Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why Matzah?

Matzah? Delicious!

Well, not quite. I know some of you enjoy eating Matzah, but when it’s eight days straight (and especially if you don’t put anything on the Matzah, like us), it can get a bit much.

Why do we have to eat this tasteless, flour/water flat-bread?

Go ahead; consult your trusty Haggadah (which should be out by now) for an explanation. There it is, towards the end of the story of the Exodus. What does it say? Ah, yes, that we eat matzah because the dough of our forefathers didn’t manage to rise in the mad rush out of Egypt.

That’s what you’ve always thought, right?

One question: Before the Jews left Egypt, they had a special meal that Hashem had commanded.
On the menu was roast lamb (the Paschal sacrifice), maror and… that’s right, matzah!

That was before they rushed out of Egypt. They ate matzah then, well before midnight and the slaying of the firstborn. Jews in Egypt ate matzah because they were told to, not because they couldn’t manage to bake bread!

Like anything in Judaism, if you want to really understand what’s going on, you need to look a little deeper.

Matzah is made of dough that doesn’t rise. Puffed up chometz symbolizes ego. Flat and simple matzah represents humility.

There are two types of humility: You could work hard at being humble, train yourself to limit your ego; or you could be suddenly overwhelmed with a powerful realization of Hashem’s greatness that makes it patently obvious that there’s no room for your own ego.

When the Jews ate Matzah at their pre-Exodus meal, that was their own ego-deflation process. At the stroke of midnight, Hashem revealed Himself and their dough/ ego could not rise. As you stand before Hashem’s presence, you don’t feel yourself.

Which matzah do we eat on Pesach?

Glance into the Haggadah again. It says we eat matzah because the dough could not rise. Every Pesach, Hashem reenacts the Exodus in every spiritual detail. He reveals Himself and deflates our ego for us- opening the possibility for real spiritual growth- in leaps and bounds.

We just have to notice that He’s there.

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