History of Passover
The ancient Jews, under the leadership of their Prophet Moses, decided on an evacuation from Egypt in the 13th century B.C, in complete secrecy. Every Jew killed a male lamb, less than a year old and stained the lintel and side posts of his front door with the blood of the slain animal. This was done so that the angel of God, who went round to kill the first-born of the Egyptians, who had earlier destroyed the first-born of the Jews, would pass over their houses. This was the last of the ten plagues inflicted on the Pharaoh and his people for refusing to let the Jews go. A feast is arranged on the first two nights of Passover when consecrated roast lamb is eaten for supper.
Celebration of Passover
On the first two days, the ritual of the Passover Supper known as the ‘Seder’ is observed. All the participants take it by turns to recite from the ‘Haggadah’, the story of the Exodus, with a charming introduction in the shape of four questions by the youngest celebrant as to why the night is different from all other nights. The ritual plate for the meal contains matzoth, wine, boiled eggs, salt, bitter herbs, (to recall the bitterness of the days of slavery in Egypt) and a sweet mixture of nuts and honey or apple juice (to recall the sweetness of freedom). There is also a roasted shank bone symbolizing the Paschal lamb sacrificed and eaten in ancient times to mark the exodus from Egypt. At the end of the meal, the members sing traditional songs and melodious jingles, especially for children.
It is a festival of freedom and its special feature is the eating of matzoth, unleavened bread, to mark the extreme haste in which the Jews had to eat and leave Egypt without giving time for the leaven to form in the dough. According to Halaka, matzoth may be made from flour derived from five types of grain: wheat, barley, spelt, oat, rye. The dough for matzoth is made when flour is added to water only, which has not been allowed to rise for more than 18-22 minutes prior to baking.
Many Jews observe the positive Torah commandment of eating matzoth on the first night of Passover at the Passover Seder, as well as the Torah prohibition against eating or owning Chametz which includes any leavened products - such as bread, cake, cookies, beer, whisky or pasta (or anything made from raw dough that had been left alone for more than 18 minutes, as it then begins to ferment) - for the duration of the holiday. Even the days - before Passover, for Jewish families a period of spring-cleaning is required to be carried out to ensure that all traces of leaven are removed and destroyed.