For you shall observe this as an institution for all time, for you and your descendents. And when you enter the land that the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children ask you, “What do you mean by this rite?” you shall say “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.” . . . . And all the Israelites did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. That very day the Lord freed the Israelites from the land of Egypt, troop by troop.
~Exodus 12.24-27, 50-51
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The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Say to the Israelite people:
On the fifteenth day of this seventh month there shall be the Feast of Booths to the Lord, to last seven days. The first day shall be a sacred occasion: you shall not work at your occupations; seven days you shall bring offerings by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall observe a sacred occasion and bring an offering by fire to the Lord; it is a solemn gathering: you shall not work at your occupations.
Mark on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the yield of your land, you shall observe the festival of the Lord to last seven days: a complete rest on the first day, and a complete rest on the eighth day. On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. You shall observe it as a festival of the Lord for seven days in the year; you shall observe it in the seventh month as a law for all time, throughout the ages. You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Israel shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I the Lord your God.
So Moses declared to the Israelites the set times of the Lord.
- Leviticus 23 (asorensen.wordpress.com)
Pesach is almost here. Observant Jews worldwide are preparing for its arrival. Chametz, leavening, of every kind is being purged from our homes and from our hearts as we wait expectantly for Passover to begin. The first night recalls the events leading up to the Passover when we were still slaves in Egypt, and reminds us to tell the story to our children and to our children’s children down through the ages. This is a night of vigil, the eve of our liberation from bondage.
This is the night we ask the questions and drink the wine and eat the matza. This is the night we remember the first Pesach, the Passover.
Everything matters. Everything has significance.
The four cups of wine we drink throughout the seder mean something. They signify movement, they are the four expressions of redemption: (1) I will take you out, (2) I will save you from bondage, (3) I will redeem you, liberate you from subjugation, (4) I will take you to me as a people. This is followed by “and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” Why then are there not five cups of wine? Some say that the Elijah cup is the fifth cup. It signifies what is to come. When we the Jewish people come to know that the Lord is our God, then Hashem will “bring you to the land, concerning which I swore with an uplifted hand to give to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. . .“, the land of Israel.
This is not just any other night. This is the night of vigil. This is the Pesach. In a matter of days we will be sitting at our seders recalling the story of our liberation and freedom, our becoming a people. If not this year, then may we next year celebrate in Yerushalayim!
**All images were googled from stock photography.