Jewish Holidays and Festivals - Passover
Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread - Celebration of Deliverance from Egypt
Of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one most commonly observed, even by otherwise non-observant Jews. It is the first of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Shavuot and Sukkot. Agriculturally, it represents the beginning of the harvest season in Israel. The primary observances of Pesach are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery.
Pesach (The Passover) is the Jewish festival of freedom. It is held in remembrance of the time when the children of Israel safely left Egypt after they had long been slaves. See EX:12:12, Lev:23:5-8 . (Pesach is also the name of the sacrificial offering (a lamb) that was made in the Temple on this holiday.)
The name Passover refers specifically to the tenth plague that God inflicted on Egypt. A destroying angel killed the firstborn in every Egyptian home but passed over the homes of the Israelites where special markings had been made on each door. So "Passover" refers to the fact that God "passed over" the houses of the Jews when he was slaying the firstborn of Egypt.
The Feast of Passover, Pesach, celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from Egypt, a cleansing, a move from bondage in the world toward freedom and Heaven. Christian symbolism understands Passover as a passage from death in the grave to deliverance from death and sin, and from our sin to perfection in Christ. Jewish women light the Pesach candles because they are the pure hope of the world, as Jesus is to Christianity.
Here is an excellant article by LDS Chaplain Emily Christensen, with a slightly different focus: Messianic Passover: deliverance, freedom and restoration.
The reading of the Passover Haggadah (Haggadah shel Pesah) means literally the narration of the Exodus story as recited at the seder service. This manual is comprised of selections from the Holy Scriptures, their expositions in Talmudic literature, prayers and benedictions, legends and hymns and a guide for the ritual of the ceremony.
In the Book of Mormon, there is reference to the prophet Alma advising his sons, probably during a Passover seder. Helaman, Corianton and Shiblon are admonished to be righteous in keeping the commandments of God. (Alma 36-42). This Passover ritual is itself a commandment. (Deut 6:20-24, Ex 13:14).
Egypt can be seen as reminiscent of Babylon or the wicked world. Israel was slave to the Egyptians, as we in our sins are in bondage to the Adversary. Following nine of the ten plagues the Lord visited upon the Egyptians, their first-born sons were slain. The Israelites were commanded to put lamb's blood on the lintel and two side posts of their homes with the herb hyssop, symbol of purification. Destroying angels passed them by. Their firstborn sons were saved by the "blood of the lamb" (1 Ne 12:10, D&C 76:69) that was to be Yeshua, the deliverer, their salvation, Jesus, who would die to atone for the sins of the world and rise again to eternal life.
After Pharaoh's first-born son was slain, he freed the Israelite slaves. This was a symbol of the liberating mission to mankind, which Yeshua (Jesus) promises, as well as the promise of life through the Firstborn of the Father.
The Israelites were commanded to roast a lamb with its entrails intact, letting out the blood only. As the Son gave himself entirely upon the cross, so the paschal lamb was entirely consumed without a bone broken. See Psalms 34:20 and Jn 19:36 for prophecy fulfilled that not a bone of His would be broken when he was crucified. The atonement of Jesus Christ must be partaken of and entirely absorbed to give us spiritual strength and sustenance.
The Exodus followed. In its desert wanderings the new Hebrew nation ate manna that was called "bread from heaven" (Ex. 16:4). In like manner, Jesus has said he is the living bread, which came down from heaven.
Pesach (Passover) begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nisan and lasts eight days.
The festival of the Passover is sometimes called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Israelites hurried to bake unleavened bread before they left Egypt. This bread is called matzah, and it is still baked and eaten today at Passover. During this time it is forbidden to eat or use any flour, cereal, dried peas, beans, yeast, baking powder, or anything that may have in any way come in contact with chometz (leaven).
Every room in every house and every cooking utensil is specially cleaned before the beginning of Pesach. Just after dark falls on the eve of Passover, the father takes a candle and goes from room to room to make sure that no chometz is left anywhere in his home. This is the beginning of sacred rituals held in all Jewish homes.
Another rule of the Passover is that the firstborn of each family must fast on the eve of Pesach. If the firstborn is under thirteen years of age, the father fasts for the child. Boys and girls have special importance in the rituals, the youngest one present asking why this holy time is celebrated and the others giving the answers. This takes place during the Seder meal, or feast, when the children take part in the Haggadah, or tale of the Pesach.
During the seder (order) meal, ritual questions are asked about the past and present. Jews celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread at the Passover, which we compare to the death and resurrection of Christ.
During the Passover meal a broken piece of matzoh (unleavened bread) is put into a white bag and hidden nearby. This is called the afikomen (hidden), that which is eaten afterward, the dessert. The seder cannot end without the return of this piece of unleavened bread. After the meal it is "found" again. Jews relate that to the ancient paschal lamb. They don't understand it is an act in similitude of the body of Christ buried and resurrected (See Matt 26:26). Unleavened bread is baked for exactly 18 minutes, 18 meaning chai, or life-making it the bread of life
The leaven in bread is an agent of change that invites distortion from truth, it destroys the purity of the seed. The covering of the hidden bread symbolizes to us the tomb from which Jesus arose and as the tomb becomes empty, Christ, the living seed of the living God, rises from the tomb, so the bread is brought forth.
The seed itself buried in earth rises from its tomb as wheat without leaven, becoming bread. The seed is known by its fruit, it is free of the stains of the world. The word Bethlehem (Bet lechem) in Hebrew means house of bread. From the coffin (seed), comes the fruit (the spirit that rises to everlasting life).
To honor the future, a glass of wine is set aside for Elijah, who will come to tell of the arrival of the Mashiach and rescue the Jews from oppression. (They are still waiting.) It is noteworthy that the holiday is called the time of the giving of Torah, rather than the time of the receiving of Torah. The sages point out that we are constantly in the process of receiving Torah, that we receive it every day, but it was first given at this time. Thus it is the giving, not the receiving that makes this holiday significant. An empty chair is provided for Elijah, whose coming is looked forward to...Children in Israel sing many little songs about Pesach and play games in which they pretend that they are being driven out of Egypt. Here is one song they sing as they play:
Israelites together stand!Another song the boys and girls in Israel like to sing about this happy holiday is:
Holiday cheer! Holiday cheer!
To Latter-day Saints: Communion and Crucifixion, the body of Christ and his burial
A cleansing, a move from bondage in the world toward freedom and Heaven. Christian symbolism understands Passover as a passage from death in the grave to deliverance from death and sin, and from our sin to perfection in Christ. Jewish women light the Pesach candles because they are the pure hope of the world, as Jesus is to Christianity.
Latter-day Saints understand it is an act in similitude of the body of Christ buried and resurrected, see Matt 26:26. The leaven in bread is an agent of change which invites distortion from truth, it destroys the purity of the seed. The covering of the hidden bread symbolizes to us the tomb from which Jesus arose and as the tomb becomes empty, Christ, the living seed of the living God, rises from the tomb, so the bread is brought forth. The seed itself buried in earth rises from its tomb as wheat without leaven, becoming bread. The seed is known by its fruit, it is free of the stains of the world.
Several points should be in the forefront of our minds while we celebrate the holiday of Passover.
The word Bethlehem, Bet L'hem means house of bread. From the coffin (seed), comes the fruit (the spirit that rises to everlasting life).
A reference from "First Fruits of Zion" that adds much meaning: How to Make Sure Your Passover Seder Is Biblical: