A set Pesach-Seder table [Photo Source: Flickr]
This year, from March 30 through April 6 (through the 7th outside of Israel), Jewish people throughout the world will celebrate the special holiday of Pesach (Passover). Pesach commemorates the birth of the Jewish people as a nation. Before the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people were slaves to the Pharoh of Egypt. After the exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people became a nation unto G-d. The holiday of Pesach was the first national holiday celebrated by the Jewish people. On the first night of Pesach, families conduct what is referred to as the Seder.
During the Seder, Jewish families first recount the miraculous events that led to the exodus of the Jewish people and the different expressions of redemption (which are referenced in the 4 different words for redemption written in the Bible). During the Seder, families also discuss the Biblical commandment of the Passover sacrifice that had to be brought in Jerusalem. The family discussion and recounting of the exodus are concluded with eating matzah (unleavened bread) and a festive meal. Most of the story of the exodus, in addition to the commandments associated with the festival can be found in the second of the Five Books of Moses, Exodus.
Throughout the holiday, Jewish people refrain from specific foods. In particular, foods that are not eaten during the holiday are those that contain leavened dough and food products that have leavened dough – or flower that has risen – inside of it.
Starting on the second day of Pesach and stretching the span of 49 days, many religious Jews have the custom to study Biblical literature and Biblical commentaries on the subject of character refinement. The 49-day period coincides with the sefirat haOmer, a period of counting that leads up to the holiday of Shavuot. Since Shavuot is a holiday that commemorates the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, by the Jewish nation. Just as the Jewish people had to prepare themselves for receiving the Torah through a spiritual and personal refinement in the times of Moses, so to today, there are those that strive to prepare themselves for the time in which the receiving of the Torah is commemorated.
In the times of the Bible, there were 3 annual festive holidays, during which Jewish people from throughout Israel would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices to G-d on the alters of the Temple Mount. The first annual holiday that pilgrimages were made was Pesach, followed by Shavuot and Succot.
From the Lev Haolam team to you and yours, Happy Passover!