Pesach 1 – Making Sense Out of Matza

It’s just a form of bread, isn’t it? Perhaps a little more basic, and rustic, but bread nevertheless? Yet Matza has a spiritual connotation far beyond the symbol of Passover that it conveys. This Shabbat is Pesach. Pesach this year begins Friday night with the first Seder. Shabbat is the first day of Yom Tov. The second Seder is on Saturday night – followed by the second day of Yom Tov on Sunday. Matza is probably the most popular symbol of Pesach. As children we always look forward to this culinary treat, which adult taste buds tend to dismiss as a flavourless wafer, even if we do appreciate its symbolism. The five senses are a profound conduit of the soul seeking to connect to the world. But they are also a ‘bio-feedback’ loop – the senses bring the world back to the soul. This is best exemplified by the sense of smell, which often triggers long forgotten memories from childhood – grandmother’s gefilte fish, or a coffee aroma that arouses a long forgotten home experience. The Matza symbol recalls to the soul a much earlier memory – its experience upon exodus from Egypt. The soul doesn’t forget, but the soul-in-body does. So we prod it with the taste, texture, scent, crunchy sound and regulated spotted appearance of the traditional Matza. An even more profound subliminal prod is its humble nature compared to the puffery of modern aerated squishy loaves that are literally ‘full of themselves’, disappearing into the gullet as soon as they hit the tongue and mouth. The Matza provides simple recognition of our ultimate sense of helplessness in a big world, were it not for directions and compass bearings from Above. When you eat the Matza this year, allow it to evoke a healthy humility to your life, so you can read the subtle directions that a providential life provides you with.