Notes on Passover

The story that 300 years ago Pharaoh enslaved the children of Israel and despite Moses' pleading it was only after God brought ten plagues that he let them go under Moses' leadership, beginning the Jews as a nation. There was no time to waste in preparation and there was no leaven with them when they baked bread. Since then Jews have eaten Matzos at Passover. Nothing containing flower of yeast can be eaten. Even the pots and pans cannot have been contaminated. Before the ceremony is a spring-clean. The first two nights have a Seder service when the youngest child asks why this night is different. The family uses the Haggadah as an explanation. A roasted shank bone of a lamb remembers the times of sacrifice, bitter herbs or recall slavery, charoset (chopped nuts, apples and wine) recall the mortar used in forced labour and salt water represents the tears of slavery and the crossing of the Red Sea. Four cups of wine are drunk to represent the four promises made by God to redeem Israel (Ex. 5, 6-7) A happy occasion. Note the use of story, food and family.

In Christian origins…

The recorded last meal of Jesus amid his disciples at the time of Passover. Bread was blessed, broken and eaten and thanks were given for wine and drunk. He linked the bread to his body and the wine to his blood as a new covenant. He there accused one of the twelve of betrayal and said that he would not drink again of the fruit of the vine until he met them in the new Kingdom of God. He linked the meal with his expected death and asked the disciples to repeat it in his memory. Since then Christians have repeated this ceremony, either in high ritual or humbly, either signifying the real presence of Christ being crucified again (the mass) or a ceremony of faith and memory. Sometimes other foods are used.

Adrian Worsfold