What Is the Definition of Passover?

Passover (AKA Pesach) is the springtime holiday observed by Jewish people everywhere on the date when G‑d took the Jewish people out of Egypt. It lasts for eight days (seven days in Israel), during which no bread, or anything that contains grain that has fermented, is to be consumed or even owned.

Read: What Is Passover?

On the first two nights (one night in Israel), a special feast, a Seder, is held. The highlights of the Passover Seder are: retelling the miraculous story of Exodus, eating matzah (a flat, cracker-like food) and maror (bitter herbs), and drinking four cups of wine.

Read: What Is a Seder?

What Passover Means

Passover (a contraction of the words “pass” and “over”) is a translation of the Hebrew word Pesach, which means to “skip” or “jump.”

What is the source of this name?

As G‑d was poised to take the Israelites out of Egypt, He instructed Moses to tell the people of Israel to prepare by bringing a sheep into their homes. On the night that He was about to bring death upon the Egyptians, the Israelites slaughtered the lambs and ate them with matzah and maror.

They were also instructed to take the blood of the lamb and smear it on their doorposts, a sign to G‑d that this was an Israelite home, to be passed over, while death was visited upon the firstborns in all other homes. This is what gave the Passover sacrifice (and holiday) its name.

Read: The Passover Story

What Is Kosher for Passover?

As mentioned, during Passover, Jewish people avoid anything that contains grain that has risen or fermented—including breads, pastas, beers, liquors and more. Even the minutest amount of the forbidden substance (called chametz) is a problem. Dishes must be scoured and purged of any trace of non-Passover food before food that is kosher for Passover can be produced on them.

Many commercial products that were produced and packaged in a chametz-free environment are labeled as kosher for Passover, meaning that they are fit for Jewish consumption (and ownership) on Passover.

Read: What Is Kosher for Passover?

Happy Passover from your friends at Chabad.org!