Matzah clearly plays a central role in the Passover holiday. On Seder night, there is a specific mitzvah to eat matzah. In addition, the Torah prohibits the consumption of chametz, the antithesis of matzah, for all eight days of Passover. What do matzah and chametz symbolize, and why are they so central to our celebration of Passover?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808 – 1888; Frankfurt, Germany), explains that as we know, matzah is bread that is made from dough that was not given time to rise. This type of bread would generally be eaten by one who is pressed for time. As a matter of fact, the Talmud nicknames matzah, lechem oni – poor man’s bread. A poor man is always in a flurry trying to survive and therefore has no time to allow his dough to rise. Throughout our slavery in Egypt, our Egyptian masters did not allow us the time needed for our dough to rise. Hence, we usually ended up eating matzah. Upon our long awaited departure from Egypt, we still ate matzah, as the Egyptians were driving us out, again not giving our dough time to rise. Matzah, therefore, symbolizes servitude. Chametz, on the other hand, is the bread of one who is his own master. He can allot however much time he desires to make sure his bread rises appropriately. Chametz symbolizes independence. Continue reading Passover – Matzah: Celebrating our Dependence on God