April 18th, 2011
09:50 AM ET

Let my people go: Understanding the Passover Seder

CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff explains the Jewish festival of Passover, which starts at sundown Monday and commemorates the Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.

Watch the video above to learn more about the Seder - the meal in which the story of Exodus is told - and the various symbols used during the holiday, including matzo (unleavened bread), bitter herbs, salt water and a lamb shank bone.

We'd like to hear from you: Tell us how you're celebrating Passover this year. Are you doing anything different at your Seder?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Holidays • Judaism • Moses

soundoff (326 Responses)
  1. James Brown

    Here's the whole thing summed up nicely. Earlier one individual asked "When we die and find out we are wrong, (there is no God) what will you do" IF we as believers are wrong we won't "wake up dead" and find out we are wrong. On the other hand, you who do not believe, what if you wake up dead, and find out we are right?

    April 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Evy

      I must admit i almost fell from my chair with laughter...."wake up dead"...PERFECT OXYMORON....LOL LOL...the truth is...it won't matter what happens after we're dead because we will just be DEAD!!!

      April 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • chefdugan

      Don't fret about us. We are not believers and we know we are right.However, continue to delude yourself if it makes youn feel better.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Spencer

      Except for two problems:

      -In many religions, worshiping the wrong god is worse than not worshiping at all. How do you know you have the right one?

      -If you are wrong, think of all of the wasted time, energy, and misguided thinking that has taken away from your already too short life. Instead of going to church, you could have pursued a hobby, helped the homeless, or enriched your life. Believing is not a free ride.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • JD

      If Evy and Chef have never been dead, how do you KNOW you are right. I would think it'd be smarter to be safe than sorry.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Steve

      If I am worshiping and following this God for 21 years I better be sure that I am following the right one. Things have happened in my life multiple time were the song playing on the radio is what I need, or times when I am going through a hard time I feel a presence of something greater than me around me. It isn't me just meditating for hours or chills. It is something very real. It is also a religion of freedom through God and His rules as weird as that sounds some rules do give you freedom.

      April 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Artist


      If I am worshiping and following this God for 21 years I better be sure that I am following the right one. Things have happened in my life multiple time were the song playing on the radio is what I need, or times when I am going through a hard time I feel a presence of something greater than me around me. It isn't me just meditating for hours or chills. It is something very real. It is also a religion of freedom through God and His rules as weird as that sounds some rules do give you freedom.
      Do mentally ill people (skitzo) really feel and see what they experience? Of course they do. It seems very real to them, when it really isn't. A person can take an experience and apply it many ways to fit their needs at the time.

      April 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Finger Puppet

      You are all right.
      He gets a kick out of watching the pink monkeys, on planet Earth, squirm.
      It's a sick game.
      He is trying to TRICK you.

      April 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
  2. Evy

    @ Bob – and to correct you further, it isn't hatred that those who are AGAINST religion feel, it's disrepect and disregard. That is the more appropriate way to put it.

    April 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  3. Evy

    @ Bob – I will post it twice so it's crystal clear.

    It's not that more people "seemingly" have more time to post about their disdain for religion, it's that more and more people are waking up to realize that religion (IN ALL FORMS) is the root of all evil. They say money is, but i have to disagree and say it's religion that should take the fall!!

    April 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  4. laurie

    as usual, most of these posts sound like they are from deeply hurting individuals...man, does it come through in the comments...to the question asked in the article...yes, as a follower of Yeshua, Passover is most important in re-affirming the sacrifice of our Pascal Lamb (Christ)..what a most wonderful time of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy Resurrection Day!

    April 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  5. Artist


    And what happens when you die and find out you were wrong?????


    I am assuming fear is the basis for your choice. This is quite effective for the sheep.
    To address your question, it doesnt matter because the man made god is not a god I would want to worship nor deserving of worship. In fact, the chrisian god has to be one of the worst gods in man's history. So in the end, I still made the right choice. Hope this answers your question.

    April 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Justin

      If I am wrong then I am going to be wrong. I live my life with as much love and humility as I can muster. I do for others anytime I am needed and able to. I try my very best to never harbor hatred and use words that cause harm. I am a social worker and soon to be a therapist for acutely mentally ill. I cannot believe in something for the sake of doing so and therefore do not believe in God. I am not saying that there is not a God or many Gods who if there is one then it is Allah or Yahweh. I am simply saying that every single day I try to be the best person I can be and devoted to those around me and if that is not good enough for admission to a decent afterlife then my loss. If my sacrifice and devotion to being as much of a kind, caring, and humble person does not meet the standards set forth then I will have to suffer the consequences. I chose this life because it is right, it is good, not out of fear or inspiration of any omnipresent being.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  6. Ryan in Michigan

    Atheist – One who claims tolerance for all, but shows tolerance for none. The ultimate in double standards. They have no place in society other than the bottom, along with Nazis, Fascists, and Racists. Heck, most Nazis, Facists, and Racists are Atheists anyway!

    April 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      Accidentally double-posted due to CNN's moderations.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Ryan in Michigan

      Actually, Artist, you nailed it on the head. You describe yourself very well. You are a self-proclaiming, intolerant hypocrite. I applaud you for being so honest, even if I disagree with your beliefs. I tolerate your religion, not your stupidity.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  7. Ryan in Michigan

    Atheist – One who claims tolerance for all, but shows tolerance for none. The ultimate in double standards. They have no place in society other than the bottom, along with Nazis, Fascists, and Racists. Heck, most Nazis, Facists, and Racists are Atheists anyway!

    April 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  8. SC

    Can the god haters please take a day off? If you don't believe in God that's fine, but don't criticize the folks who do. Let the Jewish people honor their traditions and celebrate the holiday with their familes and friends. They're not harming anyone. Why does the simplest thing have to turn into an attack?

    April 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Artist

      One cannot hate what does not exist. Just because they are jewish is no reason to withhold a comment. Delusion is equally shared with christians, muslims and jews.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Artist

      Ryan in Michigan, okay so people cannot express their view if it is different? Because I express a different opinion I am intolerant? If I feel someone is delusional and I state such, I am intolerant? If I disagree does this mean I hate as well?

      April 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  9. moshesharon

    The cleaning for Pesach to get rid of our Chometz marks the beginning of a process to bring us from the decadent world of slavery in Egypt to the holiest world of serving HaShem. There had to be a complete break with the past and a nullification of one's ego to prepare to receive the Divine revelation and the Torah, which is G-d's Will and Wisdom. The Matzo represents humility as there is no puffing up process before baking. G-d made for us a time of introspective cleansing. Everything we do in preparing for and celebrating Pesach is an action that represents a concerted effort toward self improvement, which sets the tone for the entire year. Every Jew is a work in progress. A happy and kosher passover to all! http://moshesharon.wordpress.com

    April 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  10. zack


    April 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  11. zack

    CHAG SAMEACH! WATCH THIS VIDEO AND SING ALONG!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNWrmd1Z8U

    April 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  12. Geez

    People claim that religion is some type of mental disorder... Maybe it is, however I would claim that the obsession with trying to force the idea god doesnt exist equally as mental.

    April 18, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  13. Reality

    Based on the following review of the New Torah for Modern Minds, one must ask, do Conservative Jews celebrate Passover?

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "litany of disillusion" about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    "Twenty years later, the weight of scholarly evidence questioning the Exodus narrative had become so great that the minority view had become the majority one.

    "Not among Orthodox Jews, however. They continue to regard the Torah as the divine and immutable word of God. Their most widely used Torah commentary, known as the Stone Edition (1993), declares in its introduction "that every letter and word of the Torah was given to Moses by God."

    April 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • 4321

      I can't understand why these people call themselves Jewish if all they try to do is change the tradition that has been passed down so that it is convenient for them. That's not Judaism - it's something else. The reason some things are hard to believe is because if G-d's existence was obvious, we'd all be robots. Eventually, and hopefully soon, His existence will be revealed as obvious as day, and then all our questions and doubts will be put to rest.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  14. jeff williams

    Would you believe it ,that a southren baptist in rainbow city alabama would teach on the seder meal. Our pastor did and the response from the church was overwhelming. The true picture of passover is so much clearer and the "LORD'S SUPPER" that it symbolizes.

    April 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  15. Steve Gaynor

    The lesson of Passover is that our ancestors (right down to our own parents) have sacrificed much in order for us to have a better life. It is of course important that we do the same for our children, but it is a Mitzvah (commandment) for us to do the best we can to enjoy our life in order to honor our parents and all of our ancestors. So, in the immortal words of the great philosophers Bill S. Preston, Esq. & Theodore Logan, "Be excellent to each other and Party on, dudes!"

    April 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  16. GEM

    YIKES! Once again, proof in these posts that idiots far outnumber those who would like an intelligent exchange about an ancient and revered tradition.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  17. Sy2502

    There is not one shred of historic evidence that the Jews were ever enslaved by the Egyptians, nor that the Exodus occurred. But then, religious people have never been fond of facts and evidence.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • BeiberHed

      And the earth is flat and black people werent slaves either. Only thousand of heirglyphs and writings say otherwise you PUTZ

      April 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • ron

      it doesnt matter if it was true or not, i personally dont believe its true, but it is a traditions that gets people together

      April 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • johnsoba

      that is false, there is no archeological evidence or any other outside of the bible. If 600,000 people really roamed the desert for 40 years there would be evidence of it in a dry place like egypt where papyrus is still found in good shape. Not only that but Egypt only had a population of only around 1 million at the time, enslaving 600,000 people is an impossibility.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Ride Sally Ride

    It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes,
    an aeroplane – Lenny Bruce is not afraid. Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn, world serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs. Feed it off an aux speak,, grunt, no, strength, The ladder starts to clatter with fear fight down height. Wire in a fire, representing seven games, a government for hire and a combat site. Left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck. Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped.
    Look at that low playing! Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right – right. You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty psyched.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Joey Mo

      This is the only post that isnt hate filled. Amen. And it is the end next december so lets party!

      April 18, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Laquisha Jones

      Since Obama is BUSH III – we are all going down man! Matzoh balls and all! Oy!

      April 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Godless

      I've always meant to look up the lyrics when I hear the song but forget to – thanks for posting!

      April 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sammy Latino

      Does anyone realize that the stock market is going up while things are getting worse! Unemployemnt fmaine disease earthquakes tsunamis radiation flatulence explosions. We are in deep do doo people. We need a king of america to take over. I was Bruce Springsteen! Elton John can be Queen of America. Whatya say people? No more politicans. Sell Congress to the Chinese and they get Trump for the fortune cookie!

      April 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • BeiberHed

      Definitely Justin Beiber for Prince of America. Jennifer Lopez for Princess Booty. The Morgan Freeman as King – he already acted as God so he should be fair. Dolly Parton for Queen Mother. Elvis will be our national saint. The Chinese also get Obama and Hillary and all the Palins and Kardashians! Turn em all into dog food over there.

      April 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • .


      April 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  19. FourWheels

    No God. No truth in the Torah/Bible. All are stories written by people years ago of legends, myths, and interpretations of what was inexplanable at the time. Add quite a bit of 'marketing' and/or brutal force and here we are years later.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Albiem

      No hope for you, it seems! That is what it's all about anyway, right?

      April 18, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "All are stories written by people years ago.."

      Plz cite your scientific evidence in reference to the topic of this thread.

      April 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Godless

      FourWheels has it nailed. If only people could open their eyes and see this as clearly.

      April 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • airwx

      And you think believers are brainwashed???? I'll give you a question to answer and we'll see what truth you do know.

      Take a blank piece of printer paper. Draw a dot near the center. Now draw a 3/8" circle around the dot. The dot represents the one Hubble sphere volume of our visible universe. Science can only account for 23% of what comprises that area. The circle represents the 250 Hubble spheres of area that science believes our universe has already expanded into, but has no proof. What does the balance of the page mean to you?

      April 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @godless- "If only people could open their eyes and see this as clearly."

      Ah so you have the scientific proof as to who wrote it all. Plz tell us.

      April 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Maybe

      "What does the balance of the page mean to you?"

      It means that we don't know yet. Inserting a god or gods into those spaces is not the default explanation.

      April 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Maybe. What may surprise you is that I agree with your answer. I just want people to realize how little we do know compared to what we think we know. My answer is " I don't know but I want to find out!"

      April 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      How well do you know the Bible? Have you ever read it from cover to cover? Or is all your "information" about the Bible from other people like yourself who simply mock everything because they are mockers?

      April 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Geez

      "FourWheels has it nailed" or do you mean "was nailed?"... that would explain all the hatred.

      April 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Elain

      And what happens when you die and find out you were wrong?????

      April 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Godless

      "Ah so you have the scientific proof as to who wrote it all. Plz tell us."

      Um, even Christians admit it was written by man. The question is, is it the "inspired word of god?" And you want me to prove that it wasn't? How, exactly, am I to prove a negative? It's like asking me to prove that there is NOT a planet 100,000,000,000 light years away that is ruled by pink dinosaurs and they are in a battle for control of their solar system with another planet ruled by orange unicorns. How am I supposed to prove that isn't true? I can't, but we can agree what is more likely... Is it more likely that the bible was written by man, or that an all powerful, all knowing, benevolent deity that no one has ever seen or heard "inspired" the writers, using god's own infallible (yet proven contradictory and inaccurate) words, to write the bible? Which is more likely to be the real truth, knowing that there is no 100% undeniable proof either way?

      April 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Rob

      So what if it is "maketing!" Let these people alone to do their own tradtions. Just tell me, Mr. Four Wheels, how their celebrations intrude on your life. THEY DON'T. Take your petty options and keep them to youself unless you can show how this impacts you directly. I thought in this Politically Corerct society what we can do what ever we want to do? I lump you in the same bucket as those bemoaning abortion. You can't have it both ways.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Entil'zha

      "And you want me to prove that it wasn't? How, exactly, am I to prove a negative?"

      The backdoor atheists love to try and use. Sorry, that door is locked. How about you prove what you think is true. That the Bible is not inspired by God but by a different motive. First, you have to tell us what that motive was. Then just prove it.

      See how easy that is and no risk of proving the negative anywhere. 🙂

      April 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Evy

      @Lycidas....instead of asking people to prove that man didn't write the bible, prove to me that "God" did.....ooops..nevermind...you CAN'T LOL LOL

      April 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "ooops..nevermind...you CAN'T LOL LOL"

      Child, I never once have ever said God did write the Bible....LOL LOL LOL 😉

      Care to make any other foolish comments Evy? They are always good for a chuckle.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lycidas

      But seriously, I know I ask alot of you Evy, if one is to ask a person to try and scientifically prove God exists is it not fair to ask that person to prove that someone made up the faith from nothing? Or where it did come from scientifically?

      Of course it is fair to ask, it's just that you cannot prove your perspective and that irks you.

      April 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Evy

      Oh Lycidas...just because you didn't say that god wrote the bible directly, you are under the false believe that man has written this bible through his inspiration...at least that's what all the biblical spew that you keep referencing seems to indicate...Yeah...i to love a good chuckle, especially when i laugh at those who are mentally "beneath me".

      April 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Lycidas

      False superiority is a sign of mental problems hun, go seek some professional help.

      But on the topic you are failing to grasp, you have yet to show what the Bible was inpsired by. Heck, you haven't even attempted to say what/who did inspire it. Are you a coward? Or do you just like to hide behind the "proving the negative" fallacy so much that you really do not know how to think on your own?

      April 18, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Zack

      "False superiority is a sign of mental problems hun, go seek some professional help."

      You should take your own advice Lycidas. A mature person has the ability to express one’s own feelings and convictions balanced with consideration for the thoughts and feelings of others.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Zack-I'll forgive your ignorance of how this series of comments got started. Be aware, it didn't start with me being rude.

      I have no problem with ppl believing differently than I do. However, I do have a problem with ppl coming on here and being rude to other ppl's beliefs. It's even more wierd when you return their rudeness that they get offended.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Susan

      Zack it’s easier for people to justify themselves on these blogs because they hide behind anonymity. If these people were to face the person in real life, half if not most of the rude comments being made wouldn’t happen.

      Maturity is the ability to:

      Face Reality – Acceptance – we can face reality and accept the situation that is before us then we can mature.

      Ability to Relate Well With Others – often we look at others with a critical eye or let anger and frustrations interfere with our perceptions of others.

      Willingness to be Honest with Ourselves – None of us is perfect. Sometimes change starts from within – and when you change, the world around you starts to change with you.

      What is unfortunate is I would have hoped that the religious people would set a good example by not falling into a rude comment for a rude comment.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Susan- keep in mind also that maturity is respecting other ppl's beliefs even when you do not agree with them. Maturity is not insulting ppl based on their creeds, religious affiliations or scientific beliefs.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Florence

      Lycidas you do realize many of the insults on this blog have been from you.

      “you are so confused.”

      “Your little elementary attempts “

      “Maybe you can try again when you think really hard first.”

      “You dolt”

      “just like some idiots that think they are being clever actually think ppl care what they say”

      “try to grow up and quit complaining when ppl respond to the foolish crap others put on her”

      “you just had to come onto the thread about Passover to put this drivel up?”

      “I believe you are being a hypocrite.”

      “we usually get the closed minded ppl on here”

      “Thank you for your random hateful nonsense”

      “I can't tell if you are an idiot or a jerk.”

      “You are of course welcome to your small opinion.”

      “Care to make any other foolish comments”

      “False superiority is a sign of mental problems hun, go seek some professional help.”

      April 19, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Lycidas

      @Florence- And you will note that they are all responses to insulting language from others.

      April 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  20. LGLK

    Actually, as I understand it, some slaves were designated for making the bricks while others with more skill would cut stone. Those who would call the shots, the architects for example, would probably have been Egyptians. I think it's difficult today to imagine that skilled labor and slavery can overlap. But yes, it's possible to be enslaved and learn a skill in the process.

    Anyway, it's if you believe this is true. For those celebrating, happy Passover.

    April 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.