Wednesday, April 16, 2008

M is for matza, mountains of matza

Why, you ask, do we Jews have to eat matzot and not eat bread on Passover?
Because . . . well, God said so! Verses 14-20 of Exodus 12 are all about what the Lord said to Moses concerning matza. Ex.12:17 says, "You shall observe the feast of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt: therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as an ordinance for ever."
The Israelites, to escape Pharaoh's slavery, had to make such a quick get-away that the bread they prepared for the journey had no time to rise.
The main difference between fluffy bread and brittle matza, really, is hot air.
The moral of the story is that we should strive to be like the humble matza and not be puffed up with arrogance.
When the Talmud says "the yeast in the dough" it means the yetser hara, the "evil impulse" in people which is responsible for "all ferment in the human heart," causing us to sometimes act in not the right way.

To read "To Be a Matza" by good Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, see here.

In the shuk today a man was selling these expensive special handmade 18-minute matzot shmurot, one kind hard and the other soft.
A soft matza? Is that not an oxymoron?
According to the Talmud the leavening process begins after water and flour have been in contact for 18 minutes, so the entire process of making matza, from the moment the water is added to the flour until the matza is taken out of the oven, must be completed in 18 minutes.
For the interesting inside story of matza baking, see here.

Oh, and for you Christians--if these round matzas look a lot like your Eucharistic host, they are!
If the Last Supper was really a Pesach seder meal, then when Jesus said "Eat this bread" what he was holding up was unleavened bread.


Andrea said...

Does this Matza have any taste to it? Interesting M post.

Musings said...

Very interesting! I'm looking at matza a whole different way now.

Lilli & Nevada said...

This was interesting. Thanks for the information.

Destitute Rebel said...

Quite and interesting post, another lesson learnt.

Dragonstar said...

I'm glad to know more of the background to matza. I ate some with schoolfriends when I was much younger, but I only knew of the difference, not the reason. Thank you.

Dragonstar said...

Dina, thanks for your visit! I live in Ireland now, but yes, I'm Welsh. Many still speak the language. It is taught in schools, and some schools teach exclusively through the medium of the Welsh language. The same happens with Irish in this part of the country.

Dina said...

Shalom friends,
No, Andrea, not a lot of taste. I always shake salt on them to make them taste more like a saltine cracker. The best is to cover the matsa with chocolate spread!
I'm glad and rather surprised that you are all interested in the lowly matsa. I wish we could all sit at the same seder table this Saturday night.
Dragonstar, welcome. Glad to hear that Welsh and Irish languages are still alive.

andrée said...

What a fascinating post. I am in the midst of reading your links. I certainly don't know enough about the Jewish culture and I should. That's a lot of Matza! And to imagine that stack repeated millions of times all over the world is mind-boggling.

I think people of any religion could benefit from the prayer:
"Lord of the Universe
It is well known to You that it is our desire to do Your will
But what prevents us?
The yeast in the dough."

I'm going to be copying it for my own use.However, the Rabbi does, I think, get it wrong when he writes, "Leaven is, after all, used to cause the yeast in the dough to rise and in a literal sense it is exactly that which also causes bread to become bread that is forbidden on Passover." This seems to say that leaven and yeast are two different things. They are the same. But I love his analogies.

The matza making article was fascinating. Nothing except flour and spring water? It's great reading.

Anonymous said...

This was really interesting. We learned a lot. Thanks, keep them coming.

Dina said...

Dear Andree, Yes, it IS a bit confusing. To my knowledge, leaven or in Hebrew chametz, has a wider meaning than just leaven. Maybe we should ask a rabbi.

Anonymous said...

Dina, Just browsed on your very interesting blog...I love Israel and its culture..Mainly coz My Messiah is from there too...I can see all places in ISRAEL through your blog..I like the fact that you write verses from the New Testment too...With all respect can i ask you an honest question...Do you not believe that Yeshua is our PROMISED Messiah....

Dina said...

Anonymous, shalom, welcome. The answer is no, I am Jewish and do not believe in Yeshu.