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Why do we eat Matzah on Passover?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Holidays » Passover » Matzah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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Passover and Matzah is a match made in Heaven.

The Torah says:1 "In the first month on the fourteenth day in the evening you shall eat Matzah… for seven days leaven shall not be found in your houses". Hence a Jew has an active obligation to eat Matzah on the first night of Passover, and whilst s/he doesn’t have to eat Matzah for the rest of the week, s/he has a passive prohibition from eating/possessing any leavened bread.2

Passover Matzah is also known as the "bread of affliction"3, "poor man’s bread"4 , "bread of faith"5 and "bread of healing"6 .

Those four terms actually sum up the reason behind eating Matzah on Passover: when our ancestors were slaves in Egypt (affliction) G-d miraculously redeemed them (healing); the Jews followed G-d out into the desert without knowing exactly where they were going or how they would survive in the desert (faith), carrying with them just simple dough which - in the rush of the Exodus - didn’t have time to rise (poor man’s bread).

By eating Matzah we commemorate the exodus of the past, and because "we are what we eat" we actually bring faith, healing, and humility (poor man’s bread) into our personal lives, enabling us to escape and transcend the personal afflictions of life.

Footnotes

  • 1. Exodus 12:18-19
  • 2. Talmud Tractate Pesachim page 120. Rashi Exodus 12:15
  • 3. Deuteronomy 16:3
  • 4. Deuteronomy 16:3 as explained in Talmud Tractate Pesachim the end of page 115b
  • 5. Zohar Volume 2 page 183b
  • 6. ibid.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Matzah
(pl. Matzot). Unleavened bread which is eaten on Passover, especially at the Passover Seder (feast), commemorating the Matzah which the Jews ate upon leaving Egypt. It consists of only flour and water and resembles a wheat cracker.
Passover
A Biblically mandated early-spring festival celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt in the year 1312 BCE.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.