This Friday evening, Passover celebrations will begin around the world. Of all the Jewish Holidays, Passover may have the most significance of all. After all, it represents the fact that God delivered the Israelites from Egypt and out of the hand of Pharaoh. The excerpt below from the JUDAISM 101 Website is a brief introduction describing the holiday and its importance to the Jewish Faith.
Pesach, known in English as Passover, is one of the most commonly observed Jewish holidays, even by otherwise non-observant Jews. According to the 2013 National Jewish Populations Survey (NJPS), 70% of Jews routinely participate in Passover, while only 39% live in a household inwhich someone belongs to a synagogue.
Pesach begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan. It is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavu’ot and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel, but little attention is paid to this aspect of the holiday. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15. Many of the Pesach observances are instituted in Chs. 12-15.
The name “Pesach” (PAY-sahch, with a “ch” as in the Scottish “loch”) comes from the Hebrew root Pei-Samekh-Cheit, meaning to pass through, to pass over, to exempt or to spare. It refers to the fact that G-d“passed over” the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt. In English, the holiday is known as Passover. “Pesach” is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the Temple on this holiday. The holiday is also referred to as Chag he-Aviv , (the Spring Festival), Chag ha-Matzot , (the Festival of Matzahs), and Z’man Cheiruteinu , (the Time of Our Freedom) (again, all with those Scottish “ch”s).
The term “Passover” comes from the final plague that befell the Egyptians – – the Angel of Death slaying the first born of every family. Exodus 12:13 tells us, “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” Israel again is in jeopardy – – and that is why we are directed in Psalm 122:6 to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
For extended detail and to learn more about the Passover Celebration go to:
Judaism 101: Pesach: Passover