1. Calendrical formulations
Jewish calendar is so formulated that the first day of Passover never falls
on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday.
2. Moses, leading man
Moses, the leading and inspiring character in the drama of Passover and the
greatest prophet of Israel, is mentioned only once, and only incidentally in
a quoted verse, in the entire haggadah. To dramatize the spiritual message
of the power of God in the redemption from Egyptian bondage and to avoid hero-worship
of Moses, he who performed the crucial role in the drama is virtually an "extra"
in the recorded script. The person was always considered a "messenger of
the Lord," a tool in His hands to do His will.
3. Paschal sacrifice
the first century of the Common Era, Theudas the most prominent member
of the Jewish community of Rome well-intentioned though apparently void
of Jewish learning, introduced the sacrificing of a lamb on the eve of Passover
to fulfill biblical law. This led the rabbinical authorities in Palestine to
rebuke him, for this practice was permitted only in the Temple of Jerusalem.
In the nineteenth century both Ashkenazi and Sephardi
rabbis were concerned with the possibility of reintroducing the Passover offering
in Jerusalem. While the matter was seriously discussed in Responsa, no practical
results were achieved.
The afikoman is the piece of the middle of the three matzot on the
Seder table which is eaten at the conclusion of the meal. The Mishnah states that
"After the paschal lamb (or Passover meal) one should partake in afikoman."
Various explanations have been given for this directive. Most commonly, afikoman
is said to be the Greek epikomios, meaning festival procession. The Talmud
defines it as "going from one group to another," 
as was the custom after a meal, for the purpose of revelry, which the rabbis frowned
upon. It is also defined as dessert with dinner music.
Another explanation for afikoman is found
in the Yemenite haggadah. There an acrostic interpretation is given as
All of the above and even other foods are forbidden
to be tasted after eating the afikoman.
Where is Elijah?
While the cup of Elijah occupies a place of honor on the Seder table,
and during the service the door is opened to welcome the prophet, the harbinger
of salvation and consolation, his name appears in the text of the haggadah
only in the Grace after Meals where it is mentioned throughout the year.
6. Local customs
For many centuries, Jews lived in the Ksurs (forts) of the Sahara desert.
One group, known as the "heretics of Wargla," celebrated Passover
by leaving their abodes and marching into the desert, as the children of Israel
did under the leadership of Moses.
Ancestors of the present Bene Israel of India
observed Anasi Dhakacha San, "the holiday of the closing of the Anas"
(an earthen jar containing sour liquid used as a sauce), for eight days from
the fourteenth of Nisan. During this period they abstained from the use of
leaven, although they had forgotten the origin of the festival.
In some Jewish communities of Hungary, the seventh
day of Passover was observed with appropriate dramatization to mark the miraculous
dividing of the Red Sea. The Hasidim would assemble in a private home and
dine together. After midnight they would take a pitcher of water and dance
with it until the water spilled on the floor, or a pan of water would be placed
on the floor and the Hasidim would jump over it and dance around it singing,
"Then sang Moses."
Some Jews gave expression to their piety and
love of performing a mitzvah by kissing the matzot and bitter herbs
on the first night of Passover.
7. Wine substitute
In the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research there is a manuscript announcement,
purported to have been issued in Vilna during World War I, which states: "On
account of the hard times and the great dearth in which we are living, the
rabbis have found it necessary to announce that the poor people who do not
have the means to buy wine for the Four Cups can, according to the law, fulfill
the duty of the Four Cups with sweet tea."
BT, Berakhot 19a; Roth, Ceil, The History of the Jews of Italy,
JPS 1946, p. 16. [back]
 Zimmels, H.J., Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Oxford
University Press, London, 1958, p. 71. [back]
 BT, Pesahim 119b. [back]
 Abida, Yehudah, Koso shel Eliyahu ha-Navi,
Jewish Agency, Jerusalem, 5718. [back]
 Slouschz, Nahum, Travels in North Africa, JPS,
1927, pp. 345-346. [back]
Kehimkar, Haeem Samuel, The History of the Bene
Israel of India, Tel Aviv, 1937, pp. 16-22. [back]
 Scheiber, Alexander, "Ikvot Kramatizatzia be-Tekese
ha-Pesah be-Hungaria," Yeda-Am, no. 7-8 (May 1951), p. 6.
 Zimmels, p. 261. [back]
 National Archives and Records Service, Washington,
The Passover Anthology, ed. Philip Goodman. Jewish Publication
details 1-3 from the earliest illustrated haggadah, place and date
unknown (probably 15th-16th cent.). Illustration detail #4 from Venice
Haggadah, 1629 edition. In: Haggadah and History: A Panorama in Facsimile
of Five Centuries of the Printed Haggadah, ed. Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi.
Jewish Publication Society, 1975, 1976, 1977.
NISAN Table of Contents