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How do we celebrate the last day(s) of Passover?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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The last day(s)1 of Passover is celebrated like all major Jewish holidays: candle lighting, Kiddush, Motzi, meal, special Services, Torah reading, no driving or other forms of "work" etc. 

The seventh day of Passover is not an independent holiday; rather it is an extension of the first days of Passover. [As opposed to the holiday of Shmini Atzeret which follows Sukkot, but is an independent holiday.] Therefore, the Shehecheyanu blessing is not recited when lighting the holiday candles or by the Kiddush. This blessing is reserved for "new" holidays.

On the night of the Seventh of Passover, many have the custom of remaining awake the entire night. This is because on this night the Jewish people were awake, crossing the Red Sea and experiencing tremendous Divine revelations.

On the morning of the seventh day of Passover we read from the Torah about the crossing of the Red Sea, and we all rise and listen to the song which the Jews sang after witnessing this incredible miracle.

The eighth day of Passover (only applicable in the Diaspora), known as Acharon shel Pesach, is devoted to Moshiach. In the Haftorah we read beautiful prophecies concerning Moshiach and the Messianic Era. The Baal Shem Tov instituted the practice of eating a special meal, eaten on the afternoon of this day, which is dedicated to the coming of Moshiach. It is Chabad custom to drink four cups of wine (or grape-juice) at this meal.

Footnotes

  • 1. In Israel this is the seventh day of Passover, and in the Diaspora this is the seventh and eighth day of Passover. See "When is Passover?" (http://www.askmoses.com/article/283,164372/When-is-Passover.html)

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Passover

Posted by: Anonymous, Los Angeles, CA on Apr 08, 2005

I would like to know if there is a Jewish law that you cannot have a seder the last night of Passover. If so, how can one celebrate the last night of Pasover which this year somes on April 30 and happens to be the only night my havurah can get together. Thank you for your prompt reply.

Editor's Comment

Celebrating the Seder on the wrong night is like having a wedding reception without the bride or groom in attendance. It is a nice gesture, but without a bride and groom it is not a wedding. Similarly, a Seder is only a Seder when it is celebrated in its Divinely appointed time: the anniversary of our Exodus from Egypt.

Don't despair, however, the 7th day of Passover is a holiday in its own right, and is celebrated with a grand holiday feast, Passover songs and words of Torah. So while a Seder is uncalled for, I think I hear a festive meal calling your name. Enjoy!

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.
Moshiach
The Messiah. Moshiach is the person who will usher in an era of peace and tranquility for all of humanity when there will be no jealousy or hate, wars or famine. This is a fundamental Jewish belief.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Shehecheyanu
A blessing recited on joyous occasions. The blessing thanks G-d for "sustaining us and enabling us to reach this occasion."
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.
Haftorah
Section from the prophetic writings that is read at the conclusion of the Torah reading on the Sabbath, Jewish holidays and fast days. The Haftorah contains a message similar to the weekly reading, or speaks of the current holiday.
Shmini Atzeret
A joyous one-day autumn festival immediately following the holiday of Sukkot. Outside Israel this holiday is celebrated for two days, the second day is known as Simchat Torah.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
Pesach
Passover. A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.