10 Physical Surroundings Including Land Water Animals Plants And Climate Why Do We Eat Matza On Passover? A New Kabbalah

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Why Do We Eat Matza On Passover? A New Kabbalah

Why do we eat matzah at Passover? ?

This question is one of four questions that the Pesach haggadah asks to open the discussion on the Passover holiday.

The traditional answer given is that matzah represents the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate as slaves in Egypt. By eating the dry, tasteless matzah, we relive the physical captivity and hardships endured by our forefathers.

On the other hand, matzah is also called the bread of redemption. When the moment came for Moses to lead the Jews out of captivity, they did not have time to allow the dough to become bread. In their haste to get away they hastened to the dwelling, ready to eat matzah as a means for the long journey ahead of them. By eating matzah on Passover night, we can re-experience and acquire the taste of freedom.

However, there is another interpretation of why we eat matzah on the eve of Passover, a Kabbalistic interpretation. And although the answer dates back hundreds, if not thousands of years, its relevance seems more modern and relevant today than ever before.

Matzah is sometimes referred to as the “bread of healing”.

What is the connection?

The answer is best expressed by the Chassidic master, Rabbi Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak of Alexander, in his classic work “Yismach Yisrael” (Rejoice, O Israel.) According to the Alexander Rebbe, we eat matzah on the eve of Passover, to correct and correct any act of eating that may require “fixing”. In Hebrew this is referred to as “tic.”

A fundamental belief of the sage is that all our actions should be done with thought and purpose. The highest purpose of eating, as well as all physical activities, is to serve our Creator.

If we ate without thinking, without consciousness as for our higher purposes, without consciousness as for the ultimate source of our food, such food needs repair.

Thus, by eating matzah on Passover night, with the right intention, we have the ability to make a “tikkun” or atonement for all the times we have eaten in a careless, thoughtless, animal-like manner.

Eating in a more spiritual framework would be the first step toward bringing about a “healing.” A correction to reconnect us with our Creator and the world around us.

Thus the reference to matzah being a “bread of healing”.

But we need to go deeper.

In light of this lesson, I’d like to suggest four questions we can ask ourselves next year every time we sit down to eat. Although perhaps not the same questions that the Alexander Rebbe had in mind, these questions are nevertheless intended to help us increase our awareness and eat more consciously.

1. Is it food that eats food?

According to leading nutrition expert, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, 51% of our calorie intake comes from refined and processed foods. These are foods that have no nutritional value. They are often called “empty calories”. They include cakes, cookies, biscuits, white bread and pasta, soft drinks, ice cream, vegetable oils, etc.

Such foods cause us more harm than good.

Another 40% of our calorie intake comes from animal products. This includes meat, dairy, poultry, eggs and fish. Study after study from respected medical institutions clearly shows the direct link between an animal-based diet and disease.

The sad part is that only about 5% of our calorie intake comes from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and nuts, foods that are rich in nutrients and life-giving.

We need to choose our foods wisely and go back to the basics. If not, we will kill ourselves with our forks and knives.

2. Is the food I eat respectful of my environment?

Water conservationists have pointed out that over 50% of all water used in America goes to raising animals for food.

It takes 2500 liters of water to produce one kilogram of meat and 750 liters of water to produce one gallon of milk. However, it only takes 25 liters of water to grow one kilogram of wheat.

If that same water was used to grow crops to feed people, instead of raising feed for livestock, it could go a long way toward eliminating world hunger.

Advances in technology have allowed us to ship food around the world overnight, but is it wise or necessary?

Does a resident of the American Northeast need to eat kiwis or strawberries in the middle of winter if the cost of fuel and natural resources is prohibitive and exploitative of our environment?

This would be a violation of the biblical commandment of ‘baal tashchi’, using items in an inappropriate and wasteful manner.

Other issues worth discussing regarding diet and our planet are the dangers of growing and consuming genetically modified foods, the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides, the physical abuse and pain inflicted on animals destined for slaughter, the destruction of forests of rain for animal grazing and the resulting global warming.

What is required of us is to simplify our diet and return to eating locally grown organic foods in season.

3. Do I eat because I’m hungry or because I’m bored?

Too often we just sit down to eat because we lack something better to do. We have forgotten or never knew what real hunger is. America today faces an obesity epidemic. We are overfed but malnourished.

Based on current statistics, more than half of all Americans will die of heart disease or stroke. A third will die of cancer. This does not include those suffering from diabetes or dementia.

The tragedy is that all of the above are diet related diseases and should not happen.

The good news is that by switching to a plant-based diet, we can heal ourselves and restore our health.

4. Do I express gratitude for the food I eat?

Many families have a tradition of reciting a blessing both before and after the meal. Doing so allows us to pause and focus our thanks on the source of our nourishment.

Equally important is expressing appreciation to the individual who cooked and prepared our meal. No matter what we may eat, food that is prepared with love and eaten in a warm and caring environment always nourishes us.

Have we thanked the farmers, gardeners, growers and merchants who grow our food and are responsible for helping bring it to our table? Too often children grow up thinking that food comes from the supermarket and are not aware that it grows from the soil and requires someone’s physical effort to work the soil and make it happen.

And last but not least, have we taken steps to ensure that the poor and needy in our communities do not go hungry.

If we try to follow the path of the Alexander Rebbe by eating more mindfully, then hopefully when we sit at our seder table this holiday season and ask why we eat matzah at Passover, matzah will fulfill its ultimate promise to be truly made a “healing bread”.

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