Passover-page 2

Lodging in Jerusalem

Lodging in Jerusalem

But first we needed to find a place to sleep. To accommodate all the pilgrims, the Jerusalemites put us up in their own houses. If a towel was hung over the door, it meant that there was still room to sleep and a place to eat at the table. If there was no towel it meant that the house was already full of guests.

Burning the chametz before Pesach

Burning the Chametz

n the evening before the start of the Passover festival, every family had to inspect their house for chametz, (leavened bread), by the light of a candle.

Time to Stop Eating Leavened Bread

On the morning before Passover the time when we had to stop eating and burn all our remaining chametz was drawing near. All eyes turned to atop one of the Temple courtyard balconies. The priests had placed there two thanks-offering loaves, for all to see. As long as both loaves were there, we knew we could continue to eat our  chametz. When the priest would remove one loaf, it was time to stop eating chametz.

Time to burn chametz in Jerusalem

Time to Burn Our Leavened Bread

When he returned to take away the remaining loaf, then we knew - time to burn our chametz!

Time to burn chametz in Jerusalem

Destroying the Chametz

Now we had to rush to destroy our remaining chametz. There are three ways our sages allow us to destroy our chametz: burning, crumbling it up into crumbs and tossing it into the wind, or dumping it into the sea.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Preparing Matzot

Our next task was to bake our matzot, (unleavened bread),in the special ovens we prepared. We had to work together, and quickly, so that our matzot wouldn't accidentally become chametz!

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Leaving for the Holy Temple

Saba and I were now ready to head for the Holy Temple. My father was already starting the fire in the oven so that we could begin roasting our lamb the minute we got back.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

On the Way to the Holy Temple

Thousands of pilgrims like us, were proceeding toward the Holy Temple. Each group was carrying a lamb for its Passover offering.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

The Priests & Levites Greet the Pilgrims

As we neared the steps leading up to the Temple Mount, all of a sudden I saw a parade of kohanim and Levites marching down the stairs, blasting their silver trumpets, and greeting us, "Our brothers from Tsiporri, welcome, and peace unto you!" I hugged my Saba "How did they know?"

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Removing our Shoes

My Saba then took me to the double Hulda Gate, on the southern end of the Mount, and we took off our shoes. It is forbidden to enter the Temple Plaza atop the Mount wearing leather shoes. We entered the Hulda Gate and soon were on the Temple Mount Plaza. We turned to the east, according to tradition, and began to circle the Holy Temple on the eastern side, heading north.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

The Four Gates

I now saw from a distance the four gates of the northern Courtyard wall.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

The Sorreg

Before us stood the sorreg, the low fence beyond which only Jews who had been purified by the ashes of the red heifer can go.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Kneeling Before G-d

As we approached the sorreg, my Saba kneeled on the special stone designed for this purpose, in a gesture of humility and thanks before G-d. We learned to do this from our King Solomon, who build the first Holy Temple. Now we were ready to enter the Courtyard!

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Closing the Gates

I was anxious to enter the Courtyard, but it had already filled up with people bringing their lambs to be slaughtered. The kohanim (priests) would close the Courtyard gates to prevent more groups from entering, until the people already inside were finished. They they would open the gates to allow the first groups to leave, and the next groups to enter. We would just have to wait our turn.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Sabbath Preparations

While we waited, Saba explained that, on years when the 14th of Nisan occurred on a Shabbat, since people are not allowed to carry objects on Shabbat, they would tie the slaughtering knife around the head or back of the lamb, as they led it through the streets of Jerusalem toward the Holy Temple.

Preparing matzot in Jerusalem

Sabbath on the Mount

After they had entered the Courtyard, and slaughtered their Passover offering, they would then need to remain on the Temple Mount until Shabbat ended, before they could rush home to roast their lambs.