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Passover (Pesach) 2017

Passover (Pesach) 2017

In 2017, Passover will be celebrated from April 10–18

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  • Passover 2017 will be celebrated from April 10–18.
  • The first Seder will be on April 10 after nightfall, and the second Seder will be on April 11 after nightfall.
  • Passover is celebrated by eating matzah (unleaven bread) and maror (bitter herbs).
  • For the duration of the 8 (or 7 days in Israel) of Passover, chametz (leaven) is strictly avoided.

What Is Passover?

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan, April 10–18, 2017. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meals that include four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus. In 2017,

In Hebrew it is known as Pesach (which means “to pass over”), because G‑d passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve.

The Passover Story in a Nutshell

After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, G‑d saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed G‑d’s command. G‑d then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.

At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), G‑d visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, G‑d spared the children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, in fact, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as G‑d’s chosen people.

In ancient times the Passover observance included the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, which was roasted and eaten at the Seder on the first night of the holiday. This was the case until Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the 1st century.

Click here for the full Passover story.

Click here to learn why the Passover lamb is no longer brought.

Passover Observances

Passover is divided into two parts:

The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).

The middle four days are called Chol Hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.

No Chametz

To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat—or even retain in our possession—any chametz from midday of the day before Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta, and most alcoholic beverages. Moreover, almost any processed food or drink can be assumed to be chametz unless certified otherwise.

Ridding our homes of chametz is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover, and then a burning of the chametz ceremony on the morning before the holiday. Chametz that cannot be disposed of can be sold to a non-Jew (and bought back after the holiday).

For more on this topic, see Operation Zero Chametz.

Click here to sell your chametz online.

Matzah

Instead of chametz, we eat matzah—flat unleavened bread. It is a mitzvah to partake of matzah on the two Seder nights (see below for more on this), and during the rest of the holiday it is optional.

Click here for more on matzah.

It is ideal to use handmade shmurah matzah, which has been zealously guarded against moisture from the moment of the harvest. You can purchase shmurah matzah here.

The Seders

The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on each of the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.

The focal points of the Seder are:

A Passover Message

Passover, celebrating the greatest series of miracles ever experienced in history, is a time to reach above nature to the miraculous. But how are miracles achieved? Let’s take our cue from the matzah. Flat and unflavored, it embodies humility. Through ridding ourselves of inflated egos, we are able to tap into the miraculous well of divine energy we all have within our souls.

More useful links

Watch this inspirational video to get you into the freedom-filled Passover spirit.

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David Welland Ontario April 14, 2017

Happy Passover Amen Reply

patricia kauffman Linwood,nj April 13, 2017

Do you say Happy Passover to greet a jewish person? Reply

Alice MA April 18, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

This would mean Passover Holiday? Reply

Anonymous New Hampshire April 15, 2017
in response to patricia kauffman:

Pesach Sameach Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale April 15, 2017
in response to patricia kauffman:

Chag Pesach Sameach Reply

Anonymous April 12, 2017

Curious. Why do you not spell God's name correctly using a space bar - instead?? Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale April 15, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

It's a custom of the American Jewery meant to prevent the destruction of the name of G-d by not spelling out the name. Reply

Rachel Littleton via thechabadhouse.com April 16, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

It is disrespectful to spell out His holy name in a non-permanant forum. It is too sacred.

Answer:

"We do not write G‑d's name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d's name with reverence is a way to give respect to G‑d. So even though on a computer the name is not really being erased (and perhaps is not really there in the first place), and "G‑d" is only an English term used to translate G‑d's holy name, it is in keeping with this respect that I write "G‑d" in my emails."

From chabad.org library/article 166899/ Reply

Debbie Forest Hills April 11, 2017

Can a person talk on the telephone the first two days of passover? Reply

Chabad.org Staff April 13, 2017
in response to Debbie:

No, on the first two as well as the last two days of Passover we may not use the telephone, electronic devices, drive, money etc, just like on Shabbat. We may cook provided we use a flame that has been lit before the holiday began. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI April 11, 2017

Passover has always been my favorite Jewish Holiday! Reply

brad April 9, 2017

Is it appropriate to wish someone happy holidays for Passover, and if so, what are some of the best ways to express your well-wishes? Reply

Terence Ireland April 9, 2017

Religion observed is a good tradition. Be true to that what holds you dear and to whom you also hold dear. Reply

Susan Australia April 2, 2017

This is a true religion in every sense of the word. G_d bless you as he has always done and will continue to do. Thanks for all the great information, it is helping me a lot to understand the Jewish faith. Reply

linda washington April 1, 2017

in reading the first part of this article I saw you did not write God, it was G-d. Why? Reply

Rebecca Virginia & Tennessee April 3, 2017
in response to linda:

Aron Moss, answering that very question on this site states: "We do not write G‑d's name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d's name with reverence is a way to give respect to G‑d. So even though on a computer the name is not really being erased (and perhaps is not really there in the first place), and "G‑d" is only an English term used to translate G‑d's holy name, it is in keeping with this respect that I write "G‑d" in my emails and on-line articles." Reply

patrick lynch toronto March 22, 2017

Very interesting. You are talking about Aaron's tomb ? Reply

John Sebesta Michigan March 22, 2017

I just want to inform you that in the last 30 years, there have been many archaeology digs that have proved the Bible to be very accurate beyond belief. Today due to the finds of the staff of Moses found in his brother's tomb among other finds, Exodus date is 1440bc and the pharaoh was Thutmosis III. Reply

Anonymous April 1, 2017
in response to John Sebesta :

where can I find more details about Moses's staff Reply

patrick lynch toronto February 6, 2017

When was the four cups of wine introduced to the Passover celebration? Reply