The festival of Passover is blend of customs and traditions that involve a lot of enjoyment and merry making. Amongst the rituals that play a very significant role in the observation of this festival is the one involving prayers. The start of the festival involves early morning prayer services, which are called "Shacharit" or "Shaharit" in Hebrew. They involve the recital of the complete Hallel, readings from the Torah, Maftir readings and Haftorah readings. Hallel is the verbal recitation from the Psalms 113-118 of the Jewish Bible, whereas the Torah readings include Exodus 12:21-5. The Maftir and the Haftorah readings, on the other hand, are supplementary readings, apart from the general prayer readings from the Torah. The recitals of Haftorah involve the ones from the Ashkenazi Haftarah or the ones from the Sephardi Haftarah. Given below is a brief description of the prayer services done at the time of Pesach.
Passover Holiday Prayers
The prime recital often regarded as a short invocation to the lords for their help, guidance and blessings is the Kiddush. This is usually done by the head of the family or the father, explaining the meaning and significance of each of the food items on the Sedar plate. The leader raises his cup of wine and recites the following prayer:
“Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who hast chosen us among all peoples and sanctified us with Thy commandments. In love hast Thou given us, O Lord our God, solemn days of joy and festive seasons of gladness, even this day of the feast of the unleavened bread, a holy convocation unto us, a memorial of the departure from Egypt. Thou hast chosen us for thy service and hast made us sharers in the blessing of Thy holy festivals. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, Who hast preserved us, sustained us, and brought us to this season.”
The above invocation is followed by the eating of the greens over the Sedar table. The greens basically symbolize the coming to life of nature during the spring season. Following this description, all the followers dip the greens in salt water and pray to the Lords:
“Blessed art Thou O Lord our God King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.”
A third ritual during the meal is the breaking of the matzo or the unleavened bread. The leader lifts up the matzo and recites the following prayer:
“Lo, this is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want come and celebrate the Passover with us. May it be God’s will to redeem us from all trouble and from all servitude. Next year at this season may the whole house Israel be free.”