Passover is known as the festival of freedom. And who is more free than royalty? At the Seder, all Jews are supposed to consider themselves royalty. Some of the ways we demonstrate this are:
The Four Questions (Mah Nishtana – What makes it different?) is one of the most famous features of the Passover Seder. In Ashkenazi homes, these four lines are recited by the youngest person present, or, quite often, by all the children at the Seder.
Like almost all festival meals, the Passover Seder begins with Kiddush, the sanctification of the day. On Passover, however, the first cup of wine is followed by three more mandatory cups. The requirement of four cups of wine at the Seder is derived from the four stages through which God promised to redeem the Jews from the Egyptian slavery (Exodus 6:6-7): “Therefore say to the Children of Israel: ‘I am God and 1) I will take you out (v’ho’tzay’tee) from beneath the burdens of Egypt, and 2) I will save you (v’hee’tzal’tee) from their servitude, and 3) I will redeem you (v’ga’ahl’tee) with an outstretched arm and great judgments, and 4) I will take you (v’la’kach’tee) for Me for a people…’”
Those who have attended a Passover Seder, know that one of the most beloved Seder traditions is the hiding* of the afikomen, a specially designated half-piece of matzah. But what exactly is the afikomen?
On Passover, we commemorate the Exodus from Egyptian slavery. The following is a brief summary:
Illuminated manuscripts inlaid with gold or silver leaf and spectacularly illustrated, are most often associated with the Medieval church (the Gospels, Psalters, etc), where texts were generally hand-copied until Western Europeans discovered the printing press.
It sounds like a classic melodrama: A harlot endangers her life to protect two desperate spies, and, when the city falls, she ends up marrying the conquering leader.
This Passover, Jews around the world will recite: “In every generation, our enemies rise up to destroy us.” Passover, Purim, Chanukah, the Inquisition, the Holocaust…we are well aware of the major attempts by our enemies throughout history to try to destroy us.
Place: In the Wilderness
Who: The Children of Israel
When: Almost a year after leaving Egypt
The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: “Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put away chametz from your houses…” (Exodus 12:15). Therefore, by the beginning of the holiday of Passover, no chametz whatsoever may be in one’s possession.