The Spiritual Dimension of Matzah

So, what is so special about matzah, anyway? It’s made of flour and water. It’s flat. It’s crunchy. Beyond that, what distinguishes matzah from a regular cracker? First of all, a lot of work goes in to making matzah, although the type of work involved depends on the type of matzah you buy. You might purchase machine made matzah or shmurah matzah, but the difference between matzah and a cracker is not just about leavening. And this difference gives us a clue as to why the Torah tells us to eat matzah in the first place.

According to Kabbalistic teaching, matzah’s flatness is like humility. When someone is full of himself, he is “puffed up” as if his ego is rising like bread dough. Matzah represents the humility we felt when we left Egypt. Without this humility, we would not have been able to leave Egypt in the first place. We might have been kvetching and arguing about which way to go, should we ask directions, did Moses really say that, etc…as any group of over 600,000 people would when faced with such a radical move. Because we had the humility of the matzah, we were able to receive Divine direction and guidance. And how could we not be humble when we were witnessing all of the plagues in Egypt and the miracles that followed?

So what about the traditional explanation, that the matzah did not rise because we were rushing so fast to get out of Egypt that we did not have time to wait for the dough to rise? According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the revelation of Holiness was so great that night that the dough couldn’t possibly rise, just as it was impossible for us to be anything but humble when faced with such extraordinary revelation.

So when you eat your matzah, remind yourself of the incredible properties matzah has in nourishing the soul and making it capable of receiving wisdom. The great Torah Sage, Schneur Zalman of Liadi, said that the matzah on the first seder is the Food of Faith and the matzah of the second seder is the Food of Healing (I’ve been told that those of us who live in the Land of Israel, we get a dose of both Faith in Healing in our single seder). The humility, faith and healing provided from the matzah we eat on Passover sustain our souls for the entire year.
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