Passover 101

Beginning this evening, Jewish people from around the globe will gather their loved ones and celebrate ‘Pesach’ {פסח} which is Hebrew for ‘pass over’ – and that is the meaning of the English name ‘Passover.’ The first night of Passover is the most special and it is known as ‘Ley’l Ha-Seder’ {ליל הסדר} – literally  means ‘the night of the order.’ Probably many of you know it by the shorter English version ‘Seyder’ {סיידר} or ‘Seder’ {סדר}  – which actually came from  Yiddish.


The reason for this unique name is the main event of tonight and that is the festive ‘order’ of the holiday. All of the family and friends are seated  together at the table and eat ‘unleavened bread’ (AKA ‘Matzah’ {מצה}– the same unleavened bread used by Jesus at the Last Supper) and read the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

In fact, these are the most important things about this night and they originate from a very specific command in the Torah:

“From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the  evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah.” (Exodus 12:18).
“You shall TELL YOUR SON on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt’”. (Exodus 13:8).

The special ritual Jewish book from which the story of the Exodus is read, called ‘Haggadah Shel Pesach’ {הגדה של פסח} or simply ‘Haggadah’ {הגדה} – Hebrew for  ‘telling,’ because of the biblical verse we have just seen above (‘you shall TELL your son…’).

That is also the reason for the fact that the ‘Haggadah’ is the most  illustrated Jewish book there is – because it is intentionally aimed for children (”you shall TELL your son…”).