All too often we find there is great discord when it comes to the spiritual beliefs of other people. This strife is primarily due to ignorance. Perhaps if we understood the sacred rituals of our fellow man, there would be more tolerance and better understanding. As we can now see, there is an uneasy balance in the world insofar as the supporters of Christianity and Islam are concerned. There is also uneasiness between some of the proponents of Judaism and Islam alike. This is now the season for the festival of the Jewish Passover. If you will bear with us, we will attempt to clarify the essence of this most sacred feast in Judaism.
According to the Judaic belief, its founder or patriarch, Abraham, found great favor in the eyes of his deity YAH (pronounced Yah as in Halleluyah which means praise YAH). From the union of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, came the son Isaac (Yitzkhak). [Abraham already had a son named Ishmael by Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden Hagar. It is believed that from Ishmael’s descendants sprang Islam.] Yitzkhak had two sons named Yacob and Esau. Because Yacob, too, found great favor in the eyes of their YAH, his name was changed to Israel. This son Israel had 12 sons and a daughter.
Due to family jealousy between the sons, the older brothers cast their brother Yoseph into a pit in the desert where he was found by traveling merchants who sold him into bondage when they arrived in Egypt. After a series of trials and blessings, this son Yoseph is welcomed into the House of Pharaoh where he is granted a ranking second in status only to Pharaoh himself.
Nearly seven years passed. As famine strikes that region of the world, Yoseph’s fame and power grows. When his brothers come to Egypt, at the behest of their father to buy grain, they are discovered by their ‘thought to be dead’ brother, Yoseph. Though he recognizes them, they do not identify him. After a cunning confrontation orchestrated by Yoseph, he reveals himself and welcomes the entire family into Egypt where, with Pharaoh’s permission, they are accorded high status.
Over the ensuing years, the Hebrews prosper and take on the ways of the Egyptians, including their blasphemous idol worship. With the death of the old Pharaoh, the Hebrews fall into disfavor. They are forced into slavery for several hundred years where they endure all manner of cruelties including infanticide. It is at this point where the birth of Moses signals the beginning of the end of their torment.
Upon being banished for killing an Egyptian, this Moses goes into the desert where the Hebrew YAH re-establishes His presence to the Hebrews. This YAHVAH punishes Egypt with nine plagues to demonstrate His power. It is with the 10th and final plague that the Hebrews make their departure from Egypt and begin their exodus in the desert wilderness towards where they are give the Ten Commandments. It is this, the 10th and final plague that is called the Pesach or Passover.
Passover or Pesach (pronounced pay-sahk) is a solemn festival celebrating the deliverance of the Hebrews from the heavy hand of bondage while in Egypt.
The words Pesach in Hebrew means to hop, leap, skip, or jump. The Hebrews were told to kill a yearling lamb and spread its blood over their doorposts. Their YAH promised “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am YAHVAH (Exodus 12:12).
It is at this time that their Deliverer, YAH, declared: “And this day shall be unto you a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to YAHVAH throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever!” (Exodus 12:14).
Immediately following the Passover celebration (the next day) comes the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days the Hebrew faithful are to eat bread with no leavening or yeast. There is to be no leavening in the home and none consumed. It is to be a memorial throughout all generations. It is an everlasting statute.
Whether one chooses to honor the Passover memorial is a personal decision. However, if we at least give respect to the practice as we would want our rituals to be so respected, perhaps this may lead to the understanding of each other’s sensitivities and steer us eventually to the friction-less existence of Man.
Passover 2014: April 14 Sundown
A lie travels round the world while truth is putting her boots on — French Proverb
A loan, though old, is not gift — Hungarian Proverb
A monkey never thinks her baby’s ugly — Haitian Proverb
A new broom sweeps clean, but the old brush knows all the corners — Irish Proverb