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The Story of Passover (Pesach is this weekend)

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The Story of Passover

Passover is a celebration of freedom. It is a commemoration of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt.

In the time of Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, the Hebrew people went to live in Egypt, where Joseph had found favor in the eyes of the Pharoah. Generations later, a Pharoah "who knew not Joseph" came into power. This Pharoah enslaved the Hebrews, forcing them to work in the fields and to build cities.

At this point, the descendents of Joseph and his brothers numbered in the thousands and the Pharoah was afraid of their potential power. He therefore ordered that all male infants born to Hebrew women be put to death.

When a son was born to one Hebrew woman, she hid him for as long as she could and then put him in a basket, which she placed among the reeds in the Nile, hoping that her baby would be found and his life spared. He was found and pulled from the water by none other than the daughter of Pharoah. She called him "Moses" from a word meaning "pulled from the water".

Pharoah's daughter adopted Moses and raised him as her own. His true mother became his nurse. Only as an adult did Moses discover his Hebrew roots. In an effort to protect the Hebrew slaves, with whom he now identified, Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster. Afraid of the reaction of the Pharoah, Moses fled Egypt to a distant land.

Some time later, after he had married and "settled down", Moses saw a burning bush, from which he heard the voice of God. God commanded Moses to return to Egypt and free his people.

Moses returned to Egypt and demanded the emancipation of the Hebrews, but Pharoah refused. God then intervened, demonstrating His great power by causing ten plagues to fall upon Egypt. The waters of the Nile were turned to blood and then frogs, lice, cattle diseases, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts and darkness descended upon the Egyptians. The final plague was the death of all first born Egyptians. The Hebrews were instructed to mark their doorposts with lamb's blood so that the angel of death would "pass over" the homes of the Hebrews and strike only the Egyptians (thus the name of the holiday).

After the Egyptians had been devastated by the plagues brought upon them by the "Hebrew God", the Pharoah relented and released the Hebrew slaves. The Hebrews, in a hurry to leave Egypt, prepared dough for bread, but did not have time to let it rise. They ate, instead, unleavened bread, known today as matza.

When the Hebrews had left Egypt, the Pharoah suddenly regretted his decision and sent his army to capture them and bring them back to Egypt. The Egyptians chased the Hebrews to a sea (usually translated as the "Red Sea", although this is very unlikely). When they reached the sea, God created a great wind which parted the waters, allowing the Hebrews to cross. As the Egyptian army persued them, God closed the waters and the Egyptians were drowned.

Here, the actual story of Passover ends. It is worth mentioning, however, that following their escape from Egypt, the Hebrews received the law from God and after 40 years of wandering in the desert, returned to the "promised land".

Have a happy and healthy Pesach with ur loved ones (Jews only need apply ;) )

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