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How is Passover celebrated?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Low Carbs

The Torah1 prohibits the consumption and possession of Chametz for the duration of the Passover Holiday. In the days/weeks leading up to Passover we clean and rid the house of all food items made of (or contain) grain. On the night before Passover we do the Search for Chametz, and the next morning all remaining Chametz is eaten, burnt, and/or sold to a non-Jew.

For the week (or 8 days) of Passover we eat Matzah instead of bread, and all food products that we eat must be certified Kosher for Passover.

Passover Lamb

When we had a Holy Temple in Jerusalem a special Passover offering was brought on the eve of Passover, roasted whole, and eaten on the first night of Passover.

Today, until the Temple is rebuilt - may it be speedily in our days, we cannot bring sacrifices. So adhering to the words of the prophet Hoseah2  "And we will render the prayer of our lips in place of the sacrifice of bullocks", we read the order of the Passover offering after the afternoon prayers on the eve of Passover.

The Seder

The highlight of Passover is the Passover Seder.3 On the first night (outside of Israel on the first two nights) of Passover family and friends gather to relate, celebrate and re-experience our miraculous Exodus from Egypt and the birth of the Jewish Nation.

The Seder table is set in a most elegant fashion, and features a Seder Plate. During the Seder we drink four cups of wine, eat Matzah and Maror, read the Haggadah, and enjoy a gourmet Holiday feast. Since Jewish continuity depends on the transmission of tradition from parent to child, children play a central role at the Seder. See here for a general overview/order of the Seder.

Our Practical Seder Guide, Soulful Seder Guide and 15 Steps of the Passover Seder provide a practical and spiritual guide for your Seder. Looking for a Seder? Chabad hosts beautiful public Seders all around the world; visit passover.net to find one near you.

Holiday Factors

In addition to the observances that are unique to Passover, Passover is also celebrated with those things common to every Biblical Holiday: candle lighting, festive meals (including Kiddush and Motzi), fine dress, special prayer services, Torah readings, and no work.4

See also What is Passover? and When is Passover?

Footnotes

  • 1. Exodus 12:19
  • 2. Hoseah 14:3
  • 3. The Seder is the most celebrated Jewish Holiday in America today.
  • 4. Work in this context refers to the 39 categories of "creative work" which are prohibited on Shabbat (with the exception of cooking, and carrying in a public domain, which are permitted on Holidays). See "What are the 39 Melachot?" (http://www.askmoses.com/article/208,122/What-are-the-39-melachot.html)

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chametz
Any leavened product which is produced from wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats. This includes bread, cake, cereals, crackers, biscuits, yeast, pasta and whisky. It is forbidden for a Jew to possess or consume Chametz throughout Passover.
Matzah
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Kiddush
Prayer recited at the beginning of the Sabbath or Holiday meal--both the evening and afternoon meals. This prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the day, is recited over a cup of wine or grape juice.
Haggadah
Text read at the Passover Eve feasts. The Haggadah recounts in great detail the story of our Exodus from Egypt.
Seder
Festive meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday of Passover (In Israel, the Seder is observed only the first night of the holiday). Seder highlights include: reading the story of the Exodus, eating Matzah and bitter herbs, and drinking four cups of wine.
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.
Maror
Bitter herbs consumed at the Passover Seder, commemorating how the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors.
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.