What is the meaning of Pesach?
The word Pesach is derived from a Hebrew root meaning skipping – dancing – describing the motions of a young lamb. Pesach was a shepherds’ festival. It was celebrated in spring before moving stock to new pastures. Such family feasts included a sacrifice to the gods and a shared meal between members of the clan. The lamb was served to keep in favour with the gods and was to be a firstling. This symbolism was later associated with Hebrew first-born being spared in Egypt by God passing over their houses at the time of the final plague.
What is the meaning of Matzah?
The word Matzah is derived from the Hebrew root Matzoths = to compress. Originally, the Pesach and Matzah festivals were distinct. These festivals merged as they both occurred at the time of the spring equinox. Matzah is bread that has not been fermented. It is kneaded with water but without yeast. The discovery of leaven bread increased the mass of the bread and made it more tasty. Matzah remains the poor man’s bread, as the poor often could not wait for the bread to be leaven. Matzah is eaten during the seven days of Passover to commemorate the hurried departure of Jews from Egypt.
Copyright David ben Manasseh