June 22, 2024
red heifer sacrifice
Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, is one of the most significant Jewish holidays, commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt as described in the biblical Book of Exodus.

Passover, known in Hebrew as Pesach, is one of the most significant Jewish holidays, commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt as described in the biblical Book of Exodus. It is celebrated annually by Jewish people around the world.

Passover is typically observed for eight days, although in Israel and among some Reform Jewish communities, it is observed for seven days. The holiday begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which usually falls in March or April in the Gregorian calendar. Passover begins with a special meal called the Seder, which takes place on the first two nights of the holiday.

During the Seder, families and communities gather to retell the story of the Exodus, using a book called the Haggadah. The Seder plate contains symbolic foods that represent elements of the Exodus story, such as bitter herbs (maror) to represent the bitterness of slavery, and matzah, unleavened bread, which symbolizes the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, not allowing time for their bread to rise.

Throughout the holiday, Jewish people refrain from eating leavened bread (chametz) and instead eat matzah, as a symbol of the haste of the Israelites’ departure from Egypt. Observant Jews also conduct a thorough cleaning of their homes to remove all traces of chametz before Passover begins.

Passover is the same festival that was known as Ashura in Medina when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) migrated to this city. Initially fasting on Ashura was enjoined in the Muslim community by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). However, Muslims observe a purely lunar calendar, while Jews observe a lunisolar calendar contaminated with intercalation, forbidden in the Qur’an. That is why the days of Passover and Ashura fall on different days.

According to a Jewish magazine Jews have planned to sacrifice the Red Heifers on this Passover, which falls on 22nd April 2024. Typically, the day of sacrifice Sabbath Para (Saturday of Red Heifer) fell on March 29, 2024, but they postponed the sacrifice to Passover (22nd April 2024), the most important Jewish festival of the year. It is Jewish Eid. They believe Messia (Dajjal) will come with this sacrifice to reconstruct the Third Temple and establish the Messianic Kingdom.
In 2024, Passover commences with the evening of Monday, April 22nd, and concludes its seven-day celebration at sunset on Monday, April 29th for Reform and progressive Jewish communities residing within Israel, adhering closely to the Biblical text. However, for Orthodox, Hasidic, and generally Jewish communities outside of Israel, the festival extends to eight days, ending at sunset on Tuesday, April 30th. It’s essential to note that in the Jewish calendar, the transition from one day to the next occurs at sunset, underscoring that the holiday or festival initiates with the sunset of the preceding day.

The Luni-solar Jewish calendar is the system used to determine the dates of Jewish holidays and festivals. It combines both lunar and solar elements to reconcile the lunar cycle (based on the phases of the moon) with the solar cycle (based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun). This calendar is used by Jews to determine the dates of religious observances and festivals throughout the year.

Here are some of its main principles:

  1. Lunar Months: The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning with the new moon. This means that each month starts with the sighting of the new moon.
  2. Length of the Year: While a lunar year is approximately 354 days long, a solar year is about 365.24 days long. To reconcile these two cycles, the Jewish calendar adds an extra month, known as Adar II, seven times every 19 years. This ensures that the lunar months stay aligned with the seasons of the solar year.
  3. Festivals and Observances: Many Jewish holidays and festivals are tied to specific dates in the Jewish calendar. For example, Passover (Pesach) begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish year on the 1st day of Tishrei, and Yom Kippur falls on the 10th day of Tishrei.
  4. Intercalation: As mentioned earlier, the addition of an extra month (Adar II) in certain years is called intercalation. This is necessary to keep the lunar months aligned with the seasons. The decision to intercalate is based on complex calculations involving the timing of the equinoxes and other astronomical factors.
  5. Start of the Day: In the Jewish calendar, days begin at sunset, reflecting the biblical account of creation where it is said, “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Genesis 1:5). This means that Jewish holidays and observances typically begin at sundown on the evening before the date specified in the secular calendar.

Overall, the Luni-solar Jewish calendar is a testament to the intricate ways in which religious traditions have historically integrated with natural cycles and astronomical observations. It provides a framework for Jews to mark time, celebrate festivals, and observe religious obligations throughout the year.

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