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Passover: The Jewish Spring Holiday

Updated on March 8, 2014

The Holiday of Matzot


G-d's name for the holiday we call "Passover" (Pesah) is Hag HaMatzot -- the Holiday of Matzas (because the Matza represents our trust in G-d because the Children of Israel left Egypt without letting their dough rise) and we call it "Passover" because G-d passed over our houses when sending the plagues on Egypt.

From Slavery to Nationhood

Plagues and Mirrors

The story of Passover really starts with G-d telling Avraham (Abraham -- who was born in the year 1948 from the creation of the world or about 1812 BCE -- Before the Common Era) in the Brit bein haBetarim (the covenant of the pieces) that his descendants would be strangers in a land that wasn't theirs.

Avraham's grandson Yaakov (Jacob) had 4 wives -- Rahael and Lea and their maidservants, Bilha and Zilpa. Between them, they had 12 sons.

Yaakov loved Yoseph (Joseph) more than his other sons and gave him a striped coat. The other brothers were jealous and plotted to kill Yoseph. When he came to the field to tell them something their father had asked him to tell them, they attacked him and threw him into a pit. They sold him to Yishmaelites who sold him in Egypt.

Through a series of events, including his "master's" wife trying to seduce him, being thrown in jail by his "master" (Potifar), his interpreting dreams first for two of Pharaoh's servants then, two years later, for Pharaoh himself, Yoseph rose from lowly slave to second only to Pharaoh in the Egyptian hierarchy.

When famine struck Canaan, where Yaakov and his family lived, they were forced to come to Egypt for food (because of Yoseph's interpretation of Pharaoh's dream, Egypt knew to store up on food for the coming famine) and, after Yoseph revealed himself (after several tests to see if they had matured enough to accept him) to his brothers, the entire family, 70 souls, moved down to Egypt.

Eventually, the Children of Israel (another name of Yaakov) multiplied and the new King of Egypt (also called "Pharaoh") was concerned that they would join Egypt's enemy in time of war, so he plotted with his advisers to trick them into slavery.

The Children of Israel spent 210 years in slavery. In those 210 years, they suffered mightily under the whips of the Egyptians.

130 years after Yaakov and his family came to Egypt, a baby was born to Amram and his wife Yocheved. Yocheved was the daughter of Yaakov's son Levi and Amram was Levi's grandson. They already had two children, a 6 year old daughter Miriam and a 3 year old son Aharon. Then Pharaoh decreed that all the sons born to the children of Israel should be thrown in the Nile river and drowned. So Amram separated from his wife because he didn't want to lose a child that way.

Miriam convinced her father to return by saying to him, "Pharaoh decreed only on the boys; by staying away, you are decreeing on the girls too."

Amram returned and 6 months later, a baby boy was born. Because he was premature, they were able to hide him in the Nile in a basket made of reeds.

One morning, Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, was bathing in the River when she found the baby and named him Moshe. She adopted him and Miriam, who was always keeping an eye on her baby brother, asked Batya if she wanted a wet nurse, so Batya hired Yocheved (the baby's own mother, unbeknown to Batya) to nurse the infant.

Moshe grew up in the palace of the Pharaoh. But one day, he saw and Egyptian overseer beating a Hebrew slave and he beat the overseer to death and buried him in the sand. He knew that he would be discovered one day, so he ran away.

Eventually, he ran to Midyan where he met the daughters of Yitro (Jethro) the priest of Midyan. The women were shepherding their father's sheep and were being hassled by male shepherds. Moshe helped the daughters of Yitro and went home with them.

He eventually married Tzippora, one of Yitro's daughters. He lived in Midyan and shepherded sheep for many years.

One day, when Moshe was 80 years old, one of his little lambs got lost. Moshe sent the other shepherds home with the other sheep and, in the rain, climbed the nearby mountain looking for the lamb. He looked all night long and into the dark morning hours. Just as dawn arrived, Moshe found the lamb shivering from the cold and rain. Moshe picked the lamb up and put him under his coat. He climbed down the mountain, holding the lamb all the way. When he got down to the bottom of the mountain, he saw a burning bush.

The bush was on fire, but it wasn't being consumed. Suddenly, Moshe heard a voice from the bush. It was G-d speaking to him.

G-d told Moshe to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the Children of Israel go. Moshe went and Pharaoh said, "no". So G-d sent 10 plagues against the Egyptians. After each plague, Moshe again asked Pharaoh to let the Children of Israel go and each time he refused. These are the ten plagues:

1) Blood -- the Nile River was turned into blood, but for the Children of Israel it remained water.

2) Frogs -- there were frogs everywhere -- it started with one frog, but every time some hit a frog, it split in two and became two frogs.

3) Lice -- there was an infestation of lice all over Egypt.

4) Wild Animals -- they roamed the streets of Egypt.

5) Cattle disease -- all the cattle started dying from disease, so they couldn't be eaten.

6) Boils -- the Egyptians began breaking out in huge boils all over their bodies.

7) Hail -- big hailstones with fire (the hail didn't melt and the water didn't put out the fire) fell on Egypt.

8) Locust -- waves of locust infested the fields of the Egyptians.

9) Darkness -- there were 9 days of total darkness, each 3 days was worse than the last 3 days with the darkness being so thick on the last 3 days that the Egyptians couldn't move. It was light for the Children of Israel.

10) The plague of the first born -- All the first born sons of the Egyptians started dying.

Because Pharaoh was a first born son, he got very nervous at this last plague and told Moshe to take the Children of Israel out of Egypt. They left so quickly that their dough didn't have a chance to rise and it baked on their baked, making matzo instead of bread.

The holiday of Pesah (Passover) marks the time when the Children of Israel became a nation. A few weeks later, they stood at Mount Sinai and received the Tora (the Laws) from G-d.

Passover products from Amazon (vote for your favorite!)

Passover by Design: Picture-perfect Kosher by Design recipes for the holiday (Kosher by Design)
Passover by Design: Picture-perfect Kosher by Design recipes for the holiday (Kosher by Design)
In this fifth cookbook in the celebrated Kosher by Design series, Susie Fishbein makes Passover preparations elegantly simple. Featuring a blend of Passover-adjusted Kosher by Design favorites, with over thirty brand-new recipes and full-color photos, this is one cookbook you'll love to use throughout the holiday.Passover by Design features:**Over 30 brand-new recipes, many developed with kosher catering star, Moshe David **Over 130 Kosher by Design favorites reformulated and retested for Passov...
The Passover Seder
The Passover Seder
From the innovative creator of Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish comes The Passover Seder. There's no other book like this in the marketplace! Along with a simple retelling of the Passover story, this novelty book takes readers through a hands-on seder experience. Open a Hagaddah; turn a seder plate to match symbolic foods; lift the napkin and "break" the middle matzah; touch matzah, parsley and a pillow; pour drops of wine to symbolize the ten plagues; help the Jews cros...
My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries Volume 1
My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries Volume 1
In two volumes, this empowering resource for the spiritual revival of our times enables us to find deeper meaning in one of Judaism's most beloved traditions, the Passover Seder. Rich Haggadah commentary adds layer upon layer of new insight to the age-old celebration of the journey from slavery to freedom--and makes its power accessible to all. This diverse and exciting Passover resource features the traditional Haggadah Hebrew text with a new translation designed to let you know exactly what th...
Celebrate Passover / Various
Celebrate Passover / Various
14 tracks by David Broza,Alan Eder,Rick Recht,Safam,Jon Simon,Dana Mase .....
The Matzah Man: A Passover Story
The Matzah Man: A Passover Story
In this lively adaptation of "The Gingerbread Boy," a bold little man made of matzah jumps out of the baker's oven and leads him and everyone in the neighborhood all of whom are preparing for Passoveron a merry chase. With colossal chutzpah, the Matzah Man taunts Cousin Tillie as she is cooking brisket, Auntie Bertha trying on her new spring shoes, and Grandpapa Solly making gefilte fish. He at last arrives on the doorstep of clever Mendel Fox, who offers him a hiding place under the Passover ma...
Matza Scene Cutting Board
Matza Scene Cutting Board

Compugraph Designs' Printfection Store Jewish Holiday Merchandise

In addition to our Cafe Press and Zazzle sites (see modules above), we also have a store on "Printfection" which includes cutting boards (good wedding or housewarming gifts), mugs and cups, tees, etc.

This cutting board is only one of several Jewish Hliday themed items at our store:

Compugraphd Printfection site

(Click on the picture to go directly to this product's page)

Compugraph Designs Arts Now Site

Arts Now is another "Print on Demand" site. They have a nice collection of clocks and watches, including the one pictured here (with my new "Ehad Mi Yodei'a" -- "Who knows one" -- design on it). Click on the picture to see the entire site.

Let me know what you think......

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Chag Pesach Sameach! from Jerusalem.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for explaining the history of Passover.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 

      12 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Welcome to Judaism, Jewish Holidays, and Jewish Culture.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Good job! Pesach S'meach.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      How about explaining the designs on the CP products and how they relate to Pesach? Your history of the Exodus is great!


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