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Passover Begins Tonight

April 18, 2011

Tonight, April 18, begins the Jewish festival known as “Passover” (Pesach). It is the most commonly observed Jewish holiday. It always begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month Nissan. Depending upon the Jewish calendar, it is usually very close to our Easter celebration.

The word Pesach in Hebrew means to “passover” or “spare” and comes from the Biblical account of God “passing over” the homes that had blood applied to the door posts and lintels. The homes without the blood would incur the death of the “first born” child (Exodus 12:7-12).

This is also the time that Jewish households search for and remove all leaven (chametz). “The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation for Pesach is an enormous task. To do it right, you must prepare for several weeks and spend several days scrubbing everything down, going over the edges of your stove and fridge with a toothpick and a Q-Tip, covering all surfaces that come in contact with food with foil or shelf-liner, etc., etc., etc. After the cleaning is completed, the morning before the seder, a formal search of the house for chametz is undertaken, and any remaining chametz is burned.” (Judaism 101@

A “seder” meal is observed on the first two nights of Passover (for traditional Jews outside of Israel). This meal is called a seder, from a Hebrew root word meaning “order,” because there is a specific set of information that must be discussed in a specific order. The order is written in a book called the “haggadah”. The graphic shows a seder plate with the items that are eaten.

Jesus gave new meaning to the Passover when He celebrated it with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion. Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper or Communion to commemorate His blood sacrifice for our sins. (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, 1 Cor. 11: 23-26).

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