TODAY -

Celebration of freedom from bondage

Ezekiel Isaac Malekar *



The name Pesach means, 'Passover' and refers to the account in Exodus Chapter 12, that when the Angel of Death killed the firstborn of the Egyptians, he 'passed over' the houses of the Israelites, which had all been carefully marked with a sprinkling of lamb blood.

Another name of the festival,Chag Hammatzoth the feast of the Unleavened Bread grows out of the Biblical narrative of the manner in which the Jews were driven in haste out of Egypt and carried with them dough that was still unleavened.

As a yearly rememberance of this emergency, the Jews were commanded to eat only unleavened bread for a period of eight days.The Passover is also known as Hag-Ha- Aviv, the Festival of Spring. The Passover is the first of the three main festivals of the Jewish Year.

It commemorates the Exodus from Egypt and will be observed for eight days from Monday, April 10. The first and last two days are sanctified days and the intervening four days, are semi-holy.

The Pass Over Festival commemorates the deliverance of Jews from Egyptian bondage and becoming a free people awakened to the determination to serve none but the One God. The historic events and ancient rituals are recounted during the Passover dinner called Passover Seder.

After prayers, Jews remember that in every generation, it is one's duty to remember that he had personally come out of Egypt. The most ancient portions of the text are at least 2,500 years old. It is the eternal message of hope that saves the Jews from despair even in the darkest hours.

It again resolves itself to the impressive statement:"Thou art the man,and upon thee,everything depends.Thou can create the world and thou can destroy it." Pesach is initiated by a service in the synagogue, followed by the home Seder that literally means Order,a special meal with a commemoration of the Exodus.

During the Seder, the tale of Passover is read.The ceremonial meal begins with the chanting of the sanctification prayer.After washing their hands,participants take the leaf of parsley or watercress symbolising growth and dip it into salt water, recite prayers and eat it. The salt water is a reminder of tears shed by enslaved Jews.

On the Seder plate, are symbols of sacrifice reminding one of the bitterness of slavery. Then, the first cup of kosher wine is drunk.The head of the house breaks the middle of the three Matzoth, part of which is called Aphikomon.

As he lifts the Matzah, he recites, 'This is the bread of affliction.'The youngest person present asks questions on the significance of eating the unleavened bread and bitter herbs and about the Seder?

The leader answers the questions by relating the story of Israel in Egypt and of the Exodus.The bitter herbs help participants recall that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our forefathers in Egypt.

And with this, the Hallel (Psalms 113-114) is sung and the fourth cup of wine taken.During the Seder, the spiritual presence of Prophet Eliyahahu Hanavi, the forerunner of the Mashiah, is felt in the house. The Seder has survived in Jewish homes over centuries, and remains an emblem and promise of freedom.


* Ezekiel Isaac Malekar wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 03, 2017.


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