Originally Published: 20-Apr-2003
Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast…. For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD. Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ …For the LORD brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” (Exod. 13:3-10; NIV)
We are now in the middle of Passover week and one frequently hears the question, “And where did you go for the Seder [the special home service on the first night of Passover]?” Answers are varied: “To my family’s home.” “To friends.” “To a hotel in Eilat.”
Wednesday evening, David and I ate the Passover meal with our son, Natan, our daughter-in-law, Liat, and sixteen family members and friends at Liat’s parent’s home in Moshav Yad Hashmonah, a ten-minute drive from our home.
Like other Passover Seder tables, ours was beautifully set and readied with the traditional platters of food symbolic of the Israelites’ bondage in and exodus from Egypt.
After reading the first part of the Haggadah, the story of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, we ate with great gusto the delicious dinner. Olga had made chicken soup with matzah balls. A tasty fish dish had been prepared by a guest who was born in Libya. Others had brought chicken and various salads and vegetables.
The Haggadah concluded with the singing of psalms of deliverance and praise. They were not sung in the quiet, worshipful way we sing in church, but with rapturous loud voices, hands slapping on the table to the beat of the songs. After all, if we had seen the hand of God helping us escape from a country ruled by an oppressor and our enemies totally annihilated, wouldn’t we sing for joy?
The next day, all over Israel, the celebration of Passover continued with extended families and friends sitting outside on their porches and patios. Children played while the aroma of grilled meat wafted on the air.
During the weeks preceding Passover, nearly every Jewish home is thoroughly cleaned. By Passover eve all items containing leaven have been removed from cupboards and closets. As in past years, once again we were the recipients of sacks filled with food containing leaven cleaned out of our wonderful neighbors’ kitchens.
In place of bread, matzah, a cracker bread made from unleavened flour, is eaten during the entire week. There are probably more than a hundred ways to eat matzah, including frying it after soaking it in beaten eggs. Cakes and various pastries also are made with matzah flour. Personally, I enjoy eating matzah spread with peanut butter and jam, or with butter and honey!
Just before Passover week begins, supermarkets cover with sheets of white paper the shelves containing items with leaven, but the supermarkets remain open during the week—and continue to do a thriving business.
When we read the Haggadah, David and I never cease to be amazed at the story of God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt. As believers in Yeshua (Jesus), this deliverance is even more poignant.