Passover is both the most-celebrated Jewish holiday of the year and the holiday voted most likely to elicit a groan. People groan when they consider Passover’s dietary requirements. They groan when they think of all the preparations. They even groan when they remember how much they overate during Passover last year.
But the real irony behind the moaning, groaning, and kvetching is that in some ways this is exactly what youâ€™re supposed to feel at this time of year. Passover is a celebration of spring, of birth and rebirth, of a journey from slavery to freedom, and of taking responsibility for yourself, the community, and the world. However, strangely enough, none of this taking of responsibility gets done without groaning. It was with groaning that the Hebrews expressed the pain of their ancient enslavement in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. It was with groaning that they called attention to their plight.
The Torah states that Jews are to observe Passover for seven days, beginning on the 15th of the Jewish month Nisan (usually in April). The first night always includes a special seder (ritual dinner). Plus, traditional Jews outside of Israel donâ€™t work on either the first two or the last two days of the seven-day period. Outside of Israel, Jews celebrate a second seder on the second night of Passover.
You can think of Passover as honoring the renewal of the sun (itâ€™s always on the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox), or a time to step firmly into springtime. You can also think of Passover as celebrating the Jewish peopleâ€™s â€œbirth certificateâ€ and â€œDeclaration of Independence.â€ Or you can think of it as memorializing something that God did for the Jews 3,300 years ago.