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Jewish Holy Days - Essay Example

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Jewish Holy Days

This is due to the fact that all non-Israelite firstborns were to be killed by an angel of death sent by God. However, in order for the spirit to distinguish in which houses to inflict death, all the Israelites were advised to slaughter a lamb and mark their doors with its blood such that the spirit would pass over their homes and go to those which were unmarked (Strassfeld, 2001). In this light, they were ordered to ensure that all the meat from the lamb was roasted and eaten without leaving any sign of it (August, 2000). While at it, they were to pack all their belongings i.e. the portable ones in readiness to embark on the exodus once the pharaoh had accepted to release them. The journey they were about to start was one which did give these people ample time to prepare as it was only in a one night notice and as such, most of the food especially bread was half or totally unleavened and they had to carry it in that state else risk starvation especially due to the fact that most of the terrain on their path was a desert. This was also informed by the fear that once their release was sanctioned, there was a possibility that pharaoh would change his mind and thus, they had to leave in a hurry and as quickly as possible. During the Passover night, the angel of death came as promised and killed all the firstborns in homes belonging to non-Israelites and in the aftermath, Pharaoh agreed to let the Israelites free but as they had anticipated, he changed his mind and sent soldiers to bring them back but by then, Moses and his people had already crossed the red sea (August, 2000). The Passover celebrations are conducted beginning on the 15th day on the month of Nissan, which coincides with the months of March or April on the Gregorian calendar, and runs for 7 to 8 days (Strassfeld, 2001). During this period, believers observe various norms and festivities, most of which are symbolic expressions of the Passover night at the time of exodus. For example, all the households are required to dispose all the chametz in their belonging by way of destroying it completely, or giving it out to non Jews with the intention of reacquiring it after the festivities. Chametz refers to the food items which are mostly products of grain, and which have undergone fermentation. Prior to the commencement of the holy day, households usually embark on a cleanup exercise aimed at removing any traces of chametz, including any utensils that have been used to prepare it, after which thorough inspection is conducted. This in itself symbolizes the unleavened bread that the Israelites carried from Egypt and also the removal of arrogance in the souls of the believers. Instead of chametz, the Jews feast on Matzoh i.e. a mixture of flour and water cooked quickly before 18 minutes are over. This is due to the assumption that dough starts rising within 18 minutes if it is left uncooked thereby becoming chametz (Strassfeld, 2001). The fast of the firstborns is also one of the activities associated with Jewish Passover (Sper, 2003). In this regard, all the firstborns are supposed to participate in commemoration of the fact that they were rescued from the wrath of the angel of death. The fasting is conducted on the day before Passover and is only an obligation of those firstborn males of 13 years and above, which is the most agreed age of halakhic adulthood. ...Show more


The Jewish Passover is one of the highly celebrated holy days in the Jewish calendar and whose main theme is to commemorate the release of Israelites from Egypt, where they had spent a significant part of their lives i.e. more than 200 years as slaves (Strassfeld, 2001)…
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