Yachatz: The MIddle Matzah of Brokenness

Haggadah Section: Yachatz

The leader takes out the middle Matzah, breaks it in two and holds up both pieces.

Reader 1:  At every Passover seder, we break the middle matzah.  In a few moments, we will put the larger piece aside for the Afikoman or dessert.  Usually, we place the smaller piece back between the two whole Matzot, as we prepare to remember our ancestors' lives as slaves in Egypt.  Tonight, however, we delay the second part of the ritual so we can consider the brokenness in our world.

Everyone:  Tonight, throughout our country and our world, and even perhaps around our Seder table, people are experiencing more brokenness than in recent memory.  Younger and older; working, unemployed and retired; singles and couples, and families of all configurations -- so many lives have been damaged by the economic depression and uncertainty about the future.  Unlike the middle matzah broken on purpose, they find that a series of financial decisions -- some made by them, some out of their control -- have shattered their economic security.

Reader 2:  Tonight, different than in previous years, we take this second piece of matzah and crumble it here ( on a plate or on the tablecloth ) to remind us of how amidst the current financial crisis, the world seems to be crumbling around so many people.  Like the glass broken at a wedding which reminds us of the tireless work the couple must do to escape shattering their marriage, this crumbled matzah reminds us of all the work we must do to help others whole lives are shattering.

Everyone:  As we stare at this crumbled middle matzah, let us pause to consider the pain of lives crumbling around us.  So many feel so alone.  So many experience despair.  Like our Israelite ancestors felt before Moses and Miriam came to set them free, our people today despair over the difficulties in repairing the brokenness of their lives.

Reader 3:  Our ancestors, slaves of Pharaoh, survived the oppression in Egypt.  Helping each other, holding each other up, they walked throught the Yam Suf (the Red Sea).  With persistence and determination, they passed through those difficult times.  And we all can too.  If we help each other.  If we remember to open our hearts, open our wallets, open our community.  If we welcome in and support those in need, those who are no longer strangers to financial struggle.  And so we say together:


Ha lach-ma an-ya di a-cha-lu a-va-ha-ta-na b'ar'a d'mitz-ra-yim

This is the bread of application our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.  Let all who are hungry come and eat; Let all who are in need come share our Passover.  This year here, next year in Israel.  Today bound; tomorrow free.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes, Congregation Or Ami, Calabasas, CA

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