Matzah - Jordan Cohen

Haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Matzah, this thin unleavened bread of affliction is baked with the bare necessities; flour, water and fire; allowed to stand for no more than 18 minutes, which is the time it takes for the process of fermentation to begin. Therefore, the only difference between bread and matzah is time. So surely in his absolute power, G-d could have provided bread for the Jewish people when He liberated them from slavery. Why did the Israelites flee from Egypt with this food of slaves? 

This bread of affliction has become the embodiment of humility, symbolizing the suffering of slavery experienced by Am Yisrael in Egypt. Humility is the foundation of spiritual growth. Only a person who can acknowledge their inadequacies and submit to a higher wisdom can free himself from his Yetzer Harah. When we eat matzah, we internalize the quality of modesty as the essence of faith. By not eating chametz, we rid ourselves of arrogance and selfishness. Chametz, on the other hand, represents vanity and conceit. It epitomizes the inclination to evil, the urge to sin, the influence of alien ideas, temptations and forces. It is the unsolicited voice that sways us to ignore the presence and power of evil, until it is too late.

Symbolically, the Israelites had become leavened to the point where they had almost become chametz. It was the redeeming Hand of God which saved Israel and guaranteed it would remain "matzah," the essence of humility.

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