#AceNewsReport – Mar.28: Israel has vaccinated over half its population of 9.3 million, and as coronavirus infections have plummeted, authorities have allowed restaurants, hotels, museums and theatres to re-open. Up to 20 people can now gather indoors #AceNewsDesk report
Kindness & Wisdom says ‘Happy Passover’ to you all Amen
‘Israelis gather for Passover, celebrating freedom from virus: ‘A year ago, Giordana Grego’s parents spent Passover at home in Israel, alone but grateful that they had escaped the worst of the pandemic in Italy’
This year, the whole family will get together to mark the Jewish feast of liberation and deliverance from the pandemic’
It’s a stark turnaround from last year, when Israel was in the first of three nationwide lockdowns, with businesses shuttered, checkpoints set up on empty roads and people confined to their homes. Many could only see their elderly relatives on video calls.
“For us in Israel, really celebrating the festivity of freedom definitely has a whole different meaning this year after what we experienced,” said Grego, who immigrated to Israel from Italy. “It’s amazing that this year we’re able to celebrate together, also considering that in Italy, everybody is still under lockdown.”
Passover is the Jewish holiday celebrating the biblical Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt after a series of divine plagues. The week-long springtime festival starts Saturday night with the highly ritualized Seder meal, when the Exodus story is retold. It’s a Thanksgiving-like atmosphere with family, friends, feasting and four cups of wine.
Throughout the week, observant Jews abstain from the consumption of bread and other leavened foods to commemorate the hardships of the flight from Egypt. Instead, they eat unleavened matzah.
Holiday preparations involve spring cleaning to the extreme to remove even the tiniest crumbs of leavened bread from homes and offices. Cauldrons of boiling water are set up on street corners to boil kitchenware, and many burn their discarded bread, known as chametz. Supermarkets cordon off aisles with leavened goods, wrapping shelves in black plastic.
Most Israeli Jews – religious and secular alike – spend the Seder with extended family. Last year’s Passover was a major break in tradition.
Government-imposed restrictions forced the closure of synagogues and limited movement and assembly to slow the virus’ spread. Some conducted the ritual meal with their nuclear family, others over videoconference, while an unfortunate few held the Seder in solitude.
Another lockdown was imposed over the Jewish High Holidays in September, again preventing family gatherings, and a third came earlier this year with the emergence of more contagious variants of the virus.
By the third lockdown, Israel had launched one of the most successful inoculation campaigns in the world after the government secured millions of doses from Pfizer and Moderna. Israel has now vaccinated more than 80% of its adult population.
It’s too early to say that Israel’s coronavirus crisis is over, as new variants could emerge that are resistant to the vaccines.
The vaccination campaign in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza has been slow to get off the ground, with Israel facing criticism for not sharing more of its supplies. Israel has vaccinated over 100,000 Palestinian labourers who work in Israel and West Bank settlements, and has sent a couple thousand doses to the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinians have imported more than 130,000 doses on their own, but it could be several months before shots are available for the vast majority of the nearly 5 million Palestinians in the territories. Experts say that could pose a risk to Israel’s own public health efforts.
For now, however, Israelis are enjoying what feels like a post-pandemic reality, lending special significance to Passover.
“It’s not only symbolic that it’s the holiday of freedom, but it’s also the holiday of the family,” said Rabbi David Stav, chief rabbi of the city of Shoham and head of the liberal Orthodox organization Tzohar.
“This year, families are uniting. People that were so lonely, especially older people, who were disengaged from their families, all of a sudden they discover the freedom and the joy of being together with them.”
This article is about the Jewish holiday. For other uses, see Passover (disambiguation).
Passover, also called Pesach or Pesakh (/ˈpɛsɑːx, ˈpeɪ-/; Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesaḥ) is a ritual meal, the Pesach seder, that occurs the night of the paschal full moon after the 14th of Nisan, eve of the 15th, telling the storyof the exodus, and remembering how the angel of death “passed over” the houses of the Israelites during the tenth plague on Egypt. It begins Feast of Unleavened Bread that continues through the 22nd of Nisan, and is one of three pilgrimage festivals in which all Jewish males living in the land of Israel are obliged. On the 16th of Nisan, jews begin the counting of the omer, the memorial offering of the firstfruits of the barley harvest. The counting continues for seven weeks until the Feast of Shavuot, also known as Pentecost.PassoverA table set up for a Passover SederOfficial namePesach – פסח (in Hebrew).Observed byJewsTypeJewish (religious and cultural)SignificanceCelebrates The Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Israelites from Ancient Egyptthat followed the Ten Plagues.
When the Temple in Jerusalem stood, the paschal lamb was offered and eaten on Passover eve, while the wave offering of barley was offered on the second day of the festival. Nowadays, in addition to the biblical prohibition of owning leavened foods for the duration of the holiday, the Passover seder is one of the most widely observed rituals in Judaism. In the Diaspora the unleavened bread is celebrated for 8 days, based on the concept of yom tov sheni shel galuyot.
The Hebrew פֶּסַח is rendered as Tiberian [pɛsaħ] (listen), and Modern Hebrew: [ˈpesaχ] Pesah, Pesakh. The verb pasàch (פָּסַח) is first mentioned in the Torah‘s account of the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:23), and there is some debate about its exact meaning. The commonly held assumption that it means “He passed over” (פסח), in reference to God “passing over” (or “skipping”) the houses of the Hebrews during the final of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, stems from the translation provided in the Septuagint (παρελευσεται [Greek: pareleusetai] in Exodus 12:23, and εσκεπασεν [Greek: eskepasen] in Exodus 12:27). Targum Onkelos translates pesach as ve-yeiḥos (Hebrew: וְיֵחוֹס we-yēḥôs) “he had pity” coming from the Hebrew root חסה meaning to have pity. Cognate languages yield similar terms with distinct meanings, such as “make soft, soothe, placate” (Akkadian passahu), “harvest, commemoration, blow” (Egyptian), or “separate” (Arabic fsh).
The term Pesach (Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesaḥ) may also refer to the lamb or goat which was designated as the Passover sacrifice (called the Korban Pesach in Hebrew). Four days before the Exodus, the Hebrews were commanded to set aside a lamb (Exodus 12:3), and inspect it daily for blemishes. During the day on the 14th of Nisan, they were to slaughter the animal and use its blood to mark their lintels and door posts. Before midnight on the 15th of Nisan they were to consume the lamb.
The English term “Passover” is first known to be recorded in the English language in William Tyndale‘s translation of the Bible, later appearing in the King James Version as well. It is a literal translation of the Hebrew term. In the King James Version, Exodus 12:23 reads:
For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
Illustration of The Exodus from Egypt, 1907
The Passover ritual is widely thought to have its origins in an apotropaic rite, unrelated to the Exodus, to ensure the protection of a family home, a rite conducted wholly within a clan. Hyssop was employed to daub the blood of a slaughtered sheep on the lintels and door posts to ensure that demonic forces could not enter the home.
A further hypothesis maintains that, once the Priestly Code was promulgated, the Exodus narrative took on a central function, as the apotropaic rite was, arguably, amalgamated with the Canaanite agricultural festival of spring which was a ceremony of unleavened bread, connected with the barley harvest. As the Exodus motif grew, the original function and symbolism of these double origins was lost. Several motifs replicate the features associated with the Mesopotamian Akitu festival. Other scholars, John Van Seters, J.B.Segal and Tamara Prosic disagree with the merged two-festivals hypothesis.
The biblical narrative
In the Book of Exodus
Further information: Plagues of Egypt
In the Book of Exodus, the Israelites are enslaved in ancient Egypt. Yahweh, the god of the Israelites, appears to Moses in a burning bush and commands Moses to confront Pharaoh. To show his power, Yahweh inflicts a series of 10 plagues on the Egyptians, culminating in the 10th plague, the death of the first-born.
This is what the LORD says: “About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”
— Exodus 11:4–6
Before this final plague Yahweh commands Moses to tell the Israelites to mark a lamb‘s blood above their doors in order that Yahweh will pass over them (i.e., that they will not be touched by the death of the firstborn).
The biblical regulations for the observance of the festival require that all leavening be disposed of before the beginning of the 15th of Nisan An unblemished lamb or goat, known as the Korban Pesach or “Paschal Lamb”, is to be set apart on 10th Nisan, and slaughtered at dusk as 14th Nisan ends in preparation for the 15th of Nisan when it will be eaten after being roasted. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is “between the two evenings”. It is then to be eaten “that night”, 15th Nisan, roasted, without the removal of its internal organs with unleavened bread, known as matzo, and bitter herbs known as maror. Nothing of the sacrifice on which the sun rises by the morning of the 15th of Nisan may be eaten, but must be burned.
The biblical regulations pertaining to the original Passover, at the time of the Exodus only, also include how the meal was to be eaten: “with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover” Exodus 12:11.
The biblical requirements of slaying the Paschal lamb in the individual homes of the Hebrews and smearing the blood of the lamb on their doorways were celebrated in Egypt. However, once Israel was in the wilderness and the tabernacle was in operation, a change was made in those two original requirements (Deuteronomy 16:2–6). Passover lambs were to be sacrificed at the door of the tabernacle and no longer in the homes of the Jews. No longer, therefore, could blood be smeared on doorways.
The passover in other biblical passages
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at dusk is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD; seven days ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days; in the seventh day is a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. (Leviticus 23:5–8)
The sacrifices may be performed only in a specific place prescribed by God. For Judaism, this is Jerusalem.
The biblical commandments concerning the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) stress the importance of remembering:
- Exodus 12:14 commands, in reference to God’s sparing of the firstborn from the Tenth Plague: And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
- Exodus 13:3 repeats the command to remember: Remember this day, in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength the hand of the LORD brought you out from this place.
- And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes (Deuteronomy 16:12).
In extra-biblical sources
Some of these details can be corroborated, and to some extent amplified, in extrabiblical sources. The removal (or “sealing up”) of the leaven is referred to in the Elephantine papyri, an Aramaic papyrus from 5th century BCE Elephantine in Egypt. The slaughter of the lambs on the 14th is mentioned in The Book of Jubilees, a Jewish work of the Ptolemaic period, and by the Herodian-era writers Josephus and Philo. These sources also indicate that “between the two evenings” was taken to mean the afternoon. Jubilees states the sacrifice was eaten that night, and together with Josephus states that nothing of the sacrifice was allowed to remain until morning. Philo states that the banquet included hymns and prayers.
Date and duration
The Passover begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which typically falls in March or April of the Gregorian calendar. The 15th day begins in the evening, after the 14th day, and the seder meal is eaten that evening. Passover is a spring festival, so the 15th day of Nisan typically begins on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox. However, due to leap months falling after the vernal equinox, Passover sometimes starts on the second full moon after vernal equinox, as in 2016.
To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the lunar new year, the first day of Nisan, would not start until the barley was ripe, being the test for the onset of spring. If the barley was not ripe, or various other phenomena indicated that spring was not yet imminent, an intercalary month (Adar II) would be added. However, since at least the 4th century, the intercalation has been fixed mathematically according to the Metonic cycle.
In Israel, Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, with the first and last days celebrated as legal holidays and as holy days involving holiday meals, special prayer services, and abstention from work; the intervening days are known as Chol HaMoed (“Weekdays [of] the Festival”). Jews outside the Land of Israel celebrate the festival for eight days. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews usually celebrate the holiday over seven days. Karaites use a different version of the Jewish calendar, differing from that used with modern Jewish calendar by one or two days.The Samaritans use a calendrical system that uses a different method to that current in Jewish practice, in order to determine their timing of feastdays. In 2009, for example, Nisan 15 on the Jewish calendar used by Rabbinic Judaism corresponds to April 9. On the calendars used by Karaites and Samaritans, Abib or Aviv 15 (as opposed to ‘Nisan’) corresponds to April 11 in 2009. The Karaite and Samaritan Passovers are each one day long, followed by the six-day Festival of Unleavened Bread – for a total of seven days.
Main article: Passover sacrifice
The main entity in Passover according to Judaism is the sacrificial lamb. During the existence of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem, the focus of the Passover festival was the Passover sacrifice (Hebrew: korban Pesach), also known as the Paschal lamb, eaten during the Passover Seder on the 15th of Nisan. Every family large enough to completely consume a young lamb or wild goat was required to offer one for sacrifice at the Jewish Temple on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan (Numbers 9:11), and eat it that night, which was the 15th of Nisan (Exodus 12:6). If the family was too small to finish eating the entire offering in one sitting, an offering was made for a group of families. The sacrifice could not be offered with anything leavened (Exodus 23:18), and had to be roasted, without its head, feet, or inner organs being removed (Exodus 12:9) and eaten together with unleavened bread (matzo) and bitter herbs (maror). One had to be careful not to break any bones from the offering (Exodus 12:46), and none of the meat could be left over by morning (Exodus 12:10 Exodus 23:18).
Because of the Passover sacrifice’s status as a sacred offering, the only people allowed to eat it were those who had the obligation to bring the offering. Among those who could not offer or eat the Passover lamb were an apostate (Exodus 12:43), a servant (Exodus 12:45), an uncircumcised man (Exodus 12:48), a person in a state of ritual impurity, except when a majority of Jews are in such a state (Pesahim 66b), and a non-Jew. The offering had to be made before a quorum of 30 (Pesahim 64b). In the Temple, the Levites sang Hallel while the priests performed the sacrificial service. Men and women were equally obligated regarding the offering (Pesahim 91b).
Today, in the absence of the Temple, when no sacrifices are offered or eaten, the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach is memorialized in the Seder Korban Pesach, a set of scriptural and Rabbinic passages dealing with the Passover sacrifice, customarily recited after the Mincha (afternoon prayer) service on the 14th of Nisan, and in the form of the zeroa, a symbolic food placed on the Passover Seder Plate (but not eaten), which is usually a roasted shankbone (or a chicken wing or neck). The eating of the afikoman substitutes for the eating of the Korban Pesach at the end of the Seder meal (Mishnah Pesachim 119a). Many Sephardi Jews have the custom of eating lamb or goat meat during the Seder in memory of the Korban Pesach.
Removing all leaven (chametz)
See also: Chametz § Removal of chametz
Burning chametz on the morning before Passover begins
Leaven, in Hebrew chametz (Hebrew: חמץ ḥamets, “leavening“) is made from one of five types of grains combined with water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes. The consumption, keeping, and owning of chametz is forbidden during Passover. Yeast and fermentation are not themselves forbidden as seen for example by wine, which is required, rather than merely permitted. According to Halakha, the ownership of such chametz is also proscribed.
Chametz does not include baking soda, baking powder or like products. Although these are defined in English as leavening agents, they leaven by chemical reaction, not by biological fermentation. Thus, bagels, waffles and pancakes made with baking soda and matzo meal are considered permissible, while bagels made with sourdough and pancakes and waffles made with yeast are prohibited.
The Torah commandments regarding chametz are:
- To remove all chametz from one’s home, including things made with chametz, before the first day of Passover (Exodus 12:15). It may be simply used up, thrown out (historically, destroyed by burning), or given or sold to non-Jews.
- To refrain from eating chametz or mixtures containing chametz during Passover (Exodus 13:3, Exodus 12:20, Deuteronomy 16:3).
- Not to possess chametz in one’s domain (i.e. home, office, car, etc.) during Passover (Exodus 12:19, Deuteronomy 16:4).
Observant Jews spend the weeks before Passover in a flurry of thorough housecleaning, to remove every morsel of chametz from every part of the home. Jewish law requires the elimination of olive-sized or larger quantities of leavening from one’s possession, but most housekeeping goes beyond this. Even the seams of kitchen counters are thoroughly cleaned to remove traces of flour and yeast, however small. Any containers or implements that have touched chametz are stored and not used during Passover.
Interpretations for abstinence from leaven or yeast
Some scholars suggest that the command to abstain from leavened food or yeast suggests that sacrifices offered to God involve the offering of objects in “their least altered state”, that would be nearest to the way in which they were initially made by God. According to other scholars the absence of leaven or yeast means that leaven or yeast symbolizes corruption and spoiling.
There are also variations with restrictions on eating matzah before Passover so that there will be an increased appetite for it during Passover itself. Primarily among Chabad Chassidim, there is a custom of not eating matzoh (flat unleavened bread) in the 30 days before Passover begins. Others have a custom to refrain from eating matzah from Rosh Chodesh Nissan, while the halacha merely restricts one from eating matzah on the day before Passover.
Sale of leaven
The President of IsraelReuven Rivlin sells the leaven of the Beit HaNassi (the official residence of the president), to Shlomo Amar, the SephardicChief Rabbi of Israel and the Rishon LeZion, in order that Amar will later sell it to a non-Jew.See also: Chametz § Mechirah practices
Chametz foods blocked from purchase during Passover in a Jerusalem supermarket
Leaven or chametz may be sold rather than discarded, especially in the case of relatively valuable forms such as liquor distilled from wheat, with the products being repurchased afterward. In some cases, they may never leave the house, instead being formally sold while remaining in the original owner’s possession in a locked cabinet until they can be repurchased after the holiday. Modern observance may also include sealing cabinets and drawers which contain “Chametz” shut by using adhesive tape, which serves a similar purpose to a lock but also shows evidence of tampering. Although the practice of selling “Chametz” dates back many years, some Reform rabbinical authorities have come to regard it with disdain – since the supposed “new owner” never takes actual possession of the goods.
The sale of chametz may also be conducted communally via a rabbi, who becomes the “agent” for all the community’s Jews through a halakhic procedure called a kinyan (acquisition). Each householder must put aside all the chametz he is selling into a box or cupboard, and the rabbi enters into a contract to sell all the chametz to a non-Jew (who is not obligated to celebrate the commandments) in exchange for a small down payment (e.g. $1.00), with the remainder due after Passover. This sale is considered completely binding according to Halakha, and at any time during the holiday, the buyer may come to take or partake of his property. The rabbi then re-purchases the goods for less than they were sold at the end of the holiday.
#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Mar.28: 2021:
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