Pesach is a major Jewish Holiday which celebrates the Jews’ redemption from slavery in Egypt.
Pesach is celebrated for eight days during which strict observance is adhered to in terms of not consuming, or even owning, any leavened products or by-products. It is marked by two Seder meals during which the story of Exodus is retold, four cups of wine are drunk, and Matzah & bitter herbs are eaten.
The story of Pesach takes place in the Book of Exodus (Shemot). After many decades of enslavement, where the Jews endured back-breaking labour, and unendurable hardship, Pharoah made a decree that all male Jewish babies were to be drowned in the Nile.
One such child survived – he became known as Moses.
Moses was sent by G-d to relay the message to ‘Let My people go”. In spite of numerous warnings, Pharoah repeatedly refused, and as result Hashem send upon Egypt ten cataclysmic plagues. The plagues destroyed the Egyptians’ livestock, land, crops and the people themselves.
The final of the ten plagues was the death of their first borns. The Jewish people were instructed to mark their homes, and at midnight, on the 15 Nissan, 2448 (1313BC) Hashem visited each household killing their firstborns, ‘passing over’ the marked homes of the Jews. This final plague was what finally broke down Pharoah’s resistance and he commanded his slaves to leave.
The Israelites left in such a hurry that the bread they baked for the way did not have time to rise – thus the reason why no leavened products are consumed during this holiday.
Once the 600,000 adult males plus women, children and elderly reached the Sea of Reeds, they ralised that the Egyptians, having once again changed their mind, were chasing after them, and they found themselves with the sea in front of them and the Egyptians at their backs. It was a true believer Nachshan ben Aminadav, who jumped into the water, at which point the sea split, and the Israelites crossed safely, while their pursuers were drowned.
This was the day when the Israelites were delivered from slavery and began their sojourn into the desert on their way to Mt Sinai.
Pesach Observances, customs & traditions
Chametz; in commemoration of the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, no chametz is eaten, or even owned, for the entire duration of the holiday. Any products that contain any trace of wheat, barley, spelt oats or rye or their derivatives are strictly forbidden during Pesach. Removal of all forms of chametz is a time consuming and intensive process, and people start on this process well in advance of the holiday itself in preparation. This process is likened to an intensive, through Spring Cleaning.
The night before the eve of Pesach all this cleaning and ridding of chametz culminates in the formal ritual of Searching for Chametz (at night with a candle and feather) and Burning the Chametz (in the morning). After midday consumption of chametz is no longer permitted.
All chametz which cannot be discarded (or burned) is gathered, locked away and sold to a non-Jewish person.
Matzah. This is what is eaten during the two Seders, as well as the rest of Pesach. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, ritual washing is done before the festive meals and the blessing which is usually made for Challah is made for Matzah.
Seder/s. The Seders are the icon of Pesach. The Seder is an ordered, family oriented ritualised tradition packed feast. At the seder the order of the Haggadah is followed. Four cups of wine are drunk, Matzah is eated, the story of the exodus is re-told, bitter herbs are consumed and the Haggadah is recited.
Pesach is so in-depth and multifaceted. Look out for the many Rabbi Danny and Revbbetzin Sara-Tova’s lessons, lectures and programs, and read more about Pesach here.
CBDChabad starts our Pesach preparations as soon as Purim ends!
Lunch’n’Learn sessions, shiurim, one-on-one tutoring, lectures, special speakers, preparation programs are just the beginning of what we offer in the lead up to Pesach.
Rabbi Danny and Rebbetzin Sara-Tova host two full Communal Sedorim packed with learning, guidance, explanations, expounding of concepts, inspiration and enlightenment, and, of course, delicious food!
For those who are unable to attend one of our Sedorim, we also offer Pesach To Go kits with kiddush cups, wine, matzah, haggadah, inspiration and optional food.
We Would love to hear from you
If you wish learn more about CBDChabad and our many services, or you wish to join us for any of our events, learning sessions, festive meals or feel like you just want to reach out, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you.