Passover is an annual Jewish festival, celebrated by Jews globally, that commemorates the freedom of Hebrew slaves from ancient Egypt.
The eight-day holiday is set to begin this year at sunset on April 5th. The festival’s name, Passover, is derived from the Hebrew word Pesach, which means “to pass over.”
The foundation of Passover is rooted in the Book of Exodus, a significant text in the Torah (Bible). The Book of Exodus shares the life story of Moses and his God-given mission to secure freedom for the Israelites from their Egyptian captors.
After multiple refusals from the Egyptians to release the Israelites, a series of ten plagues, and numerous miracles at the hands of Moses, the Hebrews were finally granted their freedom.
The Seder, a two-night dinner, is the centerpiece of the Passover celebration. During the Seder, Jews retell the miraculous story of Moses and the Passover, as recorded in the Book of Exodus. The Seder plate, used during the dinner, displays six symbolic foods that aid in the retelling of the story.
Each food on the plate represents a part of the Passover story, helping Jews to relive and remember their ancestors’ liberation from slavery.
As part of the Passover Seder, a special plate is prepared, which features six symbolic foods. Each food has a specific significance and represents an essential aspect of the Passover story.
The first food on the Seder plate is three pieces of matzoh, also known as unleavened bread. The matzoh represents the ancient Israelites breaking free from the chains of slavery. Additionally, it is used to recite the blessings required on Passover and other holidays.
The three matzoh also holds significance in that it represents the three main groups in Jewish society: priests, Levites, and Israelites. This is reminiscent of the story in Genesis when Abraham and Sarah were visited by three angels, and they hastily baked bread for their guests.
Parsley, or karpas in Hebrew, is the second food on the Seder plate. It represents the back-breaking labor that the Israelite slaves endured while in Egypt. The parsley is dipped in saltwater, which represents the tears shed by the slaves.
The third food on the Seder plate is the Beitzah, a hard-boiled or roasted egg. The Beitzah symbolizes the life cycle and the meat sacrifices brought to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem before the holidays. The egg is also dipped in saltwater before being eaten.
The fourth food on the Seder plate is the lamb shank or bone. This represents the lamb that was sacrificed and eaten on the eve of the Exodus. The lamb’s blood was used to mark the Israelite slaves’ doorposts, which prevented the final plague, death, from affecting their homes.
All of the foods on the Seder plate hold special significance and help Jews to relive and remember the story of Passover. Through the retelling of the story and the consumption of these symbolic foods, Jews are able to connect with their heritage and celebrate their ancestors’ liberation from slavery.
Bitter herbs, also known as “maror,” make up another component of the Passover Seder plate. Traditionally, horseradish or romaine lettuce stems are used, and they symbolize the bitterness of the Israelites’ experiences in captivity.
Charoset is a blended mixture of apples, pears, nuts, and wine, and it is another food on the Seder plate. This dish represents the mortar and bricks that the Israelite slaves used to build for their Egyptian masters.
The proper order of the Passover Seder and the Exodus narrative can be found in the Haggadah, a guide that is printed in Hebrew, English, and other languages.
The Haggadah is based on God’s instructions in Exodus 10, which state, “That you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
In 1932, Maxwell House published and distributed free copies of the Haggadah as part of a marketing campaign. Since then, the company has given away millions of copies.
Children are encouraged to take an active role in the Passover Seder, and they are often given the responsibility of reciting The Four Questions.
The questions are as follows:
1.Why is this night different from all other nights?” “On all other nights, we don’t dip our vegetables in salt water even once.
2. Why do we dip our foods in salt water twice on this night?” “On all other nights, we eat leavened foods. 3. Why, on this night, do we only eat matzoh?” “On all other nights, we eat all vegetables.
4. Why, on this night, do we only eat bitter herbs?”
There are many traditional Passover dishes that are enjoyed by Jews all over the world. Some popular dishes include roasted chicken, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, potato kugel, candied carrots, and rack of lamb. These foods help to bring families together and celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way.