Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Celebrating Times of Freedom

For those who aren’t aware, Pesach or Passover celebrates the redemption of the Children of Israel from forced bondage under the Egyptian Pharos. The holiday is celebrated annually for seven days from the 14th to 21st of the Hebrew month of Nisan.

For Jews all over the word, Pesach is a very special holiday as it also coincides with the beginning of spring. As an important reminder of leaving Egypt, the Pesach holiday requires observant Jews to eat special foods, especially 'matzot' or unleavened bread products, to recall the rush of leaving the house of bondage without having time to bake bread in the conventional manner. In the Diaspora, Jews must often purchase or prepare these foods ahead of time so as not to run out during the holiday.

Homes must be cleaned thoroughly to rid them of 'hametz' or leavened bread products. Foodstuffs not "kosher for Passover" are put away and even symbolically 'sold' to non-Jews, to be kept "in trust" until the end of the seventh day. The festive, ritual meal, known as the Passover Seder is participated in by families on Pesach Eve.

This special ritual, in which all members of the family participate in its observance, include the reciting of the Passover Hagadah, which tells the story of the ten plagues rendered by G-d to the Egyptians, and explains the symbolic meaning of all items eaten in the Passover meal.
The sparing by G-d of the first born children of the Israelites, as well as the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, allowing them to cross over to freedom, also pays an important part in the meaning of this holiday.

Thus, Pesach is truly a Jewish "festival of freedom".

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