What is Passover? Meaning and traditions of the Jewish Spring Festival

These plagues consisted of: water turning to blood, frogs, insects, wild animals, plague of cattle, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the aforementioned death of all the firstborn Egyptian sons. According toChabad-Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish Hasidic Movement, the 10th plague finally prompted Pharaoh to say to Moses, “Arise, come out from among my people, you and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord as you have spoken; and take your sheep and your oxen, as you said, and go, and bless me also.

Based on a multitude of different interpretationsespecially to remember the suffering of the Egyptians and superstitions about the protection of the Jewish people, observers spill between 10 and 16 drops of wine from their glass to their plate at Passover. The 10 drops represent each biblical plague, while a 6 additional drops can be added to symbolize the 16-sided sword of Gd, the 16 times the Hebrew word “hayyim” appears in Psalm 119, and the 16 people who read the Torah each week, all aligned with the 16 lambs that were sacrificed in a week .

3. There is a specific ritual order, called the Seder, that must be followed.

Most Jewish denominations mark the first two nights of Passover by holding seders, special ritual dinners, although Jews in Israel and some Reform Jews only participate in this ritual on the first night. The word Seder translates to “order,” which is appropriate since the observance is very particular in terms of a series of sequential customs.

Exodus 13:8 commands us: “And you shall explain to your child on that day, ‘It is because of what יהוה [G-d] did for me when I came out of Egypt. Jewish practitioners interpret this directive to mean that we must tell the story to future generations of our ancestors’ deliverance from slavery so that we can always remember it and be grateful. Thus, the Seder, or order, is guided by the events of the Passover story, as told in the Book of Exodus.

Jewish families follow a script called the Haggadah, which means “the story.” A Haggadah is often chosen to meet the interests of a familywith themes such as environmentalism and global justiceand many families opt for create their own.

Throughout the Seder, outline of the Haggadah readings, the ritual consumption of four cups of wine, the consumption of symbolic foods and chanting. A notable tradition observed in tandem with the Seder is to fill an extra cup of wine (and for some, to open the door) for Elijah, a prophet who – according to superstition – visits every Jewish home at Passover to attend every celebration. Think of Elijah as a Jewish Santa Claus, but instead of material gifts, he promises that the messiah will one day come to bring peace and justice to the world.

4. Observers follow a restrictive diet throughout the holidays.

Throughout Passover, Jews are ordered to follow a restrictive diet known secularly as keeping “Kosher for Passover.” It basically means refraining from chametz, or wheat, rye, spelled, barley and oat products that have been fermented. Some Ashkenazi Jews – a term generally used to refer to Diaspora Jews from Central and Eastern Europe – also avoid eating Kitniyot, which includes rice, millet, maize and legumes, even though it is contested between different denominations.

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