The biblical holiday Passover, a significant event in Jewish history, disappeared entirely when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 CE. This cataclysmic event marked the end of an era and led to a significant shift in religious practices. However, its name, Passover, was resurrected and given to the holiday Chag Hamatzot, symbolizing the resilience and adaptability of Judaism.

The biblical Passover holiday occurred on the first month’s fourteenth day, the month later called Nisan. It had only one ceremony. The Israelites were required to offer a Pascal (Passover) sacrifice to recall the exodus from Egypt and eat it toward the evening of the fourteenth day. This holiday of Passover was followed the next day, on the fifteenth of the month, by another holiday, Chag Hamatzot, the Festival of (eating) Matzot (unleavened bread). It also is designed to recall the exodus. The biblical Passover lasted one day. Chag Hamatzot was seven days.

When the temple was destroyed in 70 CE, and sacrifices stopped, Passover could no longer be observed and, although biblically mandated, was discontinued. However, the spirit of this holiday of 14 Nisan was not lost. Chag Hamatzot, which begins on 15 Nisan, was renamed Passover, a testament to the adaptability and continuity of Jewish religious practices.

The holiday prayer book, the Machzor, Haggadah, and all prayers associated with Chag Hamatzot do not use the revised name Passover but call the holiday by its biblical name, Chag Hamatzot.

The death and changes of these two biblical holidays are not unique.

There is another significant holiday called Chag Hakippurim. It was a happy holiday. It focused on duties by the High Priest, who was told, among other things, to offer sacrifices and pray for himself, his family, the temple, and all of Israel (that is, Jews, the name Jews were called at that time). Jews were required to afflict themselves on this day, the tenth in the seventh month of Tishrei. We have no idea what the infliction intends. The Torah is obscure on this point. The High Priest’s service was in the morning. In the afternoon, Jews celebrated. Young people dressed up, went to the field, and danced. Many marriages resulted from this joyous occasion.

When the temple was destroyed and sacrifices ceased, Chag Hakippurim died.

The rabbis invented a new, non-biblical holiday, Yom Kippur. It is different from Yom Hakippurim, which is a plural name, Day of Repentances, because the High Priest prayed for many people, but the people did not pray on Yom Hakippurim; their affliction may have been no more than a duty to pay attention and ensure to act correctly in the future. The rabbis called its holy day Yom Kippur in the singular because it focused on the individual. In contrast to its predecessor, Yom Kippur is a sad day, a fast day, a rabbinical interpretation of afflicting themselves.

There are many more changes in holidays. I will mention just one more. The Bible tells us of a holiday called both the Day of the Trumpet and the Day of Remembering the Trumpet. It occurred on the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei. It recalls the significance of the number seven repeated over a hundred times in a hundred Jewish practices to remember by blowing the trumpet to attract our attention and other ways that God created the world in seven days and gave us rules to follow to improve us and all else.

When Jews changed the rule in Exodus 12 that required the month in the Spring, Nissan, to be the first month, meaning the beginning of the year, and made the Fall month Tishrei the beginning, the rabbis invented the non-biblical Rosh Hashanah, the New Year holiday. The names of the former holiday are used in the Machzor, the prayer book for the holiday.

Some holidays retained their names but changed radically since biblical times. Shavuot, which means weeks, for example, was given this name because the biblical version commemorated the number seven, being seven weeks from Passover. It recalled seven for the same reason Day of the Trumpet recalled seven. In post-biblical times, Shavuot lost this reason, and rabbis made it a holiday to remember the giving of the Torah.

Other holidays and Jewish laws also changed, such as the cessation of slavery, sacrifices, and the rule of compensation rather than an eye for an eye.

Not only when the year starts, in Tishrei instead of Nisan, the great sage Rashbam (born around 1085, grandson of the famed sage Rashi – 1040 to 1105) contended that the biblical day did not begin at sunset, as is the practice today, but in the morning. The Torah states God performed creations “and there was evening and morning, a third (and fourth, etc.)” day, which indicates the day began in the morning. In addition, sacrifices were brought in the Tabernacle and later Temples started in the morning and were left on the altar overnight.

The preceding several examples of changes in Jewish law should prompt us to think. According to Exodus 33:18-23, when Moses requested God to reveal what God is, God replied, you can only see My back, but you cannot see My Face. This means we can only understand some things about what God is by seeing and understanding what God created. Thus, by studying, understanding, and using science, we learn some things about God, improve ourselves, and help other humans, animals, plants, and all inanimate become all they can become.

Ancient sages explained that while we know nothing about God, it is acceptable to think that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and helpful and that God wanted humans to have free choice and similar things.

The previous examples of changes should also prompt us to think that God requires people to change positively by improving and becoming all they can be, change others by treating even strangers as we want to be treated, and change all creation to improve it and make it a paradise for all people.

Change is part of God’s creation.  Passover died to teach us this lesson.