Three pieces of matzah are placed in front of the leader of the Seder. Two pieces are used for the Hamotzi, as is tradition for any holiday or Shabbat. The third piece is now broken into unequal sized pieces. The larger piece will serve as our dessert - the Afikomen. The smaller piece is known as Lechem Oni (Hebrew), Lachma Anya (Aramaic),Bread of Affliction (English) - the poor bread of slavery. The Rabbis wanted us to remember and feel what it is like to be a slave. Remembering slavery makes you a better person. Remembering how were oppressed as strangers keeps us from oppressing strangers. Remembering the cruelty of slavery prevents us from being cruel masters. The paragraph that is now read is written in the ancient spoken language of the Jews of the day - Aramaic - so that all would understand the invitation to join the Seder - 'All who are hungry, all who are in need' are invited to sit and eat.
Questions: 1. Why is Matzah the 'Bread of Affliction'? After all it was NOT eaten during slavery but in fact, when the Jews were leaving slavery for freedom. 2. Why was the invitation to join the Seder announced only at the Seder itself? If we were serious about hospitality shouldn't we have issued the invitation well before the Seder to ensure that those who were in need would be able to attend?
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