Pesach and Hag Hamatzot - The combination of the Concepts

IDEAS FOR DEVELOPMENT

The concepts "Pesach" and "Hag HaMatzot" are connected by the event of the exodus from Egypt and by the way in which the Jewish people celebrated this festival from its origin down to the present day.

Ezekiel 45:21

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall observe the Pesach a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten"

Devarim 16: 2-3

You shall sacrifice the Pesach offering unto the Lord your G-d, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the Land of Egypt in haste: so that you will remember the day when you came forth from the land of Egypt all the days of your life."




BASIC IDEAS FOR DEVELOPMENT

  • Pesach celebrates the birth of the people of Israel, their independence and the rebirth of freedom. The Jews were redeemed from Egypt, freed from the house of bondage.
  • Pesach is a national festival: "The Lord took you out of the furnace of Egypt, so that you will be the people of His inheritance, as you are today".
  • The Pesach sacrifice was individual and communal; it was eaten in a group. "A person may not celebrate the Seder night alone, "'let all who are in want come and celebrate the Pesach".
  • The matzah symbolizes the servitude and the freedom. There was no time to bake communal bread in the oven. It was the bread of affliction.
  • Hallel is read in its entirety only on the first day (in the Diaspora on the first two days), since "we do not celebrate the fall of our enemies". (The seventh day of Pesach being the day that Israel passed through the Red Sea, the Egyptians being drowned)
  • The seven days of the festival are compared to those of the Creation (Midrash Shemot Rabba, Parashat Bo).
  • Pesach is the spring festival; it is the festival of the Creation: nature and man are reborn. "The flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of the birds is come..." (Shir HaShirim [ Song of Songs] 2:12).
  • During their enslavement, the Jews learnt that it is shameful to enslave others. This was not a theoretical apprenticeship but a result of painful experience. The Biblical norms are extended to the obligation of protecting the stranger. (See also Vayikra 19:31 as regards the concept of Justice).
  • Through the Seder we can experience each year the process of liberation. It is fundamental, even in our times, to prepare ourselves for the struggle for liberation from every type of oppression.
  • The fifth promise made to the people is: "I will take you to the land". The redemption of humanity will be possible when the Jewish people are "taken to their land.".
  • "Ha lachma anya" (the poor bread - matzot) must remind us that poverty still exists in the world and often close to us. "Let all who are in want come and celebrate it with us".
  • The "entrance" of Elijah the Prophet symbolizes the imminent redemption which he will announce. Not so long ago, the Jews took advantage of this moment to look outside their homes to see if no enemies were approaching, if the crowds incited against them were not waiting for the opportunity to attack. Pesach in Jewish history was the pretext for a horrific libel: the accusation that the Jews used human blood on the Seder night.

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11 Jul 2005 / 4 Tamuz 5765 0