The Greatest Commandments, Part 12, Passover Edition

5% of all Biblical commandments are Passover-related. With millions of families around the world celebrating Passover this week, we’re looking at each Passover commandment in the Torah.

Here’s the latest snapshot of our work:


Let’s dig in into the mitzvah goodness.

Rest on the first day of Passover


No regular work on the first day of Passover

On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.

Leviticus 23:6-7

No regular work on the first day of Passover. Oddly, Maimonides interprets 2 commandments here: “no prohibited work on first day of Passover”, and also “rest on the first day of Passover”.

I’m unsure where he’s getting both commandments from. I suspect it’s based around the “regular” part: Maimonides envisioned rules regarding what is considered regular work, then derived another general commandment, rest on the first day.

Rest on the last day of Passover


No regular work on Passover

On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the LORD by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.

-Leviticus 23:7-8

Same instruction regarding the last day of Passover, and Maimonides again derives 2 commandments from the single verse.

Oddly, the text indicates a sacred assembly for the last day of Passover, whereas the first day does not. It does, however, seem implied.

Another thing I noted here is how Maimonides omits the “for 7 days, present a fire offering to the Lord” bit. Will be interesting to see if this is because the sacrificial commandment is summed up in another commandment, or if the Rambam really omitted it.

No leavened bread during Passover

Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.

-Deuteronomy 16:3

Summed up by Maimonides, “do not eat chametz on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nissan”.

The text doesn’t explicitly say this, however, it certainly can be implied from the surrounding texts (as well as parts of Exodus).

I’ve summed up the commandment in a more general way: “No leavened bread during Passover”.

I’ve derived these commandments like so, with “observe Passover in the first month” being the ancestor commandment:


The Big Picture

Behold, in all it’s glory, the new snapshot of the Greatest Commandments Project:

Commandments Hierarchy Latest Snapshot (Click to enlarge)

That’s a wrap for stage 1 in our commandment-mappin’, matzah-eatin’ Passover week.

More to come, stay tuned.


  1. I think Rambam combined the two (no work and resting), because they are the positive and negative way of commanding the same thing. They are the two sides of the same coin.