For this Seder, like for the original Seder in Egypt over 3,000 years ago we are locked down in our houses in Israel (only this time, the command is from the government not from Moses). The Seder is also on Wednesday night, like it was in Egypt that time. The Tanach says that there will be a Plague before the coming of the Maschiah. The pieces are all in place, lets hope for the best!!
For that night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down every … None of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. … (Exodus 12:22)
1. We Eat Matzah at the Seder
The Seder (Passover Feast) coming up on Wednesday Night is a highlight of the Jewish calendar, when Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance gather with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s miraculous Exodus from Egypt. This year many people will be doing it alone. This feast includes drinking four cups of wine, retelling the story of the Exodus, and eating certain ceremonial foods. The most important food of all is the Matzah, which is eaten at several key points during the evening.
2. We Ate Matzah During the Exodus
Even before our ancestors left Egypt, they were told to prepare a lamb to be eaten together with Matzah and bitter herbs. The following morning, they finally left Egypt. They departed in such a hurry that there was no time to wait for their dough to rise, so they ate Matzah, unleavened bread. With only this food (but with great faith), our ancestors relied on the Almighty to provide sustenance for the entire Jewish nation—men, women, and children. Each year, to remember this, we eat Matzah on Passover, thereby fulfilling the Torah’s commandment, “Matzah shall you eat . . . ”
3. It Used to Be Eaten With Passover Lamb
From the time of the Exodus until the destruction of the Second Temple, with brief breaks in between, Matzah was enjoyed together with the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed that afternoon. As recorded in the Haggadah, the great sage Hillel would wrap his lamb together with Matzah and bitter herbs, an act we recreate every year (sans the lamb) when we eat the korech sandwich.
4. Matzah Has Just Two Ingredients
On Passover, we eat nothing that contains grain that has risen through contact with water (chametz). Matzah is something that can theoretically become chametz but did not, since we took care when baking it to prevent it from rising. Classic Matzah, the kind we eat at the Seder, contains just two ingredients: wheat flour and water.
5. Matzah Made With Egg or Juice Is Not Ideal
The Matzah eaten at the Seder is referred to as “poor man’s bread.” If the mix contains egg, juice, etc., it is no longer poor, but rich, and not fit for Seder use. An additional issue with Matzah that contains anything other than flour and water is that it may rise and become chametz quicker than the flour-and-water variety. For this reason, Ashkenazim only use such Matzah for the elderly or infirm on Passover (and not for the Seder).
6. It’s the “Food of Faith” and “Food of Health”
The Zohar refers to Matzah as both the “food of faith” and the “food of health,” implying that eating Matzah actually improves your physical health and bolsters your faith in G-d. Matzah is called the Food of Faith and the Food of Healing. When healing brings faith (“Thank you, G-d, for healing me”), then clearly there has been illness. When faith brings healing, there is no illness to start with.
7. Not All Matzah Is Kosher for Passover
This may come as a surprise, but not all Matzah is kosher for Passover. The box may look similar, and it may even have Hebrew letters all over it, but if there is no seal from a supervising rabbi or organization stating that the Matzah is actually kosher for Passover, you can assume that no care was taken to ensure that the dough did not become chametz, and it may not be eaten on Passover.
8. Matzah Was Once Thicker and Softer
Did you know that the word korech (which we translate as “sandwich”) actually means “wrap”? That’s because until a few hundred years ago, Matzah was thicker and softer than our thin, cracker-like Matzah and was easily wrapped around the bitter herbs (and lamb).
9. You Can Get Oat and Spelt Matzah
While traditional wheat flour is preferred, those with celiac and other conditions can use Matzah made from spelt or oat flour, which generally costs more (it is a specialty item) and is not advisable for those who can eat regular Matzah.
10. It Is the Only Mitzvah You Ingest
In today’s era, when there are no longer Temple sacrifices, the only thing we eat to fulfill a biblical commandment is Matzah. So savor the moments you spend eating Matzah, recognizing that doing so gives pleasure to your Creator.
11. It Must Be Eaten After Nightfall
We eat Matzah during the Seder, after night has fallen. This is in accordance with the verse, “In the evening, you shall eat unleavened cakes. Practically, this means that the entire Seder, which centers around the consumption of Matzah, must begin after night has fallen.
12. Matzah Was Offered in the Holy Temple
While many of us are familiar with animal sacrifice, the fact is that wine libations and stacks of Matzah (!) were regularly offered in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
13. We Stop Eating It a While Before Passover
The long-established practice is to not eat Matzah on the day before Passover, so that when we eat it at the Seder, it feels new and exciting. Some stop eating it for two weeks or even a full month in advance, giving plenty of time to build up our Matzah appetites.
14. It Has the Same Blessing as Bread
While Matzah is very different from puffy bread, it is essentially . . . bread. That’s why before eating Matzah, you wash your hands and say the same blessing you would say before eating bread, acknowledging G-d, “Who brings forth bread from the earth.”
15. We Eat Matzah Again on Pesach Sheni
A month after Passover, we celebrate Pesach Sheni (Second Passover), which was the day that those who missed bringing the Passover offering in Jerusalem were able to make up for their loss. Today, it is marked primarily by eating Matzah and reliving the day’s message: it’s never too late to make up for a missed opportunity.
Speaking of missed opportunities:
A Fly in my Coffee
What happens when a fly falls into a coffee cup?
The Italian – throws the cup and walks away in a fit of rage
The Frenchman – takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee
The Chinese – eats the fly and throws away the coffee
The Israeli – sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, buys himself a new cup of coffee and uses the extra money to invent a Device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.
The Palestinian – blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union for a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, and the Chinese, are trying to explain to the Israeli why he should give away his cup of coffee to the Palestinian.
Love Yehuda Lave