What are the benedictions / blessings / prayers for Passover / Pesach as well as the Torah readings and Haftarah readings for Passover / Pesach ?
Note: Regarding all dates on this Passover Prayers / Blessings - Pesach Prayers / Blessings web page, see the footnote near the bottom of this web page.
Special prayers, blessings, benedictions, Torah readings, and readings from the Book of Prophets for the Jewish festival of Passover/Pesach are recited on different days during the Passover/Pesach festival. The recitation of prayers, blessings, benedictions, Torah and Prophetic readings for the Passover festival will vary between Jews of Central and Eastern European descent (Ashkenazic Jews) and Jews who descend from Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Sephardic Jews). There are also variations in readings from those listed below, but the ones listed below represent the most common readings. The word "parshiyot" means "readings" in Hebrew.
Passover prayers, blessings, and benedictions and their explanations for the Passover Seder, such as the Kiddush, Birkat HaMazon, HaMotzi, Al Achilat Matzah, Shefoch Hamatcha and other blessings can be found on our Passover Seder page, and on our Passover Haggadah page, as the Passover Haggadah is the "instruction manual" for the Passover Seder. The following lists the special Passover prayers and Passover blessings as well as the readings from the Torah, Maftir, and Haftorah for the Jewish festival of Passover where applicable in the morning prayer services ("Shacharit" or "Shaharit" in Hebrew), afternoon prayer services ("Mincha" or "Minchah" in Hebrew), and evening prayer services ("Ma'ariv" or "Arvit" in Hebrew):
The following are Passover Prayers, Blessings, Benedictions, Torah Readings, Maftir Readings, and Haftorah Readings for Jews who celebrate Passover both for 7 days and for 8 days (the 2nd day and the 8th day of Passover readings are reserved for those who celebrate Passover for 8 days I.E. Diaspora Jews):
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 1st Day of Passover: Morning prayer services (called "Shacharit" or "Shaharit" in Hebrew) include the following for Passover: (1) Full Hallel is recited (Psalms 113 - 118 of the Book of Psalms). Two Torah scrolls are then removed from the Ark. (2) Torah readings include: Exodus 12:21-51; (3) Maftir readings include: Numbers 28:16-25. "Maftir" is a Hebrew word which is taken from a Hebrew root word meaning "to supplement". The Hebrew word "Haftarah" (or "Haftorah") is also from the same root word. In this case, both refer to supplementary readings in addition to the regular prayer service readings from the Torah; (4) Haftorah readings include: Joshua 5:2-6:1 (recited from the Ashkenazi Haftarah), or Joshua 5:2-6:1 (recited from the Sephardi Haftarah). Joshua 3:5-7 and Joshua 6:27 may also be read depending on one's custom. The Musaf Amidah ("additional Amidah" in Hebrew, meaning the additional recitations to the regular Amidah prayer, the latter which forms the central part of the morning service) is where the "Tefillat Tal" or "Prayer for Dew" is inserted, beginning with the "mention of dew", recited as "morid hatal" in Hebrew. The "Prayer for Rain" is omitted in place of the "Prayer for Dew", as it was better in ancient times to have dew in the Spring and Summertime in Israel than have rain in order for the crops to grow properly. In fact, the "Prayer for Dew" is recited every day in the morning prayer service from the first day of Passover until "Shemini Atzeret", which is the day after the harvest festival of Sukkot in the fall season. (5) Evening prayer services (called "Ma'ariv" or "Arvit" in Hebrew) include the following for Passover: (1) Full Hallel is recited (Psalms 113 - 118) during evening prayers and then the "Counting of the Omer" is recited immediately after that. (Full Hallel just means the full or complete passage of verses that comprise "Hallel", which means "praise" in Hebrew. Hallel are Psalms of praise and thanksgiving to G-d that consist of Psalms 113 to 118 inclusive. Full Hallel is recited in the morning prayer service on the first day of Passover for Jews who celebrate Passover for 7 days, and on the first two days of Passover for Jews who celebrate Passover for 8 days. For the remaining 6 days of Passover for Jews who observe Passover for 7 days and for the remaining 7 days for Jewish who observe Passover for 8 days, Half-Hallel is recited, meaning Psalms 113-118 MINUS Psalm 115:1-11 and Psalm 116:1-11. This shorter version of Hallel - about 70% of Full Hallel - is known as Half-Hallel even though it is not exactly "half" of Hallel.)
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 2nd Day of Passover: (1) Morning prayer services include the following - as on the 1st day of Passover, Full Hallel is recited (Psalms 113 - 118 of the Book of Psalms) and two Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark. (2) Torah readings include the following for Jews who live in the Diaspora, meaning Jews who live outside of Israel: Leviticus 22:26-23:44 (for some Jews, only Deuteronomy 22:26 is read); (2) Maftir readings include, as for the 1st day of Passover: Numbers 28:16-25 (for some Jews, only Numbers 28:16 is read). (3) Haftorah readings include: 2 Kings 23:1-9, 21-25. (4) Regular afternoon prayer services are recited. (5) Evening prayer services include adding the following two passages to the Amidah prayer: (A) "Atah Chonantanu" ("You Have Favored Us" in Hebrew) which marks the difference between the Sacred and the non-Sacred I.E. in this case, between Yom Tov (a "full" holiday or holy-day; in the case of Passover / Pesach, a "full" festival day) and Chol HaMoed (a half-holiday or half- holy-day; in the case of Passover / Pesach, a "half" or "partial" festival day). This passage is added to the Amidah prayer ("Amidah" is also known as "Shemoneh Esrei", a collective name used for a series of 19 blessings which are central to the prayer services. On Shabbat and holidays / festival days, the 9th to the 16th blessings inclusive in the series of 19 blessings are changed to reflect the theme of either Shabbat if the day is Shabbat or the holiday / festival if the day is a holiday or festival day, respectively. For instance, a sanctification of the day ("Kedushat Ha-Yom" in Hebrew) is recited as an opportunity to celebrate the holiness of the Sabbath day and/or the festival. "Amidah" means "standing" in Hebrew because one stands with one's feet together when reciting the Amidah and recites it in a soft voice, while "Shemoneh Esrei" means "eighteen" in Hebrew because the original weekday version of the "Shemoneh Esrei", composed in the 5th century B.C.E. by the "Men of the Great Assembly" in Judea or Israel, consisted of 18 blessings. According to the Talmud, a 19th blessing or petition (against the enemies of Israel) was added in the 3rd century C.E., but some scholars say that, based on manuscript evidence, instead of a 19th blessing having been added, one of the blessings of the Amidah in Israel was expressed as two blessings in Babylonia, where rival Jewish academies of learning to the Jewish academies in Israel had been established, totalling 19 blessings. Since the Jewish leadership of Babylonia canonized the first prayer books or "Siddurim" in Hebrew, Jews today follow the Babylonian formulation of 19 blessings, even though we still use the Mishnah of the Talmud's name of "Shemoneh Esrei" (the 18 blessings). The current form of the Amidah has existed since about 100 C.E.), and (B) the second passage to be added to the Amidah prayer in the evening prayer service is called "Ya'ale v'Yavo." ("Ascend and He Will Come" in Hebrew).
- Chol HaMoed days: for all Chol HaMoed days, Half-Hallel (Psalms 113-118 minus Psalm 115:1-11 and Psalm 116:1-11) is recited following the morning prayer service, and Musaf (the "additional" service, in Hebrew) is also recited following the morning prayer service. In addition, the "Ya'ale v'Yavo passage is added and recited during all prayers as well as in the "Grace After Meals" blessing ("Birkat HaMazon" in Hebrew).
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 3rd Day of Passover (1st day of Chol Hamoed): (1) Torah readings include: (A) Exodus 13:1-16, (B) Numbers 28:19-25.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 4th Day of Passover (2nd day of Chol HaMoed): (1) Torah readings include: Exodus 22:24-23:19, (B) Numbers 28:19-25.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 5th Day of Passover (3rd day of Chol HaMoed): (1) Torah readings include: (A) Exodus 34:1-26, (B) Numbers 28:19-25.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 6th Day of Passover (4th day of Chol HaMoed): (1) Torah readings include: (A) Exodus 9:1-14, (B) Numbers 28:19-25 (for some Jews, only Numbers 9:1-14 is read). It is also customary on this evening for some Jews to remain awake all night, studying the Torah and celebrating the miracles performed by G-d during the events of Passover, in particular the "splitting" of the "Sea of Reeds" or the "Red Sea".
- Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach (the "intermediate Sabbath in Pesach" in Hebrew, which is the Sabbath that occurs during Chol HaMoed days): (1) Torah readings include: Exodus 33:12-34:26, (2) Maftir readings include: Numbers 28:19-25, (3) Haftorah readings include: Ezekiel 37:1-37:14 (Ashkenazic Haftarah), Ezekiel 36:37-37:14 (Sephardic Haftarah). For some Jews, Shabbat prayers begin with "Mizmor l'David" ("A Psalm For David" in Hebrew, the title for Psalm 27) rather than with Lechu N'ranena ("Lechu N'ranena" means "Come Let Us Sing" in Hebrew, which is the title for Psalm 95). The Siddur ("prayerbook" in Hebrew) song "Shalom Aleichem" ("Peace Be Unto You" in Hebrew) and "Eshet Chayil" ("Woman of Valor" in Hebrew), which is a passage from the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 31:10-31) are recited in hushed tones, to respect the festival of Passover. In addition, some Jews do not recite the blessing "Shechecheyanu" during Kiddush ("Shechecheyanu" is a blessing that consists of thanking G-d for life, sustenance and for helping one to reach this season, and "Kiddush" is a prayer that consists of words which serve to sanctify G-d; "Kiddush" means "sanctification" in Hebrew). During the Musaf prayer in the morning service, the priests bless the congregation with the "Priestly Blessing". In the evening, during the Kiddush prayer, Jews recite the Havdalah prayer to usher out the Sabbath. The "Song of Solomon" or "Song of Songs", a book in the Hebrew Bible consisting of a collection of love poems that has traditionally been attributed to King Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. but actually written much later, in the period from the 10th century B.C.E. until as late as the 400's B.C.E., is one of the 5 scrolls ("megillot" in Hebrew). The "Song of Solomon" or "Song of Songs" is also recited on the Intermediate Sabbath for Passover.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 7th Day of Passover: Morning Prayer Service - (1) Half-Hallel is recited (Psalms 113-118 minus Psalm 115:1-11 and Psalm 116:1-11), and two Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark, (2) Torah readings include: Exodus 13:17-15:26, (3) Maftir readings include: Numbers 28:19-25, (4) Haftorah readings include: II Samuel 22:1-51.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 8th Day of Passover (if it falls on a weekday): Morning Prayer Service - (1) Half-Hallel is recited (Psalms 113-118 minus Psalm 115:1-11 and Psalm 116:1-11), and two Torah scrolls are removed from the Ark, (2) Torah readings include the following for Jews who live in the Diaspora, meaning Jews who live outside of Israel: Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17 [the Yizkor service I.E. Jewish Memorial Service is recited following the Torah readings; Yizkor means "May (G-d) Remember" in Hebrew, it is from the Hebrew root word "zakhor", meaning "remember".], (3) Maftir readings include: Numbers 28:19-25 (some Jews recite only Numbers 28:16), (4) Haftorah readings include: Isaiah 10:32-12:6. During the Musaf prayer in the morning service, the priests bless the congregation with the "Priestly Blessing". There is a custom among the Chassidim to end Passover with a feast called "Moshiach's Feast" ("Messiah's Feast") whose purpose it is to celebrate the imminent arrival of the Messiah. It is a festive meal that consists of matzah and four cups of wine. This is a custom that was first practised by their founder, the Baal Shem Tov in the 18th century. Additional purposes for this feast include focusing on the future by striving for the highest level of freedom and to focus on the Final Redemption. This feast begins before sunset and continues on until well after nightfall, where nightfall marks the official end of the Passover festival.
- Passover Prayers / Blessings / Torah Readings / Prophets Readings for the 8th Day of Passover (if it falls on Shabbat): (1) Torah readings include the following for Jews who live in the Diaspora, meaning Jews who live outside of Israel: Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17, (2) Maftir readings include: Numbers 28:19-25, (3) Haftorah readings include: Isaiah 10:32-12:6.
Note: if Erev Pesach ("the day before Passover" in Hebrew) falls on the Sabbath or Shabbat (this is the case for Passover in 2008, and it was also the case for Passover in 2001 and Passover in 2005, and it will be the case for Passover in 2021 and Passover in 2025, in addition to a few more years beyond 2025 in the 21st century), then one must usher out the Sabbath on the first evening of Passover by reciting the Havdalah prayer during the recitation of the Kiddush ("sanctification" in Hebrew, as in the sanctification of G-d) prayer. Havdalah means either "separation", "distinction", "differentiation", "division", "to separate", "to distinguish", "to differentiate", or "to divide" in Hebrew. Havdalah is a prayer that formally marks the end of Shabbat or the Sabbath. It also serves to affirm the "distinction" between the holiness and sacredness of the Sabbath and the secularism of the other days of the week, since G-d blessed the 7th day of the week (Shabbat) and made it holy and thus set apart from the rest of the week as a result. The Havdalah prayer is part of a small ceremony that ushers out Shabbat. According to tradition, one must first see three stars in the sky before performing the Havdalah ceremony which will indicate that evening has arrived. An intertwined, or braided candle, a cup of wine, and a box of sweet spices are used as part of the Havdalah ceremony. When the Sabbath "ends", a blessing is said over the wine, which is a symbol of joy. A blessing is then said over the box of sweet spices in order to comfort the soul at the loss of the Sabbath (and to comfort oneself because of the loss of one's "Sabbath soul"). Finally, an intertwined, multi-wicked candle is lit (usually two wicks), to demonstrate that the Sabbath has officially ended and that fire can be created again (you guessed it: no fire can be created on the Sabbath). The sweet box of spices is also smelled by the participants in the ceremony as part of comforting oneself because of the loss of one's "Sabbath soul", and the cup of wine is also filled until it overflows to symbolize the sweetness of the Sabbath overflowing into the ordinary week to come. Finally, the candle is then extinguished in the wine.
Footnote regarding the dates on this Passover Prayers / Blessings - Pesach Prayers / Blessings web page: all dates discussed on this website are based on the modern Gregorian calendar, however, these dates are but one secular scholarly deduction; there are many other secular scholarly deductions as well as traditional Jewish chronological dates in addition to modern Hebrew/Jewish calendar dates regarding the timeline of events in Jewish history. To see a table of some important events in Jewish history discussed on this website and their various dates deduced from traditional Jewish sources, the modern Hebrew/Jewish calendar, and secular historical timelines, check out our Jewish History Timeline web page.