This is called Passover by some, because the death angel “passed over” the Children of Israel. Pesach, Hebrew for Passover, is the celebration of the deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. It begins when Moses is told by G-d to go back to Egypt and tell pharaoh to let G-d’s people go. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he refused. Over a 3 year period 10 plagues are issued to curse Egypt. The last plague was the death of the first born. The Children of Israel were given strict instructions of how to survive this plague. The sacrificed lamb was eaten, unleavened bread, Matzah, was baked. The “death angel” passed over those who were obedient to G-d.
We commemorate this time with a celebration called a Seder, where we read the story of Pesach, and eat unleavened bread for 8 days. This is referred to as the Feast of Matzah, or unleavened bread. Leven represents sin and during this time we examine ourselves to rid all sin hidden within us. In preparation for this season we will search and clean our homes to rid it of all food particles that contain leaven. We will involve our children to teach them how sin can hide in some of the most unusual places. It is a wonderful object lesson for all involved.
During the Seder, in addition to the Matzah, also called the bread of affliction, we eat: bitter herbs, to remind us of the bitterness of slavery; horseradish, to bring tears to our eyes, to recall the misery in Egypt and the drowning of the male children; we dip into salty water, both to remember our tears and the salty sea we passed through; and Maror, a thick paste made with honey, apples, nuts, and cinnamon. This resembles the mortar that was used to build the brick buildings for Pharaoh.
We follow a special book, the Haggadah, to retell the story and use object lessons to illustrate how our sorrow was turned to joy by obeying and trusting G-d, and to anticipate the coming age of Messiah.