A Passover contemplation

We will be away for Pesach (Passover), so a contemplation for the week.

Passover is probably the oldest continously celebrated religious festival in the world: from the frightened rush out of Egypt, to the early years in the Holy Land, to a Jerusalem crowded with festal pilgrims coming to the Temple, to the terrible feast of CE70 when the Romans laid siege to the city, to the feasts celebrated in the diaspora in mansions or hovels or hiding places, to the return to the Land but with enemies at the gate and within.

Each year the movement from sorrow to joy, each year the same questions, each year a memorial to the same events in Pharaoh’s Egypt, each year the same hope – symbolised by the empty chair at the table reserved for the return of Elijah.

One can view this as folk memory or ritual. Or as a God given feast. If God given, what does He want us to learn from this night that is different from all other nights, repeated each year across the millenia? The Hebrew for remembrance – zeker – has the sense of speaking or acting out the memory. The little word zek means ‘pure’ or ‘clean’. So, in remembering together the memorial is built and we are cleansed.Traditional Passover meal

The central event remembered is the Passover itself: the tenth plague when all the first born in Egypt were slain, except in those houses where the Passover lamb had been sacrificed and its blood daubed on the doorposts and lintel. Death passed over those houses. That event lies at the heart of the night that is different from all other nights. That event is the most memorialised event in Jewish – and human – history.


Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover)

6 Responses to “A Passover contemplation”

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  2. Jonathan and Faith Says:

    Why? You ask – because the Passing-Over represents something horrifically awful and yet wonderfully liberating. How did this happen? By faith!! By faith and obedience: By faith he (Moses) kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

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  4. Portia Larzazs Says:

    I read about the terror threat in Sinai. I hope the Israeli citizens there are out of harm’s way.

  5. Eva Puniani Says:

    Thank you – By faith we too should keep Passover like Moses? Why call it Easter then?
    Hope you had a happy Passover!

  6. yf Says:

    Eva asks “Why call it Easter then?”

    In many European languages, the Christian remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection are called by some word relating to Passover, rather than Easter.

    The English term ‘Easter’ appears to derive from the Middle Eastern goddess of fertility, ister. Easter eggs and bunnies reflect that cult of fertility.

    When the Roman emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire, he combined the Christian holy day with the pagan in an effort to keep everybody happy. (Well, except the Jews whose Passover feast was soon suppressed.) The legacy of that confusion remains with us to this day.