Passover’s celebration of freedom


Few events more poignantly capture the deepest human longings for freedom than the annual celebration of Passover, the eight-day Jewish holiday that begins at sundown tonight.

At the Seder feast, observant Jews in Northwest Florida and throughout the world will replay the events of Exodus, in which God led the enslaved Hebrew people out of the clutches of Pharaoh.

After a child recites four key questions about Passover and Seder rituals, the leader replies (excerpted from “The Red Sea Haggadah”):

“We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord our God brought us out from there. Now, if God had not brought our forebears out from Egypt, then even we, our children and our children’s children, might still be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. Therefore, even if we were all wise, all old, all steady, all learned in the ways of God, it would still be our duty to tell the story of the departure from Egypt.”

Passover is about remembering the hardships of slavery and celebrating God’s deliverance from it through the retelling of this fabled story:

When Moses was tending his father-in-law’s sheep, he came upon a bush that burned but was not consumed, according to the Book of Exodus. God told Moses that He had heard “the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers.” So God sent a reluctant Moses to confront Pharaoh, to demand that he “Let my people go.”

Pharaoh refused. So God brought forth a series of plagues — blood, frogs, vermin, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness.

Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened until the final plague: death to every first-born son in Egypt.

The name “Passover” relates to that final plague, in which Jewish families put lamb’s blood on their doorways so that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes and spare their first-born sons the same fate that would befall the children of Egypt.

Throughout the Seder, the plagues and other Exodus events are commemorated by eating certain foods, reciting special prayers and singing Passover songs.

We wish a joyful Passover holiday to our Jewish friends. And we hope that the Passover spirit reminds Americans of all faiths to be thankful for the freedoms we enjoy and to remember those who still suffer under the yoke of tyrants.

— Panama City News Herald

 

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