The Four Names of Passover
Please Donate to Haggadot.com
Download your Haggadah to use during your Passover. We offer both printer-friendly and interactive version for your convenience.
Before you download, consider giving back – Your donation helps us maintain and improve our website. Thanks for your support!
Share this Clip with your friends, family,
community and social networks with just one click.
Copy and paste the URL of this Clip to share or view.
Open in new window
Share This Clip on Social Networks
The Four Names of Passover
By David Suissa
It’s fashionable to look at Passover as a universal idea. This makes sense; after all, how much more universal can you get than the theme of human freedom? Also, it’s a lot easier these days to be outer-directed and feel outrage at injustice. Thanks to the Internet, millions can now watch YouTube clips of people being oppressed in the Sudan or demonstrating in the Middle East.
So, when Passover arrives, it’s not surprising that many of us would associate this powerful Jewish holiday with tikkun olam — with the global struggle for justice and freedom.
But there’s another dimension to freedom that has little to do with what’s happening in Africa and everything to do with what’s happening inside each one of us. This is a deeply personal and intimate view of freedom, and Passover is an ideal time to try to connect with it.
I got an unexpected lesson on this subject the other day when I asked my friend Rabbi Yoel Glick, a teacher of “spiritual wisdom” who was visiting from his home in the south of France, to share some thoughts on Passover.
“Our personal journey of freedom is reflected in the four names we use for the festival of Pesach,” Glick told me over coffee. “Each name represents a different step in this journey.”
In other words, each step is like a “mini seder” that we must experience before moving on to the next step. As Glick went on, I thought: “This is so Jewish. As soon as you think you’ve accomplished something, a little voice tells you: ‘Don’t get too excited — you’re not done yet.’ ”
The first name for Pesach — Chag HaHerut (the festival of freedom) — represents the first, basic step of our liberation, when we are released from physical bondage. It’s not a coincidence that one of the seder rituals at this stage is to break off a small piece of matzah (yachatz) and put away the larger one. This is a sign, according to Glick, that there’s still a lot more work to be done.
What is that work? It is to realize that the freedom to do anything is not the same thing as the freedom to do the right thing.
This is the second level of freedom, as symbolized by the second name of the holiday — Chag HaPesach (the festival of Passover) — which features, among other things, the sacrifice of the Pascal lamb.
Here, we are called upon to sacrifice our animal natures for the sake of our higher selves. Just as Moses sacrificed the material benefits of being a prince for the spiritual benefits of doing God’s work, we are challenged to rise above our animal desires — such as unbridled hedonism — and use our newfound freedom for a higher purpose.
By now, you’re probably thinking: “Hey, this is a pretty high level. What else can God want from us?” Well, like I said, with Judaism there’s always something.
As Glick explained it, once we have managed to discipline our animal bodies and to make the right choices, we slowly realize there is yet another bondage that has a hold on us — the bondage of the mind.
We are enslaved to prejudice, dogma and ideology.
So, the third step in our journey to personal liberation, which is symbolized by the third name of Pesach — Chag HaMatzot (the festival of unleavened bread) — is to free ourselves from dogmatic thinking.
That’s why this step is symbolized by the matzah, the flat bread that is made without yeast and is not allowed to rise. Yeast represents the ego, and the unleavened matzah represents the freedom of an open and expansive mind.
But hold on, we’re not out of the woods yet. There’s still the fourth name for Pesach — Chag HaAviv, the festival of spring — which ushers in the final level of personal liberation.
This final step is when we are liberated from our most fundamental fears, such as the fear of old age, sickness and death.
Glick calls it “joining the mind of God,” which represents the eternal and the timeless. We no longer fear the end because, at this level of spiritual consciousness, there is no end, only constant renewal. As we recite the final psalms of Hallel, we are reminded that there’s also no end to God’s love, and we experience a state of “never- ending spring” when every living thing is part of one single great consciousness.
Now, if you’re wondering how you can experience all this spirituality while the wine is flowing, the kids are yelling and the guests are arguing over whether Obama is good for the Jews, here’s some good news: After the seder, you still have 49 days to go. According to the kabbalah, we are to use the 49 days between Passover and the festival of Shavuot — the days of the counting of the Omer — to reach higher and higher levels of spiritual perfection.
And for those of us who preach tikkun olam, I have no doubt that this spiritual process includes the obligation to help with the liberation of others.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being Jewish, it’s that no matter how spiritually elevated we get or how many good deeds we’ve done or how much we’ve learned or how many people we’ve helped ... we’re never done.
And that’s a pretty universal idea.
David Suissa is president of TRIBE Media Corp./Jewish Journal and can be reached at email@example.com.
A version of this article appeared in print.
When we break the Matzah in half, we are symbolizing the split of the red sea. When we break the Matzah, we symbolize the hope that we can eat. When the red sea split, it symbolized the permission; yes you may pass, after hearing the word NO NO NO. During the Seder we get bored and we ask “When can we eat” and until this breaking of the Matzah, we get told NO NO NO. It is hope that there is food,...
We come together from our separate lives, each of us bringing our concerns, our preoccupations, our hopes, and our dreams. We are not yet fully present: The traffic, the last-minute cooking, the final details still cling to us. Our bodies hold the rush of the past few hours.
It is now time to let go of these pressures and really arrive at this seder. We do this by meditating...
When we bless the green parsley and dip it in the salty water, we remember the spring, and we remember the long, sad years of our slavery.
When we left Egypt,
we bloomed and sprouted,
and songs dripped from our tongues
like shimmering threads of nectar.
All green with life we grew,
who had been buried,
under toil and sorrow,
dense as bricks.
All green in...
The Wicked Child
I read the haggadah backwards this year
The sea opens,
the ancient Israelites slide back to Egypt
like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk
Freedom to slavery
That’s the real story
One minute you’re dancing hallelujah,
shaking your hips to the j-j-jangle of the prophetesses’ tambourines,
the next you’re knee deep in brown...
By Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holzblatt
On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the...
We begin our Seder by calling to mind the efforts of those everywhere who celebrate the Passover by searching for its meaning in their lives.
In our house, we're marrying multiple traditions, genetic lines, and ways of being. It's through rituals like this that we hope to form the strands of our life into a family that's woven together for all the time we can know. We're ecstatic you can join us for Octavio...
A HEBREW LESSON ON THE ROOT-WORD S-D-R
How is the festival meal of Passover different from the meal eaten at other holiday celebrations? For one thing, the Passover repast is consumed in the context of a scripted dramatic arrangement, a (seder), from the Hebrew verb (le-sadder), "to arrange."
There are, to be sure, similar arrangements in Jewish ritual and textual life. The daily prayer book, which...
Is there really any reason for a sprig of parsley to be on the Seder Table? What is the connection between karpas and the Jewish People leaving Egypt?
Winter, with its bleak landscape and cold, short days, can lead to gloom and despondency.
In contrast, spring breeds hope. Seeds that have been frozen in the earth haven't died, and in the spring they re-awaken. Even when all is cold and dark, the...
Dayenu means "it would have been enough." And not in a kvetchy/sarcastic way! Dayenu is a sincere expression of gratitude, of the Jewish people's cup overfloweth.
There are many any verses in the Hebrew proclaiming how it would have been enough just to be brought out from slavery in Egpyt, to get the Torah, to be gifted Shabbat, etc...
In this version, you may sing some, all or none of the traditional...
by Lisa/Leah Russ
I dreaded passover growing up. It seemed boring and oppressive and... dreadful with the emphasis on DREAD. I never really named it, but felt somewhere in my hungry gut that this wasn't a great place to be...my grandparents’ overheated undersized apartment in Queens, with these flat books in our hands, these hollow songs, this jelly on my fish.
A couple of years ago I was at a workshop...
Sam Solomon 3-12-15
The symbols of Passover
The Symbols of Passover The bone that represents the sacrifice. It is weird to me that we sacrifice a lamb. How can we sacrifice such a sweet and innocent animal?
A hard boiled egg? A hard boiled egg? how can something so small have so much meaning?
We eat bitter herbs to remind us of our ancestors work as slaves. But why do we eat food that many...
More Clips from Gail Robillard
By David Suissa
It’s fashionable to look at Passover as a universal idea. This makes sense; after all, how much more universal can you get than the theme of human freedom? Also, it’s a lot easier these days to be outer-directed and feel outrage at injustice. Thanks to the Internet, millions can now watch YouTube clips of people being oppressed in the Sudan...