Pesach - Matzo - a Recipe for
by Ari Shaer
There are two sides
to the Mitsvot of Pesach.
On the negative side there is "Baal Yiraeh uh Baal Yimatze" - you shall
neither have leaven in your possession ( even your leaven in someone else's
property) nor shall you have leaven within your property (even if it is not
yours you cannot have leaven - anyone's leaven - in your property).
On the positive side there is, of course, the eating of the Matzo.
What is the significance of these commandments?
The significance may be summarized in the statement "Sur m'rah ve'assey Tov"
- "flee from evil and (then) do good." In order to be able to do that which
is good we must first remove all that is evil from our internal and external
environment. Then we will be in a position to do that which is truly good.
Chometz or leaven has traditionally been compared to the "yetzer hara" or
evil inclination. In keeping with this analogy we must, before Passover,
endeavor to remove all of the influence of the yetzer hara. We do this both
internally, by removing all traces of the yetzer hara from our personality
(Baal Yiraeh) as well as from our environment which includes the unwanted
influence of friends and family (Baal Yimatze).
Once this is completed either by "fire" (teshuvah) or by "water" (total
immersion in torah - inspired holiness) then we are ready for the next step -
the eating of the Matzo.
So what is the symbolic significance of the Matzo?
As Rabbi Gamliel says in the Haggada "What does the eating of the Matzo mean?
It's significance is due to the fact that the dough of our ancestor's in
Egypt did not have time to properly ferment. Hashem became revealed to them
and they were redeemed."
So what, may I ask is the connection here between fermentation and
In fermentation we are dealing with a strictly physical process. You buy a
(kosher for Passover) cake mix, add eggs and water, stir, mix, heat and bake
and you have a cake.
In revelation we are dealing with a spiritual process. So what is the
connection between baking and revelation?
I believe that the connection has to do with "Sur m'rah ve'assey Tov" -
"flee from evil and (then) do good." In any deal, no matter how good the
offer seems, given enough time our yetzer hara (evil inclination) will find
faults with it (or him or her).
So too with revelation. Hashem did not give our collective yetzer hara time
to think over the deal. As soon as we left Egypt we experienced the wonders
of revelation - of being close to Hashem Yisborach - at the splitting of the
Red Sea when even a child could have a mystical experience that even the
prophet Ezekiel (Yecheskel) could not. We did not have time to think it over
and over and over. It was just done.
In commemoration of this we remove all influence of the yetzer hara form
ourselves and our environment in accordance with "Baal Yiraeh uh Baal
Now we are really ready for revelation.
This is symbolized by the Matzo - the piece of dough that did not have time
Revelation is best experienced without precondition and without warning. We
do not want to give the yetzer hara to much time think about it and filter
The yetzer hara might say "yes, I like commandments #'s 3,15-17 and perhaps
#99 but I will have to think about the rest."
The eating of the Matzo is all about taking Hashem's revelation straight and
undiluted into a body, mind, soul and environment that is guaranteed
free of the evil inclination.
On Pesach night, we are truly free. Free to serve Hashem.