If you are Jewish or know someone who is Jewish, chances are you’ve celebrated Passover and will again this year. For the better part of 3,000 years, we’ve been celebrating with our families all over the world.
There are many aspects of Passover; we’ve included some some below, but exploring the 5 major concepts that Passover conveys from an article in Aish is a more interesting prospect. Aish is a blog website that started 17 years ago and they are one of the leading Jewish content websites out there, with over a million monthly users sessions, 380,000 subscribers and over 10,000 articles. Perhaps this will spark some interesting conversations at your Seder table this year.
According to Aish Passover conveys five major concepts:
memory, optimism, faith, family, and responsibility
The Importance of Memory
“Remember that you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
“Remember that the Lord took you out of the bondage of slavery.”
Remember is a biblical mandate.
Only by being aware of our past as a people can our lives become filled with purpose and meaning. Memory links our past to our Jewish future.
The Seder is the main event for collective remembering, each family’s Seder also reflects their own traditions, and The Hagadah explains that despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to end the suffering of the Israelites, and therefor endured ten devastating plagues, the last being the killing of all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. By eating matzah and bitter herbs (bitter slavery endured by the Israelites), and retelling the story of our liberation from a life of slavery in Egypt, we remember the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We were once slaves, now we are free, never forget!
The Importance of Optimism
To study the Passover story in depth is to recognize that the most difficult task Moses had to perform was not to get the Jews out of Egypt, but to get Egypt out of the Jews. (the Golden Calf Idol worship at Mount Sinai) They had become so habituated to their status as slaves, they lost all hope that they could ever improve their lot. Without hope they would have been lost. We relive our ancestor’s plight as Slaves begging to be liberated. Anything is possible, if only we dare to dream the impossible dream.
The Importance of Faith
Jewish optimism is rooted in our faith. Our faith is based on the idea that the Jewish people are blessed with God’s support. And that faith gives us strength to believe in ourselves, in justice and mercy, in our future and in our ability to help change the world.
The Importance of Family
It all begins with our own families, the home; celebration of the intimate connections between generations. Our continuity is based on the primacy of family as our anchor from Past to Present. Our children (asking the 4 questions) become the stars of the Seder. Kids are central to Passover. It’s the sharing of the Seder as our way of connecting to our past that relies on the Importance of Family in our Jewish lives.
The Importance of Responsibility to Others
We celebrate our deliverance from the slavery of Egypt as if it happened to us personally. We experience empathy and concern with the rights of the strangers, the homeless and the impoverished because we are asking ourselves to remember that we understand what it means to be enslaved, the pain of the oppressed. Jewish philanthropy for our community and the world is legendary. We feel a moral, religious and ethical responsibility to ‘repair the world’ Tikkun Olam.
6 Handy Highlights If you are New to Passover
1.What is Passover:
Passover is a major Jewish Holiday that takes place in the spring, commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It lasts 8 days in the diaspora and starts on the Jewish calendar, from the 15th day of Nisan.
2.Moses: With the leadership of Moses and G-d’s help the nation of Israel escaped slavery out of Egypt towards freedom.
The story of the 10 plagues is part of the retelling of the exodus, whereby Pharaoh finally relents to Moses and lets ‘his people go’. It ends with the last plague, and the Israelites are instructed to mark their doorposts of their homes, in order for the angel of death to ‘pass over’ and spare them.
The Origin of Matzo; The Israelites left in such a hurry that they could not wait for their bread to rise- so in commemoration of this hardship and escape to freedom, we eat the symbolic un-leaven Matzo during Passover.
5. The Haggadah,
The Haggadah is the prayerbook or script, known as the Haggadah for the Seder meal for Passover. There are plenty of different haggadahs, or haggadot , and the core structure is the retelling of the Passover story to commemorate the suffering of Jews in slavery,
Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. Sephardic Jews have different kosher rules for Passover than Ashkenazi Jews.
At a Glance: PASSOVER FOOD LIST
– Matzo in any form (matzo meal, matzo cake meal, matzo farfel)
– Any kind of fruit
– Any kind of vegetable, excluding those listed under kitniyot
– Beef, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, or fish with scales
– Eggs and egg whites
– Nuts, nut flours, and pure nut butters (no additives), excluding those listed under kitniyot (peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds)
– Dairy products, like cheese, yogurt, and kefir
– Quinoa. While somewhat controversial, most sources agree that quinoa is not technically a grain, and therefore it is permissible on Passover.
– Spices; spices like cumin and coriander may not be kitniyot, (Ashkenazi categories)
– Any packaged or processed product with a Kosher for Passover stamp from a kosher organization