Chag Samaech!

Or in English “Happy festival!”

Do you know the story of passover?

We had some new friends over yesterday and they didn’t know what Passover was. They had some ideas but for the most part, didn’t know the whole story. I was already writing this post but it made me think just how much more important it was to write this! The Passover story is an amazing story no matter what your religious belief is. It’s a story of promise, hope, redemption and ultimately freedom!

This time of year its a big celebration for us. It’s the time of year that we celebrate the Lord taking us our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, taking them out of slavery and guiding them to the promised land! Equally important is the fact that we are not slaves! (thanks to the first miracle)


Passover story recap- With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm…

Let’s do a quick catch up just in case you have no idea of what I am talking about. It’s ok if you don’t. Stick with me. I think this story has something we can all learn.

Thousands of years ago our people were slaves in Egypt. They were forced to build the pyramids of Egypt. The Israelites are getting to be too many and the Egyptians are afraid that they might revolt and take over Egypt. So Pharo orders all the baby boys to be thrown in the Nile.

The Israelites cried out to the Lord. He heard them. Moses mom does want to do that to her baby boy. (Can you blame her!?) So she makes a little floating basket and sends him adrift. Pharo’s wife finds him and raises him as her own. Then the Lord calls him to lead the people.

He finds out he’s an Israelite, he runs away and then God calls him back to lead the people of Israel. God sends Moses to talk with Pahro. Moses tries to convince Pharo to let the Israelites go, but he won’t.

So the Lord sends plagues against Egypt. Each plague is a direct attack and I might add defeat of one of the Egyptian gods. By the end, the Lord has even killed the firstborn of all of Egypt. Which to me is super sad! (They did have a chance to save their babies if they put blood on their doorposts.)

Then finally Pharo sends the Israelites away. But then he changes his mind. Chases after them. The people get stuck at the coast of the Red Sea and think Pharo is going to kill them all BUT…Moses opens his arms and splits the red sea. The people are saved and the Egyptian army along with the evil pharao is killed in the sea when it closes back up!

That’s the super quick version but that should catch you up if you didn’t know all of the above. So that’s what we are celebrating! (our people’s freedom)

Clean out your yeast

When the people left, they had to leave in such a hurry that their bread didn’t even have time to rise. So it didn’t have any kind of developed yeast or leaven in it. Later on, in the Bible, we are told to prepare for this holiday by literally cleaning our houses of all yeast and leaven. Starting on Passover we go for seven days with no leaven/yeast in the house or in our bodies. It sounds like a long time but it’s really not that bad. To me, it’s a cleanse! It’s a way to start the body and spirit over again. It’s one of our annual cleanses.

OH ALSO! I’m going to add!… I think this is where spring cleaning originally came from!


I think the “cleanse of yeast” can benefit us both physically and spiritually. I’ll explain below.

Physically

Cleaning our house of all yeast is just a good practice of cleanliness. We look under every cushion, clean out the refrigerator, look through the pantries. We dust, vacuum, make the kids take showers (they take showers other times but it’s good excuse to get another one out of them), by the time we are done everything has been thoroughly cleaned up. This is the great cleaning of the year.

On the food side of things…resting from yeast and leaven from 7 days seems like a mini-cleanse to me. Surely it can’t hurt!… Right?

Spiritually

It’s a time to purge our minds. To consider our actions, things that may be growing or festering and remove them. The bible equivalates yeast to sin in a few different places. If left unchecked it can fester and take over your whole body. We need to take time to clean out our minds and start over too.

Then another way I always look at it is like this, we could eat leaven, we wouldn’t die. No lightning bolt is going to come down out of the sky and strike us dead, but by stopping and obeying for seven days we work with our body and our mind to control our desires and change our habits. because let’s be honest a big fluffy yeast roll is always delicious! By doing this we clean up or start over that relationship between our creator and our body and our mind. We remind our body that our spirit is in control, not the other way around.

The End of Slavery

Through the might of the creator, our people were set free!

We have this festival every year to remind us of slavery and to tell our children the great story of how our people were delivered. This year we had 19 kids and about 8 adults. It was a packed house and so much fun!

For the past few years, we have been reading the story from this book that is written like a play. So we all get parts and read it together. This year we had the older kids lead the story. It’s getting kinda weird having all of these teenagers around but it’s also nice to have kids that can help read and tell the story from their perspective.

If you want to check out the book We read the story from this book Let my People Go!

The storytelling really goes on all day. We do crafts, drink wine, eat random foods and delicious foods, like all Jewish holidays the food all has meaning and we get to tell the story in another way with the food.

Here are a few other ways we tell the story:

  • tasting salt water to remind us of the tears they had from slavery.
  • We eat a tiny bit of horseradish to reminds us of the bitterness of the times
  • Then we eat something sweat called Charoset. It’s a mix of apples, dates, and red wine. It’s sticky to remind us of the mortar they used to build the bricks.
  • We drink cups of wine at different times to mark the 4 pillars of the story.
  • we recline (because we aren’t slaves!)
  • We watch the prince of Egypt movie (it’s not 100% accurate but close enough)
  • The list goes on and on. But by the end, we have told the whole story, all the way to the redemption. And if you have kids or know kids. You know they follow food. It’s really a genius way to teach them the whole story.

The celebration is very focused on making sure the kids remember. I love the idea of passing this on to them. So that they can teach their kids. Our people have been doing this for thousands of years all over the world, it’s a lesson that you can’t really explore too much!

It’s funny because even in the Bible it predicts that the children will have questions and it tells us some answers we can give them.

Exodus 12:26 “And when your children say to you, ‘What does this celebration mean to you?’ 27you shall say, ‘It is a Passover celebration to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians but spared our homes.'” And the people bowed low and worshiped.28 Then the sons of Israel went and did [so]; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. 29Now it came about at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the LORD, as you have said. 32″Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”

To me, it’s such a powerful holiday! It’s a story of hope. That even at the worst of times, we can hope for better. We can pray for the better. We deserve better, We are PROMISED better!

The toughest part is that we might not see the better in our time. BUT…if we teach our children that they are promised the best. If we strive for the best, there will be a generation that does come to the promised land. They will get there because we said that we had enough and we wanted to cash in on Gods promise of milk and honey, of an abundant life.

On the way to promised land things can be tough or even seem impossible like dead-ending at a sea! BUT the Lord will help you pass through that too.


Next year in Jerusalem!

We always end the Passover celebration by yelling together a simple phrase. That has a lot of meaning.

“Next year in Jerusalem!”

The meaning behind it is that we would all be free! That by next year all people will find peace and freedom.

This year we ended our celebration with these three questions:

  • How will I grow this year?
  • How will the world change?
  • How can we keep moving from slavery to freedom?

I challenge you to spend the next seven days (or longer) thinking of those questions. Together we can help end slavery for everyone, physically and mentally.



“You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Exodus 23:9

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