G-d promised Abraham the Land of Israel. However, G-d told him, “Your children will sojourn in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved and persecuted for four hundred years. After that they will leave with great wealth. And also the nation whom they will serve I shall judge.”
Indeed, Jacob and his sons traveled down to Egypt, and were eventually enslaved by the Egyptians. In the year 2448 (1312 BCE), after a series of miraculous plagues and warnings, G-d had Moses lead the Jewish people out of slavery, towards receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai and from there to the Land of Israel.
A Quick Chronology:
10th of Nissan: G-d instructs the Jewish people through Moses that every person should prepare a sheep for the Paschal sacrifice, to be offered four days later.
14th of Nissan: Each Jewish home offered the Paschal sacrifice, and put some of its blood on their doorposts.
eve of 15th of Nissan at midnight: G-d smites the first born of every Egyptian family, sparing the Jewish houses identified by the sacrificial blood.
Immediately following: The Jewish people are rushed to leave Egypt immediately, that very night. There was no time even to allow the bread for the journey to rise, and so they took with them Matzah (unleavened bread).
7 days later (the 21st of Nissan): The Jewish people arrive at bank of the Sea of Reeds, newly chased by a once again angry Egyptian army. G-d split the sea, allowing the Jews to pass through in comfort. (They didn’t actually cross the Sea of Reeds, as they actually exited on the same side they had entered, though slightly further down the coast.) The Egyptians who had followed behind them weren’t so lucky: They were drowned in an angry sea.
The Jewish people recited the famous Az Yashir song, praising G-d for His deliverance.
In commemoration of these special events, we are commanded by the Torah to celebrate the holiday of Pesach. The first two days (in Israel, just the first) are regarded as Yom Tov (a holy day in which no work is done) as are the last two days, remembering the great miracles wrought to our forefathers on those dates.
Indeed, we do not just view these miracles as dead, long-ago history, but rather as an essential part of our day-to-day growth and process of redemption and liberation.
As with the other holidays, for the past two thousand years Jewish tradition has required of those in the Diaspora to celebrate two days rather than just one. Although this originally began as a result of the delays faced by the messengers of the court in Jerusalem, who were to tell them which date had been established as the New Month, it is also a reflection of the greater spiritual qualities possessed by the Holy Land of Israel: The spiritual awakening that can be accomplished in one day in Israel requires two days in the Diaspora. As a result, we celebrate the first two days of Pesach as holidays, and an eighth day in addition to the seventh.
During these eight days, we are prohibited to eat — or even to possess — any Chametz (leaven). Basically, that includes any mixture of flour with water except for the extremely strict conditions involved in the baking of Matzah — a process in which less than eighteen minutes elapse from when the water and flour first touch until after the Matzah is already fully baked. In order to avoid having to throw out all our regular pots and pans, etc., tradition calls for the sale of Chametz. In this transaction, we place all of our Chametz utensils, Chametz, and the like, in designated, closed-off areas (such as a cabinet which is taped shut or the like), and — through a competent Rabbi — sell it to a non-Jew for the duration of the holiday.
Form available here.
In addition, we have the special Mitzvah on the first and second nights of Pesach to eat Matzah, drink four cups of wine, eat Maror (bitter herbs), and relate the story of Passover (known as the Haggadah). This ceremony is known as the Seder.
Complete Pesach Schedule
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Thursday, April 18:
Check the house for Chametz in the evening, after nightfall (7:53 pm). Some customs call for hiding ten bits of bread (carefully wrapped to avoid crumbs) to ensure that there is something to find. Recite the Kol Chamira rendering any Chametz you may have missed ownerless.
Make sure you have completed a Chametz sale form and emailed it to us.
Chametz may continue to be eaten until Friday morning — however all Chametz being kept on your property after Sunday night should be in designated areas.
Friday, April 19:
Morning Minyan at 7:00 am. There is a custom for first-born males to fast on this day — unless they participate in a “siyum” celebrating the conclusion of a tractate in the Talmud — commemorating their being skipped over when G-d smote the Egyptian first-born. Siyum ceremony for first-borns after services, a last-chance Chametz breakfast, and burning of the Chametz.
Finish eating Chametz in mid-morning by 10:39 am.
Burn any left-over bits of Chametz and recite the kol chamira by 11:46 am. (Your Chametz dishes, etc., must have been set aside and sold by this time.) If you’d like, you can bring your bread over for burning in the Chabad House back yard: any time before 10:00 am.
Throughout the rest of the day, one may eat neither Chametz nor Matzah. Anything else may be eaten as normal (though some traditions avoid all the ingredients of the Seder plate; i.e. egg, charoset, lettuce, etc.).
Candle Lighting 18 minutes before sunset: 7:10 pm
Services at Chabad House: 7:00 pm
Seder at 8:00 pm.
The first two days of Pesach (Friday night through Sunday night) are “holy days.” They are treated equal to Shabbat in terms of not doing any work, etc. The only two exceptions on Saturday night andSunday are that we are permitted to carry and utilize fire (from pre-existing flames) for the sake of cooking and food.
After nightfall and services on Monday evening, the Seder is celebrated. Traditionally, the more one talks and discusses regarding the story of the Haggadah and the Exodus the better. Yet, preferably the Afikomen (the piece of Matzah eaten at the conclusion of the Seder commemorating the Pesach sacrifice) should be eaten by midnight (12:51 am).
Saturday, April 20:
1st Day of Pesach
Full holiday services are recited — mostly similar to those of Shabbat, with the addition of the Hallel prayer.
Services begin at 10:00 am.
At Mussaf of the first day of Pesach we switch to the summer inserts in the Amidah prayers, and continue to do so through Mussaf on the last day of Sukkot.
A festive holiday meal is eaten after morning services (approx. 1:00 pm).
The evening services mirror those of the first night, including (in many congregations) the Hallel as well. These two nights are the only time that Hallel is ever publicly recited at night.
Candles are lit after nightfall (after 8:07 pm) from a pre-existing flame.
Services: 8:00 pm.
Second Seder begins: 8:30 pm.
Starting on the second night of Pesach for the next seven weeks we count the Omer each night after nightfall. Don’t forget to count the Omer.
The second Seder is almost completely a repeat of the first. The injunction to eat the Afikomen before midnight is not as strictly adhered to on the second night as on the first. According to the Zohar, the Matzah of the first night is the “food of faith”, while that of the second Seder is the “food of healing.”
Sunday, April 21:
Second Day of Pesach
Services at 10:00 am.
Lunch follows at approx. 1:00 pm.
This second “holy day” follows the same rules as the first.
Dinner at 6:30 pm.
Havdalah (no candle) after 8:08 pm.
Monday, April 22:
1st Day Chol HaMoed
Monday through Thursday are the Intermediate Days of Passover, days during which we still adhere to all the dietary restrictions of the holiday, but during which necessary and unavoidable work is permitted. We eat only Matzah and other Kosher for Passover foods, avoiding any leavened foods made with grains (i.e. bread, beer, whiskey, pasta, cereals, etc.)
Morning services include Halel, Musaf, and Torah reading.
Food will be available at the Chabad House or on campus for both lunch and dinner.
Lunch: 12:00—1:30 pm on Trousdale. (Founder’s Park)
Dinner: Make Your Own Matzah Pizza – 6:30—8:00 pm at the Chabad House
Tuesday, April 23:
Lunch: 12:00—1:30 pm on campus (Founder’s Park)
Dinner: Passover BBQ 6:30—8:00 pm at the Chabad House
Wednesday, April 24
Lunch: 12:00—1:30 pm on campus (Founder’s Park)
Dinner: 6:30—8:00 pm at the Chabad House
Talmud Class follows.
Thursday, April 25
Lunch: 12:00—1:30 pm (Founder’s Park)
The last two days of Passover are again “holy days.”
Once again, this holiday is treated like Shabbat, with the exception of being able to do things that involve food preparation, such as cooking, carrying outside, etc.
Candles are lit eighteen minutes before sunset: 7:14 pm.
Services: 7:30 pm.
Holiday Dinner: 8:00 pm
On this evening, many people have a custom to stay up all night studying Torah, commemorating the night of anticipation the Jews spent at the edge of the Red Sea. You’re welcome to join us!
Discussion on the deeper significance of the Splitting of the Sea: 10:30 pm
Friday, April 26:
The 7th Day of Pesach.
The holiday commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea. We read that story in the Torah reading of the day.
The services are followed by a festive meal.
Services: 10:00 am.
Lunch: approximately 1:00 pm
Evening services usher in the eighth day of Pesach, a holiday unique to the Diaspora. While the 7th day commemorates the Splitting of the Sea, the 8th day — according to Jewish mysticism — celebrates the imminent arrival of Moshiach and the final Redemption.
Candles for Shabbat and the holiday are kindled 18 minutes before sunset (before 7:15 pm) from a pre-existing flame.
Services at 7:00 pm.
Dinner at 8:00 pm
Saturday, April 27:
The 8th day of Pesach.
During morning services, the Yizkor service for departed family members is recited.
One last time, a festive holiday meal is eaten following morning services.
According to a tradition instituted by the Ba’al Shem Tov, after Mincha (afternoon services) on the last day of Pesach, we sit down to a special celebration known as “Moshiach’s Feast.” As at the Seder, this feast consists of Matzah and four cups of wine, as well as singing, words of inspiration, and a palpable feeling of yearning to finally celebrate the feast with Moshiach himself.
Moshiach’s Feast: Re-experience the Seder, this time with the emphasis not on the past, but on the future. 6:30 pm
Some time after nightfall (8:13 pm) and evening services, the Havdalah service is recited. At this point, Chametz may be eaten once again. However, for any Chametz that you sold for Pesach, approximately a half-hour leeway should be granted, so that the Rabbi has enough time to purchase the Chametz back. (After this break of eight days, a slice of bread or piece of pizza will taste better to you than it ever has before!)
Last year at our Seders we all called out: “Next year in Jerusalem!” May this year indeed finally be the year.
For more details on some of the Pesach observances check www.passover.org
This year in Jerusalem!