The Book of Exodus tells us the story of the Jews in Egypt—enslaved by Pharaoh—and how God freed them, to be lead-out of the desert by Moses. In the story, God inflicts ten plagues upon the Egyptians, culminating with “The Death of the First-born.” On the appointed night, the spirit of the Lord came over Egypt, killing the first born son of every creature, be it King, slave or animal. But the Israelites had been instructed to paint the blood of a slaughtered lamb upon their doorposts and lintels, thus signaling to the angel to “pass over” that house—since it was a home of one of God’s Chosen People.
The destruction caused great pain and wailing throughout the land, “worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.” Pharaoh ordered the Jews to leave, quickly, and they did so. They feared he would change his mind—which he eventually did, chasing the Israelites through the Red Sea. The Jews left in great haste, even before their bread had time to rise. For this reason, unleavened bread (Matzah) is eaten for the holiday.
Passover begins tonight at sundown. Chag Sameach!