Spring Cleaning and Passover

Spring is nearly here and the time for spring cleaning will be fast upon us. Carpets will be vacuumed and deep cleaned, drapes will be taken down and washed, the home will be dusted and cleaned of cobwebs from ceiling to floor, walls washed, and windows thoroughly cleaned. I dread the thought of it!

But what is the origin of the tedious ritual? Some have suggested a religious origin. Traditions associated with Lent, Easter and Passover in the spring are candidates. The Jewish people are commanded to remove all leaven from their dwelling and their possession in preparation for the festival of Passover. This falls in March or April and usually overlaps Holy Week and Easter. It became customary to begin removing the leaven about two weeks prior and culminates in an evening ritual the day before the Passover meal was undertaken.

While all of this is taking place in Jewish homes and in Messianic Judaism, Christians are also cleaning their homes in anticipation of Easter. It is traditional in Greece and in Orthodox churches to thoroughly clean the home the week before Lent begins. In Catholic churches, it is often customary to clean the altar on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. Behind all the busyness, these faiths have also made this period a time of introspection and repentance.

According to Chasidic Jewish thought, leaven is associated with haughtiness and selfishness. The Talmud equates leaven with our propensity to sin (b.Berachot 17a). One should examine himself so that he would have been deemed worthy to be delivered from bondage to Pharaoh had he lived then. In the Christian realm, Lent is a period of introspection and penance characterized by abstention from meat on Fridays and by special daily devotionals and scripture readings. In the high churches, Lent is a period grief in remembrance of the death of Christ at Passover, but tempered by the joy of his eventual resurrection.

These customs demonstrate the shared desire to be delivered from the ‘sin that so easily besets us.’ Both rely on the mercy of God demonstrated by mighty acts of salvation, the one by the death of Pharaoh's firstborn, the other by the firstborn of God; one by passing through the Red Sea, the other by the baptism of repentance. As the blood of the Passover lamb protected Israel from the angel of death, so too the blood of the Messiah promised victory over death for all who are his. The Passover lamb as a peace offering shared by the redeemed typifies the body of the Lamb of God which the faithful symbolically share through the ritual of Communion and, in Messianic Judaism, at the Passover meals.

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6)


More Messianic Passover Teachings

Want more about Passover from a Messianic Jewish perspective? Check out our Passover page!

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