On Wednesday Night we begin Pesach.
This is the night of what is called Layil HaSeder or Night of the Arrangement or
Night of the Order (Seder)
in which the process of telling the story of the Coming out of Egypt and eating
the Matsoh and the Pesach Meal
are all arranged in a set-out-order. One of the reasons for the set out order
and arrangement is to
to interest the children in what is being celebrated. The deliverance from Egypt
took place on this night.
It is a commandment to instruct one's offspring as to what happened.
In Jewish Households a whole detailed ceremony is conducted on this night
lasting several hours.
This ceremony includes washing the hands, eating certain vegetables, chanting an
account of the coming out of Egypt,
and also telling different anecdotes and insights concerning it -each family or
group-sharing-the-meal according to its own understanding.
We also eat Matsoh on this night and drink at least four cups of wine.
For those who have weak stomachs or are sensitive to the influence of alcohol
grape juice is drunk.
The whole ceremony is conducted with the help of little booklets.
The booklet is called a "Haggada".
It is a commandment to tell of the coming out of Egypt on this night, [Exodus 13:8] AND THOU SHALTSHEW
THY SON IN THAT DAY, SAYING, THIS IS DONE BECAUSE OF THAT WHICH THE LORD DID
UNTO ME WHEN I CAME FORTH OUT OF EGYPT. The word translated as "AND THOU SHALT SHOW" in Hebrew is "Ve-Higgadata"
literally meaning "And you shall Declare" or Relate.
WE have to tell what happened.
"Ve-Higgadata" from the root "HaGaD". From here we get the word "HaGaDa" for the
booklet that tells us what to say.
The Bible says: [Exodus 13:3] AND MOSES SAID UNTO THE
PEOPLE, REMEMBER THIS DAY, IN WHICH YE CAME OUT FROM EGYPT, OUT OF THE HOUSE OF
BONDAGE; FOR BY STRENGTH OF HAND THE LORD BROUGHT YOU OUT FROM THIS PLACE: THERE
SHALL NO LEAVENED BREAD BE EATEN.
[Exodus 13:4] THIS DAY CAME YE OUT IN
THE MONTH ABIB
[i.e. in the Spring Month, in the month that begins the Season of
[Exodus 13:5] AND IT SHALL BE WHEN THE
LORD SHALL BRING THEE INTO THE LAND OF THE CANAANITES, AND THE HITTITES, AND THE
AMORITES, AND THE HIVITES,
AND THE JEBUSITES,
WHICH HE SWARE
UNTO THY FATHERS TO GIVE THEE, A LAND FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY, THAT THOU
KEEP THIS SERVICE IN THIS MONTH.
[Exodus 13:6] SEVEN DAYS THOU SHALT
EAT UNLEAVENED BREAD, AND IN THE SEVENTH DAY SHALL BE A FEAST TO THE
[Exodus 13:7] UNLEAVENED BREAD SHALL BE
EATEN SEVEN DAYS; AND THERE SHALL NO LEAVENED BREAD BE SEEN WITH THEE, NEITHER
SHALL THERE BE LEAVEN SEEN WITH THEE IN ALL THY QUARTERS.
[Exodus 13:8] AND THOU SHALTSHEW
THY SON IN THAT DAY, SAYING, THIS IS DONE BECAUSE OF THAT WHICH THE LORD DID
UNTO ME WHEN I CAME FORTH OUT OF EGYPT.
We came out of Egypt "BeChodesh Aviv" in the Spring Month as it says above.
This is the time of Spring of renewal and of rejuvenation.
Pesach begins on the night of the 15th of Nisan which is a full moon.
On this Night the Children of Israel came out of Egypt.
The coming out of Egypt represents Freedom, deliverance from
The Children of Israel had been slaves in Egypt and God delivered them on this
night. They had to leave in a hurry so that even the bread they had prepared did
have not time to ferment and puff up but had to be taken as it was. This is why
the Bible commanded us ever after throughout this Festival to only eat matsoh.
You have probably all seen Matsoh.
In Israel the festival lasts for 7 days as the Bible commanded. Outside of
Israel Jews keep an extra day and celebrate the festival for eight days.
The Children of Israel in Egypt had been enslaved. The Egyptians had oppressed
them. God sent Moses to deliver the Hebrews. Moses was accompanied by his
brother Aaron who served as his spokesman.
Ten different plagues were brought on the Egyptians. We are told all about it in
the Book of Exodus. The King of Egypt was warned before the plagues to let the
Israelites go into the wilderness and sacrifice to their God, the God of Israel
who is the one and only God, Creator of the Universe.
There is no other God.
The King of Egypt, Pharoah would be warned before each plague. He would still
refuse and the plague would come.
The Israelites were then slaves to the Egyptians but they lived in their own
area of Egypt. They lived in the Land of Goshen east of the Nile River. In the
future the Land of Goshen will be part of the Land of Israel.
In the first plague the Nile River and all the watering holes and wells of the
Egyptians were turned into blood. They had to dig new wells in order to have
something to drink.
The second plague was frogs. Frogs came up all over Egypt. Pharaoh asked Moses
to remove the frogs and said that if he would do so he would let the Hebrews go.
Moses prayed to God and the frogs went away. After that Pharaoh changed his
mind, went back on his word, and refused to release the Hebrews. This pattern
was to be repeated in the other plagues.
Fleas. Hebrew "cinim" translated as "lice" in the KJV.
Mixed horde of animals. Hebrew "arov" translated as "swarms of flies" in the KJV.
Plague (Dever) translated as Murrain in the KJV. A disease against the livestock
of Egypt killing off the cattle, sheep, and other animals.
Boils that attacked both man and beast.
Hail. Hebrew "barad". This was very heavy and broke up all the grain, trees, and
Darkness. For three days there was no sunlight in the Land of Egypt but there
was in the habitations of the Hebrews (Exodus 10:23).
Firstborn Killed. Finally God killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians
including the firstborn son of the King himself. The firstborn of the Egyptians
were all killed at midnight. God told Moses beforehand. Moses warned Pharaoh but
Pharaoh would not listen. God told Moses to command the Children of Israel
telling each household to take a lamb and slaughter it. They were to smear their
lintels and doorposts with the blood of the lamb. They were commanded to eat the
lamb together with certain vegetables that gave a bitter taste in Hebrew "maror"
called "Bitter herbs" in the KJV.
In Hebrew "bitter" is "mar". The English word "mar" meaning to blemish or create
an imperfection may come from the Hebrew "mar" i.e. make bitter.
[Exodus 12:1] AND THE LORD SPAKE
UNTO MOSES AND AARON IN THE LAND OF EGYPT SAYING,
[Exodus 12:2] THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO
YOU THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS: IT SHALL BE THE FIRST MONTH OF THE YEAR TO YOU. This was in the Month of Nisan. The Month of Nisan is counted as the
first month for many purposes. The beginning of the year however for other
matters is on Rosh HaShanah which is on the first of Tishrei in the seventh
[Exodus 12:3] SPEAK YE UNTO ALL THE
CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL, SAYING, IN THE TENTH DAY OF THIS MONTH THEY SHALL TAKE
TO THEM EVERY MAN A LAMB, ACCORDING TO THE HOUSE OF THEIR FATHERS, A LAMB FOR AN
They were to take a lamb on the 10th day and keep it for four days. This was to
warn the Egyptians about what was going to happen. According to tradition the
Egyptians at that time considered sheep sacred, similar to the holy cow amongst
the Hindus of India. There are similarities between the Ancient Egyptians and
the Hindus of India. This was observed by Avraham Iben Ezra (1093-1167 died in
London, England) a great commentator.
The Egyptians had ruled over the Israelites and oppressed them with hard labor.
They would not let the Hebrews go. From the time of the first plague the
Israelites had stopped working for the Egyptians. They were basically already
free but they could not leave. The Egyptians would not let them and the
Israelites could not leave themselves for psychological and other reasons. They
had to be sent away by the Egyptians themselves. Pharaoh was the King of Egypt.
By refusing to release the Hebrews Pharaoh was fulfilling the will of his
people. All of the Egyptians were guilty of enslaving the Hebrews.
By taking a lamb which was sacred to the Egyptians and holding it tied up for
four days declaring they intended to sacrifice it the Israelites were announcing
to the Egyptians that they were not afraid of them and no longer subject to
[Exodus 12:4] AND IF THE HOUSEHOLD BE
TOO LITTLE FOR THE LAMB, LET HIM AND HIS NEIGHBOUR
NEXT UNTO HIS HOUSE TAKE IT ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE SOULS; EVERY MAN
ACCORDING TO HIS EATING SHALL MAKE YOUR COUNT FOR THE LAMB. A lamb had to be sacrificed and all of it eaten during the night. If a
family was to small to eat all of the lamb by itself it was to join up with
[Exodus 12:5] YOUR LAMB SHALL BE WITHOUT
BLEMISH, A MALE OF THE FIRST YEAR: YE SHALL TAKE IT OUT FROM THE SHEEP, OR FROM
THE GOATS: The lamb could be a one-year old sheep or a kid goat.
[Exodus 12:6] AND YE SHALL KEEP IT UP
UNTIL THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE SAME MONTH: AND THE WHOLE ASSEMBLY OF THE
CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL SHALL KILL IT IN THE EVENING. In the evening of the 14th day (just before nightfall which according to
the Hebrew Calendar begins the 15th day) the lamb was to be
[Exodus 12:7] AND THEY SHALL TAKE OF THE
BLOOD, AND STRIKE IT ON THE TWO SIDE POSTS AND ON THE UPPER DOOR POST OF THE
HOUSES, WHEREIN THEY SHALL EAT IT.
The blood of the lamb was to be put on the door posts and on the lintel meaning
the horizontal part of the doorpost at the top.
[Exodus 12:8] AND THEY SHALL EAT THE
FLESH IN THAT NIGHT, ROAST WITH FIRE, AND UNLEAVENED BREAD; AND WITH BITTER
HERBS THEY SHALL EAT IT.
[Exodus 12:9] EAT NOT OF IT RAW, NOR
SODDEN AT ALL WITH WATER, BUT ROAST WITH FIRE; HIS HEAD WITH HIS LEGS, AND WITH
THEREOF. The lamb had to be roasted whole over fire. It could not be boiled or
cooked in any other way.
[Exodus 12:10] AND YE SHALL LET NOTHING
OF IT REMAIN UNTIL THE MORNING; AND THAT WHICH REMAINETH
OF IT UNTIL THE MORNING YE SHALL BURN WITH FIRE. All of the lamb had to be eaten. Anything left over was to be burnt
[Exodus 12:11] AND THUS SHALL YE EAT IT;
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.
These laws about dressing specially with a staff in your hand etc being prepared
for a journey were only applicable on the first time the feast was celebrated
when they came out of Egypt. Later the Israelites had to celebrate Pesach every
year and kill a lamb the same way and eat it with the bitter herbs. They would
not however had to take their staff in hand and be prepared for a journey as
they had to on the first time. Nevertheless there were Jewish communities were
they did dress up specially on Pesach night as if they were about to set out on
[Exodus 12:12] FOR I WILL PASS THROUGH
THE LAND OF EGYPT THIS NIGHT, AND WILL SMITE ALL THE FIRSTBORN IN THE LAND OF
EGYPT, BOTH MAN AND BEAST; AND AGAINST ALL THE GODS OF EGYPT I WILL EXECUTE
JUDGMENT: I AM THE LORD.
[Exodus 12:13] AND THE BLOOD SHALL BE TO
YOU FOR A TOKEN UPON THE HOUSES WHERE YE ARE: AND WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD, I WILL
PASS OVER YOU, AND THE PLAGUE SHALL NOT BE UPON YOU TO DESTROY YOU, WHEN I SMITE
THE LAND OF EGYPT.
[Exodus 12:14] 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
[Exodus 12:15] SEVEN DAYS SHALL YE EAT
UNLEAVENED BREAD; EVEN THE FIRST DAY YE SHALL PUT AWAY LEAVEN OUT OF YOUR
HOUSES: FOR WHOSOEVER EATETH
LEAVENED BREAD FROM THE FIRST DAY UNTIL THE SEVENTH DAY, THAT SOUL SHALL BE CUT
OFF FROM ISRAEL. Matsoh were to eaten throughout the 7 days of Pesach. Leaven bread was to
be forbidden. It was forbidden to have any leaven in your possession throughout
the feast of Pesach. This is the origin of Pesach cleaning which drives Jewish
households crazy, especially the women. It is in fact only a custom but everyone
does it as if it were something very serious. The whole house is scrubbed down
before Pesach. In theory this is to remove any trace of leavened bread that the
children or somebody else may have hidden away or left behind in some obscure
corner of the house. In practice it means that the whole house is cleaned out.
This could be the origin of "Spring Cleaning" which is very wide-spread in the
North America but much less so in the rest of the world.
"Spring Cleaning" probably derives from Pesach Cleaning.
[Exodus 12:16] AND IN THE FIRST DAY
THERE SHALL BE AN HOLY CONVOCATION, AND IN THE SEVENTH DAY THERE SHALL BE AN
HOLY CONVOCATION TO YOU; NO MANNER OF WORK SHALL BE DONE IN THEM, SAVE THAT
WHICH EVERY MAN MUST EAT, THAT ONLY MAY BE DONE OF YOU.
In Jewish Practice the First Day and the Seventh (Last) Day of Pesach are Holy
Days on which no work is done similar to the Sabbath Day. On the other days (if
it is not a Sabbath Day) essential work may be done but those who do not have
to work should try not to do so. They should try to impart a holiday atmosphere
to the Festival. In the Times of the Temple all of Israel had to go up to
Jerusalem to offer up the sacrifice. Many of them would stay in Jerusalem
throughout the seven days.
[Exodus 12:17] AND YE SHALL OBSERVE THE
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD; FOR IN THIS SELFSAME DAY HAVE I BROUGHT YOUR ARMIES
OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT: THEREFORE SHALL YE OBSERVE THIS DAY IN YOUR
GENERATIONS BY AN ORDINANCE FOR EVER.
Pesach had to be celebrated every year in remembrance of the day when they were
[Exodus 12:18] IN THE FIRST MONTH, ON
THE FOURTEENTH DAY OF THE MONTH AT EVEN, YE SHALL EAT UNLEAVENED BREAD, UNTIL
THE ONE AND TWENTIETH DAY OF THE MONTH AT EVEN.
[Exodus 12:19] SEVEN DAYS SHALL THERE BE
NO LEAVEN FOUND IN YOUR HOUSES: FOR WHOSOEVER EATETH
THAT WHICH IS LEAVENED, EVEN THAT SOUL SHALL BE CUT OFF FROM THE CONGREGATION OF
ISRAEL, WHETHER HE BE A STRANGER, OR BORN IN THE LAND.
[Exodus 12:20] YE SHALL EAT NOTHING
LEAVENED; IN ALL YOUR HABITATIONS SHALL YE EAT UNLEAVENED
[Exodus 12:21] THEN MOSES CALLED FOR ALL
THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL, AND SAID UNTO THEM, DRAW OUT AND TAKE YOU A LAMB
ACCORDING TO YOUR FAMILIES, AND KILL THE PASSOVER.
[Exodus 12:22] AND YE SHALL TAKE A BUNCH
OF HYSSOP, AND DIP IT IN THE BLOOD THAT IS IN THE BASON,
AND STRIKE THE LINTEL AND THE TWO SIDE POSTS WITH THE BLOOD THAT IS IN THE
AND NONE OF YOU SHALL GO OUT AT THE DOOR OF HIS HOUSE UNTIL THE MORNING.
[Exodus 12:23] 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
[Exodus 12:24] AND YE SHALL OBSERVE THIS
THING FOR AN ORDINANCE TO THEE AND TO THY SONS FOR EVER.
[Exodus 12:25] AND IT SHALL COME TO
PASS, WHEN YE BE COME TO THE LAND WHICH THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU, ACCORDING AS HE
HATH PROMISED, THAT YE SHALL KEEP THIS SERVICE.
[Exodus 12:26] AND IT SHALL COME TO
PASS, WHEN YOUR CHILDREN SHALL SAY UNTO YOU, WHAT MEAN YE BY THIS SERVICE?
[Exodus 12:27] THAT YE SHALL SAY, IT IS
THE SACRIFICE OF THE LORD'S PASSOVER, WHO PASSED OVER THE HOUSES OF THE
CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN EGYPT, WHEN HE SMOTE THE EGYPTIANS, AND DELIVERED OUR
HOUSES. AND THE PEOPLE BOWED THE HEAD AND WORSHIPPED.
After that God killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians. Pharaoh and the
Egyptians then sent the Israelites away in the middle of the night.
[Exodus 12:29] AND IT CAME TO PASS, THAT
AT MIDNIGHT THE LORD SMOTE ALL THE FIRSTBORN IN THE LAND OF EGYPT, FROM THE
FIRSTBORN OF PHARAOH THAT SAT ON HIS THRONE UNTO THE FIRSTBORN OF THE CAPTIVE
THAT WAS IN THE DUNGEON; AND ALL THE FIRSTBORN OF CATTLE.
[Exodus 12:30] AND PHARAOH ROSE UP IN
THE NIGHT, HE, AND ALL HIS SERVANTS, AND ALL THE EGYPTIANS; AND THERE WAS A
GREAT CRY IN EGYPT; FOR THERE WAS NOT A HOUSE WHERE THERE WAS NOT ONE DEAD.
[Exodus 12:31] AND HE CALLED FOR MOSES
AND AARON BY NIGHT, AND SAID, RISE UP, AND GET YOU FORTH FROM AMONG MY PEOPLE,
BOTH YE AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL; AND GO, SERVE THE LORD, AS YE HAVE
The Egyptians did not want the Hebrews staying in their land even for a moment
too soon. Sometimes we want something to happen and need it to do so but God
gives it to us when HE decides to do so. Then we may get what we need whether we
are prepared for it or not.
This Festival is called Pesach (in English Passover) because God Pisach (skipped
over) the Houses of the Israelites and spared their children though HE killed
the firstborn of the Egyptians.
This word root Pesach also means to stand over or to straddle.
Elijah the Prophet said to the Northern Israelites: [1-Kings 18:21] AND ELIJAH CAME UNTO ALL
THE PEOPLE, AND SAID, HOW LONG HALT YE [Hebrew: ##ATEMPOSCHIM##]
BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? IF THE LORD BE GOD, FOLLOW HIM: BUT IF BAAL, THEN FOLLOW
HIM. AND THE PEOPLE ANSWERED HIM NOT A WORD.
The Hebrew words translated above as HALT YE are ##ATEM [You are] POSCHIM i.e.
standing over, straddling, a space with your legs in two places, one leg in one
place and the other leg in another.
OPINIONS. Hebrew "saifim" i.e. "stepping stones" or entrance boards as if the
person concerns is trying to enter two different places at one and the same
time by placing one foot in one entrance and the other in another.
Elijah says to the Israelites to decide or to worship the idol ball or to
worship the God of Israel. The Israelites of his time had adopted a process of
syncretism. They tried to combine worship of the God of Israel with pagan
customs. This may be similar to what prevails today.
Elijah was speaking at Mount Carmel (by present day Haifa) in the time of Ahab
the King of Northern Israel. The northern Ten Tribes of Israel had separated
themselves from Judah and Jerusalem and set up their own Kingdom. They practiced
their own kind of religion and rejected the authority of the Temple and
Jerusalem. This is similar to today. Even those Ephraimites who adopt Hebrew
practices as taught in the Bible often prefer to invent their own
interpretations or those of anti-Jewish Karaites and others. They are prejudiced
against Jewish Rabbis and call them "Pharisees". In effect they declare that
they are still against the Jews. The Ten Tribes to whom Elijah spoke were
conquered by the Assyrians and exiled. God exiled them because they worshipped
idols and the baal and tried to adapt baal worship with the worship of God.
Details are given in 2-Kings chapters 17 and 18. The Ten Tribes lost
consciousness of their Israelite ancestry and became known as the Lost Ten
Brit-Am has proof that descendants of the Lost Ten Tribes are NOW to be found
amongst the inhabitants of Western Nations such as Canada, the USA, Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Ulster, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the
Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland.
On Pesach is celebrated the Deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt.
Egypt in Hebrew is Mitsraim. Literally this means "The Two Mitsrai". "Mitsrai"
or "Mitsru" is an ancient name for Egypt. There were originally two separate
entities, Upper (Northern) and Lower (Southern) Egypt that joined together to
become one Kingdom.
A Derash has been applied to the name Mitsraim.
A Derash is something we can learn from the Bible (usually based on the meaning
of a word in Hebrew) which is not necessarily the original intention of the
verse and is not its true meaning. A Derash does not come to replace our
understanding of the Bible but rather to teach us something in addition to what
the simple meaning says.
From the word Derash we get "Midrash" which originally meant something learnt
from a "derash".
According to a "Derash" the word "Mitsraim" derives from the word "Maytser" in
Hebrew meaning "constriction" or "inhibition". By "coming out of Egypt" we come
out of our "Matsarim" i.e. we free ourselves from the inhibitions and
impediments that prevent us from realizing our real inner desire to serve the
Almighty and act like true Hebrews.
May this Pesach Festival gives us the strength and inspiration to overcome our "Maytsarim"
and worship the God of Israel as we really want to do.
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