Time is a precious commodity and as we are quickly approaching the Passover/Pesach season, we can become overwhelmed with all there is to do in preparing for and celebrating this special moedim/festival/appointed time. But ready or not, it’ll soon be upon us. So, let’s step back a bit and take it one step at a time. Here are some things to consider as you begin preparing for and planning for this special time with family and friends….
Prior to Passover (Pesach), we, as believers, are required to diligently search for and remove all leaven (Chametz) from our homes, property, and all premises under his or her jurisdiction (i.e. purse, work out/computer bag, desk, office, locker, car). Leaven is included in most food items that are made with the flour of wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt, mixed with water and allowed to rise and usually baked for eating. The food items where leaven is most commonly found are all regular types of breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, cereals, pasta and pies, etc.
Why do we go to such lengths to find and remove food items with leaven for Passover? Because spiritually, leaven represents sin or the pride(puffiness) of sin in our lives. By physically removing leaven from our living areas, we are saying we want sin out of our lives and want God to reign in our hearts and minds. We are humbling ourselves before the Lord and are saying we want a closer walk with our heavenly Father. The Passover season is about leaving the leaven of this world behind and learning about the unleavened life he desires for us so that we may draw near to Him. So, let’s continue looking at how to prepare for Passover, the season of our redemption from sin.
I have routinely cleaned my home but never thought of cleaning my desk at work or my car. This might also be a good time to rotate your winter clothing to summer clothing along with your blankets and other winter gear. Involve your children. They can clean out their toys and create a pile they no longer play with which can be donated to others to enjoy. This is a perfect opportunity for each of us to diligently search our own hearts to find hidden sins and then pray and ask the Father to purge us from our sins (all unrighteousness) – this is also another great opportunity to discuss this with your children (the importance of looking at our hearts and attitudes) as you look for leavened food and “clean”.
Shelves, countertops and eating and cooking surfaces as well as ovens should be cleaned for Passover. Don’t forget to look under the couch and those couch cushions … Hence the tradition of “spring cleaning”.
It is customary to use special dishes, cooking utensils, glassware, and silverware for Passover. They can be made of any material, including plastic or paper. Dig out your good china and crystal. What a great time to make use of them!
Now it’s time to go grocery shopping. MAKE A LIST! These days you can find Kosher cakes, cookies, and cereals in most stores. Think about what you will be serving at your Seder. Once you have your Seder and weekly meals (week of Unleavened Bread) planned, try to do all of your shopping in one trip/one shop. Depending upon your area, you may need to order your Matzah online, so plan ahead.
Now that you have cleaned the house and gone shopping. Give yourself a treat. Plan an extra thirty minutes in the morning to enjoy a good cup of coffee, do your nails, or take a bubble bath.
Next on the list is cooking. You will want to start with plenty of time to spare for cooking your Seder meal. It is best to allow two days for the prep work and cooking so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Maybe have your children help you set the table the night before all the while reiterating the purpose and importance of “preparation”. Even Yeshua himself, sent His disciples into the city to prepare.
The night before have everyone in the family decide what they will be wearing for the Seder. Is it clean? Does it need repair? Now is the time to deal with these little details.
Also, on the night before, it is customary to gather the children of the home and search for any remaining crumbs of leaven. You can make a game out of this with a reward for anyone who finds some. Now, you are ready for Passover.
On the day of the Seder, finalize the table settings and meal preparation. Leave enough time for you to take a nap mid-day and time to get ready so you are refreshed when you greet your guests and family.
The Seder – it is good to put some advance thought into the kind of Seder you want. Many use a Haggadah (order of service). You can order Haggadahs online at most Messianic Marketplaces. These are a printed “order” of the service and you will need one per person. Keep in mind who will be attending your Seder. If you have children, you might want to create your own Haggadah to make it child friendly. They could also help decorate your room or tablecloth (if you use paper or plastic). Make the evening memorable for them, too. Some other questions to ask yourself: will you be using place cards at each place setting? What about candles and matches? The more traditional Haggadahs call for finger washing bowls. Do you have enough Matzah for everyone? Will you be serving wine or grape juice? The important thing is to have a creative, memorable evening.
The six symbolic items that are traditionally on the Passover/Pesach plate are: zeroa (roasted shank bone), beitza (roasted, hard-boiled egg), karpas (fresh or raw vegetables like parsley or celery), maror (bitter herbs like horseradish), chazereet (bitter vegetable like romaine lettuce), charoset (mixture of apples, nuts, wine, and spices). Each of these items holds significance in helping us to remember the redemption of our Fathers before they left Egypt.
If you are following a Haggadah, these items will be consumed and remembered in certain orders. The main meal typically follows at the end of the remembering or “telling” of the story. Again, if you have children, be mindful of how long they will sit still and be engaged. Also, think about when you want to start your Seder. Most Haggadahs take several hours, which means your meal will be late in the evening. So, you might want to offer a light snack to your family members in the afternoon prior to gathering to celebrate.
Again, the importance is in the “telling” or remembering. Be creative to make it a memorable evening. One filled with tears over our Fathers bondage, with joy over their redemption, with gratitude to Yah, our King, who has also redeemed us in His loving favor and will one day return for us. It is a marvelous story to remember each year. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: this guide is based on traditional observances and customs, and it is not a prescription or does not represent any kind of hard and fast rule. Passover traditions differ from group to group and family to family. BYNA welcomes all who acknowledge the scriptural instructions regarding the moedim.