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.