Here's Why Some People Can't Eat Lamb During Passover

With Passover just around the corner, the time has arrived to start planning the traditional Seder spread. According to Huffington Post, no Passover celebration comes complete without certain staples like Charoset, a sweet mixture of honey, wine, or nuts, and the Z'roa, the roasted shank of a lamb that symbolizes the animal that the Jews slaughtered in the Temple of Jerusalem. While the Seder may contain a lamb bone, you might notice that your meal might not feature a plate of mutton. To respect the memory of this same sacrificed lamb, Abrahamic law forbids eating a whole roasted lamb at Passover, so don't expect to see this roasted staple grace any tables.

While you shouldn't expect to see a whole roast lamb on any Passover menu, some practitioners still eat some form of lamb on this holiday. According to the New York Times, some Jews completely forgo meat altogether during Passover, while others eat lamb, just as long as it doesn't get roasted. In a Sephardic Jewish cookbook, a recipe for Passover lamb indicates that the meat should not get roasted in the oven, rather it should get cooked in a pan with liquid. These culinary differences boil down to what sect of Judaism you practice.

To lamb or not to lamb?

According to Food & Wine, the Ashkenazi jews who settled across central Europe generally do not eat lamb during the Passover, as eating this animal likens to eating a sacrifice intended for God. This practice stems from lamb's original purpose as a sacrificial animal in Judaism, and should only be slaughtered for Temple sacrifice. Sephardic Jews differ in this practice. This sect, which settled throughout present-day Spain and Portugal, eat lamb at Passover to symbolically re-enact the exodus of Jews from Egypt. This group can enjoy pan-seared lamb, but still can't roast the meat. 

If you attend a Passover feast this coming weekend, you can expect a ton of great, age-honored foods that guarantee to have you coming back for seconds. Depending on which tradition your family or friend group follows, expect to enjoy some lamb, another form of meat, or no meat at all. Regardless of what centerpiece graces the table, you can expect to have a delicious meal while participating in this momentous holiday.