Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Meaning of Matzah


Matzah plays an odd role at our Seder.

On the one hand, it represents affliction, poverty and slavery, and so it has no sweetening ingredients - it's just flour and water.

On the other hand, we carried the matzah on our shoulders as we left Egypt, and it didn't rise because our redemption was so quick. In this sense, matzah is about redemption.

In fact, Ramban wrote that matzah is meant to play both roles, symbolic of both slavery and redemption. On the other hand, Maharal wrote that matzah is primarily an instrument of redemption. True, matzah incorporates the symbols of poverty, but only in order to highlight and accentuate the strength of HaShem's redemption.

Therefore, Ramban translates the Torah's term for Matzah, לחם עוני, as "bread of affliction," but Maharal renders it as "bread of poverty," because a pauper is free and unencumbered by property - just like the Jews, on their way out of Egypt.

(Ramban to Parshat Reeh, Maharal's Haggadah shel Pesach)

Have a great day,

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