Wednesday, October 20th | 14 Heshvan 5782

April 3, 2015 1:08 am

Passover Guide for the Perplexed, 2015

avatar by Yoram Ettinger

1. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

2. Passover is the prime Jewish Independence Day. It is the most significant game-changing event in Jewish and human history, highlighting personal and national faith, spiritual and physical liberty, civil liberties, democracy, optimism, hope, defiance of imperial odds, tenacity in the face of adversity and sustained education as a prerequisite to national survival.

3. The Passover legacy constitutes the foundation of Judaism and the Jewish people, and is therefore included in most Jewish blessings (“in memory of the Exodus”).

4. Passover was an early – and more successful – edition of the (19th century) Spring of Nations. It is celebrated in the spring, the bud of nature. The Biblical scroll of Song of Songs, which highlights spring, is read during Passover. Spring, Aviv in Hebrew (אביב) consists of two Hebrew words: Father – אב – of 12 – יב – months/tribes. Spring is mentioned 3 times in the Torah, all in reference to the Exodus. Passover – which commemorates the creation of the Jewish nation – lasts seven days, just like the creation of the universe.

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5. The Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Torah, equal to the 50 years of the Jubilee, a symbol of liberty inscribed on the Liberty Bell. 50 days following the Exodus, Moses received the Torah (Shavou’ot/Pentecost Holiday), which includes – according to Jewish tradition – 50 gates of wisdom. What does that mean for the 50 States in the USA, whose Hebrew name is ארצות הברית – the States of the Covenant?!

6. Passover’s centrality in the American culture:

*The Pilgrims considered Britain “the modern day Egypt,” the British king was “the modern day Pharaoh,” sailing across the Atlantic Ocean was “the modern day parting of the sea” and America was “the modern day Promised Land/New Canaan.”

* Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” (the cement of the 1776 Revolution) referred to King George as “the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of England.” John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin proposed the “Parting of the Sea” as the official US seal.

*Yale University President, Ezra Stiles stated on May 8, 1783: “Moses, the man of God, assembled three million people – the number of people in America in 1776.”

*”Let my people go” and “Go down Moses” became the pillar of fire for the Abolitionists. “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10) is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.

*Statues of Moses stare at the Speaker of the House of Representatives and tower above the Supreme Court justices. Ten Commandment monuments stand on the grounds of the Texas and the Oklahoma State Capitols.

7. The name of Moses is mentioned only once in the Passover Haggadah, as a servant of God, a testimony to Moses’ humility. The only compliment bestowed upon Moses, by the Torah, is “The humblest of all human beings.”

8. Passover is celebrated on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, ניסן – the first month of the Biblical Jewish year, and the introduction of the natural and national spring (Nitzan is the Babylonian word for spring and the Hebrew word for bud). Nissan is the month of miracles (Ness – נס is miracle in Hebrew): the Exodus, the parting of the sea, the entry into the Promised Land (the 10th day of Nissan), Jacob wrestling the Angel, Devorah’s victory over Sisera, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, etc.

9. The Passover Seder (order) – on the eve of Passover – is a family event, enhancing family and national cohesion (roots), retelling the story of the Exodus, while focusing on the participation of the children. The Seder consists of 14 segments, which commemorates the divine hand of God (the numerical value of hand, יד, is 14, as is the number of joints in our hand). The Seder is concluded by the statement: “Next Year in the rebuilt, unified Jerusalem!”

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