Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life






Leil Pesah [Night of Passover]

On the first night of Hagh HaMassot [Festival of Unleavened Bread], which is Leil Pesah, it is our duty to recite in our prayers the passages in the Miqra’ [Scripture] related to the Pesah. After this we are to gather in our houses and recite the biblical verses containing the account of the following:  the distressing servitude in which our fathers were living - Mosheh and Aharon, who were sent to them by YHWH to rescue them from Pharaoh, and who performed miracles in this endeavor - the slaughter of the first-born, and the salvation of the first-born of Israel from Egypt - The Exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt. We are to make this recitation in the most wondrous manner and add our own praise to God for all these mercies.

After this, we are to bless God for the unleavened bread, and eat of it with bitter herbs such as sow thistle, lettuce, and chickory.

During most of the night, we are to tell our children, wives, and guests what God did for us in Egypt. It is written, “...in order that you may tell your son and your grandson what I have wrought upon Egypt” (Shemot [Exodus] 10:2). Of course, it is our duty to discourse on this subject always, throughout the year. It is written, “that you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 16:3). However, on this night, we are to dwell on it. We are to do the same during the remaining seven days of the festival as well.

This, the first day, is a holy convocation, a holiday, and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. We must refrain on this day from the kinds of work forbidden on holidays. The same applies to the seventh day. The proof of this is in the verse, “...on the first day, you shall hold a holy convocation, and on the seventh day also a holy convocation” (Shemot [Exodus] 12:16), and, “These are the the appointed times of YHWH, holy convocations... In the first month... on the fifteenth day of the month... On the first day you shall have a holy convocation... you shall bring a fire offering to YHWH, seven days; on the seventh day, there shall be a holy convocation” (Wayyiqra’ [Leviticus] 23:4-8). Furthermore, it is written, “...on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation” (BeMidbar [Numbers] 28:25).
The first day has this mark over the seventh day, it is specifically designated as the “night of watching”, as it is written, “It was a night of watching unto YHWH” (Shemot [Exodus] 12:42). Its entire day is specifically designated as “the day of remembrance”, as it is written, “...this day shall be to you a day of remembrance” (Shemot [Exodus] 12:14).

The seventh day is, a “Day of Assembly”, as it is written, “...on the seventh day you shall hold an assembly to YHWH your God” (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 16:8).