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Why is Passover seven or eight days?

by Rabbi Herschel Finman

  

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Seven Days 

Biblically, Passover is seven days and commemorates the time between the actually Exodus from Egypt – which occurred on the 15th of Nissan – and the splitting of the Red Sea – which happened seven days later on the eve of the 21st of Nissan.

Spiritually speaking, Passover is the holiday during which we celebrate our very birth as a nation. It marks a complete change and turn-around. It only makes sense to take an entire week, a full cycle, to dwell on, internalize and be inspired (and a little changed...) by this.

Eight Days 

Jewish holidays are established based on the lunar cycles. During Temple times, witnesses would come to the Temple in Jerusalem and testify that they had seen the new moon the previous night. After careful interrogation and corroboration, the new month would be declared. Messengers would then be sent to the environs informing the general populace when the month began. These messengers traveled as far as 11 days journey. Jews living outside the eleven day radius would keep an extra day due to the doubt as to which day was actually holiday.

For more information about this system and why we sill observe eight days today, see Why do we add extra holiday-days outside of Israel?


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Holidays » Passover » About

Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Nissan
The first month of the Jewish calendar. This month, which falls out in early spring, is known for the holiday of Passover which starts on the 15th of Nissan.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.