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my favorite part

04/05/2023 09:10:11 AM

Apr5

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

There is something powerful about the experience of the Passover Seder that transcends generations. Food, family, and ancient texts create generations of memories that carry across the ages. So many of us devote a great deal of time to the meal, even though that is only one step of fourteen that comprise the Seder. There is much more that we can do to enhance the other thirteen steps to elevate them to the quality of the meal, and this can be done in ways that does not lengthen the Seder too much. The remarkable thing about the Seder is its evolving nature. Despite its existence for two millennia, the basic elements of the Seder remain unchanged. But there are many additions that people have created that enhance the experience.

I am frequently asked what my favorite part of the Seder is, and while my answer has changed over time, I can say that Motzi Matza is the one that is most meaningful to me. When you think about it for a moment, matza is the same food that our ancestors ate approximately 3,500 years ago. The basic recipe has never changed, nor will it: flour and water. When we bite into it, we are tasting the same thing that they tasted, and that connects us to them across the ages. How incredible that by eating the same food that people ate 3,500 years ago, we experience what they experienced and feel the same way that they felt. And to me, that singular moment of tasting matza is the most powerful and meaningful part of the Seder.

The act of eating matza is so important that upon the creation of the Seder, the early Rabbis forbade us from eating matza beginning thirty days before Passover, so that the taste would be fresh and new on our palates. What this prohibition also teaches us is that matza was part of the diet of our ancestors, but not merely 2,000 years ago, but it was a mainstay of the diet of the Israelites in Egypt before the Exodus. How might that be? When God gives Moses the instructions in Exodus 12 to prepare for the Exodus from Egypt, the second half of verse 8 reads: they shall eat it (the Paschal offering) roasted over fire, with unleavened bread (matza) and with bitter herbs. Matza is introduced here as a word for the first time without fanfare or explanation, which teaches us that the Israelites knew the word. How did they know it? Because it was already part of their diet.

What might your favorite part of the Seder be? I invite you to send me an email at rabbi@treeoflifepgh.org and let me know. I’d like to use the responses in remarks that I share towards the end of Passover. Your email can be as brief or lengthy as you wish. May your Sedarim be meaningful and joyous. Hag Sameach V’kasher! A Zissen Pesach!

Sun, June 23 2024 17 Sivan 5784