Passover is an eight-day Festival (seven in Israel) commemorating the Exodus from Egypt and the
liberation of the Israelites from slavery.
For the duration of Passover, no leavened bread is eaten for which reason it is also called
(Chag HaMatzot), "The Festival of the Unleavened Bread".
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month between the two evenings is the L-RD'S Passover.
And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the L-RD; seven days
ye shall eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of
servile work. And ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto the L-RD seven days; in the seventh day is
a holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work. (Leviticus 23:5)
And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-RD,
for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat
unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes ... you shall
guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you
shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. - Exodus 12:14-17
When the Temple in Jerusalem was standing, the focus of the Passover festival was the Korban Pesach
(lit. "Pesach sacrifice," also known as the "Paschal Lamb"). Every family large enough to completely
consume a young lamb or Wild Goat was required to offer one for sacrifice at the Jewish Temple on the
afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan,and eat it that night, which was the 15th of Nisan.
Today, in the absence of the Temple, the mitzvah of the Korban Pesach is memorialized in the Seder
Korban Pesach, recited in the afternoon of Nisan 14, and in the form of symbolic food placed on the
Passover Seder Plate, which is usually a roasted shankbone. Source: Wikipedia
The name "Pesach" (PAY-sahkh) comes from the Hebrew root Peh-Samech-Chet , meaning to pass
through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that G-d "passed over" the houses of
the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In English, the holiday is known as Passover.
"Pesach" is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the Temple on this holiday.
The holiday is also referred to as Chag ha-Aviv , (the Spring Festival), Chag ha-Matzoth , (the Festival of
Matzahs), and Z'man Cherutenu , (the Time of Our Freedom).
Eli Ha-Levi, BA, M.L.I.S says:
a one-day festival known in Hebrew as "Chag Ha-Pesach" or "Hag Ha-Pesach," meaning "The Festival
of the Paschal Offering." This one-day festival was celebrated by early Middle Eastern peoples before
the Passover/Pesach of Egypt story. It was incorporated into the Passover/Pesach of Egypt story as
the paschal lamb whose blood was used by the Hebrews on the doorposts and lintel (beam) at the
entrance to their households to "shield" the first-born son in every Hebrew household in Egypt from the
wrath of the Angel of Death, who, upon seeing the blood, "skipped" over or "passed" over the Hebrew
households and instead, killed the first-born son in every Egyptian household in the 10th and final Plague.
A six-day festival known in Hebrew as "Chag Ha-Matzot" or "Hag Ha-Matzot", meaning "The Festival of
Unleavened Bread." Like the "The Festival of the Paschal Offering," this festival was celebrated by early
Middle Eastern peoples prior to the Passover / Pesach of Egypt story. It was incorporated into the Passover/
Pesach of Egypt story in commemoration of the unleavened bread that was baked in haste by the Hebrews
as they were preparing to leave Egypt following the 10th and final Plague. The Hebrews did not intend to
bake unleavened bread; rather, they wanted to bake leavened bread for their journey out of Egypt. However,
time constraints necessitated that they would instead bake unleavened bread. Following the Passover /
Pesach of Egypt story, the one-day Festival of the Paschal Offering was combined with the six-day
Festival of Unleavened Bread to comprise the new seven-day Festival of Pesach/Passover. This new
festival incorporated the symbolisms of the two previous festivals with the events of the Passover / Pesach
of Egypt story to create the basic symbolisms of the Passover/Pesach of Egypt story which were later
expanded upon by Talmudic rabbinical authorities by structuring these symbolisms into a 15-step order
("Seder" in Hebrew) of instructions for properly conducting the festive meal on the first evening of Passover/
Pesach (for Jews living outside Israel, there are two festive meals, one on the first evening and the other on
the second evening of Passover/Pesach). This festive meal became known as the "Passover Seder" or
A seven-day commemoration (eight days for Jews living outside Israel) of the physical/political (not spiritual)
freedom of the Hebrews from physical/political slavery in ancient Egypt. This commemoration specifically
refers to the Passover/Pesach of Egypt story. The purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was for the Hebrews
to eventually attain spiritual freedom 50 days after the Exodus with the receiving of the Torah and its 613
commandments, including the Ten Commandments, from G-d via Moses at Mount Sinai. The Hebrew
name for the commemoration of this event is "Chag Ha-Cheirut" or "Hag Ha-Heirut", meaning either "The
Festival of Freedom" or "The Festival of Redemption."
A seven-day commemoration (eight days for Jews living outside Israel) of the season in which both the
Passover/Pesach of Egypt and the subsequent entering of the Hebrews into Canaan took place: in the
springtime. The arrival of the Hebrews in Canaan also symbolized the beginning of a new phase of cultural
life for the Hebrews. The Hebrew name for the commemoration of the season in which the Passover /
Pesach of Egypt and the subsequent arrival of the Hebrews in Canaan took place is known as "Chag Ha-
Aviv" or "Hag Ha-Aviv", meaning "The Festival of Spring." Some have also referred to this Passover/Pesach
name as "The Season of Our Liberation."
A seven-day commemoration (eight days for Jews living outside Israel) known as "Pesach" or "Pesah" in
Hebrew, and "Passover" in English. Whereas the four previous Passover/Pesach names symbolize con-
straint and confinement of the Hebrews in both mind and heart by the Egyptians, the name Pesach or Pas-
sover symbolizes the transition of the Hebrews from their previous state of intellectual and physical limita-
tions in Egypt to that of a new state of rediscovered self-assertion upon entering the Land of Canaan. The
Exodus from Egypt and the subsequent receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai followed by the Hebrews'
entry into Canaan gave the Hebrews the opportunity to attain the highest level of self-assertion, self-
realization, and being.
As you can see by the above explanations, the story of Passover/Pesach and the origin of its names is a
journey in itself which covers centuries of history. Like the 15-step ordered instructions for properly conducting
the Passover/Pesach Seder, the Jewish Sages of ancient times wanted to teach and emphasize that the
process of transitioning from physical and political confinement to physical and political freedom is a difficult
but ultimately rewarding journey.
Moses receiving law and commandments on Mount Sinai.
Passover (Pesach) in 2009 begins just after sunset or just after nightfall on Wednesday,
April 8, 2009.
Nightfall is defined in Jewish law as being "the end of sunset". For Jews (most Reform Jews, some
Conservative Jews, and Jews living in Israel) who celebrate Passover for 7 days , Passover in 2009
will end either at sunset or at nightfall on Wednesday, April 15, 2009. For Jews(some Reform Jews,
most Conservative Jews, and Jews living outside Israel) who celebrate Passover for 8 days, Passover
in 2009 will end either at sunset or at nightfall on Thursday, April 16, 2009.
Yom Tov and Chol Ha-Moed
Of the eight days of Passover, the first two and the last two are "Yom Tov" . In Hebrew, Jewish holidays
and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called Yom Tov, meaning; "Good Day" which refers to
a full holy day or holiday/festival day.
The middle four days are called Chol Ha-Moed means weekday festival "weekdays of the festival," also
called "the intermediate days." (In Israel, where Passover is observed for seven days, the first and last
days are Yom Tov, and the middle five days are Chol Ha-Moed). Chol Ha-Moed are in fact half holidays.
The Yom Tov days are days of rest, during which all creative work is forbidden, as it is on the Shabbat, with
the exception of certain types of work associated with food preparation (e.g., cooking and "carrying"). On
Chol Ha-Moed the prohibition of work is less stringent - work whose avoidance would result in "significant
loss" is permitted (except when Chol Ha-Moed is also Shabbat, when all work is forbidden).
Jews Celebrating Passover. Ukrainian lubok, XIXth century
5769 - 2009 Passover calendar:
Search for Chametz...Tuesday April 7, 2009 (13 Nissan 5768) Search for chometz after sundown
Fast of First Born - Seudat Mitzvah and Burning of Chametz...Wednesday April 8, 2009 (14 Nissan
First born fast or participate in Seudat Mitzvah.
Stop eating chametz approx. four hours after sunrise.
Burn your chametz before the fifth hour after sunrise
Passover begins at sundown with first Seder.
1st day of Passover...Thursday April 9, 2009 (15 Nissan 5768) Second Seder begins after sundown.
Counting of the Omer begins after sundown. On the second night, Jews start counting the omer.
The counting of the omer is a count of the days from the time they left Egypt until the time they arrived
2nd day of Passover...Friday April 10, 2009 (16 Nissan 5768) First day of the Omer.
3rd day of Passover...Saturday April 11, 2009 (17 Nissan 5768) Second day of the Omer
4th day of Passover...Sunday April 12, 2009 (18 Nissan 5768) Third day of the Omer
5th day of Passover...Monday April 13, 2009 (19 Nissan 5768) Fourth day of the Omer
6th day of Passover...Tuesday April 14, 2009 (20 Nissan 5768) Fifth day of the Omer
7th day of Passover...Wednesday April 15, 2009 (21 Nissan 5768) Sixth day of the Omer
8th day of Passover...Thursday April 16, 2009 (22 Nissan 5768) Yizkor. Passover ends at sundown.
In the following years Passover Seder will begin on Monday March 29, 2010, Monday April
18 in 2011, Friday April 6 in 2012, Monday March 25 in 2013, Monday April 14 in 2014, Friday
April 3 in 2015,....