Among the three pilgrimage festivals, Passover (Pessah) stands in a class by itself.

By Dov Chaikin |
Israeli family
Photo: Nati Shohat/Flash90

All three point to the season of the year, a reference to nature expressly stated in regard to Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Succot) but not Passover. On the other hand, great prominence is given to the historical bearing of Passover, which is not the case with reference to the other two. For it was on the night of the (first) Passover that the Children of Israel first became a nation – by direct intervention of God.

“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” [Lev. 23:5]. The word ‘Passover’ signifies the Lord’s passing over the homes of the Israelites, sparing them on that night of His wrathful vengeance, when He smote all the first-born of Egypt.

The sign for the Lord to pass over the homes of the Israelites (traditionally, of anyone who believed God to the point of obedience) was the blood smeared on the doorposts and lintels – no deliverance without blood. Surely, one might wonder, the Lord – or His messenger...

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