Where did Passover come from?

images-7There are three important reasons for Passover. First, Passover celebrates Freedom. In Ancient Days, the Israelites worked as slaves for the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Lord God told Moses to free the slaves and take them to Mount Sinai and the Passover seder re-enacts the biblical story of Freedom. Second, it is the festival of Unleavened Bread (matzot) which celebrates wheat harvest and agriculture. And third, it is linked to the Pascal lamb offering of the nomadic people of the ancient Near East.

In this lesson you will learn the stories about:

  • The three historical reasons for Passover 
  • The place in the Torah where it mentions Passover
  • How Matzoh is made
  • The wandering nomads in the Ancient Near East and animal sacrifice


#1 Meet Mr. Passover

Mr. PassoverHello People!
I am Mr. Passover and I know everything about Passover. I love Passover. It’s my favorite holiday and here’s why.
When I was a child, once a year, my parents would invite all my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents to our home for a big Jewish dinner called a “seder.” We had booklets called “the haggadah” that told the story of the ancient Israelites leaving Egypt to find freedom in Israel. We ate lots of food, sang songs, and everyone around the table took part in telling the story and reading from the haggadah, from the youngest at the table to the oldest.
As I grew up, I wanted to learn more about my favorite holiday so I read books, interviewed people, and talked to many rabbis about Passover. I learned so much! And now, I am going to teach some of it to you in this lesson. If nothing else, I want you to remember one thing:
We celebrate Passover for three different historical reasons. 
And now, you are going to learn what they are. Have fun learning!

#2 WATCH this video to learn about the first reason: Z’man Chayruteinyu (freedom).


#3 READ about the 2nd reason: Pesach (the animal sacrifice)

Lamb jpegBefore the Israelites, before the slaves in Egypt, and before the Pharaoh, there were nomadic tribes that lived in the very ancient Near East. It was common in the springtime for sheep to give birth to their young and it was common among the nomadic tribes to sacrifice one of the sheep as a way of expressing gratitude. This animal was then roasted and people had a feast in honor of the birth of the new animals.

Centuries later, when the Israelites began to observe the holiday of Passover in honor of their Freedom from Slavery, they adopted this earlier practice of sacrificing animals from a long time ago. Borrowing and adopting different cultural practices like this, was one of the ways that Judaism grew over time. One of the items on the seder plate is a shank bone and the bone represents the ancient practice of sacrificing animals.


#4 WATCH this video about the 3rd reason: Matzah (the unleavened bread)


#5 Mr. Passover is back to teach you. 

Mr. PassoverHello Again, it’s me, Mr. Passover.
I hope you liked those videos. Now you know there are three historical reasons for Passover and each reason has a different name. You can even think of the Passover Holiday as a celebration of three historical holidays all wrapped up into one:
Chag HaMatzot – the Festival of Unleavened Bread
Chat HaPesach – the Festival of the ancient Animal Sacrifice
Chag Z’man Chaurutaynu – the Festival of our Freedom
So, when we say, “Happy Passover,” we are really wishing someone, a happy holiday of matzoh, a happy holiday of animal sacrifice, and a happy holiday of our freedom from Egyptian slavery!


#6 STUDY this Jewish text about Passover

Hebrew Text Image“In the first month, on the 14th day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover offering (pascal lamb offering) to the Lord God, and on the 15th day, there shall be the Lord God’s feast of Unleavened bread. You shall eat Unleavened bread for seven days. The first day shall be a holiday from work.”

– Leviticus 23:5-7 

#7 Respond and React
Now that you have watched the videos, read the story, and learned about Moses’s early life, please respond to these questions in your Tamid Workbook.

1. What are the three historical reasons for the holiday of Passover?
2. Where did the animal sacrifice for Passover come from?
3. What is the reason Jews eat Matzoh on Passover?
4. Write a one sentence reaction to the following video?



Need some help?

We’re here for you. At any time, if you have any questions, please contact one of our teachers so we can help you.

Also, at the end of the session, remember to review your responses in your Tamid Workbook so you can get credit for this lesson. Behatzlacha (Hebrew for good luck)!

You can reach us at (646)360-0689 or connect@tamidnyc.org