In my Easter extravaganza food post, I mentioned that Easter and Passover are observed during the same time period.

To demonstrate, here is a comparison of dates for Passover (approximately one week) and Easter:

2012: April 6-14  /  April 8

2013: March 25-April 2 / March 31

2014: April 14-22 / April 20

2015: April 3-11 / April 5

Passover notes

More from the Passover dates page:

The holiday of Pesach, or Passover, falls on the Hebrew calendar dates of Nissan 15-22.

Note: The Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night beforehand. Thus all holiday observances begin at sundown on the secular dates listed, with the following day being the first full day of the holiday. (Thus, the first Passover seder is held on the evening of the first date listed.) Jewish calendar dates conclude at nightfall.

The first two days of Passover (from sundown of the first date listed, until nightfall two days later) are full-fledged, no-work-allowed holiday days. The subsequent four days are Chol Hamoed, when work is allowed, albeit with restrictions. Chol Hamoed is followed by another two full holiday days.

Before Passover begins, religious Jewish families clean the house and car thoroughly to remove any leavened products, chametz. They can then either donate, destroy (burn) or sell the chametz. One of our local supermarkets had a chametz box for donations, which will go to charity. Before Passover begins, the father and children inspect the house by candlelight, sometimes using a feather and wooden spoon, to check for any remaining chametz to be removed.

Easter dates

Those interested in finding out about how Easter dates are determined might be interested in this 2008 article from The Independent, excerpts of which follow:

Easter is the time when Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. According to the gospels he was killed three days before the Resurrection, around the time of the Jewish Passover. So Christians wanted to have their feast day around the same time as the Jewish festival which was fixed by the first full moon following the vernal equinox – the spring day when night and day are exactly the same length.

The problem comes because a solar year (the length of time it takes the earth to move round the sun) is 365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, and 12 seconds whereas a lunar year is 354.37 days. Calculating one against another is seriously complicated …

An astronomical full moon, like an astronomical equinox, is not a day but a moment in time – which can be observed happening on different days depending on which side of the international date line you stand. And waiting for an event to happen made it impossible to plan ahead.

So they decided that the Paschal Full Moon (PFM) would not be an astronomical moon but an ecclesiastical full moon. These could be set down ahead of time, which is what happened from 325 AD. Astronomers approximated astronomical full moon dates for the church, calling them Ecclesiastical Full Moon (EFM) dates. Thus Easter was defined as the Sunday after the first EFM after 20 March. And that date was the appointed vernal equinox, regardless of whether it was or not. So we have a notional full moon following a notional equinox.

… the Orthodox church sticks to the calendar promulgated by Julius Caesar but which the West abandoned in the 16th century. But it is all linked to trying to harmonise solar and lunar calendars.

To clarify the last paragraph, further explained in the article, Christians use the Gregorian calendar and the Orthodox use the Julian one to arrive at Easter dates.

The Jews use their religious calendar which is dated from the beginning of humanity according to Genesis. As I write, it is April 5, 2012 and 13 Nissan, 5772. On this day Abraham was circumcised as part of God’s covenant with him:

According to one account in the Midrash, on the 13th of Nissan of the year 2048 from creation (1714 BCE), G-d appeared to Abram, changed his name to Abraham (“father of a multitude of nations”) and commanded him to circumcise himself and all members of his household–and all future descendents at the age of eight days–so that “My covenant (brit) shall be in your flesh, as an eternal covenant.” Abraham was 99 years old at the time, and his son Ishmael, 13. (Isaac, who was born a year later, was the first Jew to be circumcised at eight days).

A plea for considered Christian thinkers and apologists

My main source site for this post is chabad.org, which is an online effort by the Hasidic Lubavitcher community, which is highly orthodox in its practice. If one could consider a Jewish counterpart to Christian fundamentalism, the controversial Chabad-Lubavitch movement would certainly be one. That said, what impressed me was how profound their perspectives on faith and life are — a startling contrast to Christian fundamentalism’s stark black and white views and their rejection of philosophy and science as being ‘too worldly’.

When I said a month or so ago in passing that we need more ‘thinkers’ in Christianity, a fundamentalist with the breadth and depth of intellect that the orthodox Jew has is the type of person I have in mind. The following chabad.org articles demonstrate what I’m looking for in a Christian context. Unfortunately, I did not have time to ask for permission to reproduce any of the content. Therefore, I would encourage you to click on the links and see what you think of the style of presentation. I found it quite engaging but would appreciate your thoughts.

The way this site lays out Jewish apologetics is outstanding. You’ll have to read the wording for yourselves to get a full appreciation for the love they have for God, their faith and their traditions.

Marriage

In ‘The Merging of Two Souls’, journalist Sara Esther Crispe recalls her wedding day. This is one of the most beautiful articles I’ve ever read on marriage.

Crispe explains the symbolism behind the wedding veil. The bride and groom marry the person they know, yet hidden within each of them are unknown aspects of their personalities yet to be revealed as the couple journey through this life together.

She also states why a bride removes all her jewellry and a groom empties his pockets before the ceremony. (He also removes his necktie, to signify that he has no previous attachments.) They are not marrying each other for their adornments or money. They are marrying to be with each other — as the king and queen of their home.

Note to complementarians: The best part is Crispe’s paragraph about being her husband’s crown. As the crown rests on the temples, it keeps the husband’s head in check — spiritually and temporally.

The role of women

In ‘The Role of Women in Judaism’ Sara Esther Crispe writes about the contrasting characteristics of men and women and makes a more egalitarian case without losing complementarianism completely. As men have physical external attributes and women internal attributes, this governs the way they function in Jewish society. The man goes out into the world and has external laws to obey regarding worship and keeping Mosaic laws; others can observe this and note his obedience. A woman, however, is implicitly trusted to keep internal laws concerning a kosher house and family purity; her husband and others trust that she will fulfil these. She obeys God in this area and it is He who judges her obedience, not her husband.

The last spiritual leader of the Chabad-Lubavitcher movement was the Rebbe — Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), whose articles and influence feature on chabad.org, intended to bring Jews back to a more orthodox practice.

Schneerson, originally from the Ukraine, was a learned man and at university in Berlin had studied mathematics, philosophy and science; he also wrote many discourses on the Torah during that time period. Later, in France, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from one of the Grandes Ecoles, École spéciale des travaux publics, du bâtiment et de l’industrie (ESTP). He emigrated to the United States in 1941, just before the U-boat blockade. He worked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on wiring for the USS Missouri and was involved in other classified work for the American war effort. He became a United States citizen. In 1951, he succeeded his father-in-law as Rebbe of the Lubavitch movement.

In ‘A Woman’s Place in Torah’, he readily acknowledged the changing role of women in society and points out the need for more Torah study by women as they leave home for their education and careers. The Torah, he believed, was indispensable to conducting one’s life outside the home. Therefore, he accepted and encouraged women to leave the house and have a career.

Note to complementarians: It’s worth noting that he begins his article by saying that the Sages wrote that when God told Moses to prepare the Jews to receive the Torah, He instructed him to begin with the women — ‘the House of Jacob’ — then the men — ‘the children of Israel’.

One gets the impression that even Orthodox Jews have adopted a policy akin to the Calvinist principle of Semper Reformanda — always reforming by the Spirit of God with the times without falling prey to the world.

Raising children

In ‘Spare the Rod?’ Shalvi Weissman writes that shouting at a child or, conversely, neglecting him are both negative behaviours which go against what King Solomon advocated. Furthermore, she considers the ‘rod’ as order and guidance in the home, not necessarily corporal punishment.

The comments showed faint support for corporal punishment and, where advocated, in a limited and constructive way.  Several commenters voiced disapproval and shock at fundamentalist Christian methods of thrashing and flogging. They rightly could not understand why someone would want to beat their children until they bled or died.

Their outlook on and priorities for children differ from ours in many respects. Conversations with my Jewish friends over the years have revealed that they achieve a high level of cognitive development at an early age. I believe this might come from conversing with their children — and with that, a focus on knowledge and the cultivation of curiosity. Although this was not always the case, today, they seem to consider children less as ‘poison containers’ and more like gifts from God to be nurtured and developed. A child would be a blessing not a burden to most Jewish people, and the Lubavitcher movement is comparable to the Christian Quiverfulls in terms of large families.

That said, as with Christians, there are dysfunctional Jewish homes, too, and this comes through from a few commenters on the chabad.org articles. I do not wish to give the impression that all is bright and shiny, however, they do approach parenting from a very different perspective.

As far as marriage is concerned, after having read the article above, I now understand why they have very expensive weddings. They see a bride and groom as a queen and king. A former Jewish colleague of mine, engaged to be married at the time, said that his in-laws planned to spend $100,000 on his — this was in the late 1980s — and hold the reception at one of the best hotels in Manhattan.

The elevation of and respect for women in Jewish society may also indicate why many Christian women enjoy dating Jewish men.  I’ve never met a Jewish man who put down a woman.  They take a kind and affectionate approach; for them, there is no battle of the sexes just an understanding and an appreciation of differences.

Maybe it’s time we took a few pages from their notebook and adapted them to our own use. Although I do not mean to offend my fellow Christians, I sometimes think the Jews exhibit love much better than we do.  I also recommend that we look at how and why they progress further in education than many of us do.

Tomorrow: Jewish perspectives on suffering, work and science

About these ads