The Matzah, is also called the Bread of Affliction

The Matzah, is also called the Bread of Affliction

Why is Matzah so indispensable on Pesach?

Why does the Torah refer to Pesach as Chag HaMatzot, "the feast of Matzot"?
Why is this simple meal a basis of Jewish ideology and experience?
Why does the Matzah come to symbolize the symbol of human freedom?

Matzah has many aspects. It is also called "the bread of affliction", the bread of the poor man, eaten by slaves, but it is also the bread of liberation and freedom. Let's try to probe its multiple meanings.

Bread is fundamental in life, but Matzah is the most basic bread, the simplest food made by man. Matzah involves the fusion of the three most basic elements that define civilized man: grain, water, and fire. No external element beyond flour and water allows to define or influence its shape. Matzah is made of flour and cold water - nothing more. If the flour and water mixture was allowed to leave for more than 18 minutes, the fermentation process will have started to take place. Yeast bacteria, found in the air, invade the dough, multiply by the millions and cause fermentation. Yeast microorganisms are an invading, invading army, sneaking into the flour and water mixture, serving up a delicious meal of sugar molecules. As yeast microorganisms multiply by the billions, they release carbon dioxide gas that leaves the dough, causing it to rise and become airy and light.

The intervention of this external force is a symbolic expression of the intrusion of external forces on man; forces that divert people from their chosen paths and lure them into sin, compromising human independence, autonomy, and choice. Yeast microorganisms begin their work independent of human will, independent of the person who combines the flour and the water that makes up the dough mixture. Fermentation, that is, chametz, represents these negative forces. It represents the evil inclination, the urge to sin, the influence of foreign ideas, pleasures and forces. It is the uninvited voice that leads us to ignore the presence and power of evil, until it is too late.

What is the difference between chametz and Matzah? Weather. Nothing more. The ingredients are the same. By definition, dough made of flour and water that is left for more than 18 minutes before it is fully baked becomes chametz. The Matzah, being bread that is not fermented, represents the man who controls his passions - exercising his independence, his disciplined will, and not influenced by external forces. Matzah is the opposite of chametz.

To paraphrase Rabbi Chaim Friedlander, one of the giants of Jewish thought in our generation, fermentation demonstrates the relationship of cause and effect in the world of nature. When we witness nature at work - apparently doing things by itself, without any outside intervention - we see how natural processes have the effect of hiding the hand of God.

Matzot are baked quickly, in an effort to overcome the influences and constraints of time. We baked flat and crunchy matzo to recreate the Exodus, when the children of Israel fled Egypt in a hurry, as the Torah says: "You must eat matzo for seven days ... bread of suffering, because you left Egypt in great haste" . This mitzvah teaches us that God's control over nature and history is above and beyond the obstacles and limitations of time. God does not require cause and effect. He doesn't need time to be able to achieve his goals.On Pesach, we too must emulate God and be spiritually creative by speeding up time, acting with enthusiasm and speed, living life beyond time, in partnership with God, who is above time and timeless We respond to the will of God acting in defiance with nature, breaking the limits imposed by time and nature.

The hasty departure of the Jews from Egypt was due to the plague of the death of the first-born Egyptians, which convinced Pharaoh that if he did not respond to God's pressure immediately and without delay, all of Egypt would face collapse. immediate and destruction. For Egypt to survive, Israel must leave immediately.

And for Israel to survive, she would have to flee immediately. Gd forced Pharaoh's hand. He did it to teach Pharaoh and all humanity that behind the normal course of events, which can be described as the operation of cause and effect, the hand of God forces the forces of history and nature to fit your schedule. As the Maharal (Rabbi Yehuda Loewe ben Bezalel, a leading figure in Jewish thought) explains, it was necessary for humanity to become aware of the fact that the Exodus was the direct result of God's will and intervention.

What was the rush? Why, after 210 years of slavery, did God decide to pressure the Egyptians to expel the Jews with speed and force? The sages teach that the Jews had reached the 49th degree of decadence. By the time they entered the 50th degree, a degradation that was already imminent, they would have reached the point of no return and would have been beyond all possible redemption. Once they had succumbed to the infamous immorality, materialism, decadence and paganism of the Egyptians, their Abrahamic origins would have become unrecognizable and they would have plunged into the swamp of Egyptian society, disappearing forever.

The sages explain that each additional degree of decay involves a geometric progression, something like the Richter scale where each number is ten times greater than the previous number. As long as Israel did not reach the 50 degree of impurity, its Abrahamic origins were still recognizable, albeit tainted. The sages teach that during their 210 years of slavery, the "Israelites, in their favor, had not changed their names, their culture, their language or their clothing", clearly indicating that despite the incessant pressure and ridicule they remained Jews in every way. The Hebrew names of the Jews, as reported by the Bible, show that they had unchangingly worshiped the true God of Israel and remained faithful to his heritage.

But after 210 years they were close to losing this heritage. They had to overcome the pressures of time by becoming a timeless and eternal people. This required divine intervention; Di'os snatched his people from the clutches of history, freeing them in such a way that he unfolded time. His miraculous release therefore defied the laws of nature, time, and history.

Matzah is the only food whose manufacture requires that it be created without time. The yeast ban also teaches us that nature does not function independently but is controlled by God.

The Maharal explains that it is for this reason that they were commanded to eat Matzah when they observed the first Passover during their liberation, and for each subsequent Passover throughout all eternity. Matzah is the only food whose manufacture requires that it be created in no time - beyond time, as quickly as possible. The yeast ban also teaches us that nature does not function independently but is controlled by God.Nature is the will of God, which is hidden in the natural world

When applied to the human being himself, the sages teach that the "conceited" nature of chametz symbolizes the character trait of arrogance and conceit. The flat and unleavened Matzah represents total humility. Humility is the beginning of liberation and the foundation of spiritual growth. Only a person who can recognize his deficiencies, and submit to higher wisdom, can free himself from his own limitations. When we eat Matzah, we internalize the quality of humility as the essence of faith. By not eating chametz, we free ourselves from arrogance and self-centeredness.

In a symbolic sense, the Children of Israel had begun to "ferment" - to the point where they almost became chametz. God saved Israel from turning chametz, which would have meant the destruction of Israel. It was the redeeming hand of God that guaranteed Israel to remain "Matzah," the essence of humility, for all eternity.

For the reasons mentioned, the words "Mitzvah" and "Matzah" are analogous. Our sages teach "mitzvah she'haba'ah leyadja al tajmitzena"; When a mitzvah comes to your hand, don't let it ferment. That is, when the opportunity to do a mitzvah arises, do it quickly. This teaching applies the urge to bake Matzah for Passover promptly. The Jew is expected to conquer time, to live beyond time, to associate his life with God, who is timeless and eternal. The Jew never wastes time; the present is now - this is why he is so precious. The Jew uses time to direct this time-limited world toward the goals of eternity. This is accomplished by making time precious - filling it with Torah, mitzvot, and Hesed.

(Aish L Font)

The Garden of Breslev