|Lacy NPC |
When are we- going to the- park
|Purred: Tue Apr 7, '09 4:18pm PST |
|Passover (Hebrew, Yiddish: פֶּסַח, Pesach is a Jewish and Samaritan holy day and festival commemorating God sparing the Israelites when he killed the first born of Egypt, and is the seven day Feast of the Unleavened Bread (it lasts eight days in the diaspora) commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the liberation of the Israelites from slavery.
Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan (equivalent to March and April in Gregorian calendar), the first month of the Hebrew calendar's festival year according to the Hebrew Bible.
In the story of the Exodus, the Bible tells that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptians before Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves, with the tenth plague being the killing of firstborn sons. The Israelites were instructed to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a spring lamb and, upon seeing this, the spirit of the Lord passed over these homes, hence the term "passover". When Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they left in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread to rise. In commemoration, for the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten, for which reason it is also called חַג הַמַּצּוֹ 4; (Ḥag haMaẓot), "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread". Matza (unleavened bread) is the primary symbol of the holiday. This bread that is flat and unrisen is called Matzo.
Together with Shavuot ("Pentecost") and Sukkot ("Tabernacles"), Passover is one of the three pilgrim festivals (Shalosh Regalim) during which the entire Jewish populace historically made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Samaritans still make this pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim, but only men participate in public worship
Date in the spring and length
Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which corresponds to the full moon of
Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, in accordance with the Hebrew Bible.Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th of Nisan begins on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the 1st of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, being the test for the onset of spring. If the barley was not ripe an intercalary month (Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 12th century, the date has been determined mathematically.
In Israel, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days observed as legal holidays and as holy days involving abstention from work, special prayer services, and holiday meals; the intervening days are known as Chol HaMoed ("festival days"). Diaspora Jews historically observed the festival for eight days, and most still do. Reform and Reconstructionst Jews and
Israeli Jews, wherever they are, usually observe the holiday over seven days. The reason for this extra day is due to enactment of the Sages. It is thought by many scholars that Jews outside of Israel could not be certain if their local calendars fully conformed to practice of the temple at Jerusalem, so they added an extra day. But as this practice only attaches to certain (major) holy days, others posit the extra day may have been added to accommodate people who had to travel long distances to participate in communal worship and ritual practices; or the practice may have evolved as a compromise between conflicting interpretations of Jewish Law regarding the calendar; or it may have evolved as a safety measure in areas where Jews were commonly in danger, so that their enemies could not be certain on which day to attack.
Karaite Jews and Samaritans use different versions of the Jewish calendar, which are often out of sync with the modern Jewish calendar by one or two days. In 2009, for example, Nisan 15 on the Jewish calendar used by Rabbinical Judaism corresponds to April 9. On the older Jewish 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.
Origins of the festival
Passover is a biblically-mandated holiday, indicating that it was already old and traditional by the time of the redaction of the Pentateuch:
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the
month between the two evenings is the LORD'S Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. (Leviticus 23)
The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival, which reflect early postexilic practice, require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan. An unblemished lamb or kid is to be set apart on Nisan 10, and slaughtered on Nisan 14 "between the two evenings", a phrase which is, however, not defined. It is then to be eaten "that night", Nisan 15, roasted, without the removal of its internal organs with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Nothing of the sacrifice on which the sun rises may be eaten, but must be burned. The sacrifices may only be performed in Jerusalem.
Some of these details can be corroborated, and to some extent amplified, in later postexilic sources. The removal (or "sealing up") of the leaven is referred to the Passover Papyrus, an Aramaic 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-era writers Josephus and 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.
The Biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering:
"The Jews' Passover"—facsimile of a miniature from a 15th century missal, ornamented with paintings of the School of Van Eyck
The verb "pasàch" (Hebrew: פָּסַח is first mentioned in the Torah account of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:23), and there is some debate about its exact meaning: the commonly-held assumption that it means "He passed over", in reference to God "passing over" the houses of the Israelites during the final of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, stems from the translation provided in the Septuagint (παρελευσετα& #953; in Exodus 12:23, and εσκεπασεν in Exodus 12:27). Judging from other instances of the verb, and instances of parallelism, a more faithful translation may be "he hovered over, guarding." Indeed, this is the image used by Isaiah by his use of this verb in Isaiah. 31: "As birds hovering, so will the Lord of hosts protect Jerusalem; He will deliver it as He protecteth it, He will rescue it as He passeth over" (כְּצִפֳּר 60;ים עָפוֹת—כֵּ 1503; יָגֵן יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, עַל-יְרוּש 64;ׁלִָם; גָּנוֹן וְהִצִּיל, פָּסֹחַ וְהִמְלִי 6;.) (Isaiah 31) Targum Unkoles translates pesach as "he had pity", The English term "Passover" came into the English language through William Tyndale's translation of the Bible, and later appeared in the King James Version as well.
The term Pesach (Hebrew: פֶּסַח may also refer to the lamb or kid which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the Korban Pesach in Hebrew). Four days before the Exodus, the Israelites were commanded to set aside a lamb or kid (Exodus 12:3) 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. Up until midnight on the 15th of Nisan, they were to consume the lamb. Each family (or group of families) gathered together to eat a meal that included the meat of the Korban Pesach while the Tenth Plague ravaged Egypt.
In subsequent years, during the existence of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem, the Korban Pesach was eaten during the Passover Seder on the 15th of Nisan. However, following the destruction of the Temple, no sacrifices may be offered or eaten. The Seder Korban Pesach, a set of scriptural and Rabbinic passages dealing with the Passover sacrifice, is customarily recited during or after the Mincha (afternoon prayer) service on the 14th on Nisan. The story of the Korban Pesach is also retold at the Passover Seder,meaning order, and the symbolic food which represents it on the Seder Plate is usually a roasted lamb shankbone, chicken wing, or chicken neck.
Historic offering, "Korban Pesach"
When the Temple in Jerusalem was standing, the focus of the Passover festival was the Korban Pesach (lit. "Pesach sacrifice," also known as the "Paschal Lamb"). 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 offering could not be slaughtered while one was in possession of leaven, and had to be roasted, without its head, feet, or inner organs being removed and eaten together with matzo (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs). 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 Korban Pesach's status as a sacred offering, the only people allowed to eat it were those who have the obligation to bring the offering. Among those who can not offer or eat the Korban Pesach are: An apostate (Exodus 12:43), a servant (Exodus 12:45), an uncircumcised man (Exodus 12:48), a person in a state of ritual impurity, except when a majority of Jews are in such a state (Pesahim 66b), and a non-Jew. The offering must be made before a quorum of 30 (Pesahim 64b). In the Temple, the Levites sing Hallel while the Kohanim perform the sacrificial service. Men and women are equally obligated regarding the
Korban Pesach (Pesahim 91b).
Women were obligated, as men, to perform the Korban Pesach and to participate in a Seder.
Today, in the absence of the Temple, the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach is memorialized in the Seder Korban Pesach, recited in the afternoon of Nisan 14, and in the form of symbolic food placed on the Passover Seder Plate, which is usually a roasted shankbone. Many Sephardic Jews, however, have the opposite custom of eating lamb or goat meat during the Seder in memory of the Korban
Modern observance and preparation
Many Jews observe the positive Torah commandment of eating matzo on the first night of Passover at the Passover Seder, as well as the Torah prohibition against eating chametz - certain leavening and fermenting agents, and things made with them, such as yeast breads, certain types of cake and biscuit, and certain alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages—but wine is an essential component of Passover. Karaite Jews are not bound by the oral law, under which "chametz" includes not only leavening agents but the grains from which bread is commonly made. Specifically, five grains, and products made from them, may not be used during Passover—wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt—except for making matzo, which must be made from one of these five grains. This is because the oral law decrees they begin to ferment within eighteen minutes of contact with water. So, despite pasta not being a leavened product, macaroni products cannot be owned or used during Passover under this interpretation of Jewish Law. Ashkenazic rabbinical tradition also forbids the use of rice, most legumes and new world grains like maize (unknown to the old world when the Bible was written), because they might be made into bread (such as cornbread). Sephardic and other rabbinical traditions do not have this prohibition.
Chametz (חמץ, "leavening") refers either to a grain product that is already fermented (e.g. yeast breads, certain types of cake, and most alcoholic beverages) or a substance that can cause fermentation (e.g. yeast or sourdough). The specific definition varies between religious and ethno-cultural traditions. The consumption of chametz and, under the oral law, its possession, are forbidden during Passover in most Jewish traditions.
In Ashkenazic and certain Sephardic applications of Jewish Law, "chametz" does not include baking soda, baking powder or like products. Although these are leavening agents, they leaven by chemical reaction whereas the prohibition against chametz is understood to apply only to fermentation. Thus, bagels, waffles and pancakes made with baking soda and matzo meal are considered permissible, while bagels made with yeast, sourdough pancakes and waffles, and the like, are prohibited. Karaite Jews and many non-Ashkenazic Jewish traditions do not observe a distinction between chemical leavening and leavening by fermentation.
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. (Exodus 12:15). It may be simply used up, thrown out (historically, destroyed by burning, since there was no weekly garbage pickup in ancient times), or given or sold to non-Jews (or non-Samaritans, as the case may be).
To refrain from eating chametz or mixtures containing chametz during Passover. (Exodus
Observant Jews typically spend the weeks before Passover in a flurry of thorough housecleaning, to remove every morsel of chametz from every part of the home. The oral Jewish law (Halakha) requires the elimination of olive-sized or larger quantities of leavening from one's possession, but most housekeeping goes beyond this. Even the cracks of kitchen counters are thoroughly scrubbed, for example, to remove any traces of flour and yeast, however small.
Traditionally, Jews do a formal search for remaining chametz ("bedikat chametz") after nightfall on the evening before Passover (which is also the evening that precedes the Fast of the Firstborn). A blessing is read (על ביעור חמץ - al biyur chametz, "on the removal of chametz") and one or more members of the household proceed from room to room to ensure no crumbs remain in any corner. In very traditional families, the search may be conducted by the head of the household; in more modern families, the children may be the ones who do the search, under the careful 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. Some forgo the traditional tools and use modern equivalents, such as a flashlight, table brush and dustpan.
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 for naught ("bracha l'vatala") if nothing is found. Thus, ten pieces of bread smaller than the size of an olive are hidden throughout the house in order to ensure that there is chametz to be found.
Sale of Chametz
Chametz may be sold rather than discarded, especially in the case of relatively valuable forms such as liquor 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. Although this practice dates back many years, some contemporary 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 the 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-Jewish person (who is not obligated to observe 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.
Observant Jewish store owners who stock leavened food products sell everything in their storeroom in this fashion with the full knowledge that the new owner is entitled to claim the property. In Eastern European shtetls, Jewish tavernkeepers, would sell their alcoholic chametz and risk having their neighbors enter their cellars to drink the liquor.
Following the formal search for chametz, any leavened products that were found during the search, along with 10 morsels of bread, are burned (s'rayfat chametz). The head of the household declares any chametz that may not have been found to be null and void "as the dust of the earth" (biyur chametz). Should more chametz actually be found in the house during the Passover holiday, it must be burnt.
Unlike chametz, which can be eaten any day of the year except during Passover, kosher for Passover foodstuffs can be eaten on Passover and year-round. They need not be burnt or otherwise discarded after the holiday ends. The sole exception is the historic sacrificial lamb, which is almost never part of the modern Ashkenazi Jewish holiday but is still a principal feature of Samaritan observance and non-Ashkenazi Jewish observance. The meat of this lamb, which is slaughtered and cooked on the evening of Passover, must be completely consumed before the morning.(Exodus 12:15)
The Torah contains a divine commandment to eat matzo on the first night of Passover and to eat only unleavened bread (i.e. matzo) during the week of Passover. Accordingly, 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 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, suggesting that matzo was baked intentionally for the long journey ahead.
Matzo has also been called Lechem Oni (Hebrew: "poor man's bread"). 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 leavened bread.
Handmade shmura matzo
In the weeks before Passover, matzos are prepared for holiday consumption. In Orthodox Jewish communities, men traditionally gather in groups ("chaburas") to bake a special version of handmade matzo called "shmura matzo", or "guarded matzo", for use at the Seder. These are made from wheat that is guarded from contamination by chametz from the time of summer harvest to its baking into matzos five to ten months later.Shmura matzo dough is 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 shmura matzo is labor-intensive, as only 18-22 minutes is permitted between the mixing of flour and water to the conclusion of baking and removal from the oven; however, most are completed by 5 minutes after first being kneaded.Consequently, only a small amount 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 keep the matzos flat while baking; 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.
Due to the strict separation between matzo products and chametz during Passover, observant families typically own complete sets of serving dishes, glassware and silverware for use only during Passover. Under certain circumstances, some chametz utensils can be immersed in boiling water (hagalat keilim) to purge them of any traces of chametz may have accumulated during the year. Many 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.
On the morning before Passover, the fast of the firstborn takes place. This fast commemorates the salvation of the Israelite firstborns during the Plague of the Firstborn (according to the Book of Exodus, the tenth of ten plagues wrought upon ancient Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Children of Israel), when, according to Exodus (12:29): "...God struck every firstborn in the Land of Mitzrayim (ancient Egypt)...." Many authorities, including the Rema, note the custom that fathers of firstborn sons are required to observe the fast if their son has not yet reached the age of Bar Mitzvah. In practice, however, most firstborns only fast until the end of the morning prayer service in synagogue. This is due to the widespread custom for a member of the congregation to conduct a siyum (ceremony marking the completion of a section of Torah learning) right after services and invite everyone to partake in a celebratory meal. According to widespread custom, partaking of this meal removes one's obligation to fast. If the first born is a boy in a Jewish family, that boy will have to fast after he has his Bar Mitzvah.
The Passover seder
Table set for the Passover Seder
Main article: Passover seder
It is traditional for Jewish families to gather on the first night of Passover (first two nights in Orthodox and Conservative communities outside the land of Israel) for a special dinner called a seder (סדר—derived from the Hebrew word for "order", referring to the very specific order of the ritual). The table is set with the finest china and silverware to reflect the importance of this meal. During this meal, the story of the Exodus from Egypt is retold using a special text called the Haggadah. Four cups of wine are consumed at various stages in the narrative. The Haggadah divides the night's procedure into 14 parts:
1.Kadeish קדש - recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine
2.Urchatz ורחץ - the washing of the hands - without blessing
3.Karpas כרפס - dipping of the karpas in salt water
4.Yachatz יחץ - breaking the middle matzo; the larger piece becomes the afikoman which is eaten later during the ritual of Tzafun
5.Maggid מגיד - retelling the Passover story, including the recital of "the four questions" and drinking of the second cup of wine
6.Rachtzah רחצה - second washing of the hands - with blessing
7.Motzi-Matzo מוציא-מצה - traditional blessing before eating bread products followed by the blessing before eating matzo
8.Maror מרור - eating of the maror
9.Koreich כורך - eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror
10.Shulchan oreich שולחן עורך - lit. "set table"—the serving of the holiday meal
11.Tzafun צפון - eating of the afikoman
12.Bareich ברך - blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
13.Hallel הלל - recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals; drinking of the fourth cup of wine
14.Nirtzah נירצה - conclusion
Edited by author Tue Apr 7, '09 4:19pm PST
|my page | msg me | gift me | become friends|