Pesach פסח – one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays. It commemorates God's liberation of the Jews from Egyptian slavery and the Jews' becoming a nation through the Exodus and the giving of the Torah.
We do not eat bread or other leavened baked goods, pasta, etc., only unleavened bread or matzah on Passover. The whole house is emptied of the last crumb of leavened (chametz) in remembrance of God's leading us out of Egypt, the land of slavery, but our ancestors did not have enough time to raise their bread, so they baked the dough without rising it, and so they went on their way. The holiday is seven days in Israel and eight days outside Israel, with the first and last days in Israel and the first and last two days outside Israel being a whole holiday, the intermediate days being half-holidays. On the first (two) evenings, we sit down to a Seder Eve, one of the highlights of the Jewish year: we drink four glasses of wine, eat matzah (and other symbolic foods), and read the Haggadah. Celebration customs vary around the world, but the essence is the same: not only do we commemorate God's leading us out of slavery, but we also relive it as if we had marched out of Egypt and passed it on to the future generations.
FOUR NAMES OF THE HOLIDAY
Pesach, the festival of the Exodus from Egypt, begins on the 15th of the month of Nissan and lasts for seven days until the 21st of Nissan, eight days in the diaspora. The name Passover comes from the story of the Exodus.
The tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, broke Pharaoh. The angel of God avoided the houses of the Jews and struck only the firstborn children of the Egyptians. That night, Pharaoh finally released the children of Israel.
On this night, ever since, we gather to remember these events and reflect on what it means to be free and liberated.
The central meaning of Pesach is liberation. That is why we call it: the time of our freedom—Zman Herutenu.
Pesach is also the feast of unleavened bread: Chag HaMatzah.
We also call it the festival of spring. The Jewish calendar is set so that certain holidays always come at the same time. So it became that the holiday of freedom is also the holiday of spring. And this is no accident. After the darkness of winter, when everything is covered in snow, spring brings new birth, when everything is covered in green and full of life.
FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM
As a symbol of freedom, the matzah triggers in us the memory of a story that began with slavery and ended with freedom; it reminds us of God's role in the story of the Exodus, of the simple faith that lived in the Jews who were willing to leave the home they knew and go out into the desert. They saw the redemptive power of God and trusted in his promise. This redemptive power was the basis of the covenant between Israel and the Eternal.
We rejoice at our liberation from Egypt and all the redemption that has taken place since then. This goes hand in hand with looking forward to the future redemption. That is why the prophet Elijah has a special place in the Seder. Since the deliverance from Egypt is the beginning of our people's history, it has a vital role in the Jewish liturgy and is often featured.
On Passover, we are called to tell the story of the Exodus, the journey out from Egypt. This commandment, which is linked only to this holiday, reminds us of the journey and invites us to talk about the story and discover its depths and meanings.
The peculiarity of Pesach is found in this quotation. It teaches that Jewish history is timeless. Pesach is not just a commemoration of an important event that happened in our past, but an event in which we have participated and continue to participate. We must relive the servitude and redemption that happens every day of our lives.
The focus of the experience is the Seder. On the first night of Passover, we gather with families, friends, small and large communities to celebrate with a ritual meal. The Hebrew word Seder means order, as the meal has a very exact, predetermined order.