Matzah: The Bread of Our Freedom
As we gather around the Passover table and begin with the Magid portion of the seder, which tells the story of Exodus, we stand and hold up the matzah and say: “Behold the Matzah, bread of poverty, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate the Passover with us.”
At first blush this seems so generous and welcoming. We are opening our door and inviting strangers who need to join us. Yet, what are we offering? We are offering the bread of poverty – a dry cracker that often causes constipation. It is the matzah that symbolizes slavery that we offer to those who are poor and needy. Why aren’t we offering them the chicken soup with matzah balls, brisket, and other tasty treats?
By looking deeper in the Passover story, we know that matzah is also called the bread of freedom. When we leave Egypt and hastily take the matzah with us, the matzah symbolizes our journey out of Egypt as a free people.
The matzah is the same matzah – so what has changed? Our situation and our perspective have changed. As we transform, the matzah is also transformed.
So, too, is it with offering the matzah to those in need. In their current state of poverty, they see the matzah as the bread of poverty. However, when we help them, feed them and bring them into our homes, the matzah can be seen as liberating both the giver and the receiver of the matzah.
The key element here isn’t the matzah. It is the power of human connection. It is our ability to lift one another up – and to let others know that they are not alone.
This has been such a tough year for all of us. I hope that this Passover is a turning point to better times. Let us look around and find people to lift up. For at its essence, camp is similar. Camp is about lifting each other up. This Ramah value connects to our Jewish roots even in the Passover story and still guides us.
Let all who are hungry, come and eat. Let all who are hungry come and celebrate the Passover with us. May this be so this Passover, and may it be so this summer for all those who hunger to be back at our Ramah home. Shabbat Shalom.