Observance of Passover

The observance of the Passover religious holiday within the Jewish religion is one of the very strict rituals. There are several rules that must be adhered to.

For starters, in remembrance of the Israelites hasty departure from Egypt, all leavening is forbidden during Passover. And it’s just not the consumption of leavened bread that is forbidden, but also the keeping and owning of any leavened products during the Passover feast is not permitted. Therefore, in preparation of the Passover festival all leavened products are either eaten or given away to non-Jews. It’s important to note that fermentation and yeast are not only allowed, but are in fact required during the Passover ceremonious celebrations. On the night before Passover begins a blessing is read and then a traditional search is done through the house for any remaining chametz (leavened bread). During the days leading up to this eve, 10 morsels of bread that can be no larger than an olive are hidden throughout the house to be found and subsequently burned the next day, as part of the formal tradition.

Another ritualistic observance is that any dish, glass, or silverware that has ever touched chametz is packed up during the cleaning process and only special dishes, etc., are used during the Passover feast. It is also permissible to boil the utensils to remove any chametz from them.

Matzo is highly regarded and serves a key function in the Passover observance. It is preferred to eat matzo on the first night of Passover and then to only eat unleavened bread throughout the week of Passover.

The Passover feast lasts for seven or eight days, depending upon one’s Jewish tradition. The first night of Passover is the most reverent, containing a special dinner noted as a Seder. The book entitled Haggadah is used in the feast and is strictly and solemnly adhered to. The book tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt and has 15 phases that unfold throughout the night’s retelling. There are four cups of wine consumed throughout various parts. The 15 parts are: a blessing and the drinking of the first cup of wine; washing of the hands; dipping the karpas in salt water; breaking of the middle matzo; retelling of the Passover story, recital of the four questions and drinking of the second cup of wine; second washing of the hands, this time with a blessing; a traditional blessing before eating bread; blessing before eating matzo; eating of the maror; eating of a sandwich made of matzo and maror; serving of the holiday meal; eating of the afikoman; blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine; reciting of the Hallel and drinking of the fourth cup of wine; conclusion with songs and prayer. The 15 parts represent the 15 steps in the Temple in Jerusalem where the Levites stood during Temple services, also memorialized in the 15 Psalms.

As you can see, Passover is held as the most religious and ceremonious celebration of one of the three holiest of the Jewish holidays.

History of Passover (Pesach)

Passover, known as Pesach in the Hebrew language, is one of the most sacred and widely observed Jewish religious holidays. The religious holiday recognizes the Israelites departure after 400 years of slavery in ancient Egypt.

God instructed Moses to demand that the Pharaoh of Egypt releases the Hebrews. Moses requested the Pharaoh to allow them to return to Israel for a three-day religious celebration and feast. The Pharaoh refused and thus God delivered 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, each one worse than the previous. The final plague: the slaying of the firstborn son of every Egyptian household. Moses instructed the Jews to mark their doorways with lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their home during the plague. This is where the holiday is believed to have received its name: Passover.

The Pharaoh released the Israelites to return to their homes and offered them anything to make their journey a success. But the Hebrews feared the Pharaoh would change his mind thus they left in great haste, not taking the time for the bread to ‘leaven.’ This is the reason for unleavened bread to hold such an instrumental role in the rituals and ceremonious meals during the observance of the Passover festival today.

As it turns out, the Pharaoh did change his mind and gathered his army to chase after the Hebrews. When the Hebrews reached the Red Sea after 40 days and nights, they prayed to God to save them and pleaded with Moses to help. That night Moses used his staff and parted the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to return home. As the Egyptians approached the sea, its waters fell in again and they drowned.

Observance of Passover is highly regarded and very ritualistic amongst Jews. It is a festival that lasts 7 or 8 days, depending upon ones specific to Jewish faith. It is one of the three most holiest of religious holidays within the Jewish religion and as such there is even a book that outlines with great detail how each meal shall be prepared, how the table shall be set, and which dishware and lines shall be used. It even dictates what you should wear during the meals of Passover, which shoes to wear and, reverently, how quickly the meal should be eaten. Many Jews make the great pilgrimage back to the Temple at Jerusalem as a part of their celebration, and they are told to reflect on their faith and their life in honor of God’s glorious release of their people from slavery.

How Purim is Celebrated Today

Purim is a festive Jewish occasion that has many times been compared to the United States Mardi Gras celebrations. Others have said that it is like Christmas because of the gifting and generosity surrounding the event.  Purim is actually a celebration of freedom and redemption.

The story is a beautiful one. It starts with a common Jewish orphan becoming a queen and eventually allowing her people not only to live but to protect themselves against their enemies. They rose up and conquered their foes. It is all marked in the book of Esther.

The celebrations involve drinking and food. There is also a lot of fun and costumes. While costumes were once restricted to that of the characters in the Megillah, today may different types are worn.

Role playing in recognition of the historical events that led to the celebrations is a significant part of this custom. Purim is observed on the 15t of Adar (Jewish calendar). The festivities normally kick off on the 14th of Adar.

Adults and children will all come together to mark the occasion. The Megillah is read or reenacted telling the story of the Jewish people’s deliverance and redemption as told in the book of Esther.  One of Purim’s symbols is a wooden noise maker called a gragger. The gragger is used to make noise much like the stomping at the mention of Haman’s name in the readings of the Megillah.

Purim is a time of year that sparks a lot of generosity from the Jewish community. The Jewish people believe that this is the time to give to others. A lot of food baskets and gifts are involved in the Purim tradition. It is a merry celebration in remembrance of their history and of their heritage.

There are a variety of events that take place during this time.  Morning and afternoon prayers are conducted. Schools oftentimes hold special events. Many celebrations will include costumes and drinking. The fun and dancing seems endless! Purim is recognized in Israel as a public holiday.

This is a generous time for Jewish families. It is also joyful, and the occasion is laced with bittersweet memories of ages gone by. It is a beautiful celebration that embraces a very historic meaning; in many ways it is a symbolic journey for the Jewish culture and its people every year.

This journey began so many thousands of years ago with a Jewish orphan named Esther. She became a Persian Queen and set her people free.  It is definitely a Holiday worth celebrating no matter where you are from or what your religious preferences may be.

The History of Purim

Purim is a Jewish holiday that has an amazing history. It is a celebration of deliverance and redemption. Purim’s beginning is well documented in the book of Esther, where the Jews were delivered from their foes. This freedom inspired the festive celebration.

The story begins with a Jewish orphan named Esther. She was betrothed to the king of Persia. She did not revealing her identity as a Jew to him until the time came that she had to stand for her people. She did this selflessly even at the risk of her own life.

After the King found that Esther’s life had been threatened he was enraged. He found out that Haman was the one threatening Esther’s life. The King then made Mordecai who was Esther’s Jewish relative the owner of Haman’s estate.  This was a great victory for the Jewish people.

Haman had ordered that all of the Jews be killed. Esther gained the right to overturn the orders of Haman. She granted her people the rights to protect themselves as well as the right to assemble. The Jews were able to defeat their attackers.  Mordecai declared that day be remembered annually. This birthed the yearly celebration of Purim.

Every year, people gather together to celebrate the Jews deliverance as Mordecai declared. This event is not taken as seriously as many of their more ritualistic synagogue ceremonies. It is a very meaningful time in the lives of every Jew regardless of the lighthearted atmosphere surrounding the celebration.

Purim includes feasting and gifting. All of the old time favorite holiday Jewish themed dishes are involved in the festivities. Food is a key part of the Purim celebrations. The event marks a time to be generous and giving to your fellow man. Oftentimes costumes are worn by Purim partygoers.

Many people looking back over the years have described Purim as the Mardi Gras of the Jewish culture with a little dash of Christmas spirit. There are songs, games and food dishes that have been a part of the Purim tradition for centuries. It is a magical event that remembers the Jewish people’s journey to freedom. It also recognizes a Jewish orphan who became a Queen and saved her people. These traditions and what they represent will live on in the hearts of those celebrations and the people who attend them for many more centuries to come.

How Tu B’Shevat is Celebrated Today

The Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat falls on the 15th day of the month of Shevat. It isn’t a major Jewish holiday, but is still celebrated by many, especially in Israel. It’s also known as the “New Year for Trees,” as the date was chosen to mark the blooming season in Israel.

The day celebrates the season when rain falls strongest in Israel, causing buds to show and fruits to appear. School children often mark the day by planting trees, although this is a relatively new practice. Outside of Israel, Tu B’Shevat is often a celebration of a person’s attachment and connection to nature.

Tu B’Shevat is traditionally celebrated by eating fruit. This practice originates back to the middle ages, when the Tu B’Shevat Seder was developed by Jewish mystics. The Seder involved drinking four cups of wine and eating ten different types of fruit, and the practice quickly spread to other countries with a large Jewish population. While this Seder isn’t as widespread today as it was in the past, it’s still common in Israel.

While all types of fruit is eaten on Tu B’Shevat, particular attention is given to those that are specifically mentioned in the Torah, such as olives, dates and grapes. Fruits and nuts that have an inedible outer shell, such as banana, pineapple and Brazil nut are also eaten. The outer shell should traditionally only be removed once Seder begins.

People in Israel also use the holiday of Tu B’Shevat to consider their place in the world. A relevant Jewish saying is that “man is a tree of the field,” and on Tu B’Shevat Jewish people try to learn lessons from trees and other parts of nature.

The day has always been associated with trees, and by extension nature, so Tu B’Shevat is often used to promote ecological and environmental causes. Many people plant trees, for example, especially in Israel. The trees are often paid for by donations from Jewish people living abroad.

The tradition of planting trees on Tu B’Shevat dates back to 1890, when the Rabbit Ze’ev Yavetz asked his students to plant trees at an agricultural colony. In 1908, this practice became more widespread, and was officially adopted by the Jewish National Fund and Teachers Union. Today, the National Fund organizes large-scale tree planting on Tu B’Shevat in forests, with huge numbers of Jewish people taking part.

History of Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the 15th day of the month of Shevat. It’s also known as the “New Year of the Trees.” The day originated in biblical times, but is a relatively minor Jewish holiday. It began as a day to check trees for tax purposes, but developed in the middle ages into a celebration of nature. Today, the holiday is often used to promote environmental awareness, and is marked with the planting of new trees.

Tu B’Shevat in Biblical Times and the Middle Ages

The history of Tu B’Shevat can be traced back over two thousand years, although the meaning and method of celebration have changed considerably in that time. Tu B’Shevat is strongly linked to trees, which have always featured prominently in Jewish spirituality and literature. The name of the holiday is derived from the Jewish date and month, where Tu stands for a pair of numbers that add up to 15.

There are four new years in the Jewish calendar, and Tu B’Shevat is considered to be one of them. There was originally some debate about the date of each holiday, but eventually the 15th of Shevat was chosen for the purpose of calculating taxes on trees and land.

Tu B’Shevat began as a day to check the age of trees owned by individuals. If a tree was less than three years old, a period known as orlah, the fruit was forbidden to be eaten. This was because during this time the tree and fruit was considered God’s property.

During the middle ages, Tu B’Shevat became a “feast of fruits,” and was much more of a celebration than it was in biblical times. The day was also considered as an agricultural new year.

The kabbalist Rabbit Yitzchak Luria developed a ritual for the holiday in the 16th century, with the idea that eating ten different fruits, four cups of wine and reciting particular blessings – in the correct order – would bring humans closer to the perfection they desired. This was known as Tu Bishvat Seder, and has been revived by many Jewish people in Israel today.

In modern times, Tu B’Shevat has become a celebration of nature and our environment. It is used by a number of organizations, especially in Israel, to promote environmental causes. It is also often celebrated in Israel with the planting of new trees.