PASSOVER (Heb. פֶּסַח, Pesah), a spring festival, beginning on the 15th day of Nisan, lasting seven days in Israel and eight in the Diaspora. It commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. The first and seventh days (the first two and last two in the Diaspora) are yom tov (a "festival" on which work is prohibited), and the other days ḥol ha-mo'ed ("intermediate days" on which work is permitted).
Names and History
The biblical names for the festival are: ḥag ha-Pesaḥ ("the feast of the Passover," Ex. 34:25), so called because God "passed over" (or "protected") the houses of the children of Israel (Ex. 12:23), and ḥag ha-Maẓẓot ("the feast of Unleavened Bread"; Ex. 23:15; Lev. 23:6; Deut. 16:16). Pesaḥ is the paschal lamb, offered as a sacrifice on the eve of the feast (14th Nisan) in Temple times; it was eaten in family groups after having been roasted whole (Ex. 12:1–28, 43–49; Deut. 16:1–8). A person who was unable (because of ritual impurity or great distance from the Sanctuary) to keep the "first Passover" could keep it a month later – Pesaḥ Sheni ("the Second Passover," also called "Minor Passover," Num. 9:1–14).
According to tradition, the Passover rites were divinely ordained as a permanent reminder of God's deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage. The critical view points to two distinct festivals in the Bible; the feast of unleavened bread, a pastoral feast, and the Passover, an agricultural feast (see below).
In the Book of Joshua (5:10–11), it is said that the Israelites led by Joshua kept the feast at Gilgal. The Book of Kings relates that Passover was kept with special solemnity in King Josiah's reign in the seventh century B.C.E.: "The king commanded all the people, saying: 'Keep the Passover unto the Lord your God, as it is written in this book of the covenant. For there was not kept such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of King Josiah was this Passover kept to the Lord in Jerusalem'" (II Kings 23:21–23).
As far as can be ascertained, the Passover festival was kept throughout the period of the Second Temple. Josephus records contemporary Passover celebrations in which he estimates that the participants who gathered in Jerusalem to perform the sacrifice in the year 65 C.E., were "not less than three millions" (Jos., Wars, 2:280). The Talmud (Pes. 64b) similarly records: "King Agrippa once wished to take a census of the hosts of Israel. He said to the high priest, 'Cast your eyes on the Passover offerings.' He took a kidney from each, and 600,000 pairs of kidneys were found there, twice as many as those who departed from Egypt, excluding those who were unclean and those who were on a distant journey; and there was not a single paschal lamb for which more than ten people had not registered; and they called it: 'The Passover of the dense throngs.'" Allowing for hyperbole, the account of immense crowds assembled to offer the paschal lamb cannot be too far from historical reality.
The Samaritans considered all the biblical rules regarding the sacrifice of the lamb in Egypt (Ex. 12) to be applicable for all time. The practice, as recorded in the Mishnah (Pes. 9:5), is that only Pesaḥ Miẓrayim ("Passover of Egypt") required the setting aside of the lamb four days before the festival, the sprinkling of the blood on lintel and doorposts, and that the lamb be eaten in "haste." The Mishnah (Pes. 10:5) explains the commands of the lamb sacrifice and the eating of *matzah ("unleavened bread") and maror ("bitter herbs") as follows: the lamb is offered because God "passed over" (pasaḥ); the unleavened bread is eaten because God redeemed the Israelites from Egypt (Ex. 12:39); and the bitter herbs, because the Egyptians embittered their lives (Ex. 1:14).
With the destruction of the Temple, the offering of the paschal lamb came to an end, although it is possible that for a time the sacrifice was continued in modified form in some circles (Guttman, in: HUCA, 38 (1967), 137–48). The other rites and ceremonies of the Passover festival continued as before. The Samaritans, however, still sacrifice the paschal lamb in a special ceremony on Mt. Gerizim near Shechem. The Last Supper, mentioned in the New Testament (Mark 14, Matt. 26, Luke 22), may be the seder meal. Early Christians observed Easter on Passover and Roman Christians on the Sunday after Passover. Later the *blood libel against Jews was frequently connected with the Passover festival.
The special home ceremony on the first night of Passover, the seder ("order"; pl. sedarim), is based on the injunction to parents to inform their children of the deliverance from Egypt: "And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt" (Ex. 13:8). The Mishnah (Pes. 10:4) gives a formula of four questions (see *Mah Nishtannah which are asked by the child and to which the father replies "according to the son's intelligence." During the Middle Ages a special order of service for the seder was adapted with a formal reply to the questions (culled from various rabbinic sources), and with supplementaryPage 679 | Top of Article material such as table hymns and jingles calculated to appeal to children. These are recorded in the Passover *Haggadah . The Mishnah (Pes. 10:1) rules that even the poorest man in Israel must not eat on the first night of Passover unless he reclines. In mishnaic times, free men would normally recline at meals, and on this night all must demonstrate that they are free. In the Middle Ages, in many communities the custom of reclining at meals during the year was abandoned, but it became a duty to recline at the seder. During the seder, one must partake of four cups (*arba kosot ) of wine (Pes. 10:1). These were interpreted symbolically as corresponding to the four expressions of redemption in the Book of Exodus (6:6–7), or the four cups mentioned in the Book of Genesis (40:11–13) in connection with the dream of the chief butler (TJ, Pes. 10:1, 37c).
On the seder table are the following items: three (in some rites two) cakes of maẓẓot placed one on top of the other; a roasted egg and shankbone or other bone (as reminders of the paschal lamb and the festival offering in Temple times); a dish of salt water (for "dipping" and as a symbol of the Israelites' tears); *maror such as lettuce (or horseradish) for "dipping"; and *ḥaroset ("clay"), a paste made from almonds, apples, and wine (Pes. 10:3) for the purpose of sweetening the bitter herbs, and as a symbol of the mortar the Israelites used when building under the lash of their taskmasters.
The seder follows this standard order:
(1) kaddesh ("sanctification"): the festival is introduced by the Kiddush benediction in which God is praised for giving the festivals to Israel;
(2) reḥaẓ ("wash"): the hands are washed in accordance with the ancient practice of ritual purification before partaking of anything dipped in liquid;
(3) karpas ("greens"): the parsley is dipped in salt water;
(4) yaḥaẓ ("division"): the middle matzah is broken in two and one half is hidden. This latter portion is known as the *afikoman ("the after-meal") and is eaten at the end of the meal, as a reminder of the paschal lamb which was eaten at the end so that its taste would remain in the mouth. It is customary for children to look for the afikoman, a prize being given to the successful finder;
(5) maggid ("recitation"): the Haggadah is recited;
(6) raḥzaḥ ("washing"): the ritual washing of the hands before breaking bread;
(7) moẓi ("bringing forth"): Grace before Meals is recited: "Blessed art Thou… who bringest forth [ha-moẓi] bread…";
(8) matzah: pieces of the top matzah and the broken middle one are eaten;
(9) maror: the bitter herbs are dipped in the ḥaroset and eaten;
(10) korekh ("binding"): a sandwich is made of pieces of the bottom matzah and bitter herbs and eaten. This is a reminder of Hillel's practice in Temple times, based on the verse: "They shall eat it [the paschal lamb] with unleavened bread and bitter herbs" (Num. 9:11);
(11) shulḥan arukh ("prepared table"): the festive meal is eaten;
(12) ẓafun ("hidden"): the afikoman is found and eaten;
(13) barekh ("blessing"): Grace after Meals is recited;
(14) Hallel ("psalms of praise"): Psalms 115–8 are recited. It was customary in Temple times to recite these psalms at the time of the offering of the paschal lamb (Pes. 5:7);
(15) nirẓah ("acceptance").
It is customary to have on the seder table a full cup of wine known as "*Elijah 's cup." Reflections on past deliverance awaken hope for the final redemption, and Elijah, being the herald of the Messiah (Mal. 3:23), is welcomed; toward the end of the seder, the front door of the house is opened to demonstrate that this is a "night of watching" (Ex. 12:42) on which Israel knows no fear. In the Diaspora the seder is repeated on the second night. On the second night of Passover the counting of the *omer is begun. The laws of Passover in the Talmud occur in the talmudic tractate *Pesaḥim . In the United States several additional prayers have been suggested by different groups. These include a prayer on behalf of the Holocaust victims, one for Russian Jewry, and a prayer of thanksgiving for the State of Israel, usually combined with a fifth cup of wine.
The Laws and Customs of Passover
No ḥameẓ ("leaven") is to be found in the house or owned during Passover (Ex. 12:15, 19). On the night before the festival, the house is thoroughly searched for ḥameẓ (Pes. 1:1). All leaven found in the house is gathered together in one place and burned on the following day before noon (see *Bedikat Ḥameẓ (*Ḥamez, Sale of ).
According to rabbinic authorities, the obligation to eat matzah applies only to the first night (Pes. 120a); it is customary, therefore, to prepare special matzot, the wheat of which has been under observation from the time of reaping or grinding (matzah shemurah), for it. During the remainder of the festival, though leaven may not be eaten, there is no obligation to eat matzah. Some rabbinic authorities were opposed to the use of matzot baked by machine.
Utensils in which leaven has been cooked, baked, or boiled must be specially treated before they can be used on Passover. The method is to immerse them in a caldron of boiling water, or, if they are utensils used on a fire, to heat them in a fire until they glow. However, not all vessels can be treated so. Unlike other forbidden food which becomes neutralized and may be eaten if mixed in 60 times its bulk, on Passover, the smallest admixture of ḥameẓ is enough to render a dish forbidden (see *Dietary Laws ).
On the first day of Passover in the synagogue, a special prayer for dew (tal) is recited and the phrase morid ha-geshem is not said. On the Sabbath of Passover, the Song of Songs is read in the synagogue (Ashkenazi rite). Full *Hallel is recited on the first day (two days in the Diaspora) and half-Hallel the rest of the festival. On the last day *Hazkarat Neshamot is recited. When the liturgy refers to the festival, it does so asPage 680 | Top of Article "the period of our freedom." Ḥerut ("freedom"), is, in fact, the dominant note of Passover.
The feast of Passover consists of two parts: The Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Originally both parts existed separately; but at the beginning of the Exile they were combined.
Passover was originally not a pilgrimage feast, but a domestic ceremony consisting of the slaughtering and eating of the paschal animal. This animal–according to Exodus 12:21 (J) a sheep or goat; according to Deuteronomy 16:2, either a sheep or a bovine animal; according to Exodus 12:5 (P; cf. II Chron. 35:7), a year-old lamb or kid–was killed; in accordance with later texts (Ex. 12:6; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:3–5; 28:16 (33:3); Josh. 5:10: Ezek. 45:21; Ezra 6:19; II Chron. 35:1) – on the 14th of the first month (i.e., the 14th of Nisan, March/April), "between the evenings" (Ex. 12:6b; Lev. 23:5; Num. 9:3, 5, 11; 28:4, 8), i.e., at the setting of the sun. The early texts, Exodus 23:15 and 34:18, however, place the Festival of Unleavened Bread in "the season of the ḥodesh of Abib, since it was at the ḥodesh of Abib that you went free from Egypt," and Deuteronomy 16:1ff. places the slaughtering of the Passover sacrifice in "the ḥodesh of Abib, seeing that it was in this ḥodesh of Abib that you went free from Egypt at night…, so that you may remember the day you went free from Egypt"; and it has been argued that the last cited passage in particular makes poor sense unless ḥodesh designates not a 30-day period ("month") but a single day, i.e., the New Moon. (Both senses of ḥodesh are well attested; which is intended in this case can be confirmed only from the context.) The rite of touching the lintel and the doorposts of the house (formerly the tent) with blood from the paschal animal was connected with the slaughter (Ex. 12:7, 13 [P], 22 [J]). The flesh of the animal was boiled, according to Deuteronomy 16:7; but later–by II Chronicles 35:13a–this was interpreted in light of the P (Ex. 12:8–9) to mean broiling (cf. LXX, Deut. 16:7), and this is the rabbinic halakhah (Pes. 5:10). The flesh was then eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Ex. 12:8b; cf. Deut. 16:3a), during the night (Ex. 12:8a), in a community meal, in which the whole family or a combination of families (Ex. 12:4), but no uncircumcised persons (Ex. 12:48b; cf. 12:44–45, 48a [P]), took part. No flesh was allowed to remain until the next day (Deut. 16:4b).
Nothing is found in the Bible about the original meaning of the Passover rite. There is no clue in the name "Passover" (Heb. pesaḥ) because its etymology is uncertain. The assumption that the Passover was originally a sacrifice of the firstborn (G. Beer and others) is incorrect (1) because, according to Exodus 22:28–29 and Leviticus 22:27, the firstborn of the sheep, ox, and goat was to be offered on the eighth day, (2) because according to PC (Ex. 12:5), the Passover animal had to be a year old, and (3) because the regulations about the firstborn in Exodus 34:19, 20a and 13:11–13 are connected with the eating of matzot (Ex. [34:18]; 13:3–10), but not with the Passover (Ex. [34:25]; 12:24–27a; Kutsch, Segal).
Originally the Passover was celebrated by transient breeders of sheep and goats, later by the Israelites, to secure protection for their flocks prior to leaving the desert winter pasture for cultivated regions (Rost). The rite of the blood (see above) as well as the regulation, which was later still in force (Ex. 12:46b; cf. Num. 9:12), whereby no bone of the Passover animal was to be broken, had an apotropaic significance. The oldest literary record in Exodus 12:21 (J) already presupposes the Passover. Hence the old nomadic custom is "historicized" by being connected with the main event in the Israelite salvation history, the Exodus. The reason for this connection was, from a traditional-historical standpoint, the situation of departure which belonged also to the Passover. Moreover, the rite of the blood made it possible to connect the Passover with the story of the killing of the Egyptian firstborn (Ex. 12:23), which was also inserted into the tradition of the Exodus as the reason why the Pharaoh let the Israelites go (Ex. 11:4aβ–8; Kutsch). This "historicization" has determined the character of the Passover: it became the feast commemorating the Exodus (cf. Ex. 12:11–14α [P]; Deut. 16:1, 3). Originally, the Passover was celebrated among the families (Ex. 12:21 [J]) in tents; after the territorial occupation, in houses. After the cultic centralization of King Josiah, the celebration of the Passover was transferred to the central Sanctuary in Jerusalem (Deut. 16:2, 7; II Kings 23:21–23). The requirement that the slaughtering, preparing, and eating of the paschal animals was to take place in the forecourts of the Temple was maintained after the Exile (II Chron. 30:1–5; 35:13–14; Jub. 49:16, 20). Later, because of the large numbers of participants, the paschal animal was killed at the Temple place, but boiled and eaten in the houses of Jerusalem (e.g., Pes. 5:10; 7:12). The transfer of the Passover feast to the Temple entailed the end of the rite of blood; the blood of the paschal animals was, like other sacrificial blood, now poured on the base of the altar (II Chron. 30:16; 35:11).
The reason for the institution of a second Passover on the 14th day of the second month (Num. 9:10–12 [Ps]), which is wrongly ascribed in II Chronicles 30 to King Hezekiah of Judah, is not a difference in calendar between Judah and Northern Israel (cf. S. Talmon, in: VT, 8 (1958), 48–74) but the possibility that a Jew might be prevented from taking part in the feast on the 14th day of the first month because of uncleanness or a distant journey.
Feast of the Unleavened Bread
Unlike the Passover, the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was celebrated in the month of Abib (Ex. 13:4; 23:15; 34:18), is probably taken over from the Canaanites. The main custom of the feast is the eating of unleavened bread or matzot (e.g., Ex. 23: 15; 34:18). The required pilgrimage (Ex. 23:14–15, 17; 34:23; Deut. 16:16), originally to a local sanctuary, later–after the cult centralization of Josiah–to Jerusalem, is secondary to the eating of matzot.
Originally the feast extended over a week beginning not on the day following the Paschal night, but on a "morrow after the Sabbath." The counting of the seven weeks until the "Feast of Weeks" (Pentecost; Lev. 23:11, 15–16) was also to begin on the "morrow after the Sabbath." In Deuteronomy 16:9 it is described as the day on which the Israelites "first put the sickle to the standing grain" and the grain harvest is begun. Because of its proximity to the traditional date of the Exodus, the matzot feast was also connected with the Exodus and thus "historicized" (e.g., Ex. 12:29–34, 37–39 [J]; cf. 12:15–20; 23:15; 34:18 [P]; Deut. 16:3b). A yearly celebration of the march through the Jordan (according to Josh. 3–4) on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Kraus, Soggin) cannot be derived from the late text Joshua 5:10–12; and the thesis that therefore the matzot feast was celebrated in older times as an "election feast" in Gilgal (Wildberger) is contradictory to the fact that the Exodus was also remembered in the celebration of the Passover. Until shortly before the Exile (Deut. 16:7b), the participants in the celebration of the Passover returned home after the celebration at the Temple (the instructions about the matzot feast in Deut. 16:3aβ, 3b, 4a, 8 and 16 are a secondary enlargement [Horst]; even then the Passover and matzot feasts (as pilgrimages) were still celebrated separately. To fix a common date for the Jews in Babylonia the matzot feast after 587 B.C.E. was given a fixed date, the 15th to 21st of the first month, and thus connected with the Passover (first mentioned Ezek. 45:21; Lev. 23:5,6; Num. 28:16, 17; Josh. 5:10, 11; Ezra 6:19, 22; II Chron. [30:15, 13 21–22] 35: 17a, 17b; cf. also the Passover papyrus from Elephantine).
Passover in the New Testament
The combined Passover – matzot Feast is also presupposed in the New Testament. The name here refers (a) to the celebration of the Passover (Matt. 26:18; Mark 14:1; Heb. 11:28); (b) to the whole feast (Matt. 26:2; Luke 2:41; 22:1; Acts 12:4; especially in John 2:13, 23, et al.; for this name "[feast of] unleavened bread" [Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:1, 7; Acts. 12:3; 20:6] is also used), and (c) as in the Old Testament (e.g., Ex. 12: 21), to the Passover lamb (Mark 14:12, 14, 16; Luke 22:8, 15; John 18–28; II Cor. 5:7). The connection of the death of Jesus with the Passover is important. According to the synoptic gospels, Jesus was crucified on the 15th day of Nisan, the first day of the feast; they understand the last supper of Jesus as a Passover meal, during which the salvational meaning of Jesus' death is disclosed (Mark 14:22, 24). The gospel of John, on the other hand, dates the death of Jesus to the 14th of Nisan (John 19:14; cf. 18: 28), to the hour of the Passover slaughtering (cf. John 19:14, 31; Mark 15:33–34, 37; cf. Pes. 5:1; Jos. Wars, 6:423), and the meal to the night of the 13th of Nisan. This does not have calendaric (Jaubert), but theological reasons. Unlike the synoptic gospels, John interprets Jesus as the Passover lamb (John 1:29; 19:36; cf. e.g., otherwise I Cor. 5:7; I Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6).
Leaven, grain (except in the form of matzot and matzah meal), and pulses are forbidden in some rites during the Passover week. Ashkenazim also refrain from eating rice. The ceremonial food placed on the seder table varies little from community to community, although the ingredients in the ḥaroset change in different localities. The basic recipe of honey, wine, nuts, fruit, and spices is however common to all.
Although matzah-meal dumplings (kleys, kneydlekh) are considered a typical Passover dish, Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jews do not eat them, in case they should ferment slightly; the same applies to the maẓẓah-and-chocolate layer cake, popular in Israel among all communities at Passover. Lithuanian Jews, even the ultra-Orthodox, eat a fermented beet soup called risel borsht. Other Ashkenazim also eat borsht and khreyn, a condiment prepared from grated horseradish which is colored with beet juice. Sephardim and North Africans have lamb as the main course at the seder meal, and serve stuffed lamb intestines during the week. Among the North Africans, white truffles are considered a Passover delicacy. Sephardim generally do not cook with matzah meal but use matzah with eggs and in meat dishes. All communities adapt year-round recipes to Passover, substituting in dishes such as pancakes potato flour and or matzah meal for flour. Ashkenazi desserts include: cinnamon balls, teyglekh (honey cakes), plava cake (a sponge cake in which ground almonds replace the flour), coconut cakes, and candies containing carrots, cinnamon, or ginger. Sephardim eat a sponge cake called bisquitte pané d'Espagne, and the North Africans, cakes of honey, almonds, and cinnamon, as well as French-style doughnuts (beignets) made with matzah meal. Among Moroccan Jews a feast is held at the end of Passover called *Maimuna .
Women and Passover Observance
Over the centuries the connection between Jewish women and Passover was largely expressed through their roles in cleaning the homes to meet the stringencies of the holiday and preparing the special seder meals. Although women such as Yocheved, mother of Moses; Miriam, Moses's sister and guardian; Pharaoh's daughter, who saved and adopted Moses; and Shifra and Puah, the midwives who risked their lives to save Hebrew infant boys, played important roles in the biblical accounts of the Passover epic, their stories were largely glossed over in the Passover Haggadah, the ritual narration of the Exodus from Egypt. However, during the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly in North America, women have taken a broader role in Passover observances, reclaiming Jewish women heroes from history and, together with Jewish men, reconfiguring the Haggadah and seder experience to be more reflective of women's central contributions to Jewish history and Judaism.
The Passover seder provided a framework of expression for many liberation movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Just as African slaves in the United States had sung spirituals such as "Go Down Moses," identifying with the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, in the late 20th century a panoply of groups utilizedPage 682 | Top of Article the format of the Haggadah to tell their own stories. The seder structure became a vehicle for expressing the yearning for liberation, from the oppression of Egypt to racism, war, gulags, and sexism. Black-Jewish Freedom Seders, a part of the civil rights movement in the United States, gave way to Save Soviet Jewry Freedom Seders in the 1980s. Passover sedarim that stressed themes of women's liberation began with a small group of women in 1975. By 2005, thousands of women celebrated feminist sedarim annually in synagogues and Jewish community centers around the world, as events separate and apart from their personal sedarim with family and friends.
The first feminist seder was organized by novelist Esther M. Broner, Marcia Freedman, and Nomi Nimrod in Haifa in 1975. Inspired by this experience, Broner and Nimrod wrote The Women's Haggadah, first used in New York and Haifa in 1976. Subsequently a version of this work was published in *Lilith , the Jewish feminist magazine, making it more widely accessible. The Women's Haggadah follows the order of the traditional seder but alters the elements to insert the lives of biblical and rabbinic women into the story, to invoke past and current oppression of women, and to enhance the spiritual journey of self-discovery. For example, the list of ten plagues includes violence against women. Subsequently, women throughout the United States organized similar sedarim, often composing their own text.
By the 1980s, the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements published new Haggadot, which made various changes to include women, at least in the English translations. For instance, in the Conservative movement's Haggadah, Feast of Freedom, the passage about the four sons is rendered as the "four children," although the Hebrew is not changed. In midrashic sections of the Haggadah, alternate rabbinic texts describing the righteousness of Jewish women are included, and in the English translation of the narrative the genders are alternated. The commentary also cites the roles of important women in the story of the Exodus.
Another ritual innovation that began in the same era and became widespread in the United States in the 1990s was to place a cup in honor of Miriam the Prophet on the seder table alongside the cup of Elijah. This cup was filled with water, recalling the Midrash that the Israelites had fresh well water during their wanderings in the wilderness thanks to Miriam. Finally, in addition to their traditional activities preparing for the festival, in recent decades women more frequently conduct or co-conduct the seder in their own homes. As women have become cantors and rabbis, they often lead public sedarim, as well.
See also *Haggadot , Passover: Feminist Haggadot.
[Rela M. Geffen (2nd ed.)]
While the Haggadah, by its presence and use, dominates the seder table, other manifestations of the artistic impulse are by no means lacking. The table itself is a center of attraction as an object around which to gather and feast. The most important item on the Passover table is the seder plate, or a basket. A special Passover plate (ke'arah) is mentioned in mishnaic times and throughout history, but no indication of its actual decoration is known in early times. Illuminated medieval Haggadot illustrate a large round plate on the table in Ashkenazi ones, and a wicker basket in some Sephardi and Italian manuscripts. A custom of placing the basket on a child's head when reciting *Ha Laẓma was illustrated in the Barcelona Haggadah (British Museum, Add. Ms. 14761).
Extant seder plates from the time of the Renaissance and onward were made of practically every material: wood, copper, brass, pewter, porcelain, faience, stoneware, and plastics. Many of the old simple plates are of pewter because it shines like silver when well kept, cleaned, and polished, and also lends itself easily to engraving. The motif most usually found on these pewter plates is the paschal lamb; another favorite is a five-or six-pointed star in the center. Plates are frequently adorned with scenes from the Passover story: the seder meal, the rabbis at Bene-Berak, the four sons, the story of the *Ḥad Gadya , or the order of the seder ceremony. Hebrew inscriptions are another typical and popular decorative scheme. The favorite, usually in the center, consists of the Kiddush, or an important citation from the Haggadah such as the Ha Laḥma. There is often a well-loved psalm or the grace after meals.
The earliest ceramic plates for Passover were probably made in Spain. In the ceramic group, the most important plates were made in the 16th century of majolica in Italian workshops, some by Isaac Cohen Modon. Fourteen such plates are known and were all executed in dark brown, decorated with colored pictures illustrating Passover rituals and figures. There are also blue Delft plates for Passover use inscribed "Pesaḥdic" or "Yontefdic." An interesting type of seder plate is the three-tiered open one, on which the three matzot are placed. This type was probably invented in the 18th century, in order to overcome the problem of the matzot covering the decorated plate, and the different items placed on top of the matzot. Many of these plates, executed in eastern Europe, were made of silver frame and glass tiers. They are round or square, with decorated tops, some with decorative receptacles for the five items. A traditional modern seder plate of the same type was made by Ludwig Wolpert of contemporary materials–a silver frame supporting three glass partitions in which the three ceremonial maẓẓot are clearly visible. The maror, ḥaroset, roast egg, and shankbone, in glass dishes, rest on top of the upper partition.
In addition to the seder plate there are wine cups for Kiddush, a special cup for the prophet Elijah, and others for drinking the ritual four cups of wine. The most splendid of all cups is reserved for the prophet Elijah. The favorite theme on these vessels is the return of Zion. One features the Messiah entering Jerusalem on a donkey, led by Elijah blowing a ram's horn, while David is playing his harp.
The seder has inspired other ceremonial objects of particular artistic quality: a cloth to cover the maẓẓot; a towel forPage 683 | Top of Article drying of the hands after washing; a pillow for the father to lean against; and a white robe for him to wear.
P. Goodman, The Passover Anthology (1961), incl. bibl.; I. Levy, A Guide to Passover (1958); M.M. Kasher, Haggadah Shelemah (19673); J.B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover (1963); Schauss, Guide of Jewish Holy Days (19664), 38–85; T. Gaster, Passover: Its History and Traditions (1949); S.J. Zevin, Ha-Mo'adim ba-Halakhah (196310), 215–91. CRITICAL VIEW: F. Horst, Das Privilegrecht Jahres… (1930), 81ff.; L. Rost, in: ZDPV, 66 (1943), 205–16; J. Jeremias, in: Theologisches Woerterbuch zum Neuen Testament, 5 (1954), 895–903; A. Jaubert, La date de la Cène (1957); E. Auerbach, in: VT, 8 (1958), 1–18; E. Kutsch, in: Zeitschrift fuer Theologie und Kirche, 55 (1958), 1–35; H. Haag, in: Dictionnaire de la Bible, Suppléments, 6 (1960), 1120–49; H. Wildberger, Jahwes Eigentumsvolk (1960); H.-J. Kraus, Gottesdienst in Israel… (19622); J.A. Soggin, in: VT Supplement, 15 (1966), 263–77; P. Grelot, in: VT, 17 (1967), 201–7; A.B. Ehrlich, Randglossen zur hebraeischen Bibel, 1 (1968), 312–3. IN THE ARTS: Mayer, Art, index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E.M. Broner with N. Nimrod, The Telling (1993); T.R. Cohen, The Journey Continues: The Ma'yan Passover Haggadah (2002); S.C. Anisfeld, T. Mohr, and C. Spector (eds.), The Women's Passover Companion (2003); idem, The Women's Seder Sourcebook (2003); R.A. Rabbinowicz, (ed.), Passover Haggadah: The Feast of Freedom (1982).