Soon Jews all over the world will celebrate Passover. Of the Jewish practices measured by a Pew Forum, participation in a Passover Seder has the highest observance rate — well above other traditions such as fasting on Yom Kippur, or lighting Sabbath candles. According to Pew’s data from 2013, some 70 percent of American Jews attended a Seder in the previous year. In Israel that number soars to 93 percent. Together with the High Holy Days of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, it’s the most important Jewish holiday of the year.

Jews work assiduously in preparation, cleaning the leaven out of our homes, and – hopefully – out of our hearts at the same time. The Torah commands us to avoid leavened products and to clear our homes from them in several places, including Exodus 12. And the punishment for eating leavened products on Passover is extremely serious – excommunication.

It’s safe to say that Passover expresses and marks the narrative core of the Jewish experience: We were slaves. Then God heard our suffering, intervened, redeemed us from Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and suddenly we were free.

Well yes. And no.

It turns out to be a lot easier to take the people out of Egypt than it is to take the Egypt out of the people.

The opposite of slavery is not non-slavery. But really, there is no such thing. We are limited, finite, created beings. We are always slaves to something – at the very least to the frailties of our human bodies. And so often to other things as well: our egos, the State, temptation, materialism, despair.

The list goes on and on. There is no real freedom for us. As the Bob Dylan song goes: “You gotta serve somebody.”

This is why the Seder night of Pesach is actually “just” the first, exciting critical moment in an unfolding drama that lasts fifty days. It’s not the end of something: Pesach is much more about the beginning of something.

From the night after the Seder night, observant Jews start to count. And count. And count. As commanded in Leviticus 23:15-16 we count our way day by day through the “seven weeks,” and then to the 50th day of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). This is the source for the Christian celebration of Pentecost 50 days after Easter Sunday. At Shavuot we celebrate God’s giving of the Torah to Moses and the children of Israel at Sinai.

Physical freedom and redemption are critically necessary, but not sufficient. We must always look toward the completion of this process that come with the spiritual freedom that comes from following God after our physical redemption.



  1. Shalom Dr Shapiro. There is a school of thought out there which suggests that the Passover is not holy. They claim that Feast of Unleavened bread is the one holy. They are quoting Lev 23:7-8. What is your take Dr Shapiro?
    • Thank you for the question, Thandu. I've not heard of this particular interpretation, and I find it hard to comprehend without additional information. Lev. 23:4-5 says specifically, "These are the appointed dates of YHWH, holy announced festivals... Pesach [Passover] to YHWH..."

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  2. Thanks Dr Gruber, you put so well. Another, in what sense is Yeshua our Passover lamb? Did he not die once and for all to replace Yom Kippur’s sacrificial animal (sin offering)? Why dying on 14 Abib instead of 10 October? Shalom
    • Perhaps the Baptist was in fact referring to Yom Kippur ("takes away sin" makes much sense in analogy to Yom Kippur than to Passover, I think), but would it not have been a reference to the "scapegoat" on whose head the priest laid the sins of the nation?
  3. Interesting to learn from scholars.Many thanks Dr.shapiro. In Uganda these days every christian cerebrates 31st December as the the Passover.What does this Passover really mean mean in Hebrew and of what significance to the christian today?
  4. 1Co 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, asyou really areunleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the oldleaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 
  5. The observance of the Lord Supper in early Christian was a institution? Do we have proof that they observe it 1st day of the week,or Every 1st day of the week
  6. Your comment is awaiting moderation
    Extremely interesting scripture studies, the consideration reality sources of the Bible be validated. Glory be to the God of Cush (🇸🇸)


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