What Is Passover?

Passover, in short, is a major Jewish holiday in spring celebrating liberation from slavery in Ancient Egypt granted by God and the formation of a Jewish Nation under the leadership of Moses. Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus from Egypt as told in the Hebrew Bible in the Book of Exodus as the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

In celebrating Passover, at the Temple of Jerusalem, barley is offered as an offering to God as it is the first grain to ripen and be harvested in Israel. In the Book of Exodus, the story of how God helped the Israelites escape slavery from Egypt by inflicting 10 plagues upon the Ancient Egyptians until the Pharoh would agree to release the Israelites from their bondage. The worst of the ten plagues was the tenth, which called for the death of the firstborn child. Israelites were told to mark their doors and windows with the blood from a slaughtered lamb and when the spirit of the Lord saw this blood, the spirit knew to pass over the home, which is where the name Passover derives from.

When the Pharoh freed the Israelites it is said that they were in such a hurry they could not wait for the bread dough to rise, or leaven, which is why in commemoration, no leavened bread is eaten during Passover and matzo, or unleavened bread is eaten instead. During the first nights of Passover, a Seder meal is eaten in celebration of the freedom from slavery. Seder meals traditionally involve drinking four glasses of wine, eating matzo and other symbolic food on the Seder plate and celebrating freedom.

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