HOME

TheInfoList




Passover, also called Pesach (; he, פֶּסַח '), is a major
Jewish holiday Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or ''Yamim Tovim'' ( he, ימים טובים, , Good Days, or singular , in transliterated Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script to another that involves swapp ...
that celebrates the
exodus Exodus or the Exodus may refer to: Religion *Book of Exodus, second book of the Hebrew Torah and the Christian Bible *The Exodus, the biblical story of the migration of the ancient Israelites from Egypt into Canaan Historical events * Jujuy E ...

exodus
of the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of of the , who inhabited a part of during the . Overview In the , the term ''Israelites'' is used interchangeably with the term '. Although related, the terms , Israelites, and are not interchan ...

Israelites
from slavery in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
, which occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of
Nisan ''Nisan'' (or ''Nissan''; he, נִיסָן, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Nisan'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Nîsān'') in the Hebrew and the Babylonian calendars, is the month of the barley ripening and first month of spri ...
, the first month of
Aviv Aviv ( he, אביב) means "barley ripening", and by extension "spring season" in Hebrew language, Hebrew. It is also used as a given name, surname, and place name, as in Tel Aviv. The first month of the year is called the month of Aviv in the Pen ...
, or spring. The word ''Pesach'' or ''Passover'' can also refer to the
Korban Pesach The Passover sacrifice ( he, קרבן פסח, translit=Korban Pesakh), also known as the Paschal lamb or the Passover lamb, is the Korban, sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritual slaughter, ritually slaughter on the evening of P ...
, the paschal lamb that was offered when the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the ...
stood; to the Passover Seder, the ritual meal on Passover night; or to the Feast of
Unleavened Bread Unleavened bread is any of a wide variety of bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Co ...
. One of the biblically ordained
Three Pilgrimage Festivals The Three Pilgrimage Festivals, in Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelit ...
, Passover is traditionally celebrated in the
Land of Israel The Land of Israel () is the traditional Jewish name for an area of indefinite geographical extension in the Southern Levant The Southern Levant is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical ...

Land of Israel
for seven days and for eight days among many Jews in the
Diaspora A diaspora () is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate geographic locale. Historically, the word diaspora was used to refer to the mass dispersion of a population from its indigenous territories, specifically the dispersion ...
, based on the concept of ''
yom tov sheni shel galuyot ''Yom tov sheni shel galuyot'' ( he, יום טוב שני של גלויות), also called in short ''yom tov sheni'', means "the second festival day in the Diaspora A diaspora () is a scattered population whose origin lies in a separate ge ...
.'' As recounted in the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
, God commands
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
to tell the Israelites to mark a lamb's blood above their doors in order that the Angel of Death will pass over them (i.e., that they will not be touched by the death of the firstborn). Pharaoh orders the Israelites to leave, taking whatever they want, and asks Moses to bless him in the name of the Lord. The passage goes on to state that the passover sacrifice recalls the time when the "passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt". This story is recounted at the passover meal in the form of the
Haggadah The Haggadah ( he, הַגָּדָה, "telling"; plural: Haggadot) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your children" the st ...
, in fulfillment of the command "And thou shalt tell (Higgadata) thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the did for me when I came forth out of Egypt." The
wave offering The wave offering (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and ...
of
barley Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family Poaceae () or Gramineae () is a large and nearly ubiquitous family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recogn ...

barley
was offered at
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałē ...

Jerusalem
on the second day of the festival. The counting of the sheaves is still practiced, for seven weeks until the
Feast of Weeks (''Ḥag HaShavuot'' or ''Shavuos'') , nickname = English: "Feast of Weeks" , observedby = Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a natio ...
on the 50th day, the Pentecost. Nowadays, in addition to the biblical prohibition of owning leavened foods for the duration of the holiday, the Passover Seder is one of the most widely observed rituals in Judaism.


Etymology

The
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
is rendered as Tiberian , and
Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew ( he, עברית חדשה, ''ʿivrít ḥadašá ', , ''.'' "Modern Hebrew" or "New Hebrew"), also known as Israeli Hebrew or Israeli, and generally referred to by speakers simply as Hebrew ( ), is the standard form of the spoke ...
: ''Pesah, Pesakh''. The verb ''pasàch'' () is first mentioned in the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
's account of
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

the Exodus
from Egypt, and there is some debate about its exact meaning. The commonly held assumption that it means "He passed over" ( פסח), in reference to God "passing over" (or "skipping") the houses of the Hebrews during the final of the Ten
Plagues of Egypt The Plagues of Egypt (), in the story of the book of Exodus, are ten disasters inflicted on Egypt Egypt ( ; ar, مِصر ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corne ...
, stems from the translation provided in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible and deuterocanonical books. The ...
(παρελευσεται
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
: ''pareleusetai''] in Exodus 12:23, and εσκεπασεν
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
: ''eskepasen''] in Exodus 12:27.
Targum Onkelos Interlinear text of Hebrew Numbers 6.3–10 with Aramaic Targum Onkelos from the British Library. Targum Onkelos (or Onqelos), , is the primary Jewish Aramaic targum ("translation") of the Torah, accepted as an authoritative translated te ...
translates ''pesach'' as ''ve-yeiḥos'' (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: וְיֵחוֹס ''we-yēḥôs'') "he had pity" coming from the Hebrew root חסה meaning to have pity. Cognate languages yield similar terms with distinct meanings, such as "make soft, soothe, placate" (
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
''passahu''), "harvest, commemoration, blow" (
Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a national group in North Africa ** Egyptian culture, a complex and stable culture with thousands of years of r ...
), or "separate" (
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
''fsh''). The term ''Pesach'' (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: ''Pesaḥ'') may also refer to the
lamb Lamb or The Lamb may refer to: * A young sheep * Lamb and mutton, the meat of sheep Arts and media Film, television, and theatre * The Lamb (1915 film), ''The Lamb'' (1915 film), a silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in his screen debut * ...
or
goat The domestic goat or simply goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of typically kept as . It was from the (''C. aegagrus'') of and . The goat is a member of the animal family and the subfamily , meaning it is closely related ...
which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the ''
Korban Pesach The Passover sacrifice ( he, קרבן פסח, translit=Korban Pesakh), also known as the Paschal lamb or the Passover lamb, is the Korban, sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritual slaughter, ritually slaughter on the evening of P ...
'' in Hebrew). Four days before the Exodus, the Hebrews were commanded to set aside a lamb, and inspect it daily for blemishes. During the day on the 14th of Nisan, they were to slaughter the animal and use its blood to mark their lintels and door posts. Before midnight on the 15th of Nisan they were to consume the lamb. The English term "Passover" is first known to be recorded in the
English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsula on the (not to be confused with ), to the area of later named after them: . Living languages mos ...

English language
in
William Tyndale William Tyndale (; sometimes spelled ''Tynsdale'', ''Tindall'', ''Tindill'', ''Tyndall''; – ) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th- ...

William Tyndale
's translation of the Bible, later appearing in the
King James Version The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an of the Christian for the , which was commissioned in 1604 and published in 1611, by sponsorship of King . The include the 39 books of the , a ...

King James Version
as well. It is a literal translation of the Hebrew term. In the King James Version, Exodus 12:23 reads:
For the will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.


Origins

The Passover ritual is widely thought to have its origins in an
apotropaic Apotropaic magic (from Greek "to ward off" from "away" and "to turn") is a type of magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect categor ...
rite, unrelated to
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

the Exodus
, to ensure the protection of a family home, a rite conducted wholly within a clan.
Hyssop ''Hyssopus officinalis'' or hyssop is a in the or mint family native to Southern , the , and the region surrounding the . Due to its purported properties as an , , and , it has been used in . Description Hyssop is a brightly coloured shrub o ...
was employed to daub the blood of a slaughtered sheep on the lintels and door posts to ensure that demonic forces could not enter the home. A further hypothesis maintains that, once the Priestly Code was promulgated, the Exodus narrative took on a central function, as the apotropaic rite was, arguably, amalgamated with the
Canaan A 1692 map of Canaan, by Philip Lea Canaan (; Northwest Semitic Northwest Semitic, known as Syro-Palestinian in dialect geography, is a division of the Semitic languages comprising the indigenous languages of the Levant. It would have ...

Canaan
ite agricultural festival of spring which was a ceremony of
unleavened bread Unleavened bread is any of a wide variety of bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Co ...
, connected with the barley harvest. As the Exodus motif grew, the original function and symbolism of these double origins was lost. Several motifs replicate the features associated with the
Mesopotamian Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a of situated within the , in the northern part of the . Mesopotamia occupies most of presen ...

Mesopotamian
Akitu Akitu or Akitum is a spring festival held in the first month of Nisan ''Nisan'' (or ''Nissan''; he, נִיסָן, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Nisan'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Nîsān'') in the Hebrew and the Babylonian ...
festival. Other scholars,
John Van Seters John Van Seters (born May 2, 1935 in HamiltonHamilton may refer to: * Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804), first American Secretary of the Treasury and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States **Hamilton (musical), ''Hamilton'' (musical), a 20 ...
, J.B.Segal and Tamara Prosic disagree with the merged two-festivals hypothesis.


The biblical narrative


In the Book of Exodus

In the
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
, the Israelites are enslaved in ancient Egypt.
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
, the god of the Israelites, appears to Moses in a
burning bush The burning bush is an object described by as being located on Mount Horeb Mount Horeb (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. ...
and commands Moses to confront
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...

Pharaoh
. To show his power, Yahweh inflicts a series of 10 plagues on the Egyptians, culminating in the 10th plague, the death of the first-born. Before this final plague Yahweh commands Moses to tell the Israelites to mark a
lamb Lamb or The Lamb may refer to: * A young sheep * Lamb and mutton, the meat of sheep Arts and media Film, television, and theatre * The Lamb (1915 film), ''The Lamb'' (1915 film), a silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in his screen debut * ...
's blood above their doors in order that Yahweh will pass over them (i.e., that they will not be touched by the death of the firstborn). The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan An unblemished lamb or goat, known as the ''
Korban Pesach The Passover sacrifice ( he, קרבן פסח, translit=Korban Pesakh), also known as the Paschal lamb or the Passover lamb, is the Korban, sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritual slaughter, ritually slaughter on the evening of P ...
'' or "Paschal Lamb", is to be set apart on 10th Nisan, and slaughtered at dusk as 14th Nisan ends in preparation for the 15th of Nisan when it will be eaten after being roasted. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is "between the two evenings". It is then to be eaten "that night", 15th Nisan, roasted, without the removal of its internal organs with unleavened bread, known as
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
, and bitter herbs known as ''
maror ''Maror'' ( he, מָרוֹר ''mārôr'') refers to the bitter herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other anim ...
''. Nothing of the sacrifice on which the sun rises by the morning of the 15th of Nisan may be eaten, but must be burned. The biblical regulations pertaining to the original Passover, at the time of the Exodus only, also include how the meal was to be eaten: "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the 's passover". The biblical requirements of slaying the Paschal lamb in the individual homes of the Hebrews and smearing the blood of the lamb on their doorways were celebrated in Egypt. However, once Israel was in the wilderness and the tabernacle was in operation, a change was made in those two original requirements. Passover lambs were to be sacrificed at the door of the tabernacle and no longer in the homes of the Jews. No longer, therefore, could blood be smeared on doorways.


The passover in other biblical passages

Called the "festival the
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
t" (Hebrew: חג המצות ''ḥag ha-matzôth'') in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...

Hebrew Bible
, the commandment to keep Passover is recorded in the
Book of Leviticus The Book of Leviticus () is the third book of the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books (Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses) of ...
: The sacrifices may be performed only in a specific place prescribed by God. For Judaism, this is Jerusalem. The biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering: * Exodus, 12:14 commands, in reference to God's sparing of the firstborn from the Tenth Plague: And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the ; throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. * Exodus 13:3 repeats the command to remember: Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength the hand of the brought you out from this place. * And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes In 2 Kings 23:21–23 and 2 Chronicles 35:1–19, King
Josiah Josiah ( or ) or Yoshiyahu; la, Iosias was the 16th king of Judah The Kings of Judah were the monarchs who ruled over the ancient Kingdom of Judah The Kingdom of Judah ( he, יְהוּדָה, ''Yəhūdā(h)''; akk, 𒅀𒌑𒁕𒀀𒀀 '' ...

Josiah
of
Judah Judah may refer to: Historical ethnic, political and geographic terms The name was passed on, successively, from the biblical figure of Judah, to the Israelite tribe; its territorial allotment and the Israelite kingdom emerging from it, with the ...
restores the celebration of the Passover, to a standard not seen since the days of the
judges A judge is an official who presides over a court. Judge or Judges may also refer to: Roles *Judge, an alternative name for an adjudicator in a competition in theatre, music, sport, etc. *Judge, an alternative name/aviator call sign for a member ...

judges
or the days of the
prophet In religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involu ...
Samuel Samuel ''Šəmūʾēl''; ar, إِشْمَوِيل ' or '; el, Σαμουήλ ''Samouḗl''; la, Samūēl is a figure who, in the narratives of the , plays a key role in the transition from the period of the to the institution of a under ...

Samuel
. Ezra 6:19–21 records the celebration of the passover by the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon, after the .


In extra-biblical sources

Some of these details can be corroborated, and to some extent amplified, in extrabiblical sources. The removal (or "sealing up") of the leaven is referred to in the Elephantine papyri, an
Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long history, Aramaic went thr ...
papyrus from 5th century BCE Elephantine in Egypt. The slaughter of the lambs on the 14th is mentioned in '' The Book of Jubilees'', a Jewish work of the Ptolemaic period, and by the
Herodian Herodian or Herodianus ( el, Ἡρωδιανός) of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ...

Herodian
-era writers
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century and military leader, best known for ', who was born in —then part of —to a father of descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. He initially fought a ...

Josephus
and
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is t ...

Philo
. These sources also indicate that "between the two evenings" was taken to mean the afternoon. ''Jubilees'' states the sacrifice was eaten that night, and together with Josephus states that nothing of the sacrifice was allowed to remain until morning. Philo states that the banquet included hymns and prayers.


Date and duration

The Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of
Nisan ''Nisan'' (or ''Nissan''; he, נִיסָן, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Nisan'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Nîsān'') in the Hebrew and the Babylonian calendars, is the month of the barley ripening and first month of spri ...
, which typically falls in March or April of the
Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, speci ...
. The 15th day begins in the evening, after the 14th day, and the seder meal is eaten that evening. Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th day of Nisan typically begins on the night of a
full moon The full Moon of 22 October 2010, as seen through a lunistice),_so_the_southern_lunar_craters.html" ;"title="lunar_standstill.html" ;"title="ecliptic_coordinate_system.html" "title="Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. This full Moon was near its nort ...

full moon
after the northern vernal equinox. However, due to leap months falling after the vernal equinox, Passover sometimes starts on the second full moon after vernal equinox, as in 2016. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the
lunar new year Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles, based on the lunar calendar A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's lunar phase, phases (Lunar month#Synodic month, synodic months ...

lunar new year
, the first day of Nisan, would not start until the barley was ripe, being the test for the onset of spring. If the barley was not ripe, or various other phenomena indicated that spring was not yet imminent, an intercalary month ( Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 4th century, the intercalation has been fixed mathematically according to the
Metonic cycle For example, by the 19-year Metonic cycle, the full moon repeats on or near Christmas day between 1711 and 2300. A small horizontal libration is visible comparing their appearances. A red color shows full moons that are also lunar eclipses. The ...

Metonic cycle
. In
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days celebrated as legal holidays and as holy days involving holiday meals, special prayer services, and abstention from work; the intervening days are known as
Chol HaMoed#REDIRECT Chol HaMoed ''Chol HaMoed'' ( he, חול המועד), a Hebrew language, Hebrew phrase meaning "weekdays fthe festival" (literal translation: "the secular on-holy(part of) the occasion" or "application of the occasion"), refers to the i ...
("Weekdays the Festival"). Jews outside the Land of Israel celebrate the festival for eight days.
Reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th century and is believed to originate from Christopher Wyvill's Association movement ...
and Reconstructionist Jews usually celebrate the holiday over seven days. Karaites use a different version of the Jewish calendar, differing from that used with modern Jewish calendar by one or two days.The
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an originating from the of historical . They are native to the and adhere to , an , and in t ...

Samaritans
use a calendrical system that uses a different method from that current in Jewish practice, in order to determine their timing of feastdays. In ''2009'', for example, Nisan 15 on the Jewish calendar used by
Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, CE, after the codification of ...
corresponds to April 9. On the calendars used by Karaites and Samaritans, ''Abib'' or ''Aviv'' 15 (as opposed to 'Nisan') corresponds to April 11 in ''2009''. The Karaite and Samaritan Passovers are each one day long, followed by the six-day Festival of Unleavened Bread – for a total of seven days.


Passover sacrifice

The main entity in Passover according to Judaism is the
sacrificial lamb 300px, '' Ghent Altarpiece'' by Jan van Eyck ">Jan_van_Eyck.html" ;"title="Ghent Altarpiece'' by Jan van Eyck">Ghent Altarpiece'' by Jan van Eyck A sacrificial lamb is a metaphorical reference to a person or animal sacrificed for the common good. T ...
. During the existence of the
Tabernacle According to the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are almost exclusively in , with a few passages in (in the books of and , the verse 10:11, and som ...
and later the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the ...
, the focus of the Passover festival was the Passover sacrifice (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: ''korban Pesach''), also known as the Paschal lamb, eaten during the Passover Seder on the 15th of Nisan. Every family large enough to completely consume a young lamb or wild goat was required to offer one for sacrifice at the Jewish Temple on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan, and eat it that night, which was the 15th of Nisan. If the family was too small to finish eating the entire offering in one sitting, an offering was made for a group of families. The sacrifice could not be offered with anything leavened, and had to be roasted, without its head, feet, or inner organs being removed and eaten together with unleavened bread (''
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
'') and bitter herbs (''
maror ''Maror'' ( he, מָרוֹר ''mārôr'') refers to the bitter herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other anim ...
''). One had to be careful not to break any bones from the offering, and none of the meat could be left over by morning. Because of the Passover sacrifice's status as a sacred offering, the only people allowed to eat it were those who had the obligation to bring the offering. Among those who could not offer or eat the Passover lamb were an
apostate Apostasy (; grc-gre, ἀποστασία ''apostasía'', "a defection or revolt") is the formal disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religi ...

apostate
, a
servant A domestic worker is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional English contexts, such a person was said to be "in service". Domestic workers per ...
, an uncircumcised man a person in a state of
ritual impurity Ritual purification is the ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place and according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community ...
, except when a majority of Jews are in such a state, and a non-Jew. The offering had to be made before a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
of 30. In the Temple, the
Levites A Levite (or Levi) (, ) is a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in ...
sang
Hallel Hallel ( he, הַלֵּל, "Praise") is a Jewish prayer Jewish prayer ( he, תְּפִלָּה, ; plural ; yi, תּפֿלה, tfile , plural ; Yinglish: davening from Yiddish 'pray') is the prayer recitation that forms part of the ...
while the
priests A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particu ...
performed the sacrificial service. Men and women were equally obligated regarding the offering (''Pesahim'' 91b). Today, in the absence of the Temple, when no sacrifices are offered or eaten, the
mitzvah In its primary meaning, the Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Jud ...
of the ''Korban Pesach'' is memorialized in the ''Seder Korban Pesach'', a set of scriptural and Rabbinic passages dealing with the Passover sacrifice, customarily recited after the ''
Mincha Mincha ( he, מִנחַה, pronounced as ; sometimes spelled ''Minchah'' or ''Minḥa'') is the afternoon prayer service in Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamis ...
'' (afternoon prayer) service on the 14th of Nisan, and in the form of the '''', a symbolic food placed on the
Passover Seder Plate The Passover Seder plate ( he, קערה, ''ke'ara'') is a special Plate (dishware), plate containing symbolic foods eaten or displayed at the Passover Seder. Symbolic foods Each of the six items arranged on the plate has special significance to t ...

Passover Seder Plate
(but not eaten), which is usually a roasted (or a chicken wing or neck). The eating of the
afikoman Afikoman ( he, אֲפִיקוֹמָן based on Greek language, Greek ''epikomon'' πὶ κῶμονor ''epikomion'' [ἐπικώμιον], meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert"), a word originally having the connotation of "refreshmen ...
substitutes for the eating of the ''Korban Pesach'' at the end of the Seder meal (Mishnah Pesachim 119a). Many Sephardi Jews have the custom of eating lamb or goat meat during the Seder in memory of the ''Korban Pesach''.


Removing all leaven (''chametz'')

Leaven, in Hebrew ''Chametz#What is chametz?, chametz'' (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: חמץ ''ḥamets'', "leavening") is made from one of five types of grains combined with water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes. The consumption, keeping, and owning of ''chametz'' is forbidden during Passover. Yeast and fermentation are not themselves forbidden as seen for example by wine, which is required, rather than merely permitted. According to Halakha, the ownership of such ''chametz'' is also proscribed. ''Chametz'' does not include baking soda, baking powder or like products. Although these are defined in English as leavening agents, they leaven by chemical reaction, not by biological fermentation. Thus, bagels, waffles and pancakes made with baking soda and matzo meal are considered permissible, while bagels made with sourdough and pancakes and waffles made with yeast are prohibited. The Torah commandments regarding ''chametz'' are: * To remove all ''chametz'' from one's home, including things made with chametz, before the first day of Passover It may be simply used up, thrown out (historically, destroyed by burning), or given or sold to non-Jews. * To refrain from eating ''chametz'' or mixtures containing ''chametz'' during Passover. * Not to possess ''chametz'' in one's domain (i.e. home, office, car, etc.) during Passover. Observant Jews spend the weeks before Passover in a flurry of thorough housecleaning, to remove every morsel of ''chametz'' from every part of the home. Halakha, Jewish law requires the elimination of olive-sized or larger quantities of leavening from one's possession, but most housekeeping goes beyond this. Even the seams of kitchen counters are thoroughly cleaned to remove traces of flour and yeast, however small. Any containers or implements that have touched ''chametz'' are stored and not used during Passover. Some hotels, resorts, and even cruise ships across United States, America, Europe, and Israel also undergo a thorough housecleaning to make their premises "kosher for Pesach" to cater to observant Jews.


Interpretations for abstinence from leaven or yeast

Some scholars suggest that the command to abstain from leavened food or yeast suggests that sacrifices offered to God involve the offering of objects in "their least altered state", that would be nearest to the way in which they were initially made by God.Bokser, Baruch M. (1992) "Unleavened Bread and Passover, Feasts of" in ''The Anchor Bible Dictionary'', ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday), 6:755–765Greenberg, Moshe (1974) "Lessons on Exodus". New York According to other scholars the absence of leaven or yeast means that leaven or yeast symbolizes corruption and spoiling.Sarna, Nahum M. (1986) "Exploring Exodus". New York There are also variations with restrictions on eating matzah before Passover so that there will be an increased appetite for it during Passover itself. Primarily among Chabad Chassidim, there is a custom of not eating
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
h (flat unleavened bread) in the 30 days before Passover begins. Others have a custom to refrain from eating matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan, while the halacha merely restricts one from eating matzah on the day before Passover.


Sale of leaven

Leaven or ''chametz'' may be sold rather than discarded, especially in the case of relatively valuable forms such as liquor distillation, distilled from wheat, with the products being repurchased afterward. In some cases, they may never leave the house, instead being formally sold while remaining in the original owner's possession in a locked cabinet until they can be repurchased after the holiday. Modern observance may also include sealing cabinets and drawers which contain "Chametz" shut by using adhesive tape, which serves a similar purpose to a lock but also shows evidence of tampering. Although the practice of selling "Chametz" dates back many years, some Reform rabbinical authorities have come to regard it with disdain – since the supposed "new owner" never takes actual possession of the goods. The sale of ''chametz'' may also be conducted communally via a rabbi, who becomes the "agent" for all the community's Jews through a halakhic procedure called a ''kinyan'' (acquisition). Each householder must put aside all the ''chametz'' he is selling into a box or cupboard, and the rabbi enters into a contract to sell all the ''chametz'' to a non-Jew (who is not obligated to celebrate the commandments) in exchange for a small down payment (''e.g.'' $1.00), with the remainder due after Passover. This sale is considered completely binding according to Halakha, and at any time during the holiday, the buyer may come to take or partake of his property. The rabbi then re-purchases the goods for less than they were sold at the end of the holiday.


Search for leaven

On the night of the fourteenth of
Nisan ''Nisan'' (or ''Nissan''; he, נִיסָן, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Nisan'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Nîsān'') in the Hebrew and the Babylonian calendars, is the month of the barley ripening and first month of spri ...
, the night before the Passover Seder (after nightfall on the evening before Passover eve), Jews do a formal search in their homes known as ''bedikat chametz'' for any possible remaining leaven (''chametz''). The Talmudic sages instructed that a search for ''chametz'' be made in every home, place of work, or any place where ''chametz'' may have been brought during the year. When the first Seder is on a Saturday night, the search is conducted on the preceding Thursday night (thirteenth of Nisan) as Eve of Passover on Shabbat, ''chametz'' cannot be burned during Shabbat. The Talmud in Pesahim (p. 2a) derives from the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
that the search for ''chametz'' be conducted by the light of a candle and therefore is done at night, and although the final destruction of the ''chametz'' (usually by burning it in a small bonfire) is done on the next morning, the blessing is made at night because the search is both in preparation for and part of the commandments to remove and destroy all ''chametz'' from one's possession.


Blessing for search of chametz and nullification of chametz

Before the search is begun there is a special Berakhah, blessing. If several people or family members assist in the search then only one person, usually the head of that family recites the blessing having in mind to include everyone present: :Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with his commandments and has commanded us concerning the removal of chametz. In Hebrew: ברוך אתה י-הוה א-להינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על בעור חמץ (''berūkh otah, Adoynoy E-lohaynū, melekh ha-‘ôlam, eser qedesh-nū be-mitsūtayu we-tsewinū ‘al be-ôr ḥamets'') The search is then usually conducted by the head of the household joined by his family including children under the supervision of their parents. It is customary to turn off the lights and conduct the search by candlelight, using a feather and a wooden spoon: candlelight effectively illuminates corners without casting shadows; the feather can dust crumbs out of their hiding places; and the wooden spoon which collects the crumbs can be burned the next day with the ''chametz''. However, most contemporary Jewish-Orthodox authorities permit using a flashlight, while some strongly encourage it due to the danger coupled with using a candle. Because the house is assumed to have been thoroughly cleaned by the night before Passover, there is some concern that making a blessing over the search for ''chametz'' will be in vain (''bracha l'vatala'') if nothing is found. Thus, 10 morsels of bread or cereal smaller than the size of an olive are traditionally hidden throughout the house in order to ensure that some ''chametz'' will be found. Upon conclusion of the search, with all the small pieces safely wrapped up and put in one bag or place, to be burned the next morning, the following is said: :Any chametz or leaven that is in my possession which I have not seen and have not removed and do not know about should be annulled and become ownerless like the dust of the earth. Original declaration as recited in Aramaic language, Aramaic: כל חמירא וחמיעא דאכא ברשותי דלא חמתה ודלא בערתה ודלא ידענא לה לבטל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא


Morning of 14th of Nisan

Note that if the 14th of Nisan is Shabbat, many of the below will be celebrated on the 13th instead Eve of Passover on Shabbat, due to restrictions in place during Shabbat.


Fast of the Firstborn

On the day preceding the first Passover seder (or on Thursday morning preceding the seder, when the first seder falls on Motza'ei Shabbat), firstborn sons are commanded to celebrate the Fast of the Firstborn which commemorates the salvation of the Hebrew firstborns. According to Exodus 12:29, God struck down all Egyptian firstborns while the Israelites were not affected. However, it is customary for synagogues to conduct a ''siyum'' (ceremony marking the completion of a section of Torah learning) right after Shacharit, morning prayers, and the Seudat mitzvah, celebratory meal that follows cancels the firstborn's obligation to fast.


Burning and nullification of leaven

On the morning of the 14th of
Nisan ''Nisan'' (or ''Nissan''; he, נִיסָן, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Nisan'' Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Nîsān'') in the Hebrew and the Babylonian calendars, is the month of the barley ripening and first month of spri ...
, any leavened products that remain in the householder's possession, along with the 10 morsels of bread from the previous night's search, are burned (''s'rayfat chametz''). The head of the household repeats the declaration of ''biyur chametz'', declaring any ''chametz'' that may not have been found to be null and void "as the dust of the earth": :Any chametz or leaven that is in my possession which I have not seen and have not removed and do not know about should be annulled and become ownerless like the dust of the earth. Original declaration as recited in Aramaic language, Aramaic: כל חמירא וחמיעא דאכא ברשותי דלא חמתה ודלא בערתה ודלא ידענא לה לבטל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא Should more ''chametz'' actually be found in the house during the Passover holiday, it must be burnt as soon as possible. Unlike ''chametz'', which can be eaten any day of the year except during Passover, kosher for Passover foods can be eaten year-round. They need not be burnt or otherwise discarded after the holiday ends. The historic "Paschal lamb" Passover sacrifice (''Korban Pesach'') has not been brought following the Romans' destruction of the Second Temple, Second Jewish temple approximately two thousand years ago, and it is therefore still not part of the modern Jewish holiday. In the times when the Jewish Temples stood, the lamb was slaughtered and cooked on the evening of Passover and was completely consumed before the morning as described in Exodus 12:3–11.


Separate kosher for Passover utensils and dishes

Due to the Torah injunction not to eat ''chametz'' (leaven) during Passover, observant families typically own complete sets of serving dishes, glassware and silverware (and in some cases, even separate dishwashers and sinks) which have never come into contact with ''chametz'', for use only during Passover. Under certain circumstances, some ''chametz'' utensils can be immersed in boiling water (''Hagalah, hagalat keilim'') to purge them of any traces of ''chametz'' that may have accumulated during the year. Many Sephardi Jews, Sephardic families thoroughly wash their year-round glassware and then use it for Passover, as the Sephardic position is that glass does not absorb enough traces of food to present a problem. Similarly, ovens may be used for Passover either by setting the self-cleaning function to the highest degree for a certain period of time, or by applying a blow torch to the interior until the oven glows red hot (a process called ''libun gamur'').


Matzah

A symbol of the Passover holiday is
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
, an unleavened flatbread made solely from flour and water which is continually worked from mixing through baking, so that it is not allowed to rise. Matzo may be made by machine or by hand. The Torah contains an instruction to eat matzo, specifically, on the first night of Passover and to eat only unleavened bread (in practice, matzo) during the entire week of Passover. Consequently, the eating of matzo figures prominently in the Passover Seder. There are several explanations for this. The Torah says that it is because the Hebrews left Egypt with such haste that there was no time to allow baked bread to rise; thus flat, unleavened bread, matzo, is a reminder of the rapid departure of the Exodus. Other scholars teach that in the time of the Exodus, matzo was commonly baked for the purpose of traveling because it preserved well and was light to carry (making it similar to hardtack), suggesting that matzo was baked intentionally for the long journey ahead. Matzo has also been called ''Lechem Oni'' (Hebrew: "bread of poverty"). There is an attendant explanation that matzo serves as a symbol to remind Jews what it is like to be a poor slave and to promote humility, appreciate freedom, and avoid the inflated ego symbolized by more luxurious leavened bread. ''Shmura matzo'' ("watched" or "guarded" matzo), is the bread of preference for the Passover Seder in Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Jewish communities. Shmura matzo is made from wheat that is guarded from contamination by leaven (''chametz'') from the time of summer harvest to its baking into matzos five to ten months later. In the weeks before Passover, matzos are prepared for holiday consumption. In many Orthodox Jewish communities, men traditionally gather in groups ("''Chavurah, chaburas''") to bake handmade matzo for use at the Seder, the dough being rolled by hand, resulting in a large and round matzo. ''Chaburas'' also work together in machine-made matzo factories, which produce the typically square-shaped matzo sold in stores. The baking of matzo is labor-intensive, as less than 18 minutes is permitted between the mixing of flour and water to the conclusion of baking and removal from the oven. Consequently, only a small number of matzos can be baked at one time, and the ''chabura'' members are enjoined to work the dough constantly so that it is not allowed to ferment and rise. A special cutting tool is run over the dough just before baking to prick any bubbles which might make the matza puff up; this creates the familiar dotted holes in the matzo. After the matzos come out of the oven, the entire work area is scrubbed down and swept to make sure that no pieces of old, potentially leavened dough remain, as any stray pieces are now ''chametz'', and can contaminate the next batch of matzo. Some machine-made matzos are completed within 5 minutes of being kneaded.


Passover seder

It is traditional for Jewish families to gather on the first night of Passover (first two nights in Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, Conservative communities outside
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
) for a special dinner called a Passover seder, seder (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: סדר ''seder'' – derived from the
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
word for "order" or "arrangement", referring to the very specific order of the ritual). The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of the meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the
Haggadah The Haggadah ( he, הַגָּדָה, "telling"; plural: Haggadot) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the mitzvah to each Jew to "tell your children" the st ...
. Four cups of wine are consumed at various stages in the narrative. The Haggadah divides the night's procedure into 15 parts: # ''Kadeish/ Qadēsh'' קדש – recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine # ''Urchatz/ Ūr·ḥats/ Ūr·ḥaṣ'' ורחץ – the Handwashing in Judaism, washing of the hands – without blessing # ''Karpas'' כרפס – dipping of the ''karpas'' in salt water # ''Yachatz/ Yaḥats/ Yaḥaṣ'' יחץ – breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the ''
afikoman Afikoman ( he, אֲפִיקוֹמָן based on Greek language, Greek ''epikomon'' πὶ κῶμονor ''epikomion'' [ἐπικώμιον], meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert"), a word originally having the connotation of "refreshmen ...
'' which is eaten later during the ritual of ''Tzafun'' # ''Maggid/ Maggiyd'' מגיד – retelling the Passover story, including the recital of "the four questions" and drinking of the second cup of wine # ''Rachtzah/ Raḥ·tsah/ Raḥ·ṣah'' רחצה – second washing of the hands – with blessing # ''Motzi/ Môtsiy’/ Môṣiy’'' מוציא – traditional blessing before eating bread products # ''Matzo/ Maṣo'' מצה – blessing before eating
matzo Matzo, matzah, or matza ( ''matsoh'', he, מַצָּה ''matsa''; plural matzot; matzos of Ashkenazi Jewish dialect) is an unleavened flatbread A flatbread is a bread Bread is a staple food prepared from a dough of flour and water ...

matzo
# ''Maror'' מרור – eating of the
maror ''Maror'' ( he, מָרוֹר ''mārôr'') refers to the bitter herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other anim ...
# ''Koreich/ Korēkh'' כורך – eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror # ''Shulchan oreich/ Shūl·ḥan ‘ôrēkh'' שולחן עורך – lit. "set table" – the serving of the holiday meal # ''Tzafun/ Tsafūn/ Ṣafūn'' צפון – eating of the ''
afikoman Afikoman ( he, אֲפִיקוֹמָן based on Greek language, Greek ''epikomon'' πὶ κῶμονor ''epikomion'' [ἐπικώμιον], meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert"), a word originally having the connotation of "refreshmen ...
'' # ''Bareich/ Barēkh'' ברך – Birkat Hamazon, blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine # ''
Hallel Hallel ( he, הַלֵּל, "Praise") is a Jewish prayer Jewish prayer ( he, תְּפִלָּה, ; plural ; yi, תּפֿלה, tfile , plural ; Yinglish: davening from Yiddish 'pray') is the prayer recitation that forms part of the ...
'' הלל – recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine # ''Nirtzah/ Niyr·tsah/ Niyr·ṣah'' נירצה – conclusion These 15 parts parallel the 15 steps in the
Temple in Jerusalem Two ancient Israelite The Israelites (; he, בני ישראל ''Bnei Yisra'el'') were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the ...
on which the Levites stood during Temple services, and which were memorialized in the 15 Book of Psalms, Psalms (#120–134) known as ''Shir HaMa'a lot'' (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: ''shiyr ha-ma‘alôth'', "Song of Ascents, Songs of Ascent"). The seder is replete with questions, answers, and unusual practices (e.g. the recital of Kiddush which is not immediately followed by the blessing over bread, which is the traditional procedure for all other holiday meals) to arouse the interest and curiosity of the children at the table. The children are also rewarded with nuts and candies when they ask questions and participate in the discussion of the Exodus and its aftermath. Likewise, they are encouraged to search for the ''
afikoman Afikoman ( he, אֲפִיקוֹמָן based on Greek language, Greek ''epikomon'' πὶ κῶμονor ''epikomion'' [ἐπικώμιον], meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert"), a word originally having the connotation of "refreshmen ...
'', the piece of matzo which is the last thing eaten at the seder. Audience participation and interaction is the rule, and many families' seders last long into the night with animated discussions and much singing. The seder concludes with additional songs of praise and faith printed in the Haggadah, including ''Chad Gadya'' ("One Little Kid" or "One Little Goat").


Maror

Maror (bitter herbs) symbolizes the bitterness of slavery in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a spanning the and the of . It is bordered by the to , the () and to , the to the east, to , and to . In the northeast, the , which is the northern arm of the R ...

Egypt
. The following verse from the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
underscores that symbolism: "And they embittered (
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
: וימררו ''ve-yimareru'') their lives with hard labor, with mortar and with bricks and with all manner of labor in the field; any labor that they made them do was with hard labor" (Book of Exodus, Exodus 1:14).


Four cups of wine

There is a Rabbinic requirement that four cups of wine are to be drunk during the seder meal. This applies to both men and women. The Mishnah says (Pes. 10:1) that even the poorest man in Israel has an obligation to drink. Each cup is connected to a different part of the seder: the first cup is for Kiddush, the second cup is connected with the recounting of
the Exodus The Exodus (Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ...

the Exodus
, the drinking of the third cup concludes Birkat Hamazon and the fourth cup is associated with Hallel.


The four questions and participation of children

Children have a very important role in the Passover seder. Traditionally the youngest child is prompted to ask questions about the Passover seder, beginning with the words, ''Mah Nishtana HaLeila HaZeh'' (Why is this night different from all other nights?). The questions encourage the gathering to discuss the significance of the symbols in the meal. The questions asked by the child are: :Why is this night different from all other nights? :On all other nights, we eat either unleavened or leavened bread, but tonight we eat only unleavened bread? :On all other nights, we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight, we eat only bitter herbs? :On all other nights, we do not dip [our food] even once, but tonight we dip twice? :On all other nights, we eat either sitting or reclining, but tonight we only recline? Often the leader of the seder and the other adults at the meal will use prompted responses from the Haggadah, which states, "The more one talks about The Exodus, the Exodus from Egypt, the more praiseworthy he is." Many readings, prayers, and stories are used to recount the story of the Exodus. Many households add their own commentary and interpretation and often the story of the Jews is related to the theme of liberation and its implications worldwide.


Afikoman

The ''
afikoman Afikoman ( he, אֲפִיקוֹמָן based on Greek language, Greek ''epikomon'' πὶ κῶμονor ''epikomion'' [ἐπικώμιον], meaning "that which comes after" or "dessert"), a word originally having the connotation of "refreshmen ...
'' – an integral part of the Seder itself – is used to engage the interest and excitement of the children at the table. During the fourth part of the Seder, called ''Yachatz'', the leader breaks the middle piece of matzo into two. He sets aside the larger portion as the ''afikoman''. Many families use the ''afikoman'' as a device for keeping the children awake and alert throughout the Seder proceedings by hiding the ''afikoman'' and offering a prize for its return. Alternatively, the children are allowed to "steal" the ''afikoman'' and demand a reward for its return. In either case, the ''afikoman'' must be consumed during the twelfth part of the Seder, ''Tzafun''.


Concluding songs

After the Hallel, the fourth glass of wine is drunk, and participants recite a prayer that ends in "Next year in Jerusalem!". This is followed by several lyric prayers that expound upon God's mercy and kindness, and give thanks for the survival of the Jewish people through a history of exile and hardship. "Echad Mi Yodea" ("Who Knows One?") is a playful song, testing the general knowledge of the children (and the adults). Some of these songs, such as "Chad Gadya" are allegorical.


Counting of the Omer

Beginning on the second night of Passover, the 16th day of Nisan, Jews begin the practice of the Counting of the Omer, a nightly reminder of the approach of the holiday of Shavuot 50 days hence. Each night after the Maariv, evening prayer service, men and women recite a special blessing and then enumerate the day of the Omer. On the first night, for example, they say, "Today is the first day in (or, to) the Omer"; on the second night, "Today is the second day in the Omer." The counting also involves weeks; thus, the seventh day is commemorated, "Today is the seventh day, which is one week in the Omer." The eighth day is marked, "Today is the eighth day, which is one week and one day in the Omer," etc. When the Temple in Jerusalem, Temple stood in Jerusalem, a sheaf of new-cut barley was presented before the altar on the second day of Unleavened Bread.
Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century and military leader, best known for ', who was born in —then part of —to a father of descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. He initially fought a ...

Josephus
writes:
On the second day of unleavened bread, that is to say the sixteenth, our people partake of the crops which they have reaped and which have not been touched till then, and esteeming it right first to do homage to God, to whom they owe the abundance of these gifts, they offer to him the first-fruits of the barley in the following way. After parching and crushing the little sheaf of ears and purifying the barley for grinding, they bring to the altar an ''assaron'' for God, and, having flung a handful thereof on the altar, they leave the rest for the use of the priests. Thereafter all are permitted, publicly or individually, to begin harvest.Josephus, Antiquities 3.250–251, in Josephus IV Jewish Antiquities Books I–IV, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1930, pp. 437–439.
Since the destruction of the Temple, this offering is brought in word rather than deed. One explanation for the Counting of the Omer is that it shows the connection between Passover and Shavuot. The physical freedom that the Hebrews achieved at the Exodus from Egypt was only the beginning of a process that climaxed with the spiritual freedom they gained at the giving of the Torah at Biblical Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai. Another explanation is that the newborn nation which emerged after the Exodus needed time to learn their new responsibilities vis-a-vis Torah and mitzvot before accepting God's law. The distinction between the Omer offering – a measure of barley, typically animal fodder – and the Shavuot offering – two loaves of wheat bread, human food – symbolizes the transition process.


Chol HaMoed: The intermediate days of Passover

In
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
, Passover lasts for seven days with the first and last days being major Jewish holidays. In Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, Conservative communities, no work is performed on those days, with most of the rules relating to the observances of Shabbat being applied. Outside Israel, in Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, Conservative communities, the holiday lasts for eight days with the first two days and last two days being major holidays. In the intermediate days necessary work can be performed. Reform Judaism observes Passover over seven days, with the first and last days being major holidays. Like the holiday of Sukkot, the intermediary days of Passover are known as
Chol HaMoed#REDIRECT Chol HaMoed ''Chol HaMoed'' ( he, חול המועד), a Hebrew language, Hebrew phrase meaning "weekdays fthe festival" (literal translation: "the secular on-holy(part of) the occasion" or "application of the occasion"), refers to the i ...
(festival weekdays) and are imbued with a semi-festive status. It is a time for family outings and picnic lunches of matzo, hardboiled eggs, fruits and vegetables, and Passover treats such as macaroons and homemade candies. Passover cake recipes call for potato starch or Passover cake flour made from finely granulated matzo instead of regular flour, and a large amount of eggs to achieve fluffiness. Cookie recipes use matzo farfel (broken bits of matzo) or ground nuts as the base. For families with Eastern European backgrounds, borsht, a soup made with beets, is a Passover tradition. While kosher for Passover packaged goods are available in stores, some families opt to cook everything from scratch during Passover week. In Israel, families that do not kashrut, kasher their ovens can bake cakes, casseroles, and even meat on the kitchen stove, stovetop in a Wonder Pot, an Israeli invention consisting of three parts: an aluminium pot shaped like a Bundt cake, Bundt pan, a hooded cover perforated with venting holes, and a thick, round, metal disc with a center hole which is placed between the Wonder Pot and the flame to disperse heat.


Seventh day of Passover

''Shvi'i shel Pesach'' (שביעי של פסח) ("seventh [day] of Passover") is another full Jewish holiday, with special prayer services and festive meals. Outside the
Land of Israel The Land of Israel () is the traditional Jewish name for an area of indefinite geographical extension in the Southern Levant The Southern Levant is a geographical region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical ...

Land of Israel
, in the Jewish diaspora, ''Shvi'i shel Pesach'' is celebrated on both the seventh and eighth days of Passover. This holiday commemorates the day the Israelites, Children of Israel reached the Red Sea and witnessed both the miraculous "Splitting of the Sea" (Passage of the Red Sea), the drowning of all the Egyptian chariots, horses and soldiers that pursued them. According to the Midrash, only the
Pharaoh Pharaoh ( , ; cop, , Pǝrro) is the common title now used for the monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. ...

Pharaoh
was spared to give testimony to the miracle that occurred. Hasidic Judaism, Hasidic Rebbes traditionally hold a ''Tish (Hasidic celebration), tish'' on the night of ''Shvi'i shel Pesach'' and place a cup or bowl of water on the table before them. They use this opportunity to speak about the Splitting of the Sea to their disciples, and sing songs of praise to God.


Second Passover

The "Second Passover" (Pesach Sheni) on the 14th of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar is mentioned in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, with a f ...

Hebrew Bible
's Book of Numbers as a make-up day for people who were unable to offer the pesach sacrifice at the appropriate time due to
ritual impurity Ritual purification is the ritual A ritual is a sequence of activities involving gestures, words, actions, or objects, performed in a sequestered place and according to a set sequence. Rituals may be prescribed by the traditions of a community ...
or distance from
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusałē ...

Jerusalem
. Just as on the first Pesach night, breaking bones from the second Paschal offering or leaving meat over until morning is prohibited. Today, Pesach Sheni on the 14th of Iyar has the status of a very minor holiday (so much so that many of the Jewish people have never even heard of it, and it essentially does not exist outside of Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox and traditional Conservative Judaism). There are not really any special prayers or observances that are considered Jewish law. The only change in the liturgy is that in some communities ''Tachanun'', a penitential prayer omitted on holidays, is not said. There is a custom, though not Jewish law, to eat just one piece of matzo on that night.


Traditional foods

Because the house is free of leaven (''chametz'') for eight days, the Jewish household typically eats different foods during the week of Passover. Some include: Ashkenazi foods * ''Matzah brei'' – Matzo softened in milk or water and fried with egg and fat; served either savory or sweet * Matzo kugel – A kugel made with matzo instead of noodles * ''Charoset'' – A sweet mixture of fruit, fresh, dried or both; nuts; spices; honey; and sometimes wine. The charoset is a symbol of the mortar the Israelites used for building while enslaved in Egypt (See Passover seder) * ''Chrain'' – Horseradish and beet relish * Gefilte fish – Poached fish patties or fish balls made from a mixture of ground, de-boned fish, mostly carp or pike (fish), pike * Chicken soup with matzah balls (''kneydlach'') – Chicken soup served with matzo-meal dumplings * Passover noodles – Noodles prepared from potato flour and eggs, served in soup. Batter is fried like thin crepes, which are stacked, rolled up and sliced into ribbons. Sephardi foods * ''Kafteikas di prasa'' – Fried balls made of leeks, meat, and matzo meal * Lamb and mutton, Lamb or chicken leg – A symbol of God's strong hand, and ''korban pesach'' * ''Mina'' (pastel (food), pastel di pesach) – a meat pie made with matzos * Spring green vegetables – artichoke, fava beans, peas


Sermons, liturgy, and song

The story of Passover, with its message that slaves can go free, and that the future can be better than the present, has inspired a number of religious sermons, prayers, and songs – including Spiritual (music), spirituals (what used to be called "Negro Spirituals"), within the African-American community. Rabbi Philip R. Alstat, an early leader of Conservative Judaism, known for his fiery rhetoric and powerful oratory skills, wrote and spoke in 1939 about the power of the Passover story during the rise of Nazi persecution and terror:
Perhaps in our generation the counsel of our Talmudic sages may seem superfluous, for today the story of our enslavement in Egypt is kept alive not only by ritualistic symbolism, but even more so by tragic realism. We are the contemporaries and witnesses of its daily re-enactment. Are not our hapless brethren in the German Reich eating "the bread of affliction"? Are not their lives embittered by complete disenfranchisement and forced labor? Are they not lashed mercilessly by brutal taskmasters behind the walls of concentration camps? Are not many of their men-folk being murdered in cold blood? Is not the ruthlessness of the Egyptian Pharaoh surpassed by the sadism of the Nazi dictators?
And yet, even in this hour of disaster and degradation, it is still helpful to "visualize oneself among those who had gone forth out of Egypt." It gives stability and equilibrium to the spirit. Only our estranged kinsmen, the assimilated, and the de-Judaized, go to pieces under the impact of the blow....But those who visualize themselves among the groups who have gone forth from the successive Egypts in our history never lose their sense of perspective, nor are they overwhelmed by confusion and despair.... It is this faith, born of racial experience and wisdom, which gives the oppressed the strength to outlive the oppressors and to endure until the day of ultimate triumph when we shall "be brought forth from bondage unto freedom, from sorrow unto joy, from mourning unto festivity, from darkness unto great light, and from servitude unto redemption.


Related celebrations in other religions

Saint Thomas Christians, Saint Thomas Syrian Christians observe the Passover with high reverence. This day is referred to as ''Pesaha'', a Malayalam word derived from the Aramaic or Hebrew word for Passover (Pasha, Pesach or Pesah) commemorating the
Korban Pesach The Passover sacrifice ( he, קרבן פסח, translit=Korban Pesakh), also known as the Paschal lamb or the Passover lamb, is the Korban, sacrifice that the Torah mandates the Israelites to ritual slaughter, ritually slaughter on the evening of P ...
and Last Supper of Jesus Christ during Passover in Jerusalem. The tradition of consuming ''Pesaha Appam'' after the church service is observed by the entire community under the leadership of the head of the family. Special long services followed by the Holy Qurbana are conducted during the ''Pesaha'' eve in the churches. The tradition of Pesaha was established among the Saint Thomas Christians, Saint Thomas Syrian Christian community by the Jews, Jewish Knanaya community, an endogamous subgroup among the Saint Thomas Christians, Saint Thomas Syrian Christians.Weil, S. (1982)"Symmetry between Christians and Jews in India: The Cananite Christians and Cochin Jews in Kerala. in Contributions to Indian Sociology,16. The Samaritanism, Samaritan religion celebrates its own, similar Passover (Samaritan holiday), Passover holiday, based on the Samaritan Pentateuch. Samaritanism holds that the Jews and
Samaritans Samaritans (; ; he, שומרונים, translit=Shomronim; ar, السامريون, translit=as-Sāmiriyyūn) or Samaritan people are members of an originating from the of historical . They are native to the and adhere to , an , and in t ...

Samaritans
share a common history, but split into distinct communities after the time of Moses. Passover is also celebrated in Karaite Judaism, which rejects the Oral Torah that characterizes mainstream
Rabbinic Judaism Rabbinic Judaism ( he, יהדות רבנית, Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, Rabbinicism, or Judaism espoused by the Rabbanites, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century Common era, CE, after the codification of ...
, as well as other groups claiming affiliation with Israelites. In Christianity, the celebration of Easter and Computus, its date in the calendar finds its roots in the Jewish feast of Passover, when, according to Christian interpretation, Jesus was crucified as the Lamb of God, Passover Lamb. The coincidence of Jesus' crucifixion with the Jewish Passover led some early Christians to make a false etymological association between Hebrew ''Pesach'' and Greek ''pascho'' ("suffer").Reece, Steve, “Passover as ‘Passion’: A Folk Etymology in Luke 22:15,” Biblica (Peeters Publishers, Leuven, Belgium) 100 (2019) 601–610. Quartodeciman Christians continued to end the Lenten fast in time to observe Passover (Christian), Passover as a Christian holiday, which occurs before the Lord's day, as the two are not mutually exclusive. However due to intense persecution from Nicene Christianity after the Easter controversy, the practice had mostly died out by the 5th or 6th century, and only re-emerged in the 20th century. Some Christians, including Messianic Judaism, Messianic Jews, also celebrate Passover (Christian holiday), Passover itself as a Christian holiday. In the Sunni Islam, Sunni sect of Islam, it is recommended to fast on the day of Ashurah (10th of Muharram) based on hadith, narrations attributed to Muhammad. The fast is celebrated in order to commemorate the day when Moses and his followers were saved from Pharaoh by God in Islam, God by creating a path in the Red Sea (The Exodus). According to Muslim tradition, the Jews of Medina, Madinah used to fast on the tenth of Muharram in observance of Passover. In narrations recorded in the Hadith, al-Hadith (sayings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad) of Sahih al-Bukhari, it is recommended that Muslims fast on this day. It is also stipulated that its observance should differ from the feast of Passover which is celebrated by the Jews, and he stated that Muslims should fast for two days instead of one, either on the 9th and 10th day or on the 10th and 11th day of Muharram.


See also

* Gebrochts * Haggadah of Pesach * Jewish greetings#Holidays, Jewish greetings * Kitniyot * Quartodecimanism - an ancient Passover (Christian) * The Exodus Decoded


References


External links


Passover Resources – ReformJudaism.org

Guide to Passover – chabad.org

'Peninei Halachah' Jewish Law – Yhb.org.il



Jewish Encyclopedia: Passover

Akhlah: The Jewish Children's Learning Network

All about Pesach

Secular dates for passover
* {{Authority control Passover, Hallel Jewish festivals Moses Nisan observances