoves, fridges, and ovens, and covering all surfaces with foil or shelf-liner that came in contact with chametz during the year.

On the night before the holiday begins (14th of Nissan), a formal search of the house is undertaken – this is called B’dikat Chametz (“Searching for Leavened Bread”). A custom to disperse ten pieces of chametz throughout one’s house before the search is widely followed and the actual search is ceremonially done with a candle and a feather to remove crumbs, (though most people today use a flashlight and dustpan).

After the search, a small paragraph is recited to nullify any additional chametz which could not be found: “All leaven or anything leavened with is in my possession, which I have niether seen nor removed, and about which I am unaware, shall be considered naught and ownerless as the dust of the earth.”

The day before Passover is also a fast day for firstborn males, commemorating that the firstborn Jewish males in Egypt were not killed during the final plague. Many men do not fast on this day because they attend a celebration of the completion of the Talmud which allows the fast to be broken.


Copyright for the text on this page belongs to http://www.holylandmoments.org/what-is-the-significance-of-passover and the Jewish Virtual Library http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holidaya.html (Adapted)

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